It’s good to sit down with your characters and ask some pertinent questions.
Nothing too analytical, just three quick questions to get to know them a little better.
1. When were you born?
July 3, 1883. I believe it was a hot day. Not unbearably hot, but hot nonetheless. I was born in Prague, the capital of Bohemia, into a middle-class family. I was the eldest of six children. My two younger brothers, George and Heinrich, died before I was seven.
2. Was anyone famous born on your birthday?
Leos Janacek. Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist and teacher. A man whose life was filled with work.
3. What’s your relationship between you and your parents? Was there a specific childhood birthday experience? What was their involvement?
For my fifth birthday, mother wanted a studio photograph of me to post to her relatives. Father resisted, said it was a waste of money. Mother wanted the best photographer in Prague. She got her way. In the studio there was a painted backdrop of a rural field. I had to stand in front of a sheep with a feathered cap on its head, holding its reins. I’d never seen a real sheep before. I’d seen pictures, of course. I’d read about them. But the real thing? Never. I was surprised to see how still it was. The photographer kept telling me not to move. Mother kept fussing with my hair, pulling strands over my ears. The sheep didn’t move a muscle. I thought it ridiculous, the sheep was a better model than I. A complete professional. I held my breath as long as I could. I did so until I gasped, and yet, still the sheep did not move. Except for a tiny drift of sawdust from its hindquarters, where the taxidermist’s stitching had started to fray.