Please be forewarned, if this kind of thing offends you, that this post includes examples of a young girl cursing, though it’s meant in a satirical, humorous way.

Name: Cora Ann Campbell

Date of birth: 1 January 1938

Place of birth: Vermont

Year I created her: 1991

Role: Main character, Not Protagonist (except for one book)

Cora Ann is the middle of Max’s three stepsisters. In June 1941, at the age of three and a half, she moves from Vermont to the Seward mansion in Atlantic City, and grows up calling Mr. Seward Stepdaddy and considering Max and his siblings as good as her two sisters. I always thought Cora Ann was so cute, this little girl with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a little girl voice. Her cute image is hilariously belied by the coarse language and naughty behavior she approvingly picks up from Max and Elaine. (Well, I never said my Atlantic City books are meant to be taken as straight historical fiction. They’re also a mix of social satire and spoof, and full of absurdist, dark humor so over the top it’s meant to be funny and not taken seriously. Sort of like some of the humorous situations on shows like American Dad or The Simpsons. You know it’s not realistic, so you laugh instead of bitching about how that could never happen or never would have happened in real life.)

Though she equally participates in all the hilarious misadventures the Seward-Campbell family has during the Forties, she’s still a child while Max and Elaine are coming of age. I’m looking forward to writing the 35th book, where she takes the lead, Not a Child Anymore. It’s going to open in June of 1954, when she’s 16 and a half. During the annual vacation at Bambi’s beach home, she meets and starts dating a longhaired guitarist named Tony Cooper. Everyone is so used to seeing and thinking of Cora Ann as a child, so it’s an eye-opening experience for everyone when they come home from shopping and find Cora Ann and Tony having sex on a tiger skin rug in the living room!

Cora Ann gets pregnant, and Bambi and Mr. Seward say they’ll take care of the situation without ruining her reputation or the family’s good name. Mr. Seward also forbids her to marry Tony, whom he could never stand. Cora Ann stands up for herself as an adult and runs away from home with her baby, Deena, to elope with Tony. She won’t stand for being hidden away like an animal, telling everyone a lie about what she was really doing when she was away, or letting her relationship be ruined the way Elaine’s relationship with her second boyfriend, Roger Wilkes, the great love of her life, was ruined when everyone interfered. No one’s going to push her around as though she’s still the little girl who first walked into the Seward mansion in 1941.

Some cute, typical, and favorite Cora Ann lines written to date:

(When she and Adeladie are upset by Abbott and Costello’s In the Navy) Cora Ann began crying. “He’s being mean to the fat guy!”

“My resolution is to stop giving a penny to the collection basket at church and to instead give to it a piece of lint,” Cora Ann said.

“I just knew it!  I just knew those quints were ours!” Cora Ann wept.

“Wanna see real hair of clowny lady,” Cora Ann said. “And five boy clownies.” (Cora Ann is always asking clowns to show her their real hair.)

“I’m already on my second sundae!” Cora Ann said proudly. “I ate my fruit salad so quickly and didn’t go back for seconds just so I could save some room for the good stuff!”

“Stay the hell away from our quintsies!  You might give ‘em old man disease an’ they’d be doomed!” Cora Ann shouted.

“Can I have a chocolate lolly, Grandpa Stan?  I saw you giving ‘em to the boys earlier.” Cora Ann went over and put on a sad puppy dog face.

(While the children are talking about the Christmas presents they tried to guess the identity of) “I think I shook up something that was cookies,” Cora Ann confessed. “I hope nonea them broke.”

“Going to the lavatory is dirty and disgusting.  You have to touch yourself, and that’s perverted,” Cora Ann scoffed.

“No, Gene locked himself in the attic,” Cora Ann said, finding Elaine’s wig and putting it on. “Leave him there to die!”

“My snowsuit is riding up my ass,” Cora Ann piped up.

“There ain’t no Santa?” Cora Ann asked sadly.

“A sleigh ride pulled by reindeer?” Cora Ann asked excitedly.

“You stink!” Cora Ann declared loudly and angrily. “Who do you think you are, screwin’ us outta our Winter vacation and making me miss out on the reindeer sled ride tomorrow?!”

“Gene fucked it up!” Cora Ann announced angrily. “It’s all his fault!”

(Going to see the mall Santa near the end of 1943, because this strange town keeps the Santa there for Eastern Orthodox kids and for disgruntled kids who hate what Santa got them and want refunds) “I’m bitter and furious, Santa!” Cora Ann shouted when she came by a few days after Adeladie’s birthday by surprise. “My family’s Christmas was really shitty and our tree was ruined and we had to go an’ find all the presents ourselves, all ‘cause our parents weren’t there, and we woulda had ourselves a fine nice little Christmas if my wicked stepbrother Eugene hadn’t fucked everything up when we were at the skiing resort!”

(As Elaine’s increasingly less secret boyfriend Roger, the mall Santa, is beating up Gene) “Way to go Santa!” Cora Ann cheered. “You just granted onea my wishes!”

(While on an open house) “Do these lovely toys come with the mansion?” Cora Ann asked.

“I can’t wait till it’s finished being built!” Cora Ann declared in her little girl voice. “They have a spa in the bathroom!”

“Lookit!  Bicycles!” Cora Ann went dashing off to a gigantic display of bikes, yanked away a big pink one to her liking, and began riding it through the store, barely able to stay on the seat.  She rode it into a number of toy displays, at first by accident, then on purpose.

(Upon learning her youngest child Mitchell has mysteriously gone missing in Australia in 1998) “Run a story about what’s happened to Mitchell!” Cora Ann wailed. “Those damn Australians have not heard the end of the Sewards, Campbells, or Blacks.”

“I’ve kept these old photos on my wall all these years,” Cora Ann said, choking up. “Me and [name redacted] at my high school graduation practice in 1956, just a few months before she died, and [name] holding Deena when she was a baby. She wrote on the back of that picture how she couldn’t wait for her to grow up and how much fun she’d have playing and hanging out with her. I know Ladie still keeps a photo on her own wall of [name] holding Lisbeth as a baby. It makes me sick that that murderer got away with it and that Luke is steamrolling ahead with his plans to rape her soul.”

15 thoughts on “Cora Ann

    1. Thanks! I’ve been developing her for a bit over 20 years now, so by this point, I know all of my original Atlantic City characters very well. One of my favorite parts of her character is her relationship with her stepbrother Gene. No one really likes Gene, for voluminous reasons, but he seems to get under her skin the most, and they’re constantly arguing and sniping at one another over the years.

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    1. Thanks! I like the direction her character took more than the childish original idea I’d had, to make Max’s three stepsisters intolerable brats. That would’ve been too cliché a direction for a series about a stepfamily.

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  1. Sounds like you put a lot of thought into your characters…hope you enjoy the Challenge! Just stopping by to say ‘Hello”.

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    1. Thanks! It helps that I’ve been with my original crop of Atlantic City people for a bit over 20 years now. At the time, I never dreamt I’d still be writing their stories so many years on.

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  2. She’s quite the character, too. I have to agree with the other commenters who’ve said you clearly put a lot of thought into your characters.

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    1. Thanks! Since I was so young when I created my original Atlantic City people, I feel like I’ve grown up with them. Not only that, but writing their stories for so many years was a large part of what eventually turned me into a much better writer. The way I write their stories today is so much more polished, complex, and mature than when I wrote my first novella-length books with them in 1991-93.

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