Lucy Knight - Introduction

Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

When Lucy Knight introduced herself to me, I had no idea from where she had come. She appeared – seemingly from thin air – demanding attention.

But looking back I can see that she existed in embryo form in several unfinished earlier novels. If you’ve read The Story’s Journey, you’ll know that I spent years starting, but not completing, one novel after another. I was wandering around a maze of my own making. I thought each new idea was the map to the exit. But all I reached were dead ends.

However, several of those novels featured a character called Lynette Munroe – or “Nettie”. She was always a plus-sized, socially awkward individual, and I can see those things in Lucy. But Nettie was also typically passive and quietly spoken, two things Lucy Knight definitely is not.

Her Hairdo's Come Undone

If Nettie Munroe was the initial spark for Lucy, then the fuel for the flames came from two of my favourite fictional protagonists – Tracy Turnblad of the 1988 film Hairspray and Dolores Price of the 1992 novel She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

Despite sharing some physical similarities, these two could hardly be more different. Tracy is optimistic and brave. Dolores is morose and damaged. Tracy battles to help others. Dolores struggles to save herself. But both triumph.

In many ways, Lucy is much more a “Dolores” than a “Tracy”. She is angry, foul-mouthed, and broken by the events of her life. However, she does share Tracy’s sense of loyalty, and her altruism – Lucy’s goodwill is just buried underneath a lot of bluster.

Lucy’s transformation from nobody to nobody-who-saves-the-world will underpin the entire series. At the end of the first book she makes the necessary gallant sacrifice, finding the “heroine” within her. But, being Lucy Knight, she promptly loses it, denies it, ignores it, and has it beaten out of her. The best hero journeys aren’t straight lines and Lucy’s line will be as tangled as the Gordian knot. Or ratted hair.

Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray (Copyright 1988 -Warner Bros)

Bonus Round

Unlike Dolores, Tracy has a best friend who she leans upon and I can certainly see a lot of Penny Pingleton in Amber Kim. Just like Lucy, Amber showed up fully formed in my head, right behind Ms Knight, declaring that she too was integral to the series. So I owe Hairspray‘s writer John Waters a double debt.