Building Character with Claramina Dart from True Haven

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet characters from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought plays host to Claramina Dart from True Haven. Thank you for joining us, Claramina. We’d love to hear more about you.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Miss Claramina Dart. I am now 14 and after my parents died, I managed to find a position as a tailor’s apprentice for Mr Thrums in my hometown of Mudwells. I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t that bad – at least to start with. It used to be rather grand in the old days, when people came to the spa to take the waters. Now it’s all crumbling rather, and it’s ever such a trial delivering garments to our customers by wheelbarrow. No sedan chairs for the likes of us! Life would have been bearable, if only our new assistant, little Barley Spindle, hadn’t got himself arrested by the evil Flugelcrampers who patrol the streets ...

Aw, a shame! What is the main conflict are you up against now?

Well, I tried to save Barley, but ended up getting arrested myself. Imagine my surprise when I woke up after a long voyage and found I was in True Haven, a faraway colony. And if that wasn’t enough, they’d put me in a fearful workhouse with a dozen other orphans. Luckily, Barley was at the same institution, run by the vile Mrs Bellyband, but he’s hurt his arm and looks terribly pale. They say there’s no way out of True Haven, but I refuse to believe them. I’m working on a plan, but I know I have to hurry. It doesn’t help that even when I can slip out of the workhouse for a while, the streets are dark and foggy, and I swear I saw giant monsters lurking in the shadows ...

Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

You might think Claramina is a pretty name, but the other children shortened it to Mina, making it sound like ‘meanie’. I am a bit small for my age, so they called me ‘teeny weeny Mina’. I refused to cry, but it hurt. As I got older, I began to stand up for myself, but I still hate it when people think I can’t do something because I’m shorter than they are. Being tall doesn’t put you in charge, does it? Instead of getting angry, I try to think of ways around the problem – which seems to work. A particular gentleman called Florian Cabochon who I came to meet said I had the mind of a soldier! Well, that was a fine compliment and I tried not to let it go to my head. Still, I think years of being teased has made me stronger than I realised – and independent, too. There’s not much that can frighten me now. Which is perhaps just as well ...

Tell us, Claramina, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Before I’d ever heard of True Haven, I planned to become a proper tailor. It crossed my mind that Mr Thrums might retire and leave me his little shop. I dreamed that a dashing young courtier would arrive one day to order a new jacket, and would end up buying me a bridal gown, and we’d live in one of the fancy townhouses in the square. I knew how many children I wanted, every detail of the silverware we’d own, even the colour of the dinner service. (Actually, it was all based on my favourite book The Struggles of a Seamstress by Agnes Lavinia Stourmont which Mr Thrums leant me.)

But then everything changed with True Haven, and I found out there was much more to life than being a seamstress. So, I haven’t decided, to be truthful, but perhaps, after all the excitement is over, I might go back to a nice school and learn more about the real world before I decide.

So, that’s me. Miss Claramina Dart from Mudwells, but you can call me Mina. I’ve got used to the name.

Very well, Mina, it sounds like you have an exciting adventure indeed. We wish you the best of luck and hope your story has a happy ending! Readers, here is more about Mina’s book, True Haven.

Young seamstress Miss Claramina Dart of overpopulated Mudwells is unfairly arrested and thrown into a workhouse far away in the city of True Haven. She befriends Barley, another orphan, and they plan to escape, but the city is not what it seems. Elegant on the outside, it is run by cruel childmongers while the youngsters do the hard labour. Worse, it is infested by mysterious giant creatures that prey on the children.

After a close shave, they are rescued by Otto, a clockmaker, and discover the scale of their plight, at the whim of the evil twins, Dandy and Dinmont Mortescue, the leaders of Mudwells.

Despite their efforts to escape, they are swept up in even more dastardly plots and counter-plots between Mudwells and a rival city state as the ruthless twins use True Haven and Otto’s devices in a deadly struggle for power.

Readers, you can learn more about Claramina’s author here:

Pam Kelt has worked in publishing and journalism, including Bath, and is now the author of seven novels, some for adults, some for younger readers. She now lives in Kenilworth with her husband Rob and enjoys long walks with Chester and Lottie (her two lovely rescue dogs), watching her windowsill orchids grow and keeping up with the best fantasy fiction around.

Find out more about True Haven and the story behind the story on the accompanying blog. You can follow me on TwitterFacebook and PinterestFind out all the latest on my author website and blogSee my author pages on Amazon.comGoodreads and SmashwordsThere’s a book trailer here: 

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  1. Sounds like an interesting read and this is very cool blog post!

  2. Hi, Margaret,
    Thanks for this. The book was so much fun to write - especially as I based it in Bath where I used to live, so I could use a lot of genuine Regency details, albeit with a bonkers fantasy twist. I loved doing the interview in Claramina's voice. I've never done a blog like this before - glad you enjoyed it. And thanks to Kai for the suggestion, too!


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