I would like to introduce you to the primary characters in The Glass Table—the twelve children cast into a spell to live in the river Kai in two opposing spirit groups: the river spirits and the wood spirits. The river spirits can escape the spell, but only with dire consequences for the wood spirits, which strains relationships and pits the two groups against each other. First, the river spirits:
Fourteen-year-old Jack Irwin-Hunter becomes the leader of the river spirits by default since no one else wants the position due to the responsibility and sacrifice that comes with it. This character is named after two people: my nephew, Jack, and Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter, and the character traits of Jack Irwin-Hunter are very much those of the real Jack who is now fifteen and too young to sue.
Jack finds himself at Lake Como when the spell is cast having run away from home, feeling unloved and unwanted following the tragic death of his younger brother, Colby, who was killed by a speeding car. This was influenced by my own experience as a 16-year-old when my older brother, Paul, was killed on his motorbike. I know the turmoil that follows the death of a sibling and how difficult it is for a child to understand any of it.
It is only through Jack returning home as a river spirit, unseen by his parents, does he come to appreciate that in fact, his parents love him very much and will do everything in their power to find him and bring him home.
Jordan Carrefour is ten and has a younger sister, Maizie. His father is a lawyer who struggles to come to terms with the notion that the children are in a spell cast by a witch. Jordan spends most of his time obsessing about how to catch a carp, the mastermind of the river, which has taken a dislike to him. It's a battle of wills. The character, Jordan, is named after my nephew and has similar personality traits, for example, Jordan's interaction and relentless pursuit of the carp in The Glass Table is how I would expect the real Jordan to deal with a similar situation.
Ming Zhi Chen, age twelve, lives with her mother in a tiny one-bedroom house in Rumpole. Ming's mother escaped China with her when Ming was a baby in defiance of the country's one-child policy, and relatives who wanted Ming handed over to baby traders because she was not the boy the family wanted. She attends a private girls' school by way of a scholarship, and is known for her exceptional intelligence. As a result, the river spirits rely heavily on Ming to help them understand the complexities of the rules set out in the manual governing their existence as river spirits.
Lucy Bintapple was a fun character to write. She is a spirited twelve-year-old who cares less what anyone thinks of her. She has a problem with vocabulary, and tends to mix words and phrases together for new versions. She collects bottle tops and stones, and lives with her younger sister, Caitlyn, and her father. Their mother died when the girls were younger, but Mr Bintapple still talks to his wife as if she is still with them. Mr Bintapple is the first person to embrace the theory that the children have been cast into a spell by the witch who lives at the lake. Lucy is the redhead on the cover of The Glass Table.