Step Right Up and Meet McClure’s Amusements

Hunt Bros. Circus side show about 1955
Photo Credit: CharmaineZoe’s Marvelous Melange

As Della says, “an carnival doesn’t run with extra parts.”

McClure’s Amusements is no exception. In order for the show to travel from place to place and give the locals a unique and fun experience, it requires a large cast of characters. I knew this from day one of writing, so I began an Evernote file entitled “Carnival Cast” to make sure I had the right idea for the rest of the ensemble. We will probably hear more from these characters in the coming weeks, but for now, here’s a sneak peek at just a few of the interesting people who keep the operation running direct from my early draft notes:

Sofia & Michael McClure: In the mid-1930s, the McClures sank their last dime into buying out the bankrupt traveling carnival they worked for, now they are in charge of day-to-day operations. A former performer, Sofia is more of a public face. Michael is more concerned with the business side and is rarely seen outside of his trailer.

Boleslaw Wolski: Suprema’s uncle. Though his brother went into farming, Boleslaw and his wife, Ida, joined the carnival circuit eventually settling with the McClures. Boleslaw is both one of the lot managers and a human blockhead.

Alejo Lambrinos: The Fire-eater. Alejo grew up as part of a traveling show in Europe, honing his craft. Then his family immigrated when he was a teenager. Though his wife passed away many years ago, he is not lonely. He is accompanied in his travels by his daughter Constance, her beloved Ruth and their ward, Phebe.

Constance Lambrinos:  A year since our first meeting in “Fire-Eater’s Daughter,” Constance is very happy with her life with Ruth. She performs more regularly now.

Ruth Pasternak: A year has passed and Ruth is more confident than ever that she made the right decision. She still misses her mother, of course, but her life with Constance and the carnival is a very happy one. She will be helpful getting Abby acclimated.

Phebe Lambrinos: About 8, she was abandoned by her parents when the carnival was stopped in Morgantown and taken in by the Lambrinos family. Ruth and Constance consider her their daughter.

 

At the Vermont state fair, Rutland, "backstage" at the "girlie" show (LOC)
Photo Credit: Library of Congress (Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Collection)

 

Della Adamson: The mercurial daughter of a former trapeze artist, Della grew up in small town West Virginia and is now the star of the “Girl Show.” Desperate to achieve her mother’s lost glory at any price.

The Other Girl Show Girls: Celia Mendez (dancer, knife thrower), Trixie Rose (comedian), Vivian Hawthorne (poet, writes erotica)

Vincenzo “Vinnie” Corelli: A clown. Though Vinnie has suffered a great deal of loss in his storied life (immigrated from Italy as a young man, lost the love of his life to WWI, spent time as a tramp, etc), he is genuinely friendly and wants to see others (especially Suprema) happy.

Jimmy Manderly: Ride Jockey. Operates a dark ride, the Haunted Train. A charmer.

Gregor Dali: Strongman and snake charmer; is actually a family man deep down, but you wouldn’t know it to meet him.

A few other “Carnival Cast” characters were added over the course of writing the novel, but with this large of an ensemble, you can see why I needed to keep notes.

Barker at the grounds of the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC)
Photo Credit: Library of Congress (Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Collection)

Sideshow is available now for pre-order from Interlude Press. Be sure to reserve your copy today.

Advertisements

Meet Suprema Wolski: The Strongwoman

We’ve talked a bit about the setting of Sideshow. Let’s take a look at the characters.

Suprema - Headshot Sketch

When Abby and her brother attend the Athletic Show at McClure’s Amusements, the “astonishingly pretty” referee happens to catch her eye. She has no idea the role that this reserved and troubled young woman would play in her future, but she does know that her presence is hard to ignore.

Vulcana(1875-1946) - An early performer Suprema would have admired and one of my inspirations for Suprema's character.
Vulcana (1875-1946) – An early performer Suprema would have admired and one of my inspirations for Suprema’s character.

Beverly Agnes Wolski did not have a great relationship with her parents growing up. Luckily, she had her Uncle Boleslaw and Aunt Ida, who took her from the struggling farm she called home and taught her to get along as part of the carnival world. She started off fortune telling with her aunt, but quickly moved on to a sideshow act as a strongwoman, taking the name Suprema. She took to the act easily, using the performance (and training for it – there is no gaff to Suprema’s routine) as a means of reclaiming the strength and assertiveness she wasn’t allowed in her childhood.

Despite her weaknesses for soda and comics (especially romance comics, but don’t tell) and her commanding stage presence, Suprema is often cold and reserved in person. She has suffered loss in her life and is afraid to get close to others, so she is far more likely to lash out than be vulnerable. When Abby is able to be vulnerable around her, she unexpectedly finds herself softening and allowing this new and intriguing person into her world.

Sideshow is available now for pre-order from Interlude Press. Be sure to reserve your copy today.

Meet Abby Amaro: The Bally Girl

We’ve talked a bit about the setting of Sideshow. Let’s take a look at the characters.

Abby AmaroSideshow‘s protagonist, Abby Giovanna Amaro starts off the novel as a reserved diner waitress with operatic ambitions. Her grandmother introduced her to famous Cleveland harpist and opera singer, Caramela Cafarelli when she was 5 years old and hooked her for life. Anxiety and stage fright, however, don’t exactly help a girl achieve the title of primadonna.

Still, Abby is determined. She gets admitted to the Cleveland Institute of Music and works hard to put herself through school. She spends so much time working that all of her best friends in Cleveland work at the Cedar Lee Diner with her: Sal, Roman, and Marjorie.

The Toasted Pecan: 950's style American Diner in Valencia, Spain
Image credit: The American Palate

Abby loves all three of them dearly and they look upon her as a sister, someone to take care of. Abby doesn’t mind this because…

Being the oldest girl in a family of six children, Abby has often chafed against the caretaker role expected of her, especially because she knows her brother, Natale, is more suited to it. Since her mother’s death five years ago, she has especially longed to be out on her own, though she isn’t truly aware of this yet.

Abby doesn’t mean to run away with McClure’s Amusements, but she did know she had to get away (from the roles that were chafing her, and especially from her frustratingly annoying ex-boyfriend, Frank Butler), and fate intervened.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Sebastian
Photo Credit: Mark J. Sebastian

Working on the bally and making new friends is tough for reserved and anxious Abby, who doesn’t have the highest of self esteem, but at least she has her music (and an unexpected crush ❤ ).

 

Sideshow is available now for pre-order from Interlude Press. Be sure to reserve your copy today.