Picture of Elfado Island

Elfado Island

Independent Publishing

The Dashing Dr Elodie l’Archambeau

If I am asked who my favourite Sole Brethren character is, I hesitate and think, ‘Am I being disloyal to choose one over the others?’ before saying, ‘Elodie is very special’. Almost everyone  who meets her is smitten. She is irresistible but if I had to choose a favourite it would be Elodie and Cordelia when they are together.  Individually wonderful, as a duo they are even better because being such great friends their collective energy leads them to mind-blowing experiences.

Elodie came into my head when I realised, having written the first draft of the manuscript in around 25,000 words which isn’t even a novella length, I needed a sub-plot.  I remember going for a brisk walk in the Yorkshire Dales (my ancestral homeland in England) to think how to develop the story, and pictured an enigmatic and heroic woman, the most alluring and engaging individual who is unaware of the affect she has. I always carry a notepad and I stood there, on a hill in Upper Wharfedale, quickly scribbling lines, and subjects so I didn’t forget anything about this fascinating creature.

No-one ever says no to Elodie, and yet she is not spoiled and self-entitled. She is, as Cordelia describes her, a yes whisperer. Elodie is also up for fun and always has a plan.  Every moment in her company is the best time ever.

Readers may think such a person cannot exist in real life but they do because I have several utterly charming friends who light up the world and on whom Elodie is partially based. They are kind, happy, and completely loveable, with a mischievous attitude. Seeing how other people react to them with such elation is a delight.

Elodie is dashing, mysterious, enigmatic, always on the move and hard to pin down. She is dreamy, and ingenuous even though she works in a highly stressful profession in war zones and sees the worst that some humans inflict on others. We know very little about Elodie, only what she has told Cordelia and Rex.  Maybe she exists only in their imagination. You can decide.

Elodie was my favourite character to write and she opened up the story and took the plot in directions I had not planned.  It was through her that I experienced what I had previously read novelists discuss about the writing process, that characters, not the writer, often decide what will occur in the story.  I did not understand what they meant until it happened with Elodie and it was extraordinary because she became real in my head and was in charge not just of her own destiny, but of others’ too.

She even changed Rex’s personality.  I had intended for him to be rather brittle and a bit stand-offish, but Elodie turned him into a big hunk-of-love! She also determined how the story ended and I was surprised when her storyline extended the novel by one more chapter even though I had already written another ending.

My Elodie is named after a French woman with whom I volunteered as a marshal at the Brighton Racecourse Covid vaccination centre in 2021. Before each shift she would bake banana and chocolate chip muffins for the volunteers and staff.  I ended up changing my schedule so I could always be on Elodie’s shift – that’s how good her baking was!

I wanted a high-status French name for my magical new character so I checked with my French friend Vincent, and he suggested the name Constance which, being loyal and caring, would suit this character.  I mused for a while and then I remembered the banana and chocolate chip muffins and how lovely and amusing the real Elodie is, and I wanted to memorialise her in print. It was also handy because it meant Rex can refer to Elodie l’Archambeau as Elodelightful and Elodelicious which suit her so well.

We need more Elodies in life.  Not just the ones who generously bake for their colleagues, but the fictitious ones who make everyone’s lives more joyful.

I am eagerly developing the sequel to Sole Brethren: If The Shoe Fits.  The title is Sole Brethren:  Left To Their Own Devices. I have no idea when it will be finished and published. If you are interested in receiving updates on the progress of ‘Left To Their Own Devices’ please subscribe to my occasional newsletter by clicking here. Thank you.

B.A. Summer (pen name of Jane Peyton), Brighton, UK

About the Author

Jane Peyton is the author of Sole Brethren: If The Shoe Fits. She writes fiction under the pen-name B.A. Summer, and non-fiction as Jane Peyton.