I do not want to let slide all the questions you asked me a couple of weeks ago, so I think I'll just go ahead and answer them all in this post! They are not particularly philosophical questions, so a line or two in answer to each will certainly be adequate and probably less confusing for you readers than trying to devote an entire post to a single inquiry. Got it? Okay.
Bree asked: "To which character in The Baby to you feel most sympathetic? To which can you most relate?" Though there are several characters to whom I feel much sympathy, I believe The Queen would be the one who garners most from me. You want to hate her simply because she's the whole reason a child was stolen, but you just can't. She is the sort of woman who would not have been royalty if she hadn't had a brother ambitious enough for both of them, and though she rules well, she is a little bewildered and only comes out of her bewilderment when in the presence of her baby, the Prince of Crissendumm.
I can most relate, probably, to Jamsie or Smidgen; both are trying to keep the scraps of their family together, both are finding certain aspects of that responsibility a challenge, both have a lot at stake. I can relate not because my family is falling apart, but because if it ever came to that, I'd feel like the responsible party. I can also relate to Starling, though, as far as longing for certain things that seem impossible, and going about the Palace making odd observations and remarks. That is not to say that these three are my favorite, but that I can most relate to them. I think at present The Admiral is my absolute favorite, and now I've got Elisabeth on board with me in that respect which makes me happy.
Bree also asked: "What age-range are you aiming for with this book?" Technically speaking, it is for ages 12 and up. Jamsie and Richmond, the principle characters, are thirteen and twelve respectively (I think? I forget now) so it is a little young to be classified as Y/A fiction. But it's not mid-grade fiction - the themes and complexities are a little advanced for middle-schoolers, I think, though I saw recently that middle-schoolers were being required to read The Scarlet Letter. I mean, honestly? You'll soon tell me that Bleak House is required reading in kindergarten. I have always enjoyed "children's" books, so I think identifying with one age-range (while easier for marketing) lessens the value that an all-encompassing range would have. I think that many readers in many age-ranges will enjoy The Baby. The side-characters are, for the most part, out of their teens, so there are plenty of adults to interest older readers.
And: "Who is The Baby, or is that Top Secret?" The ambiguity of The Baby's identity is purposeful and inevitable. You will have to wait to read the book for a full explanation.
And: How long is the project currently? (and how long to you expect it to be?) Currently, The Baby is a sorry little 21,000 words long. I still have much of the plot to write, but it is not going to be a hefty book. I hope to reach 70-80,000 words. Lots of work to do. *sigh*. I have been busy with plotting and detailing, but there has not been over-much writing going on. The trouble with building word-count for me seems to be all the alleys I could go down with my fascinating side-characters, and knowing me, I have to be careful not to give them too much of the stage. (good luck with that.)
Esther asked a mash of simple questions that I can answer quickly:
1. Are the Baby, Jamsie, and Richmond the only earth-folk in Crissendum at the moment? One can never be quite sure, can they? The thing is, the citizens of Crissendumm often visit this world, but this world is rather ignorant of the existence of their world, so apart from tumbling down The Puddle or another portal, people seldom go there.
2. In whose household is Starling? The Queen's household. At the start of the book, Starling is an unfortunate undermaid's undermaid.
3. How old are Jamsie, Richmond, Smidgen, and Starling? Jamsie is thirteen, almost fourteen; Richmond is twelve, almost thirteen. Smidgen never exactly tells us his age, but I'd warrant he's in line with Richmond. Starling is sixteen, but very small for her age.
4. Falling into Crissendum is apparently simple enough, since your characters did it accidentally. Is it as easy to fall out? Does the puddle go both ways? There are several portals in and out of Crissendumm. One would be sailing off the edge of the world, because in Crissendumm, this is still possible. Another method is stepping in the arch formed by the Nodding Twins, two ancient willows. This dumps you out somewhere in a wood in America and is a mischievous way, because you're never sure which wood. There are other ways, like stepping through a certain reflection of a reflection into the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, which can be a bit awkward. The portals are all marked on the globes made in Crissendumm, and are common knowledge. It is a rule with the portals that they can only work one direction each trip, so you have to exit by a different portal; this keeps traffic to a low. Imagine banging into someone careening down one way while you were shooting up the opposite direction? Road-kill in such instances would be difficult to clean up.
5. Who is this John character? John Brady is Leona's love interest, and Leona is Smidgen's sister. John is a teacher at Whiskin's Abbey at the beginning of his contracted term of four years, and thus tied to life as a monk for the interim.
And for the very last question, Bree asked if I could give you a proper introduction to Crissendumm. I shall refer all of you who are curious to Crissendumm: A World Inside a World where I explain lots and lots about this strange place. I hope my answers satisfied you, and thank you so much for asking; I love to delve into the whys and wherefores thereof. :)