Character Sketches from Bet

Here are some character sketches from my novel for young adults, Bet: Stowaway Daughter.

Bet: Stowaway Daughter coverLisbet “Bet” Lindstrom – As the daughter of an experienced sea captain, 13-year-old Bet is familiar with life at sea, but only through the stories her father and his friends have told when they visit her home in Seattle. She’s not really prepared for life aboard the three-masted schooner J.M. Carson, but she adjusts rapidly. Back on land, she likes to hang out with her friend Millie Hall, who both attend Isaac Stevens Junior High School, and her cat, Biscuits and Gravy, Biscuits for short. Bet’s mother left the family when Bet was very young. All Bet knows about her mother is a picture of her holding Bet as a baby. Bet describes herself as “tall, big girl for my age, which is 13, and I have a square face. I don’t think of myself as pretty, but I’m not ugly either. Average maybe. I’m not fat, but I’m pretty strong.” She has no brothers or sisters or other close family in Seattle. Her father’s brother, Jacob, lives in San Francisco. Her favorite movie is Tarzan: The Ape Man, and her favorite singer is Jeanette McDonald, whom Bet thinks is very pretty with an angelic voice.

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Captain Karl Lindstrom – Karl Lindstrom is one of the most respected master mariners in Seattle until he is accused of stealing from the fishermen who worked for him on the three-masted schooner J.M. Carson. At the time, he was working for Peterson Fisheries, which owns the Carson. His wife left him under mysterious circumstances, something he won’t talk about with anyone, not even Bet. Lindstrom is a conservative man, loyal to his employer, and honest to a fault. Everyone was shocked when he was convicted of stealing from these working men.

Millie Hall – Mildred “Millie” Hall is Bet’s best friend. They both live in the same neighborhood of Seattle and attend Isaac Stevens Junior High School. They’ve known each other since they were babies, and it’s impossible for Bet to keep secrets from her. Millie has long blond hair that always needs brushing. She is in love with a singer named Bing Crosby, whom she listens to religiously on the family radio in the living room of her house. Millie’s father works at a lumber mill; her mother stays home with Millie and her older brother, Ted.

Captain Tom Haugen – Captain Thorsten “Tom” Haugen is master of the three-masted fishing schooner J.M. Carson, which sails every spring to the Bering Sea to fish for cod. Haugen emigrated from Trondheim, Norway as a young man to the United States to make a better life for himself. He first went to sea as a teenager, and gradually gained the skills to become a professional mariner. He eventually came to Seattle and fell in love with Puget Sound, because it reminded him of the fjords near his home in Norway. He worked for Bet’s father, Karl Lindstrom, before Karl was arrested and sent to prison. In Seattle, Haugen found a community of other Norwegians, as well as Swedes, Danes, and Finns who make their livings on Puget Sound. Haugen is a quiet, competent, fair man who knows his business but also knows when to listen when he might be wrong.

Horatio Caldwell – As first mate on the J.M. Carson, Horatio Caldwell is second in command of the fishing schooner. Caldwell is feared as a “bucko” mate, a cruel, abusive man not above insulting, even striking crew members who cross him. But he’s a master seaman, and Haugen respects his abilities. Caldwell has a hideous scar that runs across his face and left eye; the eye itself is milky white. During the trial of Bet’s father, Caldwell sat in the back of the courtroom, watching the proceedings, and Bet believes he knows what really happened that led to what Bet believes is the false accusation against her father. When Bet stows away, he’s very angry and tries to get her thrown off the ship. But later in the voyage, Caldwell shows that he’s protective of Bet, warning a menacing fisherman away from her. In the end, Caldwell becomes an ally of Bet, even a friend, though Caldwell remains something of a mystery.

Ben Shanahan – “Irish” Ben Shanahan is the oldest fisherman aboard the J.M. Carson, old enough to be Bet’s grandfather, although Ben himself is unsure exactly how old he is. An immigrant from Claddagh, County Galway, Ireland, Ben went to see very young after his parents died. Bet befriends Ben, who shows her how to build the rigs that the fishermen use to catch cod. Ben’s wife died many years ago by committing suicide. He has two adult daughters, but he hasn’t heard from either in a long time. Bet and Ben become close friends, and when Ben is injured in an accident, Bet helps nurse him back to health.

Whiskey – Whiskey is the third mate aboard the J.M. Carson, meaning he is fourth in command, after the captain, the first mate, and the second mate. Whiskey is in his mid-twenties, with blond hair, hazel eyes, and a dark shadow for a beard. He’s often the highliner on a fishing trip, that is, the man who catches the most fish. Bet rescues Whiskey during a raging storm, and he expresses his gratitude by declaring that he would be proud to call her his kid sister.

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