Character Spotlight ~ Keli Gwyn’s Elenora & Miles

Keli Gwyn takes readers back to the frontier in her debut novel

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California

Barbour

The Story

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them?

Miles can’t help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business?

Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

Enjoy meeting Elenora & Miles!

Brief physical description

Widow Elenora Watkins, 30, is short. She has dark hair, chocolate-brown eyes, and a warm smile Miles would like to see more often. Her favourite colour is purple, and she often wears a spray of silk violets at her throat, a flower that has special meaning for her. (Hey, Rel, did you notice how international I am? I’m using your spellings instead of the American versions.)

Rel: I’m very impressed, Keli!!

Widower Miles Rutledge, 35, is a foot taller than Ellie. He has captivating blue eyes that twinkle when he’s amused, chestnut brown hair he combs with such regularity his own mother calls him a “dandy,” and a meticulously trimmed moustache. Ellie finds his broad shoulders and the cleft between his eyebrows to be his most captivating features.

Actor/famous person

I found historic photographs, known as cartes de visite, with real people, which I used as the models for Miles and Ellie. The differences are that Ellie doesn’t have “fringe,” or bangs as we say today, as does the woman pictured, and Miles’s moustache is much neater than the one worn by the man in the photograph.

If I were to pick actors to portray Miles and Ellie, I’d go with a young, hunky Tom Selleck—think Magnum P.I.— for Miles and the gorgeous Catherine Zeta Jones for Ellie. Not only do I think they come close to looking like the characters as I envisioned them, but I think they could do a great job playing them.

Strengths and weaknesses

Elenora is bright, determined, hardworking, tenacious, and endearingly childlike at times. She does, however, deal with pride and can be rather stubborn and too independent for her own good.

Miles is fun, friendly, caring, generous, and intelligent. Like Ellie, he’s stubborn. He’s also set in his ways and resistant to change, downfalls that threaten to cost him dearly.

Quirk (if any)

Ellie has a rather serious mien and no real quirks, but Miles has a number of them. He’s forever combing his hair, changing his collar, and polishing his boots. And the poor man isn’t very good with words at times and ends up putting those shiny boots of his in his mouth far too frequently for his liking—and Ellie’s, too.

Your inspiration for the character

Miles was inspired by a merchant in El Dorado. James B. Wetherwax owned a mercantile that was the most successful business in town in the most impressive building. He was actively involved in many organizations and was well liked. I could find out little else about Mr. Wetherwax, but I could imagine such a man, and those imaginings led to the creation of Miles Rutledge.

Elenora isn’t based on anyone in particular, but I did use the fact that women in California could own businesses from the early days of the state as proof that she could do the same. A woman in my hometown of Placerville, not far from El Dorado, named Emigrant Jane drove a wagon across the country and opened a shop in a building she had erected back in 1861, one that is still standing today.

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17 Responses to Character Spotlight ~ Keli Gwyn’s Elenora & Miles

  1. Rel, thanks so much for shining the spotlight on Miles and Elenora. I really appreciate it–and so do they. =)

    • Keli Gwyn » It’s an absolute pleasure, Keli. I’ll be writing my review shortly, too and will be saying some lovely things about Miles and Elenora as characters!!

  2. I’m so glad you posted modern day photos too, because I was thinking…Miles was way better looking in my mind 😉

    Great characters!

    • Anne, I’m sure women in Miles’s day would have found the man in the historic photo quite attractive. Since photographers’ subjects weren’t allowed to smile back then due to the length of time it took for the exposure, many people look like they have sour dispositions, when I’m sure they were very nice, friendly people in real life.

      I use a historic photo as a starting place, but I delve deeply into the image. The person comes to life before my eyes,. When I look at the picture, I see Miles with his twinkling blue eyes, and I can almost hear his ready laugh. Gotta love a writer’s imagination. And a reader’s! That’s what’s makes reading so fun. We can envision things just the way we want. Glad the Miles in your mind is so handsome. I’ll admit the Miles in mine is, too. :-)

    • Anne Payne » I agree with you, Anne – Keli did an excellent job with her characterisation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. How FUN, Keli! I love seeing what the author envisioned when writing! It’s neat to see both the historical photos you used and the “modern” day casting :) A Bride Opens Shop is a fabulous story–Elenora and Miles are very complete characters!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Fedora. I’m glad you enjoyed spending time with Miles and Elenora.

      I’ll admit that it was hard for me to pick a modern-day actor to portray Ellie. Who would you pick if you were to choose someone to bring Ellie to life?

    • Fedora » It seems like we are all in raging agreement on Keli’s characters, Fedora!

  4. Cute! Enjoyed this post! Congrats on your new release. It sounds like a good read.

  5. So good to see two of my favorite folks together:) I’ve been hearing just how unputdownable Keli’s debut is and I can’t wait to read! I also love the story behind the book and how it came to be. So interesting getting a glimpse of Keli’s characters and also the real life photos. Happy release to you Keli and a huge thanks to Rel for her super spotlights!

  6. Great character spotlight, Keli! Miles sounds like a sigh worthy hero and love the pic of Ellie! The idea of using actual old photographs is so cool.

    A huge congratulations on the release of your debut novel! I’m so excited for you!

  7. Hi Keli,

    Just finished your book today. The ending is certainly sigh-worthy! I love the Tom Selleck idea. I had pictured Miles looking like Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), but I like Tom even better!

    Congrats on a wonderful book!

    Cheers,
    Sue

  8. Great hearing about your character picks! I’m enjoying reading this book right now!

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