Today I’ll talk about Star’s family, which includes her mother, Carly (short for Carlotta), her sister, Winter, and her pseudo-godmother, Gloria.
Here’s a fairly recent picture of the three of them (from left to right: Winter, Carly, Gloria). I was really excited, by the way, that a recent review of Hope Is a Ferris Wheel referred to Winter as “goth,” even though I didn’t use that term once in the book. (“Goth” is a term I hardly ever hear anymore, so I decided to leave it out and avoid possible confusion.) But yes, Winter is goth. She dyes her hair black and wears black clothing and combat boots.
Carly is sensible. She’s flaky, but sensible. She dresses as professionally as she can because she often has to deal with food bank people or welfare people and she doesn’t want them assuming she’s flaky, even if she is. Carly takes pride in her role as a mother and she assumes she’s a great one because, despite being impoverished, she provides everything her children need.
Gloria is like a fun aunt. Winter’s too old to be amused by Gloria anymore, but Star is still the right age for it. Gloria does her own thing, mostly. She works at a salon, having recently graduated from beauty school. She’s sloppier about her appearance than Carly is, but proud of her credentials. She thinks she’s the world’s expert on hair despite giving Star a mullet.
Carly and Gloria are kind of a reference to me and my childhood/current best friend, Tessa. Tessa also had a child when she was 19, and I am the weird pseudo-aunt that her child will probably find unamusing in a few years. Gloria’s love of donuts is a reference to my sweet tooth, but Carly isn’t a whole lot like Tessa, except that they both wear glasses.
Alright, back to Winter.
This is, I think, the first picture of Winter. She was a bit more bubbly at first, and instead of having dyed black hair, she had dyed blonde hair. (She wasn’t goth yet, obviously.) I was basing Winter a bit off my older sister, who I’ve always thought of as way cooler than me. When I was Star’s age, my sister had the coolest clothes and was super smart, and everyone in the family thought she’d be a writer because her English grades were ridiculously high. The notoriously tough Shakespeare teacher at my high school said that she was one of his favorite students and that she wrote amazing essays.
(She’s in a geology-related field now. WHO KNEW?)
So I based Winter off that. Amazing writer, but on the morbid side. Totally cool, but also a teenager and therefore pretty contrary regarding her mother. (My sister had a rebellious phase, but she stayed a good student and was always nice to our mom.)
So, I ditched blonde-Winter pretty early on. Here she is with a character not worth mentioning until you’ve read the book. Her hair became curly/tangly and she became a lot rougher around the edges. I don’t remember when I decided she’d go to an alternative school due to being expelled from her old school, but it was definitely before I started writing the first draft. Winter was also originally kind of mean to Star, but when I started writing it didn’t work out, wasn’t going anywhere. Once I made their sisterly relationship a positive one, the writing came easier.
Sometimes, you gotta switch characterizations at the last minute!
A post-it doodle of Winter from 2008. I had an internship at a publishing house, where one of my tasks involved using a system that took a long time to load things. So while I waited for stuff to load, I banged out lots of doodles on tiny post-it notes. I think Winter’s look really took shape during that time.
In I think draft 5 of Hope Is a Ferris Wheel, Winter wore giant sunglasses as a way to hide her emotions from her family. That only lasted one draft. (I think she might put them on once in the book.)
This is the quintessential Winter. And it’s like, a thirty-second doodle. So there you go. I’ve reached the point where I can capture her in thirty seconds. HUZZAH
Carly is a different story. In fact, it wasn’t until about draft 3 that I actually knew what she looked like. (She was always just “vague mother figure yelling in the trailer” before that.) Between drafts 3 and 4, I started wondering a bit more about her past, so I drew this quick reference sheet for myself of Carly when she had Winter (age 19), when she had Star (age 25), and in the current storyline (35/36). You can see that at age 19 Carly was a bit more lively. After she had Winter she got that “professional” look so she could get benefits more easily.
Carly’s story is a bit tragic and not at all like Tessa’s. Carly was in community college when she became pregnant with Winter, and she had to drop out to take care of her, which was disappointing because Carly was the first in her family to go to college. Her family also kicked her out when she got pregnant, so she moved in with Gloria until she saved enough money to live on her own. (They all lived in the same trailer park, which made things awkward.) Star followed five years later, and Carly was never quite able to get back into school.
Carly has a history of staying in jobs for less than a year. In a previous draft I explored this more: Carly’s a bit restless. It’s just her personality. She doesn’t do well doing the same thing for a long period of time. So she’s reached a point in her life where she’s had so many jobs that nobody really wants to hire her. Thus, she has a hard time finding a job. She’s not on unemployment because she always quits her jobs and is never actually fired from them.
As for Gloria, well, I don’t draw her much, but I imagine she looks like me if I had a degree from beauty school and actually did my hair and wore makeup. Her last name is never mentioned in the book, but it’s Sanchez.