Kellie over at ReaWrite asked me to write a guest post – my very first! – for her Favorite Authors Month. So that’s where I am today, fangirling it up over Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books. If you are so inclined, get your Chelle’s-first-guest-post here around noonish.
I fell in love with Linda Gillard’s writing and characters last year when I read Emotional Geology on Angie’s recommendation. I’ve since received Star Gazing, and reviewed her latest e-release, House of Silence, just yesterday. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled when Linda agreed to write a guest post and love the result. Enjoy!
Guest blog by LINDA GILLARD for Tempting Persephone
I have – so far – refused to watch the movie COLD MOUNTAIN (one of my all-time favourite books) because the actor Jude Law is just so completely wrong for Inman. It would ruin that book for me to see one of my favourite fictional heroes being played by an actor who is so very different from the man I imagined.
I’m an author and I tend to have clear ideas about what fictional characters should look like, but oddly, I’m not always certain what my own characters look like. When I was writing my first novel, Emotional Geology, I kept visualising myself as my heroine Rose, simply because she was the same age as me and like her, I made quilts.
I’d actually made Rose look different from me in the book, but somehow I still couldn’t see her. I particularly couldn’t see her through my hero’s eyes. I kept seeing me and that was inhibiting my writing. So I decided to look through magazines until I found a photo of someone who looked something like my idea of Rose. Eventually I found one and the character took off. Finally she was no longer me, she was Rose.
Photographs bailed me out again when I was writing my third novel, Star Gazing. I got stuck early on with my strong-but-silent Scots hero, Keir. I knew how he spoke, how he behaved and I knew he was a gentle giant, but I just couldn’t visualise him in any detail. (This was probably something to do with the fact that my heroine never sees Keir because she’s blind.) The book was limping along with an enigmatic gap where Keir should have been in all his detailed physical glory. Then one day I saw a photo in a magazine of the actor Gerard Butler displaying the exact blend of virility and vulnerability that I’d envisaged for Keir. Once I’d discovered Butler and “cast” him as my hero Keir, the character took off and the book practically wrote itself.
Now when I’m starting a novel, I routinely “audition” for my characters. I collect photos that represent something about the people I’m trying to create. They could be photos of anyone, not necessarily celebrities. I don’t even have to know who they are or what they do. It’s just the look of the person that’s important.
I used to cut pictures out of magazines, but nowadays I tend to search online and save pictures into a folder. Then I put a selection of photos on my desktop to inspire me and help me focus on my characters. (Sometimes the photos I select for my heroes can get a little distracting and they have to be taken down and replaced with something a little less, er, stimulating.)
My method is useful if I’m working on more than one book at a time (and a professional writer usually is. You’re writing one book while promoting the previous one and you can get a bit confused.) For example my work in progress is a paranormal love story, but I’ve just launched an e-book, HOUSE OF SILENCE, which is a family drama. I’m currently writing guest blogs and answering interview questions about HoS, while trying to stay in touch with my ghost story. There’s a lot of people running around inside my head! So at the moment I have photos on my desktop representing the characters in the paranormal novel to remind me which book I’m writing. (I had a long search for my ghost, especially as he had red hair, but I was very happy when I finally found him – British dancer, Edward Watson.)
I assumed the way I see my characters was peculiar to me. I never thought my readers would visualise characters in the same way I do, especially as I don’t include a lot of descriptive writing in my books. But when I’ve corresponded with readers and occasionally sent them photos I was working from while writing the book, they’ve surprised me by emailing back, “OMG – that’s exactly how I saw him!” It’s almost as if there’s some kind of telepathy going on between author and reader. I don’t describe my characters in great detail, but readers can nevertheless see them in detail. Weird… But Stephen King, no less, says writing is telepathy. And who am I to disagree?
I could not have been more thrilled when Janice from Janicu’s Book Blog said she’d be willing to do a guest post for me. Her reviews are always articulate, always balanced, and she’s made me seek out more than a handful of books based on her recommendation alone. If you haven’t dropped by her blog lately, do! And now, here she is, discussing several of her favorite fictional tropes. Thanks, Janice!
When it comes to reading, there are things that automatically rub me the wrong way (TSTL heroines, so-alpha-he-is-a-jerk heroes, sex mid-battle…don’t get me started), and then there are those common themes that make me feel warm and fuzzy. When I think of my favorite tropes, I came up with the following list and examples of books that have them:
[via Cute Overload]
Animal sidekicks. The weirder the better. Give me a little Chihuahua, a demon dog, or a cat who detects explosives. As long as they aren’t too cutesy, I’m sold.
- Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre
- Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready
- Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair and many other Sinclair novels
- The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Terry Hickman
- Stardoc series by S.L. Viehl
Hero admits that he was wrong.
- Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmine Field by Melissa Nathan (hero admits she scares him, hah).
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (nothing beats Darcy’s letter)
- Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (hero believes heroine to be a traitor)
[Annie Leibovitz for Vogue Magazine (via Once Upon a Blog)]
Beauty and the Beast stories.
- Beauty and Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
- Beastly by Alex Flinn
- Valient by Holly Black (sort of)
- The Sundered series by Michelle Sagara
- One of these days I’m going to try out these romances with the Beauty and the Beast theme listed here in this blog post.
[via K. Y. Craft]
Hero/heroine is thrust into a situation where they must learn local customs and diplomacy. A stranger in a strange land. A newcomer to court.
- Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara (The Chronicles of Elantra, Book 2)
- Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
- Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre (Sirantha Jax , Book 3)
- A Mere Formality by Ilona Andrews (currently a free read on their site)
[via Vintage poster]
Romances where hero/heroine’s real identity is hidden.
- Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (hero/heroine write to each other)
- Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep (hero is a superhero, heroine wants to know his real identity)
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (heroine is turned into an old woman)
- Beauty and the Beast stories could be a subset of this
I have a lot more favorite tropes, but I think I’ll stop there, I’m sure you get the general idea, and it turns out I am not good at thinking up more than a handful of books with these favorite tropes in them! (Recommendations are very welcome though).
How about you? What are your favorite (or least favorite) tropes?
Chachic, the wonderful presence behind Chachic’s Book Nook, graciously agreed to put together a guest post for me, and she took up the challenge of talking about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world: favorite characters. Specifically, how her favorite characters influence her reading choices. (Thank you, Chachic!) Without further ado…
I love well-written characters in the books that I read. Most of the books in my favorites list are there because of the characters. I’m an escapist reader so I feel like I live vicariously through the characters in the books that I read. When I fall in love with a certain type of character, it makes me more curious about other books with characters who have similar traits. I’m here to talk about how some of my favorite characters have influenced my reading choices.
I make no secret of my love for Eugenides of the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. He’s the character who made me more curious about gentlemen thieves and rogues in court settings. Through recommendations from the LiveJournal community Sounis, I’ve discovered other characters with similarities to Gen such as Miles Vorkosigan of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Series (fondly called by some Sounisians as Gen-in-Space) and Telemakos of the Lion Hunter books by Elizabeth E. Wein (who is Gen-in-Africa in my mind).
Meliara of Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley made me itch to read more books with strong female protagonists in a fantasy world. Give me a book with a capable swordswoman with magic thrown in for good measure and I’m a happy reader. It wouldn’t hurt if there’s an equally fascinating love interest for the main character.
Beauty in Beauty by Robin McKinley, Ella in Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and Isi in The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale opened my eyes to the wonderful world of fairy tale retellings. I love fairy tales. I was instantly sold when I discovered that there are books written based on fairy tales out there. I love discovering how an author can change the dynamics of the story using a fairy tale as its basis. Plus, these heroines are no ordinary princesses. They have all sorts of adventures that other meek and dainty princesses can’t even imagine.
It wasn’t until I discovered Taylor in Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and Meg in Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols that I became interested in contemporary YA. Before that, I always used to think that I’m more of a YA fantasy reader. These two gals changed my mind as soon as I read about them and I’m still enjoying so many contemporary YA novels up to now.
Those are some of my favorite characters, there are more but I just wanted to mention the ones that I feel have influenced my reading choices. What about you, who are some of your favorite characters and have they influenced you in choosing the books that you read? Do you recommendations for me based on the characters that I mentioned? Thank you, Chelle, for having me over for a guest post.
I am exceedingly pleased – and excited! – to bring you today’s guest post from Skyler White, author of and Falling, Fly, a book that’s been on my radar for quite a while. You’ll get a chance to meet Persephone *grin* and – a first for my little blog – exclusive scoop. You should find and Falling, Fly on shelves tomorrow and available online at your favorite virtual book store. My thanks to Skyler for guesting here today!
Olivia is a vampire bored with modernity. Tattooist, boyfriend, black-metal singer: everyone you don’t love tastes the same. Since the fall from Eden, she has hungered for love, but fed only on desire. Dominic O’Shaughnessy is a neuroscientist plagued by impossible visions.
When his research and her despair collide in Ireland’s L’Otel Mathillide – a subterranean hell of beauty, demons and dreams – rationalist and angel unite in a clash of desire and damnation that threatens to destroy them both.
I first encountered Greek mythology in the D’Aulaires book Greek Myths, and it’s still one of my favorite gifts to children. The stories I found there, while obviously not real, felt truer than anything I was learning in grade school, and the layering of explanatory story over narrative – why there are constellations or seasons, over heroes and mothers – fascinated me then, and still does today.
My debut novel, ‘and Falling, Fly’, is the story of a fallen angel-turned-vampire and her mythology-vs.-medicine conflict with a radical neuroscientist as they both attempt to address their own and each other’s damnation or disease. To Dominic, the mind is reducible to the brain, and all thought and emotion to biochemical-electrical signals. He’s certain the memories he has of lives before his own are a treatable malfunction. Olivia recognizes him as one of the Reborn, cursed by his Titanic forbearers (as she is cursed to vampirism by her angelic ones) to live and die and be reborn, remembering each time all the love and loss of previous lives. He’s interested in cures; she’s interested in redemption; and for either to accept the other would be to destroy themselves, so you can see the old stories and archetypes are deeply embedded in the book. But, in the fourth chapter, Olivia, the vampire, finds herself on a plane beside a character I’d like to introduce in honor of our illustrious hostess…
…from the fourth chapter of ‘and Falling, Fly’, “Into the Fire”:
The flight is JFK to Shannon, but the idiot traveler beside me just grins.
“You’re going on business,” she guesses.
“You’re on vacation then! Me, too. Have you been before?”
“Once. A long time ago.” I stuff my ears with iPod plugs.
This is the closest I get to penetration—art, music—the frisson shock of the perfect new. The first chords of Undertow twisting into me, Van Gogh’s riotous blue night. I turn up the electric Stravinsky, and look down on the ocean. We are traveling into time, burning two hours for every one I endure beside this babbling, cursed child of Greece. I see them all the time, these bastard half-children of stories and mortals, trapped between worlds, the genetic lineage of myth reasserting itself across the inextricable ages. Helen of Troy is born the socialite child of a partial Zeus mated to half of a swan-loving Leda, the mythic DNA in each of them dormant until they breed and damn their offspring with its expression. It would be easier for her if she understood, finally, who she is, but I can’t be bothered.
“. . . and then we may go west, Galway, Sligo . . .” The Persephone beside me prattles on, flying east into the night. Does she think this trip out of Hell will be any different? “. . . see Yeats country . . .”
I will hire a driver to take me inland, to Cashel, to Gaehod, and there I will stay forever.
“What’s your name?” Demeter’s daughter asks me.
“Olivia Adies,” I say and finally meet her inquisitive gaze. I could take her home to Hell as my captive wife. The bare desire in my smoldering eyes silences her at last, and I look instead into the ocean under me.
From this height, the waves form black hills, motionless and dead, but I know otherwise. Distance makes a topographical map of the ocean—a snapshot of the waveforms as they stand in a moment, frozen in time. But I know how movement below—and even on—the surface, unseen at elevation, is definitive at sea. The water roils, and the waves rise or vanish. You cannot map the sea.
*Exclusive Scoop* The gal Olivia’s talking to on the plane is me. I took that trip over the Atlantic to Ireland in 2005, and even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was doing crucial research for ‘and Falling, Fly’. I won’t try and convince the IRS of that, though.
*Exclusive Scoop #2* That same scene on the airplane is replayed from the other perspective in my second book, ‘In Dreams Begin’, due for release in December.
A self-confessed bookpusher, Angie told me I should read Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books. I didn’t listen. Not right away, at least. And, boy, was that a mistake! Once I dug in and got totally swept up in Alanna’s world I thought, “Well, shoot. Angie was right. Again.” And that’s why the first guest post of the Pursuing the Lioness challenge comes from Angie of Angieville. (Thanks, Angie!) __________________________________
Adventures with Alanna:
When I was twelve years old I moved back to the states from Italy. After living abroad for a few years, coming back was a rough transition. To put it mildly. Nothing was as I remembered it. The food tasted different, the clothes were all different, even the way the other kids talked seemed to have changed drastically in my absence. I entered seventh grade holding my breath and I don’t think I let it out the entire year. Even though I was physically inhabiting the same space, I still felt an ocean apart. The one familiar thing in my world was the library and I sought out the nearest one shortly after the school year began. On a lazy, gray Saturday afternoon I wandered through the stacks until I came to one of those tall, plastic carousels. I reached out and gave it a good spin and, when it came to a halt, my eyes rested on a girl with a shiny sword and a bold title in swirling blue script: Alanna: the First Adventure. She looked…unflappable. She looked…prepared for what lurked behind those black towers. And I liked the title. How bold her name was, pretty and strong at the same time. And did I mention the shiny sword? I took Alanna home with me and was sold from the very first page.
“That is my decision. We need not discuss it,” said the man at the desk. He was already looking at a book. His two children left the room, closing the door behind them.“He doesn’t want us around,” the boy muttered. “He doesn’t care what we want.”“We know that,” was the girl’s answer. “He doesn’t care about anything, except his books and scrolls.”The boy hit the wall. “I don’t want to be a knight! I want to be a great sorcerer! I want to slay demons and walk with the gods–”“D’you think I want to be a lady?” his sister asked. “‘Walk slowly, Alanna,’” she said primly. “‘Sit still, Alanna. Shoulders back, Alanna.’ As if that’s all I can do with myself!” She paced the floor. “There has to be another way.”
Those first few lines still give me chills. Because from page one you knew, you just knew you were in for something special. The two children who seem to understand their father with a perspicacity beyond their years. Two siblings who want such different things from their lives, who have dreams so large their world may not be able to hold them. A boy straining against the bonds of convention and a girl determined to find a way out for them both. All this from a few lines! Loyalty, determination, a hint of the supernatural. Before I knew it I was deeply embroiled in Alanna’s life as she came up with and carried out her plan to switch places with her twin brother Thom and go to the capital to train to become a knight. And, with her, I met a whole host of new people from all walks of life, princes and stable boys, professors and thieves. Especially thieves…
I’d never read about a girl like Alanna before. She knew what she wanted and, come hell or high water, she would have it if hard work could get her there. She was always herself and never, not once, too stupid to live. This is not to say she didn’t make mistakes. But she owned up to them, she learned from them, and she never took her friendships for granted. Alanna was that elusive character–someone my twelve-year-old self could both admire and feel a kinship with. She dealt with magic and sword fighting and the gods, and yet she struggled with the very same things I came up against in this world. When she grimly dealt with her changing body, I felt her pain and frustration. When she awoke shaking from nightmares of the obstacles and responsibilities awaiting her, I gulped along with her and wondered if I would be strong enough. I read the entire quartet every year after that. For several years. And then, after awhile, I started reserving it for the “serious cases.” You know the ones I mean. Those times when you find yourself thrashing around at loose ends, turning from this book to that, desperately in need of something to take you away. Whenever I’m overworked, underslept, and in need of a comfort read in the very worst kind of way, I curl up in bed and rejoin my Tortallan friends. And isn’t it something how once I was twelve and they were so new and I couldn’t bear to put the books down at night so strong was my need to find out what would happen? And now I’m a mother and they are old friends and I return to them over and over again and can’t put them down because they are comfortable and Alanna is there. With Jonathan and Myles and Faithful and Gary. And George…who will always make me laugh.
A couple of years ago DH and I were driving home from some event, talking about our upcoming visit to my grandparents, when out of the blue he turned to me and asked if I would read the Alanna books aloud to him on the drive. I burst into tears on the spot. Because he knew how much these books mean to me. And he thought it was time he saw what all the fuss was about. Naturally, he had the good sense to think they are as awesome as I do and didn’t even laugh when I cried at the same four parts I always cry at in the last book. He just reached out and took my hand. And when I’d gathered myself we went on together. There is nothing like reading these books for the first time. But as any true bibliophile knows, sharing them with others is an even sweeter experience, whether it be in person with a loved one or via the internet with a kindred spirit you’ve never met before in your life. Alanna is always there. Ready when you are.