May 23, 2012

Of Blog Fiction



I feel that A dog is guaranteed at some point. 

Well . . . yes.  Kes is, after all, a parody of me—Kestrel MacFarquhar?  Please.  At the same time she’s had a life of her own since the idea of writing about her first occurred to me—since the idea of writing about her revealed itself as possible.  And she wouldn’t be possible if she didn’t, if you follow me.   But I’ve told you that one of the ways I know a story is ready to stop slamming around the inside of my skull and start going down (more or less politely) on paper/screen is that I can read the first sentence in my mind’s eye.  That was true for KES too—and I have never been married to a Greek geek.  And, um, no, ‘Greek geek’ only occurred to me as I was settling down to write this blog.  But one of the things that makes her possible, makes writing fiction for the blog possible, is that every time I have to make a decision—every time I’m not sure what comes next—every time the story wants a little help from me, I think, okay, what would I do?  What would I want?  Very often the response from the story is NO WAY JOSE but it gives us somewhere to start negotiations.  I’m a kind of tent-peg to pin the flapping thing down in this frelling wind.  I don’t myself feel you get to rip yourself off quite this blatantly in, you know, real fiction.

            But when you’re guessing about what’s going to happen, well, keep me in mind, as it were.  Although I am not going to give her ME. 


Or, to really make life trickier, she could find a stray alpaca. Good thing she has a van. 

Unfortunately the van is going home tomorrow*, although she’s going to end up with a somewhat unconventional (and possibly alpaca-friendly) vehicle.  Or anyway not the vehicle she had in mind.  The problem with alpacas is that I don’t know any.  I keep wondering what would happen if I tried to shine up to one of the local alpaca keepers.  ‘Hi, I write novels for a living, and I want to put an alpaca in one’.  I’m afraid they might back away from me slowly.  Or not so slowly.  I know lots of critters, so I’m happy to make one up till it comes alive and takes over—the dragons in DRAGONHAVEN are like that:  I knew that Jake was going to raise one, and I knew how that relationship began, and I could guess it would have a strong personality, but that’s about all I knew—but while your story is its own thing if it’s going to be worth reading by strangers, it can still only eat you.  If you haven’t got the vitamins and minerals it needs, it can’t grow that way.  I can’t grow an alpaca.  Maybe some day.  I love the whole guard-alpaca/llama thing. 

            There are a few alpacas at the critter shelter where Maggie works in SHADOWS.  But they barely have a (ahem) walk-on part.  Sigh. 


Still imagining Wonderdog versus the Crickets of Doom.
With the cricket chorus breathing like Darth Vader. 

City Girl moves to the country for the first time at the age of (almost) forty?  And plans to live alone?  She so needs a dog.  I’d spent a fair amount of my childhood in the country, and then boomeranged back and forth between city and country for a while as a grown-up.  When I first left Manhattan and went back to Maine (this hadn’t been the plan, but that’s another story), I had housemates, and I still remember the way the nights sounded out in the sticks again.**  Then when I moved alone into my little house in Blue Hill—and that was even in a village, although it was (then) a small village and I was kind of tucked away in a corner of it—THE NOISES GOT LOUDER.***  


Am I the only one who really wishes she had a copy of these Flowerhair books? 

I answered this already, didn’t I?  But since then . . . I’m trying to stay some eps ahead of what I’m posting, so I have some idea where I’m going†, and have recently written Kes remembering her first meeting with Flowerhair.  She’s like, what?  What’s happening?  —which is a fairly common author reaction, or at least this author reaction.  And I realised that I’m going to write that scene at least:  the what is happening scene.  At this point I have no idea if there will be more interpolations or not. 


Roses.  Methinks our heroine may in trouble… After all, you generally just start with one 

Kes is already in more rose trouble than she realises.  Mwa ha ha ha ha ha.  


Don’t stop there! What DOES K stand for? Kareen? Kiss? Koala? Kaiulani? 

Snork.  I would have been devastated if one of you had guessed (and posted it) correctly, so I’m glad you didn’t.  At the same time . . . how many birds begin with ‘K’?  If you’d twigged that the parody was deliberate and, um, not very subtle.  I had various friends trying to suggest more mild mannered birds and I was all, No!  She is a RAPTOR!  Kestrel occurred to me very early on but I spent some time dithering (and reading up on raptors) in one of my fits of oh-gods-maybe-I’ve-only-got-it-half-right.  But she is Kes.  She just is. 


What does the ‘K’ stand for?”

I hesitated.

This is the woman who said she doesn’t like cliffhangers?  

The blog has ruined me in a number of ways.  I didn’t use to like puns either.  But I can’t imagine cranking out a blog without getting to play with the language punnily.  And cliffhangers . . . remember that torturing my readers is one of my pleasures.  The blog is a lot of work, and I couldn’t do it if it weren’t also fun.  And it’s not like I ever torture you extensively, or for long.†  


Oh small towns. How I love and loathe thee. No one ever used house numbers – we lived in the “Johnson” house for a decade. My husband’s family has now lived in the same small town for OVER TWENTY YEARS and had 7 kids go through the k-12 school and they still aren’t considered “local.”  

Sure.  But your nosy neighbour will also bring your washing in when it rains and you’re loading up at Godzilla Foods three towns away—possibly including picking up that package of frozen raspberry and onion lo-gluten bagels she asked for.  You can buy fresh lobster from the fisherman who’s a friend of yours at the end of the dock, and he’ll slip you a moose steak when he goes hunting that winter, even if he likes to pretend you’re too urban to deal with either one.  Myself, I’ll take my neighbours knowing who stays overnight at my house (ahem) in exchange for my knowing that if I’m ever snowed in, somebody will get me out.  And twenty years, eh.   Twenty years isn’t so long.  I’ve been twenty years in this particular five-mile stretch of Hampshire and I am certainly not a local. 


Kestrel eh? Pretty odd name, but could have been a lot worse (eg something along the lines of Bliss or Desire (but beginning with K obviously)).

You mean like, ‘Kissy’? ‘Kasandra’? I wonder what other ‘K’ names we could come up with? An opportunity has been missed. 

Kalinda.  Kacey.  Kelly.  Katisha.  Remember I like Kes.  


Ithilien wrote on Sat, 19 May 2012 21:48
But is it a friendly or unfriendly shadow???? ::dangles on tenterhooks::


I know where I’m placing my bets but I don’t want to share my guess in case I’m right. 

Hold that thought.  I don’t write mysteries—although I think Cathy may have some evil plans, they may just be that it amuses her to see me jump and scream—but I’d be grateful not to have things given away.  But it’s probably only honourable to warn you that it’s a fair time before you see the shadow close enough to identify.  I’m not sure when myself.  It’s just that even tomorrow is still kind of a ways off and I don’t think it’s tomorrow. 


Would you have a problem with one downloading the episodes of the New Thing into one’s Nook? I’d hate to impinge on any sort of copyright whether it’s imposed by law or by the wishes of the author. 

How very nice of you to ask.  Thank you.  Extra points, a gold star and a very large chocolate brownie.  The short form is, as you already know, that I can’t stop you.  The very slightly longer form is . . . I want you to enjoy KES so if putting her on your Nook makes you happy, then please feel free.  The very, very slightly longer yet version is that I would like to hope that there will eventually be some official pulled-together version of KES, but I can’t see that far into the future, and at the moment she’s only about 20,000 words long ( . . . I told you I’m writing ahead).  You will be the first to know. . . . 

* * *

* Tomorrow in the story.  Tomorrow is a long way away in terms of episodes. 

** Right down the road from E B White.  Just by the way. 

*** Although it’s true I had a stream outside my bedroom window. 

† It also gives Cathy a chance to look over my shoulder before it goes public. 

† Unless you’re going to hold it against me how long it takes me to write proper published books.  Which would be very unkind of you.


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