Silas Burcombe was an accident. A delightful accident, but still very much an accident. When I started writing Captain Silas Burcombe, I had an image of a proper, law-abiding aeronaut with a handlebar mustache and a pipe wedged tightly between two thin lips. The end result, as you will see from my chat with him, could not be any far off from that image.
Me: I was thinking I’d save myself the headache.
Silas: I know what can cure your headache. A nice, big tankard of…
Me: You’ll get your drink, Silas. I care too much for my sanity to subject myself to your constant nagging.
Silas: -grins- Now that’s a good lass. If only everyone in Wisteria Pier had your brains, they would’ve saved themselves much discomfort. How troublesome can it be to buy a drink for ol’ Silas?
Me: The last time somebody appeased you, you got extremely drunk, smashed ten glasses and two chairs, broke the front door and the pub owner’s nose, and drove the bar maid to tears.
Silas: She only wept because she had sealed her future with that fool and lost her chance with me. Tales of unrequited love are so tragic.
Me: You are such a braggart.
Silas: Because I have every bragging right there is to have, my dear. I am exceedingly handsome, I am a famous sky pirate…
Me: Ex. Ex sky pirate.
Silas: Do not interrupt the Great Silas as he speaks, please, where are your manners? As I was saying, I was a famous sky pirate, I defeated two ships with one cannon ball once! I am a local legend, really. I have an airship that puts all other Cedarian airships to shame. I can hold my liquor. And I am the honorary member of the Aeronaut Alliance.
Me: No, you aren’t. Captain Winters has yet to approve your application on the grounds of a questionable past and indecent behaviour.
Silas: Maxwell is just being coy. You and I both know he’s stalling because he doesn’t wish to show favouritism. It’s just a matter of time before he begs me to join, and why wouldn’t he? I am the best aeronaut there ever was. I can easily outfly any of those twits who always try to infuriate me with their membership status. It doesn’t take a genius to…
Me: Then how did you get caught?
Silas: I… well, they… I couldn’t… I was… can I have my drink now?
I will probably regret sending him off to the pub later on but it buys me a few minutes of silence. I love him to bits, but he can get pretty loud sometimes, and the bragging is sometimes just a little bit over the top. But he’s a good guy at heart despite what might be said about him. He could easily just skip town – well not now when there’s no fuel for his ship – but he promised the Cedarians to uphold the law in exchange for his freedom, and law breaker that he may be, he would never break a promise.
Like Josephine, I only realised that Silas reminds me of a certain pirate when I was done writing him. For a moment I was worried, but members of the team told me it was fine and that they all liked him, so we kept him as he is, our steampunkish version of Jack Sparrow. Can you spot the resemblance? In a way this is a bit of a homage, since Jack is one of my favourite fictional characters, and what I believe to be Johnny Depp’s finest role.
Below you can see some of the evolution of Silas during the art process. We wanted him to appear handsome but at the same time rather ruggish, and this is how we went about it.