Matt and Em Calder
Matt is almost 13 and the older twin. He was born six minutes before his sister Em, who Matt likes to remind regularly of this fact. Matt loves vintage T-shirts, drawing, reading comic books, playing video games, and he hasn’t cut his hair for a long time. It’s pretty long. Matt idolizes his dad who disappeared when the twins were toddlers. Matt’s clever, stubborn, loses his temper easily, and when he and Em draw something together they can bring it to life. Oh, and he and Em speak to each other telepathically.
Like her brother, Em is almost 13 and the younger twin, a distinction she prefers to ignore no matter how many times her brother reminds her. Em loves swimming, riding her bike and drawing. She reads a lot, especially horror stories, even though she gets scared easily. She’s also clever, mischievous and stubborn, but does her best to avoid conflict, mediating between her mum and Matt when they fight.
Since they’ve been raised by a single mum, the twins are pretty self-sufficient, balancing the other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, Matt can make amazing scrambled eggs (he uses tons of hot sauce) and Em is the queen of milkshakes (more ice cream than milk). Having grown up in London, they also consider themselves city kids.
John and Carole's inspirations
"As siblings, we are often told we look a lot alike so when we were imagining our main characters we decided to make them twins. Lots of twins have a secret language with each other and that fitted in with our idea that the twins are telepathic. Also, both of us read lots of adventure stories and lots of Enid Blyton when we were children. We remembered twins were often characters in those kind of books. Matt is John’s favorite boy’s name and Emily is what the E stands for in Carole E. Barrowman. Plus it’s the name of our gran, who would have appreciated such a feisty character (Carole and Em) sharing her name."
Sandie is the twins’ mum, tough and resourceful, and a talented artist. She was born and raised in Scotland, but took the twins to London to live when they were toddlers. She is in her early thirties and has the stereotypical coloring of a Celtic Scot: thick curly fair hair and lots of freckles. She works as a freelance art restorer for many national and international art galleries and museums.
Zach is 14 and an only child. He has lived at Renard Abbey since he was a toddler. Zach is a whiz with anything to do with computers and video games. He knows how to write computer code and he has built his own games systems. Zach was born deaf. He signs fluently and is highly skilled at reading lips. He’s a fast runner, athletic and very close to his dad.
Simon is Zach’s dad, and like his son, he knows tons about computers. Zach is convinced that back in the day his dad may have done some hacking (Zach may be right). Simon is a thirty-something ex-football player (the team he played for shall remain a secret), with a dodgy knee and a great sense of humor. Simon has lived and worked at the Abbey since his son was an infant.
Sandie and Simon have known each other since they were at university together in Scotland and then they studied at the Abbey. They are reunited when Sandie flees London with the twins.
Mason Renard Calder
The twins’ grandfather owns the Abbey. He’s a powerful man, with special powers that are uniquely connected to the island and its mysterious history.
Mara is an artist in residence at the Abbey. She’s beautiful, with long dark hair and wide hazel eyes. Em thinks she resembles a Native American princess. Sandie, Simon, Mara and Malcolm, the twins’ dad, were all trained at the Abbey.
The Abbey on Auchinmurn Isle started its life as a fortress, then a monastery housing a community of monks in the early Middle Ages, developing into a modern home and place of learning in the twenty-first century. Through time, wars and strife, the buildings and their continuous line of owners have held the islands of Auchinmurn and Era Mina together and kept their secrets safe.
A person who can animate - bring pictures to life by drawing. The fact of their existence is known only to a few, but there are those who wish to use the powers of Animare for their own evil gain. For this reason, Animare live by the Five Rules:
1. They mustn't animate in public.
2. They must always be in control of their imaginations
3. If they endanger the secret of their existence, they can be 'bound' (see below).
4. They are forbidden from having children with Guardians (see below), as this can result in dangerous hybrids with an unpredictable mix of powers.
5. Children cannot be bound.
A Guardian helps to keep an Animare's powers and emotions under control. Each Animare is allocated a specific Guardian at the age of sixteen. A Guardian's ability to influence an Animare's way of thinking is known as 'inspiriting'. Guardians can use this power on other people as well.
Council of Guardians
A body of Guardians who enforce the Five Rules for Animare. Council members do not always agree about how Animare should be guided. When hybrid children are created, for example, some Guardians believe that their talents should be nurtured, while others believe that binding (see below) is the only safe course of action.
Binding is a kind of suspended animation. Animare are bound into a work of art as a last resort when they lose control of their powers or endanger the secret of their existence. Binding an Animare can only be authorized by the Council of Guardians, and can only take place when both a Guardian and a second Animare are present.
There are five secure vaults all over the world containing bound paintings. One lies at the Abbey on Auchinmurn Isle.
The supernatural place where all monsters, demons, devils and creatures from the dangerous, magical past have been trapped by the medieval monks of the Order of Era Mina (see below).
The Hollow Earth Society
Founded by Duncan Fox in 1848, the original Hollow Earth Society was designed to prevent the world from knowing about the monsters and imagined creatures locked away in Hollow Earth. The reformed Hollow Earth Society has a very different outlook: to retrieve the monsters, control them and unleash them on the world.
The Order of Era Mina
The monks in medieval Auchinmurn belonged to the Order of Era Mina, which had a particular mission: locking away the monsters of the superstitious past by drawing them into a bestiary called The Book of Beasts, thereby reinventing the world as a modern place of enlightenment and learning.