A long time ago, Old Woman of the River got very tired. She was tired of always rushing her children down the river, all the fish and all the silt, tree branches and pieces of gold. She decided to stop. Her water froze, the froth of the rapids became little white stars hanging in the air, sun sparks stopped twinkling, and there was only quiet in the forest. The birds stopped flying because they thought the sound of the pounding river was what held their wings in the air. Bear sat heavily on the ground confused. All the weeds and bushes leaned over straining to listen for the mother’s voice. Never had such silence fell upon the forest. Old Woman of the River fell asleep in the quiet day. One by one the fish vanished. Each spark held by the air and water snapped out. Bear’s body slowly dissolved into sunlight. Birds put their heads under their wings because even the sun began to dim. Hanla’chu sat on her hill and watched the world disappearing. She cupped her hands and made a huge cry over the land. “Wake up, Old Woman of the River!” A startled woodpecker cried out, flew from her tree, and vanished. Hanla’chu saw this happen. She stomped on the ground and caused an earthquake. The mountains rumbled. Panther, who still prowled the forest, growled. “Wake up, Old Woman of the River!” Hanla-chu yelled. Old Woman kept sleeping, but she turned over and the water of the river rolled with her. One by one the stars where beginning to shine in the sky. Night was coming forever. A wind rushed over the sleeping body of Old Woman. “Wake up, Old Woman of the River!” Hanla-chu yelled. Hanla-chu took in a deep breath of dark night. She filled her lungs and blew it out with as much force as she could. Deep in her dreams, Old Woman felt cold and began to shiver. One eye opened and she saw it was night. She called for the birds to make the morning but there were no birds to hear her. Old Woman slowly rose and saw what her sleeping had done. “But I was so tired,” she said, and waved her hand. The river began to move again, but there were no fish or pieces of gold or life of any sort within its banks. Panther let out a loud angry growl for he saw that the Earth was dying, and he knew that he too must die. Hanla’chu also cried and her body began to break apart. It became fish and bird and the sparkle of the sun on water. Her head began to burn and slowly lifted to the sky. Her skin became plants and deer and from her breasts all the birds of the forest were reborn. Old Woman of the River thanked Hanla-chu. She flowed on and on forever after this. And no matter how tired she gets, she keeps flowing to the ocean.
Archive for the ‘books’ Category
Selection from the novel I’m working on:
It was a glazed doughnut and sticky. She licked her fingers one by one and then took a bite. We went over a bump, and there was a loud farting sound. The boys in the back cheered.
“Rhonda, you don’t know who Bo really is.”
“Oh, yes, I do.” Rhonda turned in her seat and waved at him. Bo was on his haunches, his tail wrapped around his legs. “He’s the spawn of Satan and doesn’t care what I eat.”
I was speechless for a moment. “What’s a spawn?” I finally asked.
“I have no idea, but Bo says that’s what he is,” Rhonda answered, and then she whispered in my ear. “Charlotte, I knew you weren’t lying about Ezequiel. Now we both have boyfriends.”
My lunch pail suddenly grew warm in my lap. “Ezequiel’s not my boyfriend, but whether he is or not, that’s not the point. Bo isn’t anything like him. He’s evil.”
“He’s not evil, not deep down,” she said. “You don’t always know everything.”
Rhonda finished her doughnut in two bites, no doubt thinking I was being bossy. The picture of Mary Poppins on my lunch pail felt like it was burning through my dress into my thigh. I opened it. On top of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich there was the paper folded neatly like a napkin, now with the same branding iron seal that had embossed Ezequiel’s diploma.
The bus entered the school driveway. I clicked the pail shut, grabbed the handle tight even though the heat made my fingers smart, and left my friend sitting there waiting for her Bo.
Rhonda was in a different class, but though Bo was now her official boyfriend he followed me into mine. Mr. Harrison and the kids acted like he’d always been there, just like my family had. I studied the class photo Mr. Harrison pinned on the wall by the door, and, sure enough, there he was with two fingers behind my head.
We were assigned a boring ditto where we had to find the right place to put the accent on our vocabulary words and then read a story that seemed about fifty pages long. After that, we had long division. All but Bo. He was allowed to lie on the rug in the class library and read whatever he wanted. At least he was quiet and not making a nuisance of himself. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he flipped through a National Geographic (Mr. Harrison had pulled out all the naked pictures) and then start a Hardy Boy’s mystery. He seemed genuinely lost in the book and every so often his tail would twitch like he’d come to a good part. He didn’t even hear the bell for recess.
“Son,” Mr. Harrison said in his kind voice, “time to go out and play.”
Bo heaved himself off the floor. I followed him out. He made a beeline to the swings where Rhonda waited for him. Some demon-magic lifted them off the ground, and they swung in high arcs perfectly in tandem. Most of Rhonda’s class and mine were gathering around them chanting:
Rhonda and Bo
Sitting in a tree,
The words were truly a curse. When it was time to go in and they came to a stop, Rhonda leaned over and kissed Bo’s cheek, the first girl in fourth grade to kiss a boy.
On the way home, Bo took over my place next to her. Mr. Teddy told them that they were too young to hold hands. I brooded as I sat next to a second grade girl with a drippy nose. I decided to do what Daddy was always accusing Mommy of and give them both “the silent treatment.”
I didn’t tell Rhonda, “See ya’ tomorrow,” as we got off the bus like I did everyday. I watched her hesitate, waiting for me to say goodbye, and it felt like a worm was beginning to chew a hole in my heart. I clenched my teeth together and headed home. They could share more kisses and all the gummy devils in the universe if they wanted to, but I wasn’t going to watch.
The garage door was open, and I could see Daddy leaning on the freezer. Mommy said as clean as he kept the garage you could eat off the floor, and she didn’t understand why inside the house he could never wash a dish or put his underwear in the hamper.
Daddy stared at the wall where his hammers and wrenches hung holding a shot glass. A bottle of Jim Beam perched behind him.
Bo caught up, panting from running.
“Daddy’s broken the promise he made to you, didn’t he?” he said. “Last time, at least, he went for almost a week.”
“Don’t you dare call him Daddy,” I hissed.
“Can if I want to,” Bo said fiercely.
Daddy was so lost in thought he didn’t hear us. Bo went into the garage and gave him a hug.
I went inside. Bo was back in the Christmas picture, but this time he looked older than Connie and his middle finger was raised. Mommy was making a salad, cutting a cucumber so fast I was afraid she’d chop off one of hers.
“I hate that man, Charlotte. It wasn’t even noon, and he started to drink.”
Bo piped up behind me. “Too bad you don’t have any job skills, Mommy. You’d be too ashamed to raise us all on welfare.”
In less than a minute, Bo had grown as tall as Mommy was. His freckles had given way to pimples, and he reeked of Daddy’s Old Spice after-shave.
“If I just felt I could take care of the three of you.” Mommy was now attacking a tomato. “I couldn’t do it by working at a dime store, and I’ve never done anything else.”
“Traffic is so bad in Vegas, isn’t it, Mommy?” Bo put an arm around her shoulder. She stopped chopping and leaned against him. “You might get killed. Or worse.” His eyes grew big. “You could kill one of us if you drove.”
Mommy nodded. “Oh, Bo, did I ever tell you about the time that your father tried to teach me to drive? He yelled at me from the get-go, and I knocked the fence post over as I was trying to back out of the driveway.”
“Maybe you could try again,” I suggested. “I bet Millie would help you learn.”
“Millie’s too busy,” Bo said.
“Millie’s too busy, honey.” Mommy took a can opener from the drawer and began to open a can of soup. She smiled at me. “Chicken noodle, your favorite.”
A couple of moments later, Connie stormed into the house. She threw her books on the floor headed straight to Bo with clenched fists.
“You dirty, little creep.” She went for his head. “How could you do this to me?”
“Mommy, Connie’s picking on me,” Bo whined.
“He’s spreading lies about me,” Connie said.
“Quiet down,” Mommy said, pulling her off Bo. “Tell me what happened.”
“Bo told everyone that . . .”
Daddy walked in, and Connie stopped herself. I wanted to disappear into my room, light a match for Ezequiel and disappear into Hell.
“Connie fooled around with Freeman at the carnival,” Bo said.
I could feel the heat of Daddy’s anger along my spine. “You . . . little . . . tramp.”
I wanted to ask Ezequiel how Bo could be two ages and at two places at the same time, how could he kiss Rhonda in a tree while he was ruining my sister’s reputation?
Daddy took off his belt. Mommy pulled Connie behind her.
“You’ll have to use that on me first,” she said.
The soup was boiling on the stove, but I was too afraid to move to turn it off. If I stood there, maybe Daddy couldn’t get to Mommy and Connie. Maybe my body had a force field to protect them. Daddy had never hurt either one of us before because he loved us. He’d come to his senses any minute and know that Bo was lying.
“I didn’t do anything,” Connie pleaded. “You know that, Daddy. You were there. You took my picture.”
I had no force field. I could give no protection. I was invisible as he stepped around me, winding the belt in his hand.
I’m breaking the rules. With Intuitive Painting, or the Zero Point Painting, sharing work is discouraged because the practice is more about process than product. My teachers say that comments, either positive or negative, may have an impact on what wants to arise from within. If someone says they like an image, it might stop the painter from modifying it. Up to this point, though, I don’t feel for me that’s the case. Now with writing . . . watch out! But I’m freer with painting. What is powerful for me is to watch my own judgments and feelings about the work. There’s a tide that I experience as I paint. I may loathe an object, be disturbed by another, fret over my ability to paint something inside me that wants birth. Michelle Cassou says we need to stay with our discomfort.
It’s a powerful lesson because that discomfort does transform if I let it be. I’ve done this enough to know that images or “mistakes” I absolutely hate when they first appear end up what I treasure most.
Being connected with the brush means being connected with myself. As I worked yesterday, I was obsessing over her face. I still do not like the nose. I wanted both eyes bright, but no matter what I did the right stayed dark. During the last-minute of class I applied the coat on the two lighter triangles and now, at least at this moment, I don’t want the eye the same shade as the other .
My teacher observed my spending a lot of time dabbing the paper with my brush. See the line from where the Mama Angel is emerging? She suggested I make strokes, feeling the paint, feeling the movement. This line was the first stroke I did. Speaking of tides, I immediately felt my bottled emotions come up. As I drew the Jehovah Angel in the left corner, I started having an anxiety attack. More emotions, and they emerged through moving my hand, the color of paint, and because I was beginning to breathe.
I’m working on a novel I put away years ago about the nature of Hell, which I really should pluralized . . . literal ones on Earth, the fantasy hell my characters fashion for the afterlife, demons, redemption, angels. Hell was very a literal place for my quasi-Southern Baptist parents, and I worry that my more traditional friends make judgments about the state of my soul. In the past this has kept me quiet about my less than fundamentalist beliefs.
So, being seen, being judged, the dis-ease of being worried about, a track record of feeling I don’t express myself well when I speak and am confronted, and BAM! Panic, anxiety, a wonderful demon Jehovah God is born, but one whose heart shows my real feelings about the Divine. The source of Love who we have made into our own vindictive, angry, jealous projections. Here’s a judgment: the panic is actually a good thing because it shows my need to feel. I have a very hard time crying. The tears almost came as I painted. They’re all suppressed as I write once again. But that’s the path I need to open in me. To allow feelings to blossom, to be okay with being afraid of their power because that is where I am. Stay with the discomfort, eh?
There’s the fairy angel, the enigma angel, and the Mama Angel, the last to appear. The flowers in her hair came late as well. I worked on her for about three hours, and when time was up I groaned because I was in a place where I was feeling and alive. She is not done. I’ll take her back next month.
One of the questions I am often asked about Heron’s Path is how the Nanchuti, the indigenous tribal group I created for the novel, evolved. As I mentioned in my last post, a trip to the Klamath River while I read In the Land of the Grasshopper Song hit me at such a sensory level that it compelled me to write. My husband Bill and I camped on a sandy bank of the Klamath in one of those weeks in July where the temperatures hovered around 100 degrees. I remember listening to the river, feeling the consciousness of the forest around us, and felt so removed from the modern world. This experience is about as visionary as I get, and I had to make something out of how the river was affecting my body, imagination, and emotions.
I naïvely went about reading about the Karuk tribe. I purchased a couple of books I don’t remember now and read as much as I could find by Alfred Kroeber on the Karuk and Yurok ethnic groups. So, a few years passed, and I finally finished a draft of the novel that I thought worth sharing. (For such a short book, it took almost two decades to write, tucking it away for years in between until I worked out various problems. I learned to write with the novel, and I needed a long apprenticeship.)
I contacted a professor at Humboldt State, whose name I apologize for not remembering (this was in the 90s!). She was Yurok and invited me to her house to discuss the novel where she very kindly let me know I had no business writing about her culture, telling me that I really could not understand it. So, another year or two passed with fretting about what to do. I wrestled with the idea of creating my own people, how could I meld it with the historical aspects that I did want to portray? Would an alternative California work?
The elements I did keep from my original manuscript were the ideas of the doctors, medicine people, and sacred dancing that, to the best of my understanding, the Karuk did to create balance with nature. Again, apologies if this is not correct. I confess I stole the idea of the Baby Growl straight from In the Land of the Grasshopper Song.
Last spring I read from Heron’s Path on a public radio station. The only response I got was from an angry woman (who said she was not Native American) upset that I would dare to write about Native Americans. I had already hung up and couldn’t respond that the point of my creating a mythic tribe was because I did not want to do any washee (Nanchuti for “white people”) misguided writing about aspects of a culture I do not belong to. All I can say is that I fell in love with the stories and information I read about the Yurok, and though their culture is the seed from which the Nanchuti grew, they are MY creation.
One last thought: Kroeber’s daughter, Ursula Le Guin, was a very strong influence on me as a young writer. I devoured her work long before I ever heard of her famous parents. Her mother, Theodora Kroeber wrote Ishi: the Last of His Tribe, which chronicled the life of the last member of the Yahi tribe. So, a large part of the spirit of Heron’s Path is in debt to her, especially the book Always Coming Home. It gave me the courage to create a language for the tribe, a process that I really enjoyed.
Review of In the Land of the Grasshopper Song: Two Women in the Klamath River Indian Country 1908-1909
In the Land of the Grasshopper Song is, hands down, my favorite book, and I have often wished the authors had written more. I found it in a bookstore in Eureka over twenty years ago on a trip that took me through the Klamath River area. At that time I was beginning work on a novel. The power, quiet wisdom, and tolerance of In the Land of the Grasshopper Song inspired my manuscript and, I believe, it became a richer book for reading this fascinating tale.
Two women from the east coast venture in the wilderness of northern California riding on rugged trails to the heart of Karuk culture. Their job was “Indian Field Matrons” and to “educate” the tribe. What happens, though, is that their world opens and they are the ones who receive the education. The writing, taken from journals they wrote during their tenure in the woods, is so fresh that the reader easily falls into a world, not so remote in time, but one that is different in every other aspect from today.
My novel, Heron’s Path, was born because I was so deeply immersed in the adventures of Ms. Arnold and Ms. Reed. They inspired an important character in the novel, and I feel in debt to these two remarkable women.
Across the Universe: Fifty shades of grey matter
As an English literature major and regular reader of what I consider high-end fiction and literary non-fiction, I surprised myself and my friends recently when I borrowed the first in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series this summer.
Justifiably, I was curious as to the reading furor this series was creating, and, I could also claim the need for one to stay abreast of current cultural literacy, but truth be known, I was hooked after the first chapter in book one.
My best friend in San Francisco, whose copy I snuck for that first chapter, exclaimed, “I just don’t see you reading this book!” as she headed off to her mass transit work commute, book in tow.
I couldn’t wait to get back home, as I knew that the women in my spin exercise class were all reading it too, and I was ready to establish my name in the borrow queue (you might gather that purchasing the book would have been slightly damaging to my ego).
I found myself rushing this sweet woman in her 70s, who had the copy in her possession, to please hurry and finish. She said she would have it done by Wednesday. Oh well, I would have to wait.
Later that day, I was on the phone with my mother, who is also in her 70s.
She recently received a Kindle for her birthday and is enjoying downloading books she likes to read, the genre of contemporary mysteries. Her voice lowered as she shared, “you’ll never believe what I am reading for a book group I joined,” I froze and mentally pleaded, “Oh no, please do not say you are reading Fifty Shades of Grey,” as I turned 50 shades of scarlet.
She whispered, “Madame Bovary. I thought you would be proud of me.”
“Wow,” I responded with a sigh of relief, “that’s great!”
Gustave Flaubert’s tale of a French woman in a less than exciting marriage was scandalous at the occasion of its publication in 1857. While quite graphic for the 19th century, this novel of literary merit pales in comparison to the detailed descriptions one finds in Fifty Shades.
Meanwhile, I had State of Wonder, the highly acclaimed and most recent publication by a favorite author, Ann Patchett, on reserve at the library. I had been anxiously awaiting this read all summer; a novel of literary worth and smart style.
Ironically, when the book finally arrived, it was hastily positioned on my bedroom floor, taking second place to E.L. James’s paperback, which I had grabbed on Wednesday and proceeded to devour in a little more than 24 hours.
Chuckling to myself over this fait accompli’, I thought I would bring some laughs to the spin group by dropping it off at the Friday class, daring to expose my fast paced reading of what we might generally label a trashy book, one that engages very little grey matter of our intellect.
I was looking forward to finally settling in with Patchett’s bestseller and re-establishing my reading priorities.
Now as a literacy advocate, I was glad to see so many people reading and discussing a common book personally, I enjoyed the witty email banter between the two main characters in the first two books.
Oh, did I just say first two books?
Yes, I must confess that as I returned book one, someone in the class yelled out, “book two is here it’s yours if you want it!”
And while I truly thought I was done with Mr. Grey and Ms. Steele, I grabbed Fifty Shades Darker and headed to the nearest reading spot to prolong the saga of this dysfunctional, unbelievable, and yet engaging romance.
State of Wonder is now ready to resume, my grey matter ready to fire up, yet somehow I have a sneaky suspicion that book three of the Fifty Shades series will by some means find its way into my control before the summer ends. After all, it is supposed to be the best book of the trilogy.
Robin Fogel-Shrive is a high school teacher in Lake County. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Jeff Sharlet‘s book THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power is a frightening examination of how conservative “Christianity” has made inroads into the American Political System in the last seventy or so years. This is not a conspiracy book. Sharlet is a legitimate journalist, writing for the New York Times. If interested in why the conservative agenda has gained so much power, how closely related to fascism it has become, and why so many “average” Americans are under its thrall, this book is a necessary read. I think the message deserves five stars, however the book is slow reading and it’s easy to get lost in all the details and personalities. For history buffs, the first part of The Family that examines why America is still influenced by Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening, how this chapter in history set a default state in our national consciousness, making us vulnerable to born again rhetoric to this day, is worth reading for its own sake.
This review first appeared at www.bookpleasurs.com
Jasmine Nights, by Julia Gregson, is a historical romance set during World War Two, which immerses the reader in richly crafted details of the life of a traveling ensemble who perform for British troops in North Africa.
Saba Tarcan, a young talented singer, half-Turkish/half-Welsh, leaves her home in Tiger Bay, Wales, risking estrangement from her family, to join ENSA, the entertainment arm of the British Armed Services. Gregson’s fine portrayal of the working class neighborhood of Tiger Bay, and Saba’s close but combative family, creates an authentic atmosphere for Saba to both cherish and want to transcend, to be able to live her own life and develop her musical gifts.
She sings at a hospital for injured RAF pilots where Dom Benson, recovering from burns and suffering from survivor’s guilt, falls in love with her. The novel expands to the war itself, following both Saba and Dom as chance interferes with their relationship and intrigue and danger mounts.
The entertainment troop Saba joins is sent to Cairo, travels to remote military stations in the Sahara, until Saba is recruited as a spy, under the cover of being a protégée of a Turkish entrepreneur, a job she naïvely accepts. Saba travels to Alexandria, and then Turkey, where her ability to mesmerize audiences with her voice is used in a plot against the Nazis. Dom’s love of flying, the transcendence of his experience as a pilot, his commitment, bravery, and the guilt he still feels for the death of a friend, parallels Saba’s story. Gregson’s use of historic details, both small and large, such as the hair dye used by Arleta, Saba’s best friend, the descriptions of period clothing, cacophony and scents of the streets of 1942 Cairo and Alexandria, and the boredom and tension of war, create an engrossing world for the reader.
The arc of the love story is predictable, but Saba and Dom are complex characters who keep the reader caring for the outcome. To Gregson’s credit, Saba sees her career as a performer is as important as her relationship to Dom, and there is friction over this issue.
A fairly quick read, Jasmine Nights is perfect for vacations or weekends, transporting the reader to exotic locations and a dangerous time few people alive still remember.
Julia Gregson is the author of East of the Sun and Band of Angels and is the winner of the Le Prince Maurice Prize and the Romantic Author of the Year Award.
Candy Korman is a free lance-writer and mystery novelist whose books have classic monster motifs. She lives in New York City. This week we discussed THE MARY SHELLY GAME, a who-done-it that combines the elegance of Agatha Cristie’s style with themes taken from Mary Shelley‘s FRANKENSTEIN, her love of Tango, and her new release BRAM STOKER’S SUMMER SUBLET.
The Mary Shelley Game is witty and contemporary, yet it successfully relies on classic motifs on drawing-room who-done-its. I thought it was clever of you to have Amanda, your protagonist, mention Agatha Christie mysteries, and then have the plot unfold like one: the country house, the quirky guests, a twist about whom the murderer was.
I gave my nod to the master of the classic English country house murder mysteries in my own house party story. I couldn’t resist. My mother is a huge mystery fan, so I started reading Agatha Christie very early on. She may not be part of my DNA, but Christie is definitely part of my early education.
There are many layers in the novel. Amanda tells the main story, but we also get into the heads of other characters, especially the two stalkers. There is also the added layer of the stories the guests wrote for the weekend entertainment. Would you mind discussing how you planned the novel. Did you start with a master outline? Write the main story separately from the stories? Or did you just start at the beginning and write to the end and develop each piece as you came to it?
The Mary Shelley Game actually started as a longer work. A number of years back, I realized that I’d seen at least a hundred Frankenstein movies, but had never read the book and it was time to give it a try. I was surprised. It was a sophisticated, non-linear story told from multiple points-of-view. Around that time, I was invited to a weekend house in upstate New York. The setting, Mary Shelley’s original and the story behind her creation sparked something in my imagination. I wrote a very arty, out-of-sequence, literary novel about friends telling their own Frankenstein stories while the monster (made by the choices of people in power) stalked them.
No one wanted to publish it, so it sat around for a long time, until a very wise woman suggested that I transform it into a shorter, straight ahead, thriller ebook. Last summer, in cafes in Berlin and at my desk in New York, I dissected the original and put it back together — Frankenstein style — while eliminating more than one third of the original text and adding an extra threat in the woods. No outline, no master plan and not a method that’s easy to repeat.
I appreciated the sense of humor in the book. I really loved Igor’s story. Of the stories told that weekend, is there a one that’s your favorite?
Igor’s is the best!
Did you mean any irony in choosing the victim among your characters?
Umm… there really is some irony there! But that particular choice had more to do with the dynamics of the relationships between the characters and who was needed to further the story.
The real monster in The Mary Shelly Game was created as much as Frankenstein’s monster was, a sum of the dysfunctional parts of family and society. I took note of your reference that the monster was peacefully talking to the blind man until his children came and saw him as something other. How did the parallel between the murderer in your novel and Mary Shelly’s tragic monster evolve?
You are very perceptive. The scene with the blind man is the quintessential moment from the original. It speaks to the humanity of the monster and the monstrous nature of humanity — in the person of the blind man’s family. The monster in my book is created by the greed, ignorance and self-interest of the people with power. They create a monster because it’s expedient. He is the unintended consequences of their choices.
You’ve written about Writer’s Boot Camp on your blog. Did you create the parameters of the “camp” or learn about a discipline from other sources? Tell us what your writing day looks like, or what expectations you put on yourself in terms of production.
My “boot camp” is simply my crazy writing life. I publish short stories on my freelance writing website every month. In order to have 12 short stories (or 10 if two are longer) to publish, I have to write between 15 and 20 stories a year. I’ve been doing that for years. No one told me I had to do it, but… I know it’s been good for me. It’s like going to the gym or flossing your teeth, if you make it a habit you do it, and you benefit from the effort.
I write a lot and I’m a relatively fast writer. I’m also a slow reader and I enjoy research (I was a history major in college). My freelance work is primarily for businesses and not-for-profit organizations. I write website text, brochures, patient information sheets, promotional text, annual reports, presentation scripts, newsletters, etc. This requires a lot of interviewing so I meet, if only on the phone, Skype or the internet, many interesting people. I’m also finishing up a ghostwriting project. Nothing like writing someone else’s memoir, for learning how to get inside a character.
You tango! I was in Chile a few years back and was fortunate enough to attend Festival Danza America in Iquique. The tango dancers from Argentina took my breath away with their grace, agility, and pure athleticism. How much does tango play in your life? Do you do it for fun? In competitions? What do you find most rewarding about it?
My Tango is entirely social. I started with Swing, Latin and some Ballroom, but my first Argentine Tango class changed all that. It’s like I fell into the Tango vortex and never came out. A few months later I as in Buenos Aires. It’s a complex and beautiful dance with a very long learning curve. Argentine Tango is danced all over the world and since I love to travel it’s a great match for me. I’ve danced in many places including Berlin, Nijmegen (the Netherlands), Perugia and Buenos Aires. At home in New York, I dance a few times a week and have made wonderful friends through Tango.
There’s no Tango in The Mary Shelley Game, but it makes several important appearances in my second Candy’s Monster — Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet. The protagonist doesn’t know anything about Tango so bringing her a Milonga (a Tango dance) in the story was an interesting challenge. I had to try to see the dance and hear the music from a relatively naive point-of-view.
Do monsters follow you? I read about the encounter with the monster on the bottle at the restaurant where you recently ate. Do you look for or expect signs of synchronicity that parallel your work? I personally love this aspect of being creative.
I thought there would be two monsters and then I started rereading Poe. I’m working on my Poe-inspired ebook this summer. I think all the monsters were lurking for a long time and I just wasn’t looking. Now that I’m looking, I can’t help but find them everywhere. Creativity seems to be about putting together bits and pieces in new ways to form something new.
You have a new book Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet, which was released yesterday, July 11, 2012! Is it another drawing-room mystery? What would you like readers to know about?
Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet was inspired by the original Dracula — another book that was a surprising read. It’s a epistolary novel, so I updated the diary entries, letters and news clippings to diary entries, voice mail messages, email, etc. The character is feeling lost and alone after a romantic disaster. Instead of spending the month of July in Italy on her honeymoon, she’s pet sitting in an apartment in the East Village in New York. The dog is old, the parrot goes on philosophical rants and she gradually comes to the conclusion that the man next door is a vampire. It’s a comedy.
Do you plan to continue the series? What other monsters can we expect to appear?
Yes! I’m in Edgar Alan Poe land right now. After that I’m not sure which way I’ll go. I’m playing around with some interesting ideas. I read Lovecraft when I was a kid. Maybe it’s time to give him another try? Right now, the plan is to have the Poe ebook out by the end of the year, so I had better get back to it!