Blog Hop: A Few Questions, Please

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Which author would you most like to interview, and why?

Limiting myself to living authors…I’d like to interview Brene Brown, whose work on vulnerability has been amazing and life-changing…though I’m a little afraid I’d inadvertently try to turn it into a therapy session, wanting her insights on everything in my life!

I’d also like to interview Catherynne Valente, partially because I love her Fairyland series so much, and partially to see if I could somehow (discreetly, politely) puzzle out the question of why that series is SO DIFFERENT from the rest of her books.

I’d love to interview Geraldine McCaughrean, who wrote the wonderful White Darkness, and wrote me a wonderful letter back when I wrote to her about it.  So I think she’d be just lovely to meet.

Do you have an author you’d like to interview?  Purely because they’re awesome, or do you have questions you really want answered?

Writing Wednesday: The Prince’s Friends

Continuing the tale of my sequel story, “The Princess Beyond the Thorns,” in writing the second story I had to introduce far more characters.  The first one had only Rose, Terrence, and a couple of kittens, with brief appearances by Rose’s parents in her memories.  The second one brings us back to the castle, and besides introducing Terrence’s father (as I shared in the excerpt last week), I wanted Terrence to have friends too.  This week’s excerpt introduces a couple of them.

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The door opened to admit two strangers, a man and a woman.  Both were dressed in the silks and elegance of the court, both perhaps a few years older than Terrence.  The woman was tiny, but even in crossing the room it was evident she was a bundle of energy.  The man was tall with the build of a warrior, and walked more slowly as he entered, favoring one leg in a slight limp.

“Good morning!” the woman chirped, then said over her shoulder, “You see, I told you she’d be awake.”  To Rose again, she said, “Do forgive the intrusion, but we wanted to catch you before the court swallowed you up.  I’m Lady Elena Worthington, and this is my husband, Sir Henry.  May we join you?”

“Please,” Rose said, faintly bemused, and indicated the extra, she had thought unnecessary, chairs at her breakfast table.

Lady Elena sat down across from Rose, folded her hands in her lap and put all her energy into her direct gaze.  “Practically everyone in this castle is going to be trying to figure out if you’re a suitable kind of princess, suitable to sit on the throne and suitable to bear the legend.  We’re not like that.  We want to know if you’re suitable for Terrence.”

 

Blog Hop: Love for the Classics

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you have a favorite classic? When did you read it? High school or as an adult?

I guess all of L. M. Montgomery’s books qualify for the Classics section?  At least, Anne of Green Gables does.  I possibly ought to pick something of hers, but they somehow don’t feel like proper, capital C Classics to me, which I guess implies a higher degree of difficulty in reading, or a more archaic style…or something?  I don’t know.  And I fully realize this attitude towards Montgomery’s books probably has more to do with my familiarity with them than anything intrinsic to them.

Anyway.  Let’s still set Montgomery aside (though The Blue Castle is my favorite of hers, one of my top five favorite ever books).  Even though J. M. Barrie and Montgomery were contemporaries, his Little White Bird (1902 publication) feels more like a proper Classic, and that’s also a great favorite of mine.  I believe I read both these books during high school, though neither was assigned, and I’ve reread them multiple times since then.

Charlotte Bronte feels even more like a proper Classics author though, which means giving the nod to Jane Eyre, another particularly beloved book.  So let’s call that my favorite Classic.  I read both Brontes some time after college, when I realized I’d never been assigned either (and I was an English major!) If you come down on the side of Wuthering Heights in the great Bronte debate, let’s not discuss it and remain friends…

Writing Wednesday: Beyond the Thorns

After I finished my week (or eight days) of short story writing, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to my novel.  I wrote about my break-out story, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” and I didn’t feel like that was entirely done yet.  Even when I wrote the apparently happy ending, I knew I left a lot unresolved, and things weren’t going to go smoothly for the characters in the immediate future.

So I decided to write that story, about what happens after the spell is lifted and Princess Rose and Prince Terrence go home.  This became “The Princess Beyond the Thorns,” and the brief excerpt below may give you some idea of what they’re up against in this second part of the story.

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The king.  They were coming closer to the king now, and though Terrence had told her his father was a hard man, Rose found herself searching for something, some hope, in his face.  Some hint of Terrence’s kindness.  The king was older than her father had been.  His hair was gray but his back was still straight, his hands strong as they grasped the arms of the throne.  She could see something of Terrence in his eyebrows, in the shape of his jaw.  But the eyes were dark, not Terrence’s blue, and they were coldly assessing her as she approached.

Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: Beyond the Thorns”

Blog Hop: Stealing Like a Writer

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Which book do you wish you’d written?

Hmm.  The first to come to mind is Bloody Jack, probably because in college I wrote a story that flirted with some of the same ideas, a girl disguised as a boy who ran away to sea.  The series’ quality grew uneven and I kind of wish I’d written some of the later ones so I could have sent things in a different direction…

I wish I could write like Catherynne Valente in her Fairyland series, because the things she does with archetypes and fairy tales and magic are amazing and very much the things I want to do, but she has an exquisite, lyrical, witty writing style that I am in awe of.

I don’t actually wish that I’d written Susan Kay’s amazing Phantom, because even though it is, as aforesaid, amazing, and even though it’s an important inspiration for my own trilogy, and even though it’s up there as one of my very, very favorite books…I want to write my own Phantom story, you know?  Though I would like it to have a similar reception!

I guess I mostly don’t wish I’d written someone else’s book–because those are their stories, and I want to write my own.

Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #8

My goal with this writing effort was to write seven short stories in seven days.  #7, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” stretched to two days and 9,000 words.  After I finished it, I found I wasn’t quite done with the project.  So on day 9, I wrote one more story.  After that I went on to other projects…until the next time I decide to write a spurt of short stories!  I really enjoyed the project, and loved the chance to invest deeply but briefly in new worlds and characters.

I also enjoyed the chance to write in different styles than usual.  This last story, “Cinderella’s Dresses,” is obviously a fairy tale twist, but darker than most of what I write.  Here’s the beginning, written from the prompt, “The dress spoke for her.”

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The dress spoke for her.  It said wealth, power, beauty.  It said she belonged, amongst this august company who glittered and glimmered in the candlelight.  She never had to say a word.  The footman let her in without a murmur, without asking her name, without looking for an invitation.  The dress said she was meant to be here.

It was the dress that told the prince to approach her, as she stood near the bottom of the stair, suddenly afraid to take the last few steps down to the shining ballroom floor, to enter into that whirling, elegant throng.  She knew she would be lost among them, not knowing where to turn, what to do.  The dress shimmered and glowed and beckoned the prince away from the girl he had been eying with a considering favor, to approach her instead, to bow and to extend his hand.

The dress seemed almost to dance for her too, its full skirts whisking about her legs, twirling and floating and carrying her along with the music in the prince’s arms.  When he whirled her away from the crowd, out into the moonlit garden, the dress spoke for her then too, rustling as they walked, whispering that she had secrets.  But the whisper of silk could only hint at elegant secrets, rich secrets, aristocratic secrets.  When he plied her with questions and she blushed and demurred, the dress whispered that all was well, that her story was a delightful one, that someday he would be so pleasantly surprised when he learned the truth.

When the clock struck midnight, the dress all but carried her away.  She ran away down the path, feeling her skirts growing slight and intangible in her hands as she lifted them to flee.  The dress distracted her, its thinning, dissolving remnants twining about her legs, so she didn’t judge the steps correctly, so she stumbled and lost one shoe.  The dress was mere cobwebs and air now, and she didn’t dare to stop, even to pick up that one glittering shoe left behind.

She limped home, retired to her small bed by the fire, and lay awake until nearly dawn, trying to decide if the ball had been the most delightful thing that had ever happened to her, or simply terrifying.

Book and Movie Review: Crazy Rich Asians

There was a lot of buzz recently when the movie Crazy Rich Asians came out.  It was exciting to see a major Hollywood movie with a completely Asian cast.  I saw the movie once it reached DVD and enjoyed it.  Some time later I found out it was based on a book (so many are!) so I decided to read that too.

The storyline in both mediums focused on the very, very wealthy of Singapore.  Nick, who has been living in New York, brings his American-born Chinese girlfriend Rachel to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding…without warning her that his family is, well, crazy rich.  They’re also intensely snobbish, and Rachel is definitely not what they had in mind for their favored son.  Meanwhile, Nick’s favorite cousin Astrid, who married outside her social class, is finding her marriage rocked.  And meanwhile, the conspicuous consumption is rampant.

I think this pretty well encompasses the movie plot–the book plot had a lot more threads going on.  In many ways the movie simplified and focused in–and I think told its particular stories better (though I might feel differently if I’d read the book first).  The book really had a different focus.  The movie is about Nick and Rachel, with Astrid as a supporting character/cautionary tale.  The book is about the entire social class, with a bigger cast of characters who have their own issues and upheavals over the course of the book.  Nick, Rachel and Astrid are probably still most prominent, but definitely part of an ensemble cast.

Continue reading “Book and Movie Review: Crazy Rich Asians”