What's in da Bag?
Sometimes, when getting to know one’s characters, it can be helpful to put them in situations in which they wouldn't ordinarily find themselves. It’s a fun way to determine which traits are inherent to the characters and which are a product of their environment: both are very important to who the character is, and so it can be very rewarding to get to know them on a deeper level.
It can also just lend a good time to a slow afternoon.
I decided to get inside the heads of the characters from The Coming of Áed--if they lived in the real world in 2022. Without further ado, let’s violate some private property and reveal what each person has in their bag:
Type of bag: satchel
Contents: At least two books. Notebook that’s almost full. A full set of pens and matching grip aids, but he only uses the two colors he likes best. Sunglasses. Phone always has the ringer on. Snacks, mostly for other people. He is the friend who has bandaids. A spare sweater. There is always one kinda worrying thing, like a big screwdriver or a paring knife.
Notes: phone screen . . . shattered.
Type of bag: backpack
Contents: Absolutely no school supplies. Jolly ranchers, mostly green. Pocket knife. Another pocket knife but this one has a fun pliers tool. Tasteful baseball hat and sunglasses. Green apple bubble gum. Eye shadow, but no brushes. Leftover food. At least one stolen item. Over-ear headphones. Hairbrush. Anna Karenina, bookmarked three quarters of the way through with a 7/11 receipt for Swedish Fish and a single banana.
Notes: he is an electric scooter ride share hazard.
Type of bag: leather knapsack.
Contents: Nonfiction literature. A half eaten pack of Twizzlers. Wallet that’s empty except for an ID, a library card, and an Amex Black Card. Any number of acorns. Car keys to a ‘69 Bronco. On the same ring, a key charm shaped like a shiny dinosaur, courtesy of Áed. Bottle of vanilla coffee. Bottle of cologne. Wire-rimmed reading glasses with a prescription that would startle most people. Advil.
Notes: librarians think he’s hot.
Type of bag: backpack, but never on both shoulders at once.
Contents: Switchblade of illegal length. Grocery list. An apple turnover in a bakery bag that he bought for Áed. Two ticket stubs from the Royal Ballet. An untranslated copy of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. About eighteen loose bills in ones and a five. A very battered wallet that has no purpose except holding photos of Áed and Ronan. An Altoids tin containing a single Tylenol and a stick of mint gum.
Notes: the cashier at the local bodega has written about him in her blog and is convinced he’s in the Mafia.
Type of bag: fanny pack, cross-body
Contents: A Pop-Tart. Hand lotion that smells like cinnamon. Taser. Rubber bands. Headscarf. Sandstone good luck charm in the shape of a coyote from her mom. Old DS and accompanying Pokémon cartridge. Lighter. Miniature slingshot. Assorted tourist maps with the subways marked off. Black licorices in the outside pocket.
Notes: pigeons fear her. She’s caught one before.
E.G. RADCLIFF IS A PART-TIME pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.
You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on major social media.