Character Development in Moonlight Reflections: Rachael

A Victorian image of a moon woman
In 2011, I wrote a 10 minute play called “A Date with an Anime Princess.” It’s now 2014, and I’ve written a sequel. The positive reaction to the script has inspired me to write an entire series of short plays based on the characters. I’m calling the series Moonlight Reflections.

Rachael is one of the main characters of the series. She is a fangirl of the Princess Luna Kitty anime, and often cosplays as Luna. The series follows Rachael and Tim (another anime fan and cosplayer) from their first meeting through their eventual marriage and first pregnancy.

Phase One of Rachael’s Character Development

When I wrote the first play, I tried to make Rachael a lot like the anime character she so admired: cute, kind, and playful, but strong — with a need to fight injustice. She is a sweet girl, but tends to get angry when she feels someone is being unfair. This can be seen when Tim tries to inhibit her very public enthusiasm for cosplay:

“You’re asking me to give up my individuality, my creativity, to fit in — to give up my idea of fashion and art — of fun — just to make everyone else happy.”

I was writing a 10 minute play, and didn’t spend too much time developing the character. Now that I’ve decided to write more stories involving Rachael, I need to round out her personality, and I need to do it using the character traits I’ve already established. To do this, I’ll rely on the dialogue in the first script, because it provides clues to her basic personality. I’ll also need to work more on the character’s backstory and make her more realistic.

A More Rounded Rachael

Starting out, I have a young woman who has the following traits: cute, kind, playful, flirtatious, just, and nerdy (she cosplays). She tells Tim she is a music therapist in a mental hospital, so she is also musical, caring, and giving.

Rachael didn’t have a last name in the first script, so I started there. I think I just picked the name Rachael randomly, and it has no meaning for the character, therefore, I decided that I’d give her the middle name of Catherine, since Kitty is one of its nicknames. For a last name, I chose Landere. According to some baby name sites, Llandere is a girl’s name that means “moon woman” — very appropriate for someone who pretends to be a princess named Luna. Rachael Catherine Landere is a pretty nice name.

Next, I need to ask some questions. Why did Rachael become a music therapist? Why is she into cosplay, and why is she so attached to Princess Luna Kitty? I may not share the answers to these questions in the plays, but having the information will help me write a better character.

I decided to make Rachael a pianist. She’s studied music for many years and is quite accomplished, but that doesn’t explain why she is a therapist at a mental institution.

From my research, I’ve found out that many cosplayers dress up as characters and go to conventions to escape the worries and boredom of everyday life. What if Rachael’s inclination to study music therapy and her desire to cosplay were inspired by the same things: a need to help mentally ill patients and a passion for escape into fantasy.

Perhaps a member of Rachael’s family suffered from a mental illness. Perhaps she found that her music helped to sooth the person’s suffering. Maybe she used cosplay as a way to temporarily remove herself from the reality of caring for a mentally ill person.

Rachael’s Story

Rachael Catherine Landere’s mother suffers from Schizophrenia. Rachael found that playing the piano often helped her mother’s condition, so she decided to help others and majored in Music Therapy.

Yet, the stress of caring for her mother and the workload at college was tough for Rachael. When she discovered anime and cosplay, she enthusiastically entered the world of conventions and cosplay competitions, because it helped her escape from her troubles. She particularly liked portraying Princess Luna Kitty because the character shared a lot of her traits, displayed a calmness during hard times, and had the ability to heal illness.

A Step on My Journey as a Writer

In coming up with Rachael’s backstory, I’m not only creating a more rounded character, I’m adding a lot more detail to Rachael’s life. The details fit together well and could happen in real life, so it makes the character more plausible.

This will help me write better dialog, because I know Rachael and her story. It’s only one step of my journey as a playwright, but it’s an important one.

Moonlight Reflections: A Cosplay Love Story


In 2011, I wrote a short play for the Carrollwood Players’ One Act Weekend. The 10 minute play was called “A Date with an Anime Princess.” It was the story of a first date between two cosplayers who are fans of an anime called Princess Luna Kitty.

Now it’s 2014, and I’ve written a sequel entitled “The Fall of Princess Luna.” Rachael and Tim, the two main characters of both plays, are now married. Tim’s brother Frank is staying with the couple at their home, and he has an accident that initializes the conflict in the story.

“The Fall” is currently in rehearsal, but the reaction to the script, both at auditions and during the rehearsal process, has been so positive, that I’ve decided to write an entire series of 10 minute plays based on Rachael and Tim’s relationship. Since the characters are so passionate about Princess Luna Kitty, both anime and cosplay will be featured throughout the series. Each play will explore the love story between Rachael and Tim and involve incidents that revolve around their passion for Princess Luna.

I don’t have all of the chapters of the series figured out yet, but I am in the process of writing the first installment, where Rachael and Tim meet at an anime convention. The working title is “The Trial of a Wisdom Warrior.” When all of the scripts are finished, they’ll be combined into a book. Producers will be able to obtain rights to an individual one act or license all of them for an evening of entertainment.

The name of the entire series will be Moonlight Reflections. I think its a great title, since Rachael, Tim, and their friends cosplay as characters in the Princess Luna Kitty anime. Also, many of the ‘real life’ characters share traits with the anime characters.

And yes, Princess Luna Kitty is a fictitious anime, but it was inspired by Sailor Moon. To avoid copyright and licensing problems, I had to create an entirely new anime story, but you’ll be able to see many similarities. There are also many details borrowed from other anime, plus some created in my own imagination.

I’ll let you know when I’ve finished the series and where you’ll be able to get a copy of the book. If you get a chance to read the series or see any of the plays in production, let me know what you think in the comments area.

The Princess Luna Kitty Theme Song

My 10 minute play “A Date with an Anime Princess” will be presented by Carrollwood Players as part of their One Act Weekend on August 26 – 28, 2011.

The backstory for the play involves Princess Luna Kitty, a fictional anime series about a schoolgirl who is also a warrior princess. Sound familiar? I wanted to write a comedy and “Anime Princess” is what came out.

Of course, an anime needs a theme song, so I wrote one. A couple of verses of the song is sung by one of the characters in my play, and although it’s sung a capella, I wrote the melody. Actually, I went all out and created the entire song with orchestration.

I thought it came out good, but I’m biased. I hope it’s okay. It is meant to be simple and silly – just right for a Saturday morning cartoon show – no offense to anime fans.

Groundhog Day

(Originally posted on February 2, 2008)

Several men in top hats surround the tree stump at Gobbler’s Knob. Just after sunrise, one of the tuxedo-clad men reaches into the stump and Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary, is pulled out and presented to the crowd.

The President of the Inner Circle consults with Phil. They speak in a language no one seems to understand. After some time, the President translates Phil’s predictions to the crowd. Will there be an early spring, or has Phil foreseen six more weeks of winter?

Phil is a groundhog, and this ceremony is held every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It is said that if a groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter. If on the other hand, the day is overcast, and there is no shadow, Spring will come early.

In early to mid February, the days in the Northern Hemisphere become longer. Many animals are pregnant at this time of year, preparing to deliver when the warmer weather arrives. This is the time when the groundhog and other animals that hibernate begin to wake, if only for a short time to check on the climate.

The belief that groundhogs, hedgehogs, badgers and other burrowing mammals have the ability to tell if spring will come early goes back to Roman times. When Europeans came to America, they brought this belief with them. By that time, February 2nd was already known as the day that the groundhog would make his prediction.

The date is also known as Candlemas, a special day in some religions. It is also a cross quarter day, one of the days that mark the midpoint between a solstice and an equinox. Therefore, it is not very surprising that Groundhog Day was assigned to the day marking the midpoint between the beginning of Winter and the coming of Spring.

Of Purification, Hearts, Groundhogs, and Candles

This was originally written in January, 2007. It was published on and in my MySpace Blog.

A young woman waits for the two young men who are running toward her. As they approach, she pulls up the hem of her toga past the thigh. She closes her eyes and feels a rush of lustful grace as one of the boys pelts her skin with a thong made from the skin of a recently sacrificed goat.

Gratefully, she drops her gown and basks in the knowledge that she has been purified, and she hopes that someday soon, a similar young man will make use of the blessing of fertility she has just received.

That might have been a story in Rome 2000 years ago. Today, it’s just a part of the history of the month called February.

The Festival of Lupercalia was celebrated in Rome on February 15. The festival was based on the story of the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus, two boys nursed by a wolf. Because Romans considered themselves descendants of the famous twins, they were friends with wolfs, so their goats and sheep were safe from attack.

To show their gratitude to the wolfs, the Romans would sacrifice a goat. Whips made from the goat’s skin were called Februa, or tools of purification. Two boys, representing Romulus and Remus, ran through the streets of the city hitting willing females with the whips.

On the same day, the entire Roman Empire celebrated the festival of Juno Februata or Juno the Purifier. Juno, the wife of the King of the Gods, Jupiter, was the goddess of marriage and fertility (among other things).

The coming of Spring was the inspiration for these events. Pregnant livestock and longer days were signs that warmer weather was coming. It was a time to think of changes you could make before the world renewed itself. Hmmm, seems a lot like New Year resolutions and Lent.

One of the party games played on the feast of Juno Februata involved the pairing of young men and women. The virgins would place their names in a jar, and the young men would each pull out a name. The couples were than obligated to spend the rest of the festival together. Often, the young men would wear the girls names on their arms. Because the theme of the day was fertility and the coming of Spring, the young couples would often end up… well, you get the idea.

When the Catholic Church gained power, it had to eliminate these pagan (and very sinful) festivals and replace them with its own.

The feast of the Purification of the Virgin was thus created and slated for the fourteenth (due to lunar versus solar celebrations and such). However, by Jewish law, Mary’s purification had to happen 40 days after the birth of Jesus, so it was moved to February 2nd when the Church decided to celebrate the Nativity on December 25th rather than January 6th. The Church then dedicated the day to Saint Valentine. Couples still seem to like the day.

February 2nd certainly gained some needed holiness when the feast of the Purification was assigned to it. It was already an important pagan holiday as it was the day midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Many Romans and other Europeans believed that it was on February 2nd that the hedgehog would come out of its hibernation and decide whether Spring would come early. The rodent did this by coming out of its den and looking around. If it saw its shadow and ran back into its hole, Spring would not come for another six weeks. When Europeans moved to America, there were no hedgehogs, so the groundhog accepted the honor.

While the Irish waited for the badgers and hedgehogs to tell them if Spring would arrive early, they celebrated the feast of Imbolc, dedicated to the goddess Brighid. This feast was also related to the midway point between solstice and equinox, and started at sunset on February 1st. Of course, when the Church reached Ireland, they just had to erase any sign of the pagan tradition and replaced Brighid with Saint Brigit.

It just so happens that February 2nd is also the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, another Jewish ritual required 40 days after the birth of a male child. The priest at the Temple called Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” The day was celebrated with processions and the blessing of candles. Christians called the day Candlemas.

As you celebrate the holidays of February, perhaps you will light a candle while thinking of the coming Spring. You could participate in a rite of purification. Or you could plan something really big for Valentine’s Day. Wear your heart on your sleeve and bear some flesh. Maybe someone will come along and whip you.