The Private Diary of Elizabeth Quatermain, volume III: Author's Notes and Acknowledgements

As always, I feel the burning desire to clear up a whole bunch of minor plot points. If you have a question that isn't answered here, leave it in a review/comment and I'll update the FAQ to include the answer.

About this whole sordid plot

What was it they ate at the end of chapter one, the rice and lamb stuffed in grape leaves?

That's a traditional Greek dish called papadakis. I suppose Elizabeth ought to have been able to pronounce it, or at least spell it, because it's not as hard as I thought it was going to be. When I wrote the first chapter, I couldn't remember what it was called, and I was thinking of a much longer and more difficult Greek word.

I know diamonds are traditional engagement stones, but what's this about garnets being the jewel of truth and faith?

The Victorians assigned meaning to a lot of things, including gemstones. I took the meanings of diamonds and garnets from a list of the virtues associated with various jewels during the Victorian era. I really wanted to follow a different Victorian custom with Mina's engagement ring, actually; they often spelled words in gemstones, using the first letter of each stone. (For instance, if Elizabeth were getting a ring that spelled "Bess," the stones could be beryl, emerald, sapphire and sapphire -- b, e, s, s.) I thought that was just too cute...but I couldn't work out stones to spell any appropriate words. So Mina got a diamond and garnet ring instead, to symbolize Henry's faithfulness.

Why are they partying so much in this installment? There's the engagement dinner, Thanksgiving, the wedding feast, Christmas...what's the deal?

Well, although this third volume does have a fair bit of action in the later chapters, its true overriding purpose is to illustrate the characters and how they relate to one another. You could say they're making memories in this installment -- don't we all have memories of our families on special occasions? And I wanted to show that they really are, in their odd way, a family.

Where did you get the toasts from the engagement dinner?

Various sources. The Hindustani translation is accurate, and really is a traditional Indian blessing (though usually offered at weddings, not engagement parties). Skinner's toast really is a Scottish toast, and Henry's really is Irish. Elizabeth and Tom's toasts are of uncertain origin, but were commonly offered at Victorian weddings.

What was the issue with Mina's wedding dress and the whole "married in blue" business?

Again, the Victorians assigned meaning to practically everything -- especially everything to do with a wedding! Actually, before Queen Victoria herself got married, a bride could wear very nearly any color she wanted; Victoria was the one who popularized the white gown. Second-time brides in the Victorian era were not supposed to wear white, however, and all brides took into consideration this little poem, which explained the rationale behind certain colors:

Married in white, you have chosen right.
Married in green, ashamed to be seen.
Married in grey, you'll go far away.
Married in red, you'll wish yourself dead.
Married in blue, your love will be true.
Married in yellow, you're ashamed of your fellow.
Married in black, you'll wish yourself back.
Married in pink, your spirits will sink.
Married in brown, you'll live out of town.
Married in pearl and you'll live in a whirl.

As you can see, if a Victorian lady wanted her marriage to be happy, she didn't have too many options for the color of her gown.

Will we ever see Skinner's niece Alexandra?

We may. I'm not completely certain yet. There is a distinct possibility we'll meet her in the fifth volume, but it's not definite. Keep in mind that she doesn't remember Uncle Rodney at all, being only a toddler when her mother threw him out.

Why the choice of Skinner's birthday?

December 13th is the birthday of Tony Curran, the hunk -- I mean, actor who plays Skinner in the movie. Since we know absolutely nothing about Skinner, it seemed like a reasonable way to choose.

Why was Tom pretending to be Elizabeth's husband?

This goes back to a conversation they had in the first volume, when Tom first told Elizabeth about Becky Thatcher; Elizabeth responded with her own story, about how she had to serve as a bridal attendant when her best friend married the man she would have chosen for herself. Adding insult to injury, said bridegroom was interested in Elizabeth but decided she didn't have enough money. Robert Stuart was the man in question, and Constance was the friend for whom Elizabeth had been the bridesmaid. Tom, fortunately, has a very good memory, and put on the ruse to save Elizabeth from admitting her "old maid" status. (In Victorian times, a 20-year-old girl with no evident marriage prospects was on her way to being a spinster.) Connie was particularly flustered by the news, because our boy Sawyer is better-looking and younger than Robert Stuart, plus has the novelty aspect of being obviously American.

It was cute the way the others all gave her diaries for Christmas, but what was the real meaning behind Skinner giving Elizabeth his mother's locket?

It had about the same meaning as Elizabeth giving Skinner her father's shaving set, which is approximately this: You mean a lot to me and this is the safest way for me to tell you.

Are there really pink dolphins in the Amazon?

There really are. The Boto are very shy and simply adorable. They actually come in two colors, pink and black, and the pink ones are said to be dangerous -- something Elizabeth didn't know, though she was quite safe in the submarine.

You describe dysentery as a "messy condition." What is it, exactly?

Dysentery is...ooh. Nasty. It's a stomach inflammation. Common symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Less common symptoms include high fever, such as Elizabeth developed. It's spread through tainted food or water, or through contact with an infected person. Elizabeth had it as badly as she did (as compared to, say, Tom) because of caring for so many sick persons at once. Mina was immune to the illness because of her "nature," so she could look after the men without risk to her health; she tried to prevent Elizabeth from catching it by assigning her to the cooking and water preparation, but Elizabeth is stubborn and wanted to help.

Did Skinner really stay by her side the entire time she was ill?

He really did...much to the amusement of the other League members. Not that they said anything about it, of course. They're far too tactful.

This business with the stone guardians and the live burial...that's all nonsense, right?

Yes and no. The Incas really did routinely perform human sacrifices, and burying people alive (children, frequently) was one of their most common methods. The stone guardians, of course, are pure fabrication. The lost city of Machu Picchu was really -- or should I say, officially? -- rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an archaeologist from Yale University. (I figure by that time, the vegetation would have grown back sufficiently to make it look like the League had never been there. Which they weren't. Really.)

Well, looks like we finally know where her love life is heading. Does this mean we'll eventually see an edition of "The Private Diary of Elizabeth Skinner"?

(Yes, I've really been asked this.) I'm not making any promises. After all, can you be so certain she's going to marry Skinner? There is a wedding coming up in the next part of the series, but I can tell you right now that Skinner is not the bridegroom. All I can say for the moment is that you'll have to wait and see!

Credits, thanks, and all that jazz

The basic premise of this story series is based upon the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, released in theaters July 11, 2003. The film in turn was based on the series of graphic novels of the same name by Alan Moore. In a general sort of way, everything you read in this series is the property of the much more clever people who were involved in those two projects, and I made absolutely no financial profit from the use thereof. The stories in this series were written out of affection and appreciation for the original works on which they were based.

The characters of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde are from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The character of Wilhelmina Harker is from Dracula by Bram Stoker.

The character of Allan Quatermain is from King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain, The Ivory Child, and other stories and novels by H. Rider Haggard.

The character of Captain Nemo and his amazing Nautilus are from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.

The character of Rodney Skinner is patterned, loosely, after the original Invisible Man, from the book The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Personally, I prefer Skinner's company, but that's just me.

The character of Tom "Special Agent" Sawyer is from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer Abroad, and Tom Sawyer, Detective, all by Mark Twain.

A Christmas Carol is by Charles Dickens. You can't possibly write a Victorian Christmas scene without at least some vague reference to that book, now, can you? :)

Much Ado About Nothing is one of William Shakespeare's comedies. Benedick and Beatrice are the main characters.

The only things to which I can lay legitimate claim are the personality of Elizabeth (who says that she is perfectly capable of owning that herself, thank you very much) and a number of other original characters, including the Stuarts and first mate Jaya.

The information presented in Elizabeth's diary this time around came from a variety of sources. My friend Stargazer was responsible for providing me with a lot of the facts about the Parthenon. The research I did on Victorian Christmas celebrations was made much easier thanks to a wide number of Victorian enthusiasts on the web, who are simply too numerous to list here. A lot of my knowledge about the Amazon river wildlife and history comes from a computer game called Amazon Trail, 3rd Edition, for which I wrote a walkthrough that was published on a website called GameFAQs -- I pulled up the walkthrough files while writing. Information about the lost Incan cities also came primarily from the web. Though I hope that it's primarily entertaining, one could make the argument that this fan fiction series is also somewhat educational.

I owe thank-yous to a whole bunch of people. The response to this series has been incredibly overwhelming, and I really need to say thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed. The reviews and personal emails have touched me more than you can ever know. Special thanks must be rendered unto Settiai (who runs the League of Extraordinary Fanfiction), Tobiassilverstreak (who sent me some beautiful fan art based on this series), and my two devoted "minions," Miss Kathleen and Stargazer, who love to encourage other people to read the series. Stargazer is also my most prolific fan artist! Another special thank-you goes to Crystal Nox, who made a tiny suggestion in one of her reviews that I found appealing enough to use -- so thank you for the inspiration, Crystal! I also owe an immeasurable debt to my friend Teri, who acts as my beta reader and provides a host of support and helpful suggestions; I don't post a new chapter until she's had a chance to read it first, and approved everything. Thanks must also be given to my best friend Jessica, for very similar reasons. Oh, and I would be terribly remiss if I didn't say thank you to my husband Kevin, for putting up with this insanity.

I call this series "The Fanfiction That Ate My Brain" because of how important it has become to me. I even gave it its own section of my (already too big) website, complete with all the reviews I've gotten, a comprehensive FAQ, profiles of each of the characters, and the wonderful pieces of fan art that readers have so generously shared with me. If you'd be interested in checking it out, please view my profile -- there's a link to the website there.

I'm going to take a little bit of a break from the series before settling in to write the American adventure (by which I mean something like a week). Don't worry; I'm sure it won't be long until the characters start nagging me to resume telling their story! Thanks for everything, and as always -- cheers, my freaky darlings!

Lady Norbert