This episode of my Character Traits Series welcomes Doctor Louise Brimstone, who was created by author Paula RC Readman for her novel The Phoenix Hour. Are you a fan of gothic crime novels? I highly recommend checking out Paula’s novels. Now, it’s her turn to take over this post.
Thank you, Joan, for this opportunity to introduce Doctor Louise Brimstone, the main character from, The Phoenix Hour to your audience.
Doctor Louise Brimstone is a scientist who works in genetic engineering research. Her job is to complete the lifetime work started by her parents, Hunter Brimstone and Meredith Thurston, who were the world-leading minds in genetic research before their premature deaths, for the same company Hartley Research Centre of Excellence.
Extract from The Phoenix Hour
The last to join and the youngest team member was Maddie. To me, (Doctor Louise Brimstone) she seemed too young at twenty to have gained the knowledge and understanding in her chosen field of research, but she was a shining example of everything our company stood for. She was a product of the HII1 drug. Her mother, a single woman, had bought into our creation’s dream, giving her daughter the best start in life by using the drug. I found Maddie to be an easy-going colleague, if a bit headstrong, but in a way, we were both independent, strong women in a man’s world.
With his flowing white beard, Davidson stood before his team, arms raised and outstretched like some biblical prophet. He had to win back the enthusiasm of his team with words of wisdom and encouragement, by telling them that the last fifteen years was just a blip on the commercial horizon. Now we had to face the new challenges before us and take the company forward into the future. As I looked around, I wondered just how many of them were loyal to his cause, or if it was the money, he paid us that kept them from leaving. Being part of Davidson’s team brought us widespread respect and made us wealthy scientists.
“My dear friends and colleagues,” Davidson began. “I’ve gathered you here today to tell you of our amazing plans for the future of our company. Starting with a party on New Year’s Day, we will begin offering our expertise to help give young married couples the chance to conceive a genetically-matched child of their own.”
For a moment, nobody spoke. I guessed, like me, the rest of them were too stunned to speak. Their shocked expressions made me want to giggle, but I bit my lip instead. Was he mad? How did he think we could possibly pull it off? Was he thinking of some sort of fraud?
No one knew the full extent of the problem. It wasn’t until the child reached the age of maturity, that the difficulties appeared: in conception, carrying to full term, and stillborn babies. It wasn’t a case of no genetic material being left in the world to work with, but more about the quality of eggs and sperm. It was as though the human race was dying. Even the wealthy had learnt a hard lesson. No amount of money could buy them the children they wanted to inherit their fortunes. Didn’t Davidson know his new plan was madness?
The plan was not just to create babies, but individual and unique genetically-matching children for the wealthy. The courts might still have been out on whether our drug had caused the fall in the birth rate, but to start another project linked to treating infertility was crazy. Trust Davidson to want to play Russian roulette with the wealthy.
How did you come up with the character and her name?
When creating characters in my book, I find it satisfying to give them names that match their personality or the overall theme of the story. For example, the character Doctor Louise Brimstone is a scientist, and the name Brimstone, an archaic term for sulphur, seemed fitting. Sulphur is lemon-yellow. When it’s burnt turns into a blood-red liquid, and is often associated with fire and brimstone, a biblical reference to divine punishment. I believe this name choice reflects the theme of my book, as it is a tale that goes against the natural order of things.
The inspiration for The Phoenix Hour came when I wanted to write two ideas that had been bubbling around in my head. The two themes, which fitted my idea, were Steampunk and Time Travel. These were two subgenres of Sci-fi. The book would be a meeting between The Children of Men by P.D. James and H G Well’s Time Machine. While busy at work, the idea came to me. I had been trying to think of an idea for a drug, and come up with Hartley Intellectual Improvement drug, a drug for improving people’s ability to hold information. I felt it would be something everyone would be willing to take, and give to their children. I’ve always believed, if you educate women, they will educate their children, thus lift themselves out of poverty.
Was a real person your inspiration?
No, none of the characters are based on anyone I know. All my characters, apart from two in one of my novella are fictional, though the emotions they experience are real as we have all felt them at some point in our life, .i.e., betrayal, fear, love, loss etc.
Is your character likeable or not?
Yes, I think Louise is very likeable even though she finds herself put in a difficult situation. One reviewer described her as being captivating and frustrating at the same time and is a great example of what people, even smart ones will do in the name of love. Another reviewer said they were drawn into the book on the strength of the main character, Louise Brimstone. I would be very interested in finding out what other readers think of her, too.
Paula R C Readman is married, and lives in Essex, England, with her husband and two cats. In 1998, with no understanding of English grammar, she decided to beat her dyslexia, by setting herself a challenge to become a published author.
She taught herself ‘How to Write’ from books her husband purchased from eBay. After making the 250th purchase, Russell told her ‘just to get on with the writing’. After having many short stories published and winning several writing competitions, in 2020 she had her first crime novella, The Funeral Birds, published by Demain Publishing, a single collection of short stories Days Pass Like A Shadow, published by Bridge House Publishing. Stone Angels, Seeking the Dark and The Phoenix Hour were published by darkstroke books. In April 2023 her second novella, Never Reaching the End was published by Demain Publishing.
The Phoenix Hour: https://mybook.to/PhoenixHour1
Seeking The Dark; https://mybook.to/seekingthedark
Stone Angels: https://mybook.to/stoneangels
The Funeral Birds: https://mybook.to/thefuneralbirds
Days Pass Like a Shadow: https://mybook.to/dayspasslikeashadow