With the exception of the screenplay, in which not even Rebecca is featured as a character, Claire Belmonte has been in every iteration of Rebecca, Too since the incomplete first draft, predating Leah as a character, though Claire has evolved considerably over time. She is also a major character throughout Fables of the New South, appearing in or mentioned in three of the eight stories. Due to this, Claire has emerged as a central figure in the Expanded Universe. Given the role she will play in future episodes, it’s not an exaggeration to say she’s one of the most important characters in the story, and serves as a point of convergence for other characters in the narrative, connected to the Ashers, Caines, Walkers, Brian and Charlotte Sanger of Mockingbird, and David Cairo, among others.
In character write ups, she has been described as “intelligent and quirky” though in her earliest appearances, she was rather low key, described as being devastated by Rebecca’s death, to the extent she’s not been in a relationship since. Over time, it developed that she doesn’t like having her photo taken, and has trust issues, which was one of the points of contention between her and Rebecca. I was on at least the third or fourth rewrite of the play when I realized I didn’t have a reliable back story on Claire, so, one morning while walking in the woods at Stone Mountain, I tasked myself with developing one. What I came up with formed the basis of the novelette, Phoenix, in Fables of the New South. I also formed a better picture of her in my head, which led to her height being a distinctive feature.
Claire also shows up as Brian’s friend in Mockingbird, which starts Fables. This came about due to the past history I developed on Claire that day at Stone Mountain, as I had established that she came to Atlanta as a teen in 1989, and Mockingbird is set in Atlanta during the lead up to the Olympics in 1996. When I started writing Brian’s portion of Mockingbird, I wondered if he knew Claire, and it turns out, he does. She’s also mentioned in Atomic Punk, when Rebecca pays her friend Roscoe to dig up information on Claire in 2003, establishing the basis for their relationship in Rebecca, Too.
I started Mockingbird before Phoenix but finished Phoenix first, because I already had the entire story in my head, with only a few items to iron out, whereas I was creating the story of Mockingbird as I went along. At first, I wanted the two to seem unrelated, but then added elements of Phoenix into Mockingbird to tease the reader. Still, the tone of each story is much different, Phoenix being a dark morality tale and Mockingbird more of a light-hearted comic drama, so subsequently, Claire is portrayed differently in each. Still, the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and independence of the character. Claire is probably the person I’ve put the most thought into, making her one of my all-time favorites.