Here is my new blog banner for The Outcast Chronicles, taken from one of the covers. You can see why I’m excited. Clint Langley has outdone himself!
To see it in all its glory go here.
Back in the days before the internet, you would discover an author, love them and then not be able to find any more of their work. If you did you were ecstatic. Or you would see a painting, love it and, over time, hunt down everything you could find out about the artist, their other work, their time period etc. That was what it was like for me with the Pre-Raphaelites. Their artwork resonated with me.
The day I found this painting, I was hooked. Of course now, all I have to do is google it to find out the background. There’s a whole Wikipedia page on The Lady of Shallot. Which would lead me to the Wiki page for Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. And from there, I could gorge myself on their beautiful paintings.
Which of course has it own Wiki page. Their paintings were shocking at the time, confronting in their choice of subject, composition and realism. I’ve always loved them for their richness of detail, the beautiful colour and the way they seem to capture a moment in time.
The women of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings are exquisite. There was a TV series, Merlin, (1998) which took inspiration from the paintings to occasionally frame and light the women. While watching it I got a little thrill each time I saw a homage to the Pre-Raphaelites.
But the Pre-Raphaelites were not just about painting beautiful women. You can’t get much more obsessive than Hunt’s The Scapegrace.
Then there’s the arts and crafts. The brotherhood formed at a time when factories were mass producing products. They preferred the work of craftsmen. (Link through to William Morris Arts and Crafts).
And then, if you haven’t had enough of the Pre-Raphaelites, watch Desperate Romantics. Heaps of fun. Not strictly accurate with time lines etc, but full of life and passion.
This is another one of those paintings that I saw once and never forgot.
I’m a very visual person. I used to work as a graphic artist. I love watching movies that are visually rich. I love wandering through the art gallery. I leave feeling like I’m floating on air.
One of my favourite styles is Art Nouveau.
Everyone would be familiar with the work of Alphonse Mucha. He shaped the look of the period. My DH bought me a book on Mucha and his work for Christmas one year and I devoured it in a day, then dreamed in Mucha stylisation for a week. Poor Mucha, they told him not to bother with art school because he would never amount to much!
And there is the architecture, both internal and external. Think Gaudi, among others.
I’ve spent way too long putting this post together. I got lost wandering through a feast of Art Nouveau images. The sad things is that I can’t use this for resonance in my writing because if I use the term art nouveau it will throw the reader out of the secondary world of the book and if I say the flowing/sensuous organic lines of the building/jewelery it doesn’t really convey the power of the art nouveau period.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this dip into Art Nouveau as much as I have.
Many cultures believe words have power. The bards sang stories. They made sure things were remembered and took these stories from one place to another. They could also lampoon someone and make them suffer.
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me …
Not true if everyone is laughing at you because of an easy to remember catchy rhyme that is passing through the village like wild fire!
When I set out to write King Rolen’s Kin I wanted a traditional fantasy story, but some of the words we use have been used so many times they lose their power. So I avoided prince or princess and used kingson and kingsdaughter. Both of these are based on the way people were described (and what is a name but a description?) in the Norse sagas. Unlike our society, in the Norse sagas a man might also be described by his mother’s ancestors as well, and I use this in KRK.
The other word I wanted to avoid was magic. It has been used so much it has lost its original awe inspiring power. It used to be out there, all around us, tied to the earth and to specific places where someone with the right ability could tap into it. So I came up with affinity. In KRK power seeps up from the earth’s heart. It affects animals and people. Some people are born with the ability to manipulate this power, they have an ‘affinity’ for it. So the term becomes, they have affinity. This way magic becomes something ‘other’ and powerful again.
What I look for in fantasy and science fiction is that the thrill of wonder. It can be associated with the future and the possibilities of where we will go as human beings, or it can be associated with the past and the powerful things our ancestors held to be important. There was a time when your word was your bond. You could not break an oath, or you would be known as an oath-breaker and no one would trust you.
It’s interesting what inspires writers. For Christmas last year my husband bought me this book on Art Deco houses. Did you know that there is a whole town in NZ filled with Art Deco houses? The town was flattened by an earth and rebuilt in this style. I do love the Art Deco. You don’t seem much of it where I live in Brisbane, Australia. There are more buildings in Melbourne. Lots of blocks of flats.And you can get modern homes built in the Art Deco style.
My friend Tansy’s new series, Creature Court, has a strong Art Deco flavour because much of the clothing is reminiscent of the twenties. We joked when we read the manuscript at a ROR that she should start a line of Creature Court clothes!
I have a novella set in the near future where the fashion is retro Art Deco. The settings and the clothes are beautiful as I visualise them, but I don’t think the average reader would get all the references unless they googled the things I mentioned. This is where a movie art director can create resonance for the film with sets and clothing. Think of the look of Blade Runner!
Much harder for us writers. We can mention music, but we can’t play it unless the reader has already heard it. We can mention a certain type of building or clothing, but again, the reader must know what we’re talking about. Yet, we still set out to create resonance in what we write by layering images, scents and music into the narrative. Because ultimately, its the story that’s important. Everything else is window dressing.
The Homeless Mystics (working title for the trilogy).
I chose these pictures from my Resonance file on this series. The mystics have a sophisticated society which evolved to keep their powerful gifts under control. They value honour and beauty in all things. I based the concept of their home, Celestial City, on the Heavenly City in medieval Japan and on the capital city of the Aztec Empire.
This series follows the fate of a tribe of dispossessed mystics, the T’Enatuath. Vastly outnumbered by the Meiren (people without magical abilities), the mystics are persecuted because the Mieren fear their gifts. This persecution culminates in a bloody pogrom sanctioned by the Meiren King who lays siege to the Celestial City, last bastion of the T’Enatuath.
When the city falls at great cost to both sides, the T’En leader, Imoshen, negotiates their surrender and the mystics are exiled from their homeland.
Under Imoshen’s leadership, the T’Enatuath battle vindictive Meiren, storms at sea, pirates, and even betrayal from within their own ranks.
I’m currently polishing the three books to hand in to my publishers early next year. I thought book one was almost done, but when I went away to World Con I spent every spare moment in my room writing and I had an epiphany. I realised I’d ended book one in the wrong place, (which explained why the opening of book two felt wrong). So I had to end book one earlier. This meant I had the room to explore a couple of narrative threads that had been implicit before. The book is much stronger now.
Love, loyalty … betrayal – all the things I like to explore.
Now if I only had more hours in a day! (If only I didn’t have to sleep!).
I commute to work which is a half hour trip both ways. To save myself from boredom- also to save myself from reading over people’s shoulders as I can’t seem to resist the written word – I bring a book to read.
Werewolves, vampires and parasols, oh my!
I watched a documentary recently on the demise of the romance movie. Screenwriters were saying – Where is the romance and sexual tension if the guy and girl can hop into bed on the first date and no one blinks an eye.
In this series there is a great deal of eye blinking going on. I read it on the train and try not to giggle aloud.
The Matrix hits so many of the steps of the Hero’s Journey it’s a good one to use. The call to adventure is actually a phone call, the Resurrection is actually a resurrection.
The first Matrix movie was made in 1999, 11 years ago and the students who were with me would have been kids at the time. They laughed at scenes that, when the movie came out, made us go ‘Wow, that is so cool’.
For instance, that image of Carrie-anne Moss leaping into the air, had become a cliche by the time the princess did it in the first Shrek movie.
And there’s the spoon boy. In my house we sometimes say ‘There is no spoon’ to close a philosophical discussion. Everyone gets the reference.
For those of you who are into these things here’s a site with memorable quotes from the movie.
I enjoyed revisiting the first Matrix movie and taking the time to analyse what the Wachowski brothers were doing.
It is not the sort of thing I’d choose to watch over and over, unlike Fire Fly for instance, which has layers upon layers. But I can still admire it for what it is.
I guess a writer or movie maker knows they have made an impression when things they’ve created become part of popular culture. When a new type of hominid gets named a ‘hobbit’ you know that the book where that invented word appeared has become mainstream.
What movies of books have made a lasting impression on you? What did you find yourself thinking about days afterwards?
Ok, I’ve worked hard all week. In fact, I’ve worked hard all term and it’s not over yet. Next week all the final assessments are due in, which means I’ll be doing marking for hours on end.
So this weekend I am treating myself, and my boys. We’re going to see the new Iron Man movie. What’s that? As soon as I say the words you can hear the music? Now that’s what I call Resonance. Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ which contained Iron Man was released in 1970. So I grew up with it. And it is still as powerful as it was then.
What else do you think of when I say Iron Man? This weekend with the second movie just released it has to be Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of the Tony Stark character. Kudos must go to the script writers of the first movie, Markus Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and John August. Of course, Downey did a great job with the role, but I think the script writers’ strike proved that without writers you don’t have a TV show or a movie.
So what we’ll do is watch the first movie tonight, to refresh ourselves, then see the second movie tomorrow. I’ll be looking for stylistic consistency. And I’ll be looking to see how they develop Tony Stark’s character.
A lot can be learnt from movies and TV shows. Everything, character, world building, plot clues and tension all have to be established fast. And then there is Resonance, the feel you associate with a movie or TV series. There is also Resonance associated with books and book series. And if you don’t think that books carry Resonanace, what do you feel when I say Terry Pratchett’s Disk World series? Totally different from China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. What about Mervyn Peake’s Ghormenghast? It’s been thirty years since I read that and yet, I still have a strong sense of place and character.
Maybe I’ll do a post on Resonance. I find it really interesting. What books and characters stick with you over time?