Sing Down the Stars: Winnie and Birdie

Monday, September 28, 2015

No hero's journey is complete without a cast of supporting friends to back them up along the road.

I've made a brief mention of Penn's circus friends in the post about The Show itself, but since they're the core group, I'll go into a bit more detail in the last few days before the novel's published on October 6.

Winifred Singh -- Known as Winnie to her friends, Winifred Singh has traveled with The Show for four years at the start of the story. As far as anyone knows, she's either an orphan or a runaway who ran afoul of the Warden's Commission at some point, leading to the scars she wears long sleeves to cover up. Though she portrays a siren in The Show's sideshow, she's never spoken a word.

Winnie's a girl with secrets on top of secrets, and she keeps them buried so deep she hopes to never remember them. But when The Show's train is sacked, it turns everyone's life upside down -- literally. When things get shaken up that badly, a few things are bound to end up falling into the open, and Winnie ends up on the run for the second time in her life.

She's a loyal friend, but how much can you really trust someone who's used to sacrificing anything they have to in order to survive?

Birdie Jesek -- Whether Birdie is her given name or not, no one knows. It's the only name the truly bird-like little girl has ever given or answered to, and as for the "Jesek" part, she gets that from her adoptive family: "The Flying Jeseks," who are The Show's acrobats. Bruno Jesek and his wife (known affectionately as "Mother" to one and all) have made a habit of stitching their family together from people who have nowhere else to go, and Birdie's no different. A confirmed survivor by the age of eight, Birdie was alone and half-starved when she found The Show, and she latched onto stern Bruno as a source of consistency and protection. She also proved a natural at the high-wire and related acts, and was soon an official member of the Jesek company.

One of the youngest Show-members by far, Birdie's seen more in her short life than most adults three times her age, but she's still a kid, and she's spent her two years on board the train learning how to be one again. She delights in mischief - usually at the expense of her favorite target Jermay Baan, and thrills at the chance to finally "fly" during a performance, but it's once the group is on the run that she truly begins to shine. Birdie proves herself to be resourceful and clever in ways the rest of her friends and make-shift family never imagined.

Birdie has secrets, too, and once they come out, Penn's world will never be the same.

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