Explaining the character of Bitty Haas (here in my drawing above) is difficult, because her relationship to Alathea changes in all sorts of ways over time. Though I’ve so far only finished the first manuscript of her story, I’ve planned a complete lifeline with her and Alathea.
Because time travel is involved, different threads of time weave in and out and interact in unexpected ways. It makes it very exciting to think about and very challenging to write.
Bitty’s character is a stabilizing one. She is, in a way, a witness to broad sections of Alathea’s life and adventures. Though Bitty isn’t the main protagonist, Alathea’s life story wouldn’t be possible without her. As the books progress, this will become more apparent.
When Bitty Was Born
Bitty was born in 1927 Germany. This places her birth at a very difficult time in history, right between the two world wars, and just a few years before the beginning of the Third Reich. While Bitty’s youth isn’t a focus in the first manuscript, it will be in the third manuscript because we will see Alathea there with Bitty.
In the first manuscript, tentatively titled: The Dragon That Ate the World, Bitty is in her 60s for most of the story. We do see her briefly as a young girl, but most of the story takes place in 1988.
The Need of Bitty
Bitty and Alathea are lifelong best friends and their relationship spans several decades already by the 1980s, which means that they’ve been best friends for longer than Alathea has been alive.
I’ve never had a best friend like this, but I was inspired by my Grandma Isabel’s lifelong friendship with her best friend Lucille. They were little girls together, went to school together, they were both beauty pageant contestants (Lucille got first place, my grandma got second), both got married and had kids around the same time, and they grew old together too. They saw each other through every phase of life a person can possibly recall over a lifetime, and they supported each other through many hardships.
This is something that always really amazed me. I do have important and close friends, but I haven’t been able to hold a close and intimate friendship that started so long ago. I remember my best friend Bianca and how heartbroken I was when her family moved away. I never again had a best friend quite like that, and a couple of years later, my family moved as well.
The intricate ways women relate to each other over a lifetime is something I find really interesting and particular, so I knew I wanted to say some things about that in this series. I don’t want to tell you how (well actually I DO want to – it’s so hard to keep secrets like this) the relationship between Alathea and Bitty will change over time, but I hope it will be something… special. I have something in my mind and hope I can deliver that onto the page.