The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square

shy characters

Here’s something odd. Usually male characters are more difficult to get in touch with, and I have no problem connecting to female characters. Curiosity and Elizabeth and Angeline all babble to me when I’m working on their stories. Nathaniel will talk to me now, but it took a long time for the relationship to mature.

Pajama Jones ((retitled The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square)) is the exception to the rule. John Dodge is very talkative, very willing to have me hitch a ride in his head. Julia Darrow? Not so much. Just yesterday she started to open up. Now, Julia has some issues, but I didn’t think she’d be so tentative with me.

Fiction: something new around every corner.


I like architectural drawings. Always have. Every once in a while I wonder about taking a drafting course and then of course the reality of my daily routine makes short work of such fantasies.
architectural drawings
There’s a wonderful Canadian website on the architectural heritage of British Columbia, with lots of visuals and historical information. For example there’s extensive information about the South Park School, including a perspective sketch (seen here), and a whole series of measured drawings on elevations, sections, floor plans, and design details.

For Pajama Jones I have permission (I have given myself permission) to get all involved in discussions of historical landmarks in the south, particularly older mills and manufacturing facilities that are historical, but have fallen into repair and need to be taken care of. Most likely I’ll be using a textile factory for PJ, but I have been thinking a lot about the possibility of an older tobacco processing plant or, more fun, a very old distillery. There’s one in Tennessee that dates back to the 1700s which has been neglected and falling apart for the last fifty years or so. Now if I could only find architectural drawings of it.

the oddest kind of inspiration

Maybe odd isn’t the right word. Inconvenient? Yes, that works.

When I can’t sleep and all efforts at self hypnosis fail, I often find myself bombarded with bits and pieces of the thing I’m working on. Ideas about characters, input from the characters themselves, structural questions, visual ones. I put together maps in my head and then play with them. All of this happens when I’d rather be sleeping. It’s like being forced to watch a movie, or worse, to take part in one.

Every once in a while something good comes out of such sessions. This morning at about four, for example, I got an image of index cards filled with notes written in an elegant hand, with a fountain pen. Each card had a brief description of one person, and all the people being described worked in the shops located in Lambert Square in my fictional Greenbriar, South Carolina. Lambert Square is a renovated textile mill/factory that has been transformed into shops and public spaces, you see. That’s where the bulk of Pajama Jones takes place.

The person who has written these index cards is a rather odd guy who has sold his Lambert Square business (antique and collectible pens and high end paper) to John Adams Dodge. All the negotiations and legal work was carried out by courier service, and Mr. Cowper will have left on a long trip before Dodge ever gets to Greenbriar. So in the last packet of papers Dodge finds a these index cards, provided by Mr. Cowper as a study guide and introduction to Lambert Square.

This provides me with some structure, and it makes Mr. Cowper happy. As Dodge hasn’t even seen the cards yet, I’m not sure how he’ll react, but I think he’ll be amused.

more Pajama Jones prep work

I really like the questions and thoughts y’all had when I posted basic information about Julia. Of course I’m not going to answer your questions — this is a delicate process, and I’ve got my characters to protect — but they were useful to me in a variety of ways. So thanks.

Now here’s the same deal for her counterpart.

Name: John Adams Dodge
Home: His father is a JAG lawyer and constitutional scholar, his mother a nurse. Moved from base to base when he was growing up.
Hair & eyes: He looks a lot like his maternal grandfather Papadapolous, who still lives in Greece — very dark hair and eyes, olive complexion.
Height: 6’2″
Favorite foods: doesn’t have any; will eat about anything, and likes to try new things. Rarely finds anything he likes enough to remember what it’s called.
Won’t eat: Doesn’t much care for things that have been pickled, but will make exceptions.
Favorite things to drink: water, beer, wine. He likes Blue Meanies as well.
Favorite Music: talk radio, for its entertainment value
Likes to wear: stuff that doesn’t stand out. Jeans, chinos, etc. Owns a couple very nice, very expensive business suits he doesn’t often wear.
What his living space is like: He’s lived in so many places in the last ten years that he doesn’t think of any particular place as home. His universe center is at his sister’s house in Brooklyn, or with his parents; father currently stationed in Berlin.
Methods of transport: Whatever gets him where he’s going. He likes to drive, has a ten year old Mercedes he bought at an auction and keeps good care of.
Politics: His reading material of choice. Mostly keeps his opinions to himself but as his father’s son, he doesn’t like the current administration.
Magazine subscriptions: None. Reads the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, New Scientist, Economist when he can pick them up.
Favorite Book: He reads a lot of history and biography. Hasn’t re-read anything in a long time.
Favorite TV Show: Baseball.
Favorite Movie of the last few years: The Quick and the Dead
Expression: Slow down.
Movie star crush: As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .: sees pretty much everything that comes out
Pets: Grew up with a mixed breed terrier called Boo, and still misses him.
Creative outlet: John draws.
Favorite Muppet: Maria.
Favorite ice cream: pistachio
Favorite desert: baklava
The thing he’d never do: skip Christmas with his sister and her family
The thing he’s always wanted to do: start a library of his own
Childhood toy that’s still in his room: he has a box of stuff at his sister’s house, including his first baseball mitt, a gift from his grandfather Dodge.

what she does for a living: Julia was the head buyer at Marshall Field in Chicago (bed and table linens and housewares) for seven years. When she came back to Greenbriar she opened a shop called The Well Made Bed. She specializes in high end and antique linens. More than half her sales happen through her website. She has clients all over the world and she’s very successful. She’s president of the Lambert Square Business Cooperative.

what he does for a living: John finds small businesses that interest him and that are in trouble financially. He buys the business, works to reorganize it until it’s profitable, and sells it. The process takes between six and eighteen months, and then he moves on. Many of his projects have been small town bookstores, but he has also bought/fixed/sold businesses as diverse as a dress shop, a corner drugstore, and a drive-in movie theater.


There you have the primary characters, in as much detail as I can provide at the moment.