In an earlier post, I brought up that Ichabod’s wife is mentioned in conversation, but never makes an appearance. That isn’t to say she’s a total mystery in The Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks. You get a sense of her background, the relationship, and her reputation without her showing up. She’s always been a factor in the stories without being involved, especially if you see that she’s mentioned in his contract/sign. Now, there are a few reasons this works out even though the idea came about by accident. I was still trying to decide on having her appear or not, but never found the right spot. Part of this is because I was considering giving her a short story collection if people took to her as well as they did with Ichabod. Still a possibility, but I also get the sense that the story she shows up in would be the last one written for her husband. So, what are the benefits of the mysterious Mrs. Brooks?
- It adds a little fun and mystery to the entire collection. You can piece together a lot about her from Ichabod’s conversations and other hints that are introduced throughout the stories. Think of it like searching for Easter Eggs in a movie or video game. Just a few nods to paint a picture of the woman who is considered the legendary Ichabod Brooks’ equal. It’s almost like a puzzle, but one that you can only put together once since the fun ends as soon as she’s out of the shadows.
- This helps to create a division of work and home life for Ichabod. We see and talk about this mentality a lot in real life. You don’t want to bring your work home and you don’t want to bring your home problems to work. By having his family remain off-screen, the separation remains more palpable and physical. There’s a line in Ichabod’s life that divides his two worlds and having them crossover could cause a mess. This is a worry that all of us can relate to in a way.
- Mrs. Brooks’s mystery helps to reinforce the idea that she works darker jobs than her husband. There are hints that she’s been a soldier, mercenary, and assassin. At the very least, her career path is a combination of all three. This requires that she avoid the high profile reputation that Ichabod has. She can be well-known within her circles, but an assassin or spy that is famous will find it harder to get the job done. It’s a very big difference between her and her husband, which also makes one wonder how they met. Not to mention if there’s a moral division between them.
- I get time to figure out who she is because even I’m not sure. Over the course of the stories, I add pieces to his wife that weren’t there before. Every adventure that Ichabod has helps me decide on the woman that can match him. Whether it be thinking of how she would do it differently or mentioning that he’s using a tool she gave him, it helps to slowly paint the picture. That way, I can be sure of what I’m working with when she does make an appearance.
- Ichabod and his wife could run the risk of overshadowing each other. I do fear that her showing up will take away from him being the protagonist. Just like if I gave her a collection, I’d keep Ichabod out of it. Both feel like they have strong personalities, but I get the sense that his wife is the more aggressive one.
So, will Mrs. Brooks ever appear or even get a first name? That really depends on how well thinks go for the books. I’d love to do more collections with Ichabod since I have more stories that didn’t get into this one. Techinally, I could keep him going forever and then branch off to stories with his wife. Anyway, this will be part of another post.