Thursday, October 28, 2010
I Want Money ...
... that's what I want. At least it was what the Flying Lizards (and pretty much everyone else around in the '80s) wanted. (And yes, they were really called the Flying Lizards, and yes, I have too many brain cells devoted to odd New Wave 80s bands. The song is actually from the late '50s, and has been covered by a lot of artists).
Just click here to watch it:
OK, you back now? The 80s was a time of rampant greed and materialism (cue to Madonna singing "Material Girl" and Robin Leech announcing Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous). Me, I was only a poor student, so other than leaving me with a life-long craving for truffles, I emerged unscathed.
I like money--who doesn't?--but only for what it can do in terms of making life easier. And in that regard, my attitude reflects that of my protagonists.
Take Arcturus. He's a doctor, and currently very well-off by Roman standards, since his patron is the governor of Britannia. However, his patron is about to be recalled to Rome, and Arcturus himself has made enemies of some very important (and wealthy) people. He's going to have to economize--and that'll be OK with him, since he was poor for a good part of his life. But if Fortuna smiles again and he wins a mammoth bet on a chariot race--without getting knocked off before he collects--you can bet he'll go back to spending money on what's important to him: his wife, his house, and helping people. And animals, of course. In The Curse-Maker, he finds a broken down donkey to add to his menagerie. He might buy an expensive bottle of wine ... but ale is fine, too.
Arcturus is not really good with money, and if he has it he spends it. If he doesn't, he eats cabbage.
Miranda's attitude toward money is more problematic. She distrusts people who have a lot of it, and despises those who seem to worship it. She doesn't trust it--she's seen too much of what it can do to people--and teaching farm workers in the Valley during the early days of the Depression left her bitter about the exploitation of the poorest people in our country. Nothing she's seen since has really changed her opinions about banks, corporations and businessmen.
Finding herself thrust into the class of people she despises would rock her already fragile sense of identity. So ... she'd more than likely set some money aside, keeping it in the bank and living on the interest. And then she'd go on working, but not chained to the cases she would rather not accept. She'd use the money, a little at a time, to help people she felt needed help. She'd probably bankroll a refugee operation, maybe even smuggle them over herself, if necessary. Miranda would use the money to go on fighting her war ... because that is who she is, regardless of how much money is in the office safe. In her line of work, it's usually boom or bust, and she finds herself in financial jeopardy at the opening of City of Spiders (soon to be changed to a different title).
So there you go. As for what I'd do if I won the lottery ... I'd pay off all my debts, remodel our house, and take a trip with my family to Europe for a few months. Possibly buy a little cottage outside Dorchester in England. And of course, I'd write ... all the time! :)