Monday, January 30, 2012
We write because we have this need to write. Because there are voices in our heads that need to come out, to come out on the page, to work through things, to find out ‘what if’ and ‘and then what happened?’
We write because writing is necessary, like breathing. We get a physical urge to write. We write because we must. We must to go on, to cope with the day to day, to cope with the big stuff that happens. What if this happened? What if that? We write because we cannot do otherwise.
If we wrote for money, the hourly rate resulting from the calculation of the hundreds of hours of labor that go into a novel divided by the small amount of money (if any) we receive for our efforts would be an amount much smaller than one cent.
We write because this urge overwhelms us and we stop resisting. We follow it.
We must write.
And when others ask with their smug smiles when we’ll be published, or when we’ll be on the best seller lists, we respond with smiles that not all needs are obvious.
We write because life is better for it.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Horror or dark fiction is all about story and characters. These are the backbones of the thrill; the scare; the very reason we don’t want to look over our shoulders or turn off the lights. I’ll go further out on the limb and say these are genres that require even more dedication to story and character than any other genre.
Granted, some horror/dark fiction appears lax…on the surface…regarding these two vital story telling elements. However, when you dig deeper you will find the complexity of a finely tuned tale. Yes, even the movies “Halloween” “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” no matter which version.
And what would you say if I stated “Dracula” was a romance. A personal drama of one man turning away from his God only to spend eternity searching for redemption through a forgiving love.
In Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” who is the monster?
Lately, we have a whole new set of dark fiction/horror dreamboats…yes, The Twilight series. While not my cup of tea, this series has many debating: vampire or werewolf.
Where else but in dark fiction/horror do vampires and werewolves belong? They are creatures of the night. Elements of nightmares. Shadows moving in the dark recesses of our world glimpsed only from the corners of our eyes.
Dark fiction and horror create the same heart pounding, page turning, and edge of the seat anxiousness as every other genre does and should do. We happen to look under the bed, behind the door, in the closet, and down the cellar stairs knowing full well the bump you heard was someone…something.
We peel the layers of humanity…figuratively and literally…to delve deeper in the human mind…again, figuratively and literally. We want to know what makes a psycho’s brain tick…again, figu—you get the picture. There’s always something more, something around the corner waiting and we, dark fiction/horror readers and writers, need to know.
We don’t want to play it safe and comfortable. Our genre should never make you feel safe and comfortable, at least not until the end and even then we love leaving a creak, a door, a smile unanswered.
Dark fiction and horror allows us to escape the true horror and fears of everyday life; of reality. It is pure escapism. And in the end, at some point, the perfect horror story will have you laughing. Laughing because the cat pushed the door open, made the cellar step creak, and your loved one’s smile knew all this while you freaked out.
I want dark fiction. I want horror because reality is scary enough.
Chris (Steeves) Speakman
MuseItUp Publishing Editor/Author
Editors Call for Submissions
(submissions check here)
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
What would I bring you today? What morsel of information can I share with all of you that could, some how, cause you to think or even smile but for a moment? I have no idea. Perhaps by the end of this post something will shine like the sun. We shall find out together. If you browse through the earlier posts on this blog you will see that the theme for this week is Dark Fiction (or in my case Dark Fantasy). Why do I write Dark fantasy?
When you think of Dark Fantasy what comes to mind? Monsters, ghosts, ghouls, creatures, and things that go bump in the night? Vampires, werewolves, and witches? Freddy, Jason, or Micheal? All of these belong in Dark Fantasy. I suppose you could say the themes or ideas for Dark Fantasies have always been with me. I remember being scared of the dark so my two older brother turned off all the lights in the house and made me walk down the hall to the bathroom and back again. If I didn't they promised to give me a pretty good beating. Yea, it was the older brother style of tough love. I remember walking slowly down the hall pass each open doorway just knowing something was going to jump out and grab me. The silence was worse than any noise. All I heard was the crinkling of the plastic runner along the floor I was walking on. I made it to the bathroom and back again. It was a triumphant night because I was never scared of the dark again.
Horror movies are different though. I could not watch them as a child. If I did, the nightmares were relentless. Yes, it is a funny world we live in. I can now write Dark Fantasy novels but never could watch horror movies...go figure. Anyway, I'm a child of the 80's and with that came another avenue that impacted my writing and stories. Movies like Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Monster Squad, Goonies, and Fright Night really built the foundation for my interests in the realm of Dark Fantasy. I mean who can forget this line - "Wolfmen have nards!" If you have not seen Monster Squad you need to. That line is a whole lot funnier if you've seen the movie. It was these movies that started my friends and I talking about monster. If you remember, in a previous interview I talked about reading a lot of comics. These movies were before that time and actually pushed me to comic books. Yes as I grew older I began watching actual horror movies which turned the small flame of interest to a roaring fire. I watched everything that had to do with vampires and werewolves. I wasn't a big fan of zombies until The Walking Dead aired on AMC.
You might have noticed I've talked about movies a great deal in this posts. I know, this is supposed to be about books. To be honest, I did not start ready until I was much older. The scariest work I actually read was the works of Edger Allen Poe. Yes, he wrote some good ones. Movies, comics, books, and life experiences all played a role in me writing Dark Fantasy. I believe the big difference between Horror and Dark Fantasy is that in Dark Fantasy you have more freedom to include elements of mystery, adventure, and even romance all on the backdrop of darkness and malice. That is very intriguing and inviting to me. Dark Fantasy has a rawness to it that makes it all right not to have a happy ending...or at least a sun shining, everyone happy and alive type ending.
I never had any intention to write Dark Fantasy. I've said that before and most likely will say it again. But I felt compelled to do it. I looked around and saw what vampires had become in books and movies and knew that an attempt needed to be made to bring vampires back to their history. They needed to be re-established as the dark creature of the night that brutally did as they wished and took what they wanted. The intelligent, cunning monster that struck fear in the world for generations. From that thinking came The Blood Chronicles Series. This vampire is smart, regal, cunning, brutal, and deadly.
What does the future hold for SB Knight? What do I have in store for you? I plan to finish The Blood Chronicles Series. The novel I'm writing now has a dreadful creature in it, a man on the run and some unexpected plot twists. I have ideas and notes prepared for a new werewolf story that will be unique. I also have plans for a zombie story that I can promise you has never been done before. It's been close but I'm sure this will be original. I'm also working on the concept of a new trilogy. Here is a little hint about that one, the setting is mostly Purgatory and it has a guardian angel in it. Oh and the main character is a teen aged boy who can actually see his guardian angel. I can't tell you how he can...that would be giving away to much. Oh, one more hint, you would think the villain would be a demon....you would be wrong. Finally, there is a story in the works about teapots. As you can see, I plan on writing for a long time.
If you want to read more about my debut novel, check out book trailers and join my fanpage you can by clicking HERE.
Monday, January 23, 2012
I never really had a desire to write about vampires, especially after the popularity of the “nice” vampire. I didn’t like the new type. Vampires are an abomination, an affront to nature, they don’t get to be nice. You may be saying, “Hey, wait, what about Louie from Interview with the Vampire? He was nice.” He was nice-ish. He still fed on humans to survive. And his soul was tormented.
Actually, when I wrote “The History of My Wishes,” I drew a lot of inspiration from that character. What would be so tragic as to force someone into becoming undead? Would that “life” be better than the mortal one they were living? We know from Anne Rice’s story that “life” is not better. It’s still full of tragedy and heartache. So why go through with the transformation? Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
The beginning part of the story came from a dream I had. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do recall and vampire was granting wishes. I woke up and thought, “Whoa! That’s a great idea. How can I make it work?”
I wrote the first part down, then set the story aside. Literally, it sat for months. What tragedy could have befallen my heroine? There are a bazillion horrible things that happen daily, but none of them seemed to fit my needs. I needed something specific, but what? I didn’t know what I was looking for.
I found it one day at work. I read something, and immediately thought, “That’s it. That’s the tragedy.” When I got a moment, I started writing. But then I faced the issue of my hero’s tragedy. What could have happened to him? Love! Of course! The underlying factor for so many of our poor decisions. But it wasn’t love exactly. More like lust. But it’s very easy to get those two confused.
After being on hold for a very long time, I finally had my story finished. But I had my doubts. It was a vampire story, but not a “new” vampire story. My vampire comes across as nice, but he’s really not. Would readers like it? Would a publisher pick it up?
At least one of those questions was answered, but I still have yet to hear from the readers. With any luck, you will enjoy my story, “The History of My Wishes.” If you want to tell me your opinion, I can be reached at pembrokesinclair at hotmail dot com. I also have a Facebook page and a blog.
I thoroughly enjoy writing dark fiction, it gives me the chance to explore the dark side of human nature. I’m the type of person who is fascinated by serial killers and horror films. I’ve written stories about the Devil. What motivates these people to do what they do? Is that motivation something that exists in all of us? Are any of us capable of heinous acts? Dark fiction allows me to explore those things, to figure out how a character would act. There is a safety in exploring those ideas on paper.
If you’d like to check out some of my other dark stories, you can see a list on my blog, or go here or here.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
At nursery school I made up stories. I described visiting a foreign country, convincing a woman I had visited it. ‘But Rosemary’s never been there,’ my astonished mother said when the woman mentioned it. At primary and secondary school history and geography fascinated me and I loved reading tales about times past. I wept buckets over The Wide Wide World and lapped up Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and all the sequels.
Later I read Geofrey Trease and Jeffrey Farnol before graduating to classical authors such as Sir Walter Scot, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens. Amongst many other authors I discovered Margaret Mitchell, Georgette Heyer, Elizabeth Goudge, Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt. I also enjoyed historical non-fiction.
In fact, since an early age my imaginary world was peopled with the Knights of the Round Table, 1066 and all that, Eleanor of Aquitaine and the world of courtly love, Tudor ladies dashing Cavaliers Regency gentlemen etc. Sometimes my fictional world seemed more real than my middle class life in which, without the slightest consideration of creature comforts, I yearned what I perceived as the romance of the past.
In my early twenties, while I lived in Kenya, two of my novels were accepted by prestigious publishing houses. Unfortunately, a date for publication was not included in either contract and the publishers reneged. Disillusioned while meeting the demands of my growing family I rarely wrote, but my ambition to become a published historical novelist never left me.
Years later, after leaving Kenya with our children, and living in an ashram with them, before I returned to England, my late husband encouraged me to write. Rejection after rejection of my novels followed, so I participated in writing courses and went on writers’ holidays. I joined a writers’ group that met once a week. When it closed, I joined another one and read books on How to Write. I also joined the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelist’s New Writers’ Scheme to which I submitted a novel a year for a reader’s report. The feed back helped me to improve my submission and my writing skills.
In 2007 I was over the moon when a Canadian Press accepted my novel Tangled Hearts. Unfortunately the publisher went out of business. Nevertheless, I was still determined to succeed in spite of the set back.
In the United Kingdom many factors have had an adverse effect on authors and the publishing industry. Amongst them are the abolition of the publishers’ agreed retail price, the closure of small publishers or their amalgamation with larger publishers and the closure of independent bookshops. Another nail in the proverbial coffin was banged in when Borders closed. There are no longer any small bookshops in the town in which I live, and only two large bookshops, Waterstones and W.H.Smith. To make matters worse, charity shops that sell huge quantities of second hand books cut into author’s royalties. I have friends who used to earn enough to put jam on their bread and butter. They are now lucky to have margarine on their bread. To add to the gloom, supermarkets sell an ever increasing range of books as though they are commodities like bread and sugar.
Confronted with the various situations a new writer must face, I drew on my determination to succeed. Several agents liked my novels and offered good advice. I secured a prestigious literary agent but my novel did not find a publisher.
Eventually, I realised a ray of sunshine is the increasing popularity of electronically published books which can be read on Kindle and other devices. The sales are growing and there are a number of reputable on line publishers so I am delighted to have three new releases from MuseItUp which will be published this year.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
I began weaving stories in my mind when I was a kid. I'd trundle down the back yard...we had a BIG back yard, with my best friend, Heidi, the German Shepherd I raised from six weeks.
She'd stretch out beneath me, her warm body scented with familiarity and unconditional love, becoming my pillow, and I'd tell her stories about the clouds floating by above us. The clouds are alive with characters and scenic visions.
It was so much easier back then to be a storyteller. I had no responsibilities to pull me from my progressing tapestries until Heidi and I were ready to cool off by jumping into the swimming pool for some playful water time.
Today I find life gets in the way. I'm a mom...my primary role in life and one I would not give up ever, but I'm also a citizen of the world around me. Sometimes its hard to stay focused when health challenges me and my daughter Kat Holmes, herself a Muse It Up author. She lives with me (I am so lucky) but suffers from uncontrolled seizures along with many other spirit programmed health obstacles.
I think it helps I shut down my inner voice, except for brief excursions to amuse those around me, for well over ten years. Now that I have unlocked that voice, (nicknamed Nudge...since she nudges me quite a lot,) she has so much to say, and no obstacle is going to get in her way for very long.
Still, this is the real world and obstacles, like the dark stuff, happens. I just celebrated my sixtieth birthday. The body takes consistent pleasure in letting me know it has passed that double-over-the-hill mark, but the mind?...I still see myself as that young girl, my head nestled atop Heidi's warm, pleasingly scented body, spinning tales from my metaphoric clouds plassing by.
I see myself as the young mother I was when Kat was a toddler, and I possessed not one single wrinkle. I'm not her, but everything I write somehow takes me back to her and how she would have reacted, had she been confronted with the dilemmas I place her in.
Still, cannot escape the body...so, Dear Reporter, I accept there will be periods when the body requires me, like it or not, to crash for 36 to 48 hours. I accept there will be days when the hands are too swollen to flex enough to make my keyboard sing, but on the other days, I will let Nudge have free reign.
In the end I have thirteen stories contracted so far, ten of them released since 12/1/2010...
1. Santa is a Lady 12/2010
2. Forever With You 2/2011
3. The Pendulum Swings 3/2011
4. Twilight Comes 5/2011
5. In From The Cold 6/2011
6. This Time Forever 8/2011
7. Beyond Yesterday 9/2011
8. Suc-U 10/2011
9. Champagne Afternoon 11/2011
10. The Christmas War 12/2011
...and three scheduled for 2012
1. She's Gone 2/2012
2. Echoes From The Past 4/2012
3. Life's Journey 6/2012
One contracted I co-wrote with my daughter...Her Last Day is due out 4/2013
Five manuscripts are in the pipeline waiting for contracts...and two more are about to join them.
I have twelve blogs that somehow I manage to keep posting to on a very regular basis, and of course, these Muse Blogs too...
SOOOO, Dear Reporter, although it bothers me when the body shows my advancing age and weaknesses, Nudge is my inspiration and she has a LOT to say and loves saying it through Muse because it a-MUSE-s her.
She says, "Muse is what I am, and Muse is where I am? How can it ever get better?"
Gotta love a wise Nudge!
Friday, January 20, 2012
Film mirrors real life. Writers of fiction and fact speak the truth through the words of their characters. The power of love. The power of the pen to write what is in men’s hearts when they fall…
She has 600 different smiles. They can light up your life. Make you laugh out loud, make you cry, just like that.
— When a Man Loves a Woman
When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.— When Harry Met Sally
The world is moved by love. We kneel before it in awe.
— The Village
We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
— To Love and Be Loved
Love is the strongest thing. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we're safe from it all ---Snow Falling on Cedars
Wherever she is, that's where my home is.— The Notebook
You make me want to be a better man —As Good as It Gets
I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone. — The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for ?The answer to each: only love — Don Juan DeMarco
Truth & love has always won There may be tyrants and murderers and for a time they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. --Gandhi
There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn't have to be one of them.— Dream for an Insomniac
"I want the last face you see in this world to be the face of love.… I'll be the face of love for you."— Dead Man Walking
I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it.
— City of Angels
Known someone that could level you with her eyes... an angel on earth who could rescue you from the depths of hell. " — Good Will Hunting
It seems right now that all I've ever done in my life is making my way here to you."— The Bridges of Madison County
Yours has been the most important friendship of my life.— Sense and Sensibility
Christine London Author Romance With a Twist www.christinelondon.com
So you want to be a published author you're going to hear a lot about craft, about passion and while those things are true I have a little bit different take on things. For me it's all about perseverance and putting your work out there for people to see. Will you be rejected at first, well, odds are yes. Not many people are accepted the first time around. But there will be those of you who will, and there will be those of you who buck the system and go your own way and publish through Amazon or Smashwords. But everyone will know at some point in their career some sort of sense of frustration that things aren't moving as fast as they'd like.
What did I endure? Abuse at the hands of others of all kinds. A parent who doesn't recognize what I do as legitimate. And people who want me to feel bad for my success. Insecurity that I was not a good writer (I still wrestle with that one lol), insecurity that no one will buy my books, insecurity that I will never have any friends who want to celebrate with me.
I wish I could tell you this was some sort of glamorous road where happiness lay at the end of the path. Here are the facts, you want to be successful. In order to be happy in your success as a writer you will have to determine what that success will be on your own terms. Believe it or not I am very happy, 2011 was a very good year, 3 book contracts, a 2nd place finish in the Preditor and Editor Awards of 2011, and plans for a healthy online and RL book tour starting tonight at the Muse Chat at 9PM EST http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com/x7chat/index.php a booksigning at That Book Place next Saturday, a book fair in March http://www.thatbookplace.com/authors-fair/attending-authors-2012/ and an author fair in April in Kentucky.
Success doesn't just come up to you. You have to go out and get it. So what are you waiting for? Go out and get it.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
I began writing seriously and submitting back in 2002. I submitted to publishers, I submitted to agents. Many big houses won't even look at a manuscript from an author, it has to come through an agent. Back then not too many publishers or agents accepted manscripts online, so I had to mail them.
That meant reading the submissions section carefully, printing the manuscript, and packing it (no staples) with a rubberband around it and then a trip to the postoffice.
Then the wait began. Of course, I didn't sit idly by and wait for the answer, nope, I got busy on my next story.
Let me tell you a little about my writing process. I'm what they call a panster. I write by the seat of my pants. I come up with an idea and I know how my story starts. At this point I have a pretty good idea of how I want it to end. What happens in the middle - well that's as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader. The next thing I do is fill out a character worksheet.
I want to know everything I possibly can about my character, besides just what they look like. I need to know when they're born, what their hobbies are, do they like chidlren, pets? Where do they live, how about their family? Brothers, sisters? Faults? - Oh yes, they have to have faults. No one is perfect and neither should they be.
I even talk to them. At least, I hope they'll talk to me, because if a character doesn't speak to you, you won't get far into the book. And then I start writing. Usually, the characters lead me. They go the way they want to go and they're the ones who throw the stumbling blocks into the story. I'm not concerned at this point how it sounds or what I'm writing, I just want to get the story down on paper.
Once my story is done, I put it away - in a computer file - I also send it to myself through email. I can always retrieve my email. If my computer crashes, I can't retrieve my files. I let it sit and forget about it and move on to something else. I try to write every day, at least for fifteen minutes, sometimes much much longer. It depends on my time and how much the characters are speaking to me. Sometimes, they don't speak at all and what I write is dreck (junk). Other times, I can't stop writing and even forget to eat. I love those days. If I get stalled because they won't speak at all and at least a couple of weeks has passed, I bring out the previous manuscript and begin my revisions. This is where I begin polishing my story, making sure I'm showing, not telling. Once I go through it, I set it aside again and move on to something else. I do this several times until I believe the story is the best it can be. Sometimes I'll go through it four or five times, sometimes more. I won't submit it until I'm satisfied with it.
I've learned a lot since I started submitting back in 2002. I read those stories now and see what I've missed and how they can be made better. I've learned how to show, not tell the story. So I'm in the process of going through all of those stories and submitting them again.
This time, I'm submitting to ebook publishers. I see this as the wave of the future. I've had much success at MuseItUp Publishing. Oh, I'm still getting rejections and have several that they've asked me to rewrite, but they've accepted several also. You can find my books at my Muse author's page.
You can find out more about me at my website website or my blog.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Alzheimer’s Disease – Ruthless and Cruel
By Joanne Elder
Yesterday I was on Rogers Daytime, a local morning talk show, to promote my science fiction thriller SPECTRA, recently released by MuseItUp Publishing, and to promote the upcoming Authors Fight Alzheimer’s fundraiser taking place on January 30th at the North York Central Library Auditorium in Toronto from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. When Jeff, one of the hosts on the show, asked about the fundraiser, it brought back a rush of memories of why I decided to organize such an enormous event. The answer…my father.
My father, William Cavendish Macneill, was my friend, my mentor and my inspiration. We shared a love of science and science fiction and I followed in his footsteps in becoming an engineer. He was never a writer, but I can write to keep his memory alive. When my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I looked into his eyes and saw the man who raised me, the man who was a WWII pilot, the man who was a successful engineer, the husband to my mother. I also saw confusion and fear. Shortly before he passed away, I looked into those same eyes and saw something I’d never seen before: his spark for life was gone. The disease had extinguished it. In a moment of clarity, he looked at me and said “This game has gone on far too long.” Those are words too painful to even think about. My mom presently suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, but when I visit she still manages to tell me she loves me. For those words I’m truly grateful.
After my dad passed away in 2008, I felt I had to do something to give meaning to his years of suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. I dedicated SPECTRA to him and decided to donate half my royalties to the Alzheimer’s Society. But that was not enough. I want people to have awareness of what my dad and millions of others go through with this terrible disease. And so Authors Fight Alzheimer’s was born…
This fundraising event has grown into a huge book signing event with 26 authors (some award winning) of many different genres. The authors will be signing their books that evening with the proceeds of sales going to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Sandra Black, a distinguished physician with Sunnybrook Hospital and Professor of Neurology at the University of Toronto, will talk about Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of keeping your mind active through reading as a defense against the disease. Thanks to our corporate sponsors, there will be great food and door prizes. I hope people will spread the word and attend this fantastic evening to meet the authors and stock up on some great winter reading.
My thanks goes out to all the MuseItUp authors attending the book signing with me (Kevin Craig, Sandra Clarke, Nancy Bell and Helene Provost), and to Lea Schizas and Litsa Kamateros for all their support. I must also thank all the other participating authors and the corporate sponsors for making this event a success. I final thank you must go to Deron Douglas with Double Dragon Publishing for publishing a commemorative book particularly for this event.
My compassion goes out to everyone who has had a loved one suffer with Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps if we work together, we can make a difference for next generation.
Author of SPECTRA and ENTITY (May 2012), MuseItUp Publishing
Monday, January 16, 2012
Research involved far different skills and activities then than they do today, and I intend to contrast the two eras here. The interest and pleasure I, as a writer of historical fiction, gained from my discoveries were somewhat equal to those I receive from learning some obscure new fact today. The satisfaction of inserting them into a narrative that may surprise and delight the reader is just as strong.
Even the stories of the change from Britanniae to Angle Land are much different today. Mallory’s “Morte d’Arthur’ was one of the few sources in the 1960s, even though it was a poem of dubious origin taken from earlier works that had been embellished to suit the chivalric traditions of the Middle Ages. There had been almost no archaeological study of the traces remaining on the ground. The British sources open to me were Nennius’ “History of the Britons” of 800AD and St Gildas’ “De Excidio et Conquestu Britannaie” of about 550AD. On the Saxon side there was little but King Alfred’s compilation of the “Anglo Saxon Chronicles” sometime around 850AD. The fact that the ‘Chronicle’ repeated the same actions under different dates and names didn’t inspire much confidence in historiography of the period.
Of course, the only name known to laymen and readers then was King Arthur—the gink with the Round Table. King Arthur was good enough for most writers and readers, so who was I to think of kicking him off the billboard? Well, I’ve never thought it worthwhile to write something that has already been written to death a hundred times. Arthur was a synthesis of characters from many other ancient stories, and never a real person. There—I’ve said it and romantics can cry their tears into a copy of Mallory.
My research did have its magic moments. I visited the British Museum to access some of the sources and in the old Reading Room of the British Library—yes, the circular room where Karl Marx, George Orwell, Bram Stoker, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain and a thousand others had preceded me—I was allowed to read a translation of “De Excidio” printed in the 1500s. Wow! It was a thousand years newer than the original but still so old as to make me nervous how I opened the pages. The old Reading Room is not connected to the library today—which is in new, larger premises, but it is open again for special exhibits and even has some books. One more pleasure lost in the move to our mechanistic age.
What of the modern age? I’m now researching a nearer history—the Regency in Britain and finding almost all my answers online. What did the Isle of Dogs look like when my characters visited a shipyard on the Thames in 1814? Following links (and starting at Wikipedia) I found maps, info, paintings, and even modern London details that threw light on the earlier time. My stories involve shipbuilding and I have some good sources picked up over the years—books bought during visits to the actual ships, the SS Great Britain of 1843 and HMS Warrior of 1861, that have details on the salvage and restoration of the ships and on the original machinery and construction methods.
Many writers of historical romance use the popular artifice of having their couple united by an unconsummated marriage so they might tease the reader between outcomes of annulment or eventual true love. Sorry, but that’s a bunch of cods-wallop too. The requirements for divorce or annulment before the Marriage Act of 1857 didn’t care two hoots about whether the union was consummated or not—they were far more realistic and only cared whether there had been adultery committed by either party. There is a great deal of material on divorce, separation (a mensa et thoro) and requirements for becoming legally (and religiously) married once you start looking into the matter. All surprisingly fascinating---I’m thinking of becoming a non-marriage counsellor once this writing is finished.
Some writers dread researching, and others revel in it, but the reader can be cheated without it. Here’s to delving back as far and as thoroughly as one can...for, what are you doing, Dear Reporter, if not researching authors and how they feel about their writing?
Sunday, January 15, 2012
“Do you see anyone?”
“Well, do ya?”
A head poked out from the open door. “No. There’s no one here.”
“Gavin, how could that be?” A red-headed boy followed the first out of the doorway.
“Do you think we’re late?” Another voice spoke from the doorway.
The boy called Gavin turned and spoke to the others. “Don’t think so. If anything, I figured we would be early.”
All three cautiously entered the room.
“Look here,” the red-headed boy pointed to the table and chairs. Sandwiches and a pitcher of water set on the table.
“Food and drink. We must be in the right place,” the third boy spoke.
“Our author just must be late,” the red-headed boy replied.
“I think you’re right, Bryan,” Gavin said. He slapped Bryan on the back. “Let’s sit down. I’m kinda hungry.”
Gavin and Bryan sat down.
“Come on, Philip.” Gavin motioned to the other boy still standing. “Join us. None of us has eaten since dawn. You must be hungry, too.”
Philip smiled and sat down.
For several moments no one spoke while they ate.
“Well...” Philip pushed away from the table. “What do you think they are going to ask us?”
“I thought that Cheryl said it would be about The King’s Ransom,” Gavin answered.
“She did. Remember she told us not to reveal any of the book’s secrets,” Bryan added.
“Should we go over what to say,” Philip asked. “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
“We could practice, I guess.” Gavin looked over at the door. “Doesn’t appear to be anyone close by.”
“When we introduce ourselves, should be use our titles?” Bryan asked.
“No bloody way!” Philip shook his head. “Only Prince Gavin. Ours would give away the ending of the story.”
“Okay. Then maybe Gavin could tell about the setting of the story,” Bryan offered.
“Right. I’ll tell how the book is set in Wales around the 5th century.”
“You can also tell them that St. David’s Head is a real place on the western coast,” Philip added.
“Yea, and be sure to tell them about Cardigan Bay. I may die there.” Bryan said.
“You’re not supposed to tell that!” Philip punched Bryan in the arm.
Gavin glared at each of them. “I’ll tell about those places, but first I have to let our readers know that my home Pembroke Castle and Manorbier Castle are also real and still standing today.”
Philip and Bryan nodded.
“Don’t tell them about the ghost at Manorbier Castle,” Philip reminded him.
“We have to tell about The Wild Man,” Bryan said.
“Just so we don’t tell too much about him,” Gavin said. “It’s okay to say that The Wild Man is our friend and accused of murder.”
“Yea, and we can tell how the three of us swear on the Knight’s Oath to help him,” Philip butted in.
“Right,” Gavin said.
“Can we tell about the witch?” Bryan asked.
Gavin and Philip both shook their heads.
“What about saying something about our author?” Bryan tried again.
“We could do that,” Gavin agreed.
“She must like King Arthur.” Philip explained. “We’re the second book she’s written that takes place during his time.”
“That’s right. She also wrote about Queen Guinevere when she was around our age.” Bryan added.
“It’s called Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend,” Gavin chimed in.
Philip walked over the to window. “Shouldn’t someone be here by now? I mean, after all, it’s supposed to be an interview.”
Gavin shrugged his shoulders. “I wonder if we got the day or the time wrong?”
“I don’t know, but it is getting dark outside. We need to think about getting home.” Philip pointed out the window.
“It’s not even supper time, the sun can’t be going down already, not in the spring!” Bryan joined Philip at the window.
“Unless it’s not spring.” Gavin came over also. “Look how low the sun is on the horizon. It’s not spring! It’s the middle of winter!”
“Well, no wonder no one’s here to interview us,” Philip stated. “We not supposed to be out until the spring. We are early.”
All three looked around uneasily.
“Do you think they’ll notice that some of the food and water is gone?” Bryan whispered.
“What do you think? Let’s get out of here while we still can,” Gavin led the way to the door they came in.
“What do we tell Cheryl?” Philip asked as they slipped through the doorway.
“Nothing!” Gavin and Bryan replied.
Sorry. My crew showed up early. Look for more from them this spring!
Beyond Today Educator