I’m taking music recommendations from Daniel Radcliffe. I have a problem.

I’ve got two busy days at work, and then it’s Thanksgiving break – one of my favorite holidays. Why? Because it’s all about food and family; no expectations of gifts to complicate things.

That said, what are my plans for this mini-break? Baking and cooking items of the orange variety, apparently – yams, sweet potatoes, maybe some carrots. And reading. Finish my re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (so nice to savor it). Next: YA novels, books about writing, mythology, light holiday fare with ladies in pretty dresses, Buffy comics…a wonderful mess of things await.

And all the while, I’m conjuring. I’ve been resisting the urge to start working on my outline. If I submit to writing now, I might not get a lot of reading done. So many good books out there that I can enjoy, learn from. But even if I don’t sit at the computer, the wheels are still turning. It’s a good feeling – but I think I should develop the idea a bit more before I sit down and write. Until then, I have much to distract myself. Maybe I’ll go see the new Harry Potter movie (again – I’m sure I’ll blog about this at some point; I can’t resist).

Speaking of which, thanks to this American Libraries article with Daniel Radcliffe – http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/columns/newsmaker/daniel-radcliffe – I now listen to Florence and the Machine. Thank you, Daniel.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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a brief respite

My revision is, for now, done. Meaning: this stage of revision is done. The book is not done, nowhere near done. I have no idea how much I have left to do. As you’ve probably gathered from previous posts, this revision has left me utterly depleted. So what’s a weary writer to do?

Enjoying our new obsession: Sherlock on PBS, a contemporary reboot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels (the actor playing John Watson was also in the original British version of The Office). I’ve also been watching a fascinating show about the Big Apple Circus. And reading. The table in front of me is piled with books: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (must re-read and savor before seeing the movie); Folklore, Mythology and Legend; The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology (my favorite). Notebook and pen close at hand, and a list of books, a pile of books, and more books on request from the library.

While I am relieved to take a break from revising, I am feeling restless. I feel guilty when I’m not actively working on a book – but I need to allow time for things to percolate. PBS had better broadcast more Sherlock; in the meantime I’ll have to distract myself with John Watson’s blog.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 11:28 pm  Comments (2)  
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Inspired by a post on the Enchanted Inkpot, as well as Halloween, I want to talk about monsters. I LOVE MONSTERS! I love reading about them and writing about them. Erzebet in The Blood Confession is about as monstrous as you can get – so obsessed with her own beauty that she’s willing to kill and bathe in her victim’s blood. In The King’s Rose I had some very different monsters to write about: King Henry, and – perhaps even more so – the dowager Duchess of Norfolk. I knew that whenever the Duchess swept into the room and appraised Catherine with her ice-cold eyes, sparks would fly.

As implied above, it’s the human-variety of monster that intrigues me the most. As for my favorite monster from literature, the first that came to mind was Carmilla, the titular character in J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampiric masterpiece. Carmilla’s monstrous identity is concealed behind a pretty, endearing facade. Carmilla’s affection for the main character makes her true nature that much more unsettling: they’re constantly walking arm and arm or whispering secret confidences. That’s awfully close proximity to a monster. And the blood-drenched nightmares “warning” the narrator still give me chills!

What about the monsters that are ourselves? I read Stephen King’s Carrie as a teenager, and I think it affected me so profoundly because the sad sack, depressed, troubled Carrie White was so sympathetic and repulsive – she was everything I feared I was, worthy of ridicule. What could be worse than our own fears about our true selves? And then, when she cracks and unleashes havoc on her tormenters – sweet revenge! Also, quite terrifying. The movie, in particular, scarred me at the age of thirteen.

Speaking of fears of self, I’m so glad that Ellen Booraem mentioned the Dementors and their connection to depression in the Inkpot post. This is much scarier than the scaly skin or eyeless faces: “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soul-less and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.” (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

And speaking of Potter, I love a monster that has a connection to our hero. Voldemort’s mind-connection to Harry manifests itself in terrifying dreams. Also, Harry fears that he inherited some of Voldemort’s powers during their first face-off. Likewise, Wilhelmina Harker carries the mark of Dracula (the bite marks on her neck, the burn of a holy sacrament on her forehead) which is both danger and boon – they use this connection to track Dracula down. But they must be wary of any changes in the brave Wilhelmina; the evil aspect taking over her otherwise pure soul.

This comes up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, too: she’s the good guy, slaying vampires. But that makes her sort of magical, not like a normal human – and therefore maybe a bit more like her fanged enemies than she would like to admit. Could she really belong to the night, like the demons she slays?

So not only do I love a good monster – especially one in a human guise, with true evil lying beneath the surface – but I also love a hero with some monstrous aspects, as well. It’s all a metaphor for the human condition: there is the potential for true good or true evil in all of us. Sometimes the scariest thing on earth is the face staring back at you in the mirror. We could all be monsters, if only to ourselves.