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Character Biography: Jamie Hewitt
Daily Diary, May 8, 2023 Day 979
Jamie Hewitt was born September 20, 1870, and in the upcoming story, Dandy and the Dognappers, he is about to turn twelve and is in the eighth grade at Clement Grammar. He and his mother Barbara have lived for over three years in the O’Farrell Street boardinghouse owned by Annie Fuller Dawson (the main protagonist of my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series.)
Physical Description: Jamie has “light caramel-colored hair and toffee-brown eyes,” and while he is fairly short when the reader first meets him at age eight, he started to shoot up in height around the age of ten.
Personality: Raised by his mother to be polite and conscientious, he is shy with strangers, but shows a lively intelligence and high spirits when he is with people he knows. He is also very kind, responsible, and exhibits a good deal of natural empathy for others.
Jamie and his mother show up in Maids of Misfortune, the very first book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series. This means that he was one of the first characters I created when I wrote the first draft of that book back in 1988.
I introduced him in the third chapter of Maids of Misfortune in this fashion:
“Jamie Hewitt, a lively eight-year-old, and his widowed mother were boarders who occupied the third-floor back room. Jamie had arrived home that afternoon with a stray dog he rescued from a local bully. He’d pleaded with Annie and Beatrice to let him keep it, claiming that it would make an excellent watchdog. At the time, Annie had been fairly brusque with him, thinking angrily, Why get a watchdog when in a month I might no longer have a house to watch? But this evening she rejected that attitude as unnecessarily defeatist.”
If memory serves me correctly, the primary reason I created Jamie was to explain how the Boston Terrier named Dandy (modeled after my own childhood pet) came to live in the boardinghouse. While this was pretty much the only role Jamie played in this first novel, I was so taken with Dandy that soon after publishing Maids of Misfortune in 2009, I wrote an entire short story, called Dandy Detects, that featured Barbara, Jamie Hewitt and Dandy.
However, since Dandy Detects is told from his mother’s perspective, Jamie shows up in only a few scenes, primarily when he is walking Dandy with his mother. This holds true in the second novel in the series, Uneasy Spirits, as well.
It is in the third novel in the series, Bloody Lessons, that the reader begins to learn more about Jamie. In this book, he is nine, in the fifth grade, and is attending Clement Grammar, which is where Laura Dawson, a major character in this novel, teaches. As a result, there are many more scenes for Jamie, and, because Jamie’s mother plays a crucial role in the plot, the reader learns a good deal more about Jamie’s history.
Jamie shows up frequently in subsequent stories, but generally in order for Dandy to provide some comic relief to scenes. It isn’t until the third novella in the series, Dandy Delivers, which is told from Jamie’s point of view, that we get a fuller insight into the boy’s personality.
In this novella, set in January 1881, Jamie is ten and in the sixth grade. He has become good friends with Ian Hennessey, the youngest brother of the boardinghouse servant, Kathleen, and this friendship has done much to give him confidence. In Dandy Delivers, Jamie learns some valuable lessons and gets to be a bit of a hero.
While Jamie, along with the other young people in the boardinghouse, will continue to pop up in subsequent stories, including the short story, Dandy’s Discovery, I would recommend reading or listening to Dandy Delivers before embarking on their adventures in Dandy and the Dognappers.
The ebook edition of Dandy Delivers is only $2.99, and for the month of May, the audiobook is also $2.99 on selected retailers.
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