Recountings

EMMA.

A new adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma has come out. Last weekend, I saw it with my sister and eldest niece. (What a blast we had!) Yesterday evening, my best friend came with me to watch it. (Sitting in the comfiest chairs with white chocolate, drinks and warm popcorn … it was THERAPY.) I am fighting the impulse to see it a third time.

Let me tell you why. And – as a fair warning – this post will be written in the style of what I like to call ‘INCOHERENT RAMBLINGS OF A STARRY-EYED NESS’. You have been warned.

THE VISUALS

Everything is so pretty and also so very tongue-in-cheek. The font at the beginning of the film – even the font is pretty – and the PASTELS! EVERYTHING IS IN PASTELS!!

Emma’s outfits … they are divine (except for the ones with that random frill/collar around her neck. Like, did she forgot to put the other part of the dress on?)

Though, Mr. Knightley and Mr. Churchill and Emma wear yellow coats at one point or other in the film and I haven’t worked out if this is some sort of subliminal messaging trying to get me to like the colour of gone-off sunshine, but kudos for trying.

I’m not sure how period-correct the costumes were, but my gosh, it felt as if they were; I could easily imagine a Heyer heroine wearing some of them

THE MUSIC

I’ve listened to the entire soundtrack three or four times through in the past two days. Yes, this may be the reflection on the shortness of the soundtrack or it’s a reflection on how perfect it is. It’s so frothy and delightful and is sparkling lemonade in your ear. And then BLAM! a folk song hits or an old hymn is sung with gusto by a hundred throats (my mind filled in ‘throats’ with ‘goats’ and … yes. You’re welcome for that visual.)

Clearly it’s doing something to me; I’ve cleaned, am wearing a skirt, have folded the contents of two drawers (not brilliantly but still), and delicately nibbled on oat biscuits and sipped herbal tea.

I’m not sure what this means.

THE CHARACTERS

Facial expressions – they are done so well. Mr. Elton can reduce you to hysterics – HYS-TER-ICS. The glances are a second script in themselves.

Anya Taylor-Joy does a fantastic job as Emma; you can see her character growth and the realization about Mr. Knightley through her eyes. Harriet Smith is a BLAST. Mr. Knightley … *le sigh* I thought he was brilliant. Also, there’s this scene between him and Frank Churchill that is played so awkwardly. It was perfection. Miss Bates is BRILLIANT and whoever thought of casting Miranda as in that needs a medal. NO. THREE MEDALS. I could watch an entire film of Miss Bates describing Jane’s adventures to Emma.

Mr. Wodehouse kills me. (I am Being Dramatic, I know.) He steals every scene. Every. Scene. If there was a T.V show with just he and Miss. Bates, I’d watch it. I’d watch it all.

I adore the casting – everyone looked interesting and not as if they’d just come off a run way.

Also, Mr. Knightley’s walk in the very beginning reminded me of the Beast’s when he’s coming down the staircase in the live adaption of Beauty and the Beast.

Robert Martin made me want to giggle in every scene he was in; I’m not entirely sure why but I thought he was hilarious.

THE ROMANCE & SUNDRY

THE ROMANCE WAS BEAUTIFUL! And the grand confession scene? I shan’t spoil it for you but it is quite something. It reminds you of the ending bit of The Grand Sophy with the ducklings.

[Side note – THE POINTED COLLARS!!! I get why some Heyer characters can barely turn their head because their collars are so stiffly starched! Poor men. How they must have suffered.]

EMMA. is almost farcical, definitely beautifully shot, scripted and scored, and on the whole a sheer delight to indulge in. I foresee many a rewatch.

Let’s recap:

  1. I adored this film (you may have guessed) and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea – it’s certainly mine. If there are flaws, I am currently blind to them.
  2. There is a possibility that I have may overworn such adjectives as ‘perfect’ and ‘brilliant’ in this post. I make no apologies.
  3. Autumn de Wilde needs to adapt a few Georgette Heyer novels – it would be magic, I swear!
Life

three pieces of classical music which i adore and that i would name a pet after

There are some pieces of music that touch your soul. There are others that transport you to another place and time. And there are still others that make such a racket that you want to throw them violently into a boiling ocean full of judgemental lava sharks.

Below are some of the first two. I have inexplicably combined them with pet naming ideas. Bad pet naming ideas.

Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat K.495 3. Rondo (Allegro Vivace)Mozart

Just listen to this piece – it’s just beautiful; at parts it sounds like a conversation between two people, different and harmonious, answering and responding with violins providing a sparkling commentary. And if you listen carefully, it sounds like the music is flying – zipping above a still lake, flitting with the dragon flies.

It’s a summer’s day. It’s a picnic on a green slope beneath a blue, blue sky. It’s washing up in the kitchen with a tea-towel thrown over your shoulder, the sun streaming in through the window and your feet dancing of their own accord.

It’s majestic and yet somehow light-hearted all the same.

PROSPECTIVE PET NAME: Con-e-fur. (Like Concerto in E with a four and … okay. It’s a stretch)

Guitar Concerto in D Major 2nd Movement- Vivaldi

Oh, this is the very definition of gentle. This is floating in safety. This is a warm fire in the wintertime. It’s a hug (for your ears.).

It’s a balm for the soul, a respite in a world of crash and clamour.

I’ve loved this piece for eighteen years. Perhaps for some it is too simplistic; but sometimes the simplest things are the best and most beautiful.

PROSPECTIVE PET NAME: Major Deacon (This is so stunningly awful. I APPROVE.)

Elizabethan SerenadeRonald Binge

This – this – is beautiful. My gosh. It soothes and yet calls you to dance. It’s a weeping willow over a winding river. It waltzes, it warms. It spins a splendiferously pretty melody.

It summons to mind mild summer days with cotton-candy clouds that have absolutely nowhere to go, ambles in the countryside, and happiness unspoilt. I adore it and the way it brings beauty to even the most wintery of winter days.

PROSPECTIVE PET NAME: Bethnade (I feel bad for any potential pet I might have in the future.)


Also – and here’s just a thought: ALL OF THESE COULD BE PART OF THE SOUNDTRACK OF A GEORGETTE HEYER NOVEL. Thank you. Thought over.

On Writing

i also did not kidnap kyle robert shultz for an interview.

I am a social creature. Clearly. Today, I have the marvelous Kyle Robert Shultz with me. (I mean, not literally. But in spirit.) Shultz is the author of multiple series set in the Afterverse, a parallel universe where myths, fairy tales, and classic stories are real events and part of history. He lives in self-imposed exile in the southern Idaho desert, far enough away from humanity to protect innocent lives should he lose control of his awesome fictional powers and rip a hole in the space-time continuum or something.

So sit down (or stand), grab a cup of tea (or a pint, or a horn of ale, or coffee, OR HERBAL TEA OR NOTHING) and settle in – we’re in for yet another treat.

***DON’T READ ON … if you’d rather not touch on how Medusa is possibly misunderstood, ponder the best parts of book birthing, and dive into the deep depths of escapism and reading.***

apparently, this gif is tradition now.

I’ve been really enjoying Deadwood. Clearly you have an excellent sense of humour. What makes you laugh? Puns? Sarcasm? The ridiculous? Naked snails?

Why, thank you! So far as types of humor are concerned, I am very much on the dry, snarky end of the spectrum. The Twelfth Doctor is my spirit animal…either him or Peter B. Parker from Into the Spider-Verse; it varies. Though that doesn’t mean that a well-executed, totally goofy pun won’t elicit a snort of mirth from me from time to time. And of course, the vast comedic potential of naked snails is not to be underestimated.

The weird thing is that my style of humor varies depending on what character I’m writing, or, to put it another way, which part of the world I’m writing in. Todd Crane’s sense of humor in the Crockett and Crane series is decidedly American, and those books are a little more goofy in tone. Nick Beasley from the Beaumont and Beasley series, on the other hand, is a gruff, no-nonsense Londoner (or rather, Talesender, in this case) inhabiting a world with a distinctly Wodehousean flavor to its funny. I’m not a Brit myself, but I have immersed myself in a great deal of Britishness over the years through books, audiobooks, radio plays, etc.

Favourite mythological figure – from any culture! – go!

You want me to choose? Have you no mercy??? Okay, I’ll take a crack at it. I think I’ll go with…Hades. I mean, his relationship with Persephone is actually pretty sweet in quite a few versions of the myth; he once trapped two would-be kidnappers in magic chairs, which is hilarious; and he literally named his gigantic three-headed monster-dog Spot. He’s awesome.

Is Medusa maligned? I feel as though she, like sharks, have terrible PR. What are your thoughts?

Yes, I think that’s very accurate. The oldest myths about Medusa describe her as having been born with her unfortunate powers, so it’s hardly her fault, even if she did end up a little homicidal over time. I mean, who wouldn’t, in that situation? Perhaps if Perseus had just taken the time to have a conversation with her instead of getting all head-choppy, the conflict could have been resolved in a more civilized manner.

so when does this book come out?? YOU CAN WRITE IT. I’LL WAIT.

Why centaurs?

No, no, you’ve got it wrong. The question is obviously “Why not centaurs?” After all, they tend to appear in one of only two over-used archetypes: the barbaric monster or the star-gazing soothsayer. It’s high time they got more diverse representation in fantasy. You’re welcome, centaurs of the world.

However, to answer your question, I will have to rewind to the original draft of Crockett and Crane Book 1: Horseman, which was entitled “Horse and Man.” The book was much, much too long, and as I was editing, I realized that there were far too many instances of my main character Todd saying “I leaped astride my mettlesome charger and, wheeling into the wind, cried out, ‘Hi-ho, Cedric! Away!’” 

Slashing these reduced the draft from 200,000 to 50,000 words. But what of poor Cedric, and Todd’s need for transportation? Then, HARK, a brilliant idea: what if Todd was his own transportation? And so, Todd became a centaur. (Part-time, anyway.) This was clearly the most straightforward solution to the problem.

What’s a key component of your writing routine?

Writing. Which sounds like a really dumb and/or sarcastic answer, but that is not my intention…let me explain. What I mean is that if I don’t sit down with the intention of actually putting words on the page, one way or another, I’m not going to get any writing done that day, or possibly ever. I don’t necessarily write every day, as some people advise, but on a day when I’ve set out to write, I only allow myself a few minutes of “planning” time. If my brain hasn’t succeeded in coming up with a workable plan, and the clock is ticking, I say, “Okay brain, you’ve had your chance,” and just launch into freewriting. Some of my best ideas have come from this method.

Does a book come fully formed into your mind like KABLAM! THE BOOK IS IN YOUR HEAD! Or do you spend years plotting methodically? Or do you metaphorically fly by the seat of your metaphorical pinstriped trousers?

KABLAM! is actually a very accurate synopsis of my process. That’s not to say I have every last detail of the story in my head from the beginning, though…at least, not consciously. Typically, I get a tidal wave of inspiration for a story, then start writing madly until I’ve at least gotten the most crucial or difficult scenes on paper. After that, it’s more or less smooth sailing. I wouldn’t quite call it “pantsing”—or is it “trousering”?—because I do have at least a semblance of a plan. I just don’t write the plan out on paper because it uses up valuable energy and spoils all the fun surprises. Plus, I look terrible in metaphorical pinstripes.

Favourite part of the entire book birthing process? (That’s a weird analogy. I apologise. BUT STILL.)

No, it’s actually a great analogy. Can we authors help it if there are similarities between the two processes? Stop judging us, tiresome normal humans. I think my favorite part is actually the middle-ish part of the story, when I’m completely caught up in the creative flow and I know exactly where I’m headed with my various arcs. Granted, when it’s over, I find myself surrounded by empty coffee cups, wildly scribbled notes on any scraps of paper to hand, and unconscious people who dared try to interrupt me during the process, but it’s all worth it.

Hardest part of the biz? (For me it’s the fame. It’s just so difficult to handle.)

The fame is crushing. That said, I think the hardest part for me is balancing the business with the art. Mainly because I’m weird and I actually enjoy the business side of things, so I can easily get too caught up in one or the other. There has to be a balance between the two, or it just doesn’t work. It’s no good trying to create my own evil business empire to rival Disney if I’m not spending plenty of time just writing books. And, on the other hand, no matter how much I love simply sitting down and writing, I won’t get very far if I don’t pay attention to my business.

Are you ready for two deep questions?

Not remotely. Back, fiend. Back, I say.

TOO LATE. I often hear that reading is a form of escapism. Personally my answer is complicated, never succinct and always essay length. What’s yours?

I’m tempted to write an essay as well, but I’ll try to control myself. My simple response to this criticism would be, how is it a criticism, and what’s wrong with escapism? Now, granted, there are probably unhealthy forms of escapism, but I have yet to meet an average reader who is “too absorbed” in the worlds of their favorite books. I would say that the particular kind of escapism which comes from books is exceptionally healthy, especially since it puts the imagination to work more than other forms of entertainment. My books are frequently referred to as “harmless fun,” but it’s usually not in a derogatory context, because harmless fun is often what people want. So it doesn’t offend me in the slightest, nor would I call anyone out for saying it. 

Also, they are most definitely not harmless fun, Steve B. on Amazon, and if you don’t see the very weighty philosophical message in Chapter Twenty-Seven of The Reckoning of Rumpelstiltskin, then that is entirely your problem, you Philistine.

Our world seems a little darker and our lives can be difficult – how do you feel picking up a book can affect that? And, as a writer, how do you feel writing a book can help?

Speaking as a reader, I believe that picking up a book—especially a work of fantasy or science fiction, since those are my go-to genres—allows me to step outside the madness for a while, which gives me both breathing space and a fresh perspective. Granted, in order to accomplish that, it needs to be the right kind of book—the kind that I attempt to write myself. There’s a certain degree of idealism in my fiction; it’s definitely not “gritty” or “grounded.” But I believe that writers of the “fairy story” (the catch-all term which both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used for fantasy, mythology, etc.) have a responsibility to sprinkle at least a little idealism into their work, especially when writing from the Christian perspective. Our stories should incorporate what Tolkien called the “eucatastrophe,” “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce).” Especially since, as Tolkien goes on to say, “the Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story – and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.” (quotes from Tolkien’s “Letter 89”)

And finally – the VERY LAST QUESTION – what’s a solid tip, saying, sword, sentence, paragraph and/or elf that will help an aspiring writer?

Never tell anyone, including yourself, that you don’t know what you’re doing. Of course you don’t; you’re a writer. If you knew what you were doing, there wouldn’t be any surprises, and you wouldn’t have any fun. Pretend you do know what you’re doing, write the story anyway, and it will all turn out fine in the end. Trust me. I know exactly what I’m doing.

(And I do apologize for the deplorable lack of helpful elves.)

Thank you for stopping by, Kyle! It’s been a pleasure having you on here. I will forgive you for the lack of helpful elves one day.


You can stalk Kyle here, check out his brand-new release right here, or check out his book design business right here. (You might not need anything book designing-wise but you can still be nosy muhahahaha.)

(And if you just want a smile, go here.)

Books

comparing white chocolate to georgette heyer books

… because, of course. I inhale white chocolate, and do the same with Georgette Heyer’s books. So it makes perfect sense. Either that or the following is a slow descent into madness.

Before I should go on, please don’t comment ‘WHITE CHOCOLATE ISN’T EVEN PROPER CHOCOLATE THO!’ because I don’t need that kind of outrageous negativity in my life. Also, it is! (AndPlutoISaplanettoosothere.)

Lindt Lindor White Chocolate ‘Irresistibly Smooth’

It’s not my favorite chocolate ever. It’s a bit flaky? And then the middle is smooth. Just, pick one – okay? (Or, note to self, read the packet before gobbling it down. Manage expectations etc. Specifically your ones.) It’s a whole journey in your mouth with good and bad and brilliant and confusion.

Spig Muslin – it took me years to get around to reading this and I was not a fan at first. Because I’d skimmed it and hadn’t taken the time to read it. But then I went on a one woman road trip and listened to the audio AND OH MY GOSH IT’S ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD. It’s a journey, but we get there in the end. I could always do with more hero/heroine clashes because you know that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

(I don’t know what that phrase means. I have theories but mmhfff.)

Thornton’s White Chocolate:

It’s white chocolate that could have potential if only it took a little less sweetener and a little more milk.

Friday’s Child – it’s been awhile since I’ve read this one so this could be wrong. I reserve the right to be wrong. But – I remember hating it. Perhaps I had the wrong mindset. Perhaps when I go back into the book I’m going to think it’s wonderful. It’s the bee’s knees. The cat’s meow. BUT NOT TODAY.

If all of Heyer’s books were tea, this would be Earl Grey. (I didn’t always loathe Earl Grey; once upon a time, we had a torrid like affair. BUT NO LONGER.)

If all of Heyer’s books were white chocolate this would be- wait.

Milky Bar Buttons

Milky Bar Buttons fill me with happiness – sweet, but not too much so. Milky, as one would suspect. It’s a perfect marriage between the two.

Cotillion/Frederica – I mean, they’re just so sweet and beautiful. How could you not? They are comfort. They are sweet. They are full to the brim of vibrant characters with cackle-inducing humour.

I have written blog posts about both of them: Cotillion / Frederica.

Green and Black’s White Chocolate

I could eat several entire bars of these in one day. For me, this is my favorite white chocolate (SO FAR!) It’s sweet – but not too much. Milky, but in the perfect way. It has resolution (wut) it has flavour. It is good for you (in comparison to the rest). It is ethical. (I think.)

Civil Contract aka one of my favourite Heyer books evah!!! It’s real. Or at least, it feels real to me – far more real than the other Heyers. The ending is not overwhelmingly happy, but it is practical. Perhaps even realistic.

The romance is a slow one, built more on friendship than the heady heights of first love. And I’m completely okay with that.

I’ve podcasted about this in my very long lived five episode podcast series. I’ve discussed this passionately in a graveyard. I’ve read it multiple times.

Perhaps, over the years, my taste in brands of white chocolate and Heyer books may shift. And that’s okay – we always seem to be changing, don’t we? I don’t like some of the books my teenage self read. Because my gosh the heroes were like sausages – the wurst.

*pause for audience laughter*

*no laughter. joke flops about like a beached fish. dies horribly*

Well, this has made me long for some white chocolate. OH WAIT. I haven’t even got to the combo flavours yet!!! White chocolate and strawberry and … Nope. I should stop, lest I put an end to being so very succinct. ah-hem.

QUESTION: HOW MANY TIMES WAS SWEET USED AS A DESCRIPTION IN THIS BLOG POST?

ANSWER: NOT ENOUGH.

happy reading!

I think I just rambled

grave deskisions

I’ve been thinking about desks for a while. Flirting with an idea but never thinking about it seriously. (Ness, I can hear you ask. Are you really going to kick off the new year with a post about a DESK. The answer is yes. Yes, I am.)

HOW TO COPE WITH THE DAWN OF A NEW DESK by A Dedicated Writer and Bookworm

STEP ONE: PLANNED IMPULSIVENESS

If the impulse to google ‘desks’ seizes you one day, and your thumb hovers over the tempting ‘buy now’ button, it is important to stop – think about what you are doing. Make sure that the measurements are correct.

Grab a tape that is older than you (vital!) and measure your current desk, which is not actually a desk but a table. A winged table. (That you should decide to give up such a wonder says something about you. Perhaps it is unflattering, perhaps it is not. Either way, you don’t give it a thought. You are measuring.)

Once you’ve measured (and thought ‘huh that’s a bit taller than my current desk-winged-creature but what could possibly go wrong?’*) hit purchase and enter your details in.

You receive a confirmation email. Life is glorious.

*this will not have a pay off and the sense of foreboding will lead to nowhere. Life is cruel like that.

STEP TWO: IMPATIENTLY WAIT

Have a late night crisis about time and how while you want to have a new desk (and have told all your colleagues multiple times about how very excited you are) and wish for it’s arrival date to hasten! … it will eventually happen. Time is a stream and then will inevitably become now.

This is deep.

You are impressed with yourself.

STEP THREE: THE BLESSED MOMENT HAS DAWNED!

IT IS HEAVING WITH POTENTIAL.

Your desk has arrived. You hurry home. You take selfies with your desk. You get your Mum to take pictures of you and your desk (which is flat packed and is in an unassuming cardboard box. Never mind that, you see potential.)

You clear your room, ready to start. It shouldn’t be too hard.

… it is.

All visions of you being a strong and capable and mature adult wither in front of THE MANUAL. It looks like Russian. You can’t read Russian. (But you can say ‘vodka’ and ‘nyet’ which is, in the grand scale of things, not your greatest accomplishment.)

DEAD DREAMS. THE DEADEST.

You get everything out of the box. You put sticky notes on different boards and pieces of wood. Some fall off, like dead dreams and autumn leaves. You stare at them very hard. You look back at THE MANUAL.

You summon help.

STEP FOUR: SIT AND YOUR DESK AND MARVEL

The cavalry are glorious and also members of your family which is wonderful (there are heavy hints about purchasing coffee as a thank you. You should do this.)

And then it is done. The job is complete. The room is tidied and your Desk Of Dreams Where Worlds Will Be Birthed sits there neatly … waiting for you to fill the drawers and tap out words.

It was worth it, you decide. And then you sit down and write about desks – those new worlds can wait to be birthed another day.

before …
… after