April 17, 2014

Shadows is here!

Rant revisited


Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night—so what else is new—last night was however aggravated by shooting awake every time a hellcritter sighed or got up to scratch its bed into a more salubrious shape.  Siiiiiigh.  There have been no further outbreaks today . . . although the night is young* the current digestive miscreant, having eaten his dinner, looks pretty crashed out. . . . That sound you hear is me crossing my fingers till they squeak.

More baby plants showed up in the post today and the Winter Table is full.  There hasn’t been a proper frost in town this month I think, but baby plants, having been intensively reared in massive great commercial greenhouses, are fragile little creatures and you can’t just whack them in potting-on pots and plonk them outdoors.  You have to ‘harden them off’ as they say which in practise, since my greenhouse is full of stuff and I have no earthly room for a cold frame, means that if we’re having a run of chilly nights I have to bring them indoors every evening and back outdoors again every morning.**   Arrrrgh.

So, where was I, in my not-very-good-mood way last night?  Aside from the prospect of a lot of moving of plant trays back frelling indoors while trying not to trip over the hellterror***, there had been a certain supernumerary  force to my rushing outdoors into the garden yesterday afternoon†, aside from the latest stack of baby-plant-containing cardboard boxes arriving in the post, which, yesterday, was pretty well an avalanche. ††

What is it with people.

I regularly receive requests via email for help with the frelling papers people are writing about me and/or my books.†††  The vast, catastrophic, overwhelming majority of them ask me the same blasted questions . . . most of which would be answered far beyond the scope of any seventh or eleventh grader’s term paper requirement‡‡ with only the most cursory glance at my web site, let alone doing a little diving via the ‘search’ facility or the ‘topics’ list on this blog.  I’ve ranted this rant to you before—several times in fact—how can all these jokers even arrive at my public email address WITHOUT HAVING NOTICED THE SUGGESTIONS THAT THEY READ THE FAQ FIRST.  OR THE GENTLE REMINDER THAT I’M, YOU KNOW, BUSY AND THAT ANSWERING QUESTIONS TAKES TIME.  But they do.  In their relentless marching regiments they do.  Yesterday I received a follow up from someone who clearly thinks that saying please and thank you is enough.  Reading the FAQ is not necessary.  This person is capable of writing me a sheaf of long, complicated questions and putting a note in their diary to follow up . . . without ever looking at the FAQ.   First contact in this case included a plug from the kid’s teacher,‡‡‡ telling me how wonderful the kid is—and this kid may very well be wonderful, but they nonetheless need to learn to do their homework—and how (the teacher continued) my thoughtful informed answers were going to help this student chart their course through college and into their chosen career of professional writer.  PLEEEEEEEEEEZ.   This follow up, unannotated by the teacher, generously offers to answer any questions I may have. . . . §

Standard caveat begins here:  Of course I want people to read my books.  I need people to buy my books so the hellpack and I can keep eating.  And I love fan mail:  I looooove it when some reader takes the time, speaking of time, to tell me that they enjoy my books.  A really warm and/or clever and/or funny fan letter (or forum comment or Tweet or dreaded-Facebook post)  makes my day, and sometimes my week.  But I will never learn not to mind that a lot of people out there don’t recognise me as a human being essentially like themselves with a life—and, furthermore, inevitably limited expertise even in my professional domain—and behave accordingly.§§

Today I got a fresh request for help on a school project.  This one addresses me as ‘Mrs McKinley’ so I don’t have to read any farther to know that this person hasn’t made any attempt to do their homework. . . .

* * *

* as I count young.  But how can ‘one’ or ‘two’ or even ‘three’ not be young?^

^ Unless you’re a hamster.+

+ And you’re talking in years, not hours.  A three-hour-old hamster is young.  And one o’clock in the morning is MORNING and last night is dead.  So—wait—‘the night is young’ has to start at like two o’clock in the afternoon. . . .   Nights are never young . . . Hey, I’ve just invented a philosophy.#

# How did I get into this?  And where’s the door?

** Given when I am staggering out of bed lately, they’re going to get distressingly etiolated if the nights don’t warm up soon so that I can leave them outdoors to greet the dawn and all those distasteful hours immediately following.

*** Who is very interested in people rushing back and forth in a purposeful way.  Hellhounds know to crush themselves in the back of their crate and not stir till it’s all over.

† Well, I’d been outdoors kind of a lot already:  it was such a glorious day I took both critter shifts^ on country walks which was self-indulgent but . . . fun.^^

^ A little old lady said to me yesterday, every time I see you you’re walking a different dog.  There are only three, I said, but I mostly walk them in two shifts.  Oh, said the little old lady, and I could watch the thought process in her expression:  first she accepted the answer to this question that had been puzzling her and then, moving right along, this little old lady being a quick thinker, I could see the woman is mad dawning in her eyes.

^^ And since I won’t leave critters in a car because of the dog-theft problem, it’s also very time consuming.

†† Also aside from the fact that Outlook decided not to let me in yesterday afternoon.  No.  Won’t.  And I don’t like your password any more either.  Bite me.  —ARRRRRRRRGH.

††† We’re already in trouble:  the books are the books, they’re there, you don’t need me, and chances are very good that if you’re going in for literary criticism I’ll think your penetrating insights bear a strong family resemblance to mouldy root vegetables^, and you’ve got no business writing about me at all.^^

^ You know, really mouldy, when they’ve gone all squishy

^^ Yes, I read biographies.  Your point would be?

‡ When’s the last time I got a blog post out of an interesting question from someone writing a paper on me?  Exactly.^

^ Although the kid who wanted to know what it was like growing up with all those half-siblings made me blink a bit.  I wonder who they thought they were writing about?

‡‡ And with luck will so derail under- or post-grad thesis topics that the students will decide to write about something else

‡‡‡ ie an adult with adult responsibilities.  Plugs from teachers aren’t that uncommon, but they always depress me more.

§ The fact that this was the first email Outlook let through after Raphael told me how to make it behave was not destined to improve my attitude.

§§ You don’t walk up to a doctor at the supermarket and ask them to diagnose the rash on your leg.  You don’t write a letter to a lawyer asking them what their daily schedule is and how and why it makes them a better lawyer.  You don’t tell a blacksmith you want to borrow their tools because anyone can shoe a horse if they have the right hammer.

KES comments revisited


APOLOGIES.  I have a lovely guest blog series waiting in the wings . . . which I managed not to send to Blogmom to set up in hangable form.  ::Beats head against wall::  All right, it’s the day after KES:  let’s catch up on a few comments.  Whimper.


Okay, I would feel slightly abashed that my first question after this post has to do with Kes’s choice of sleepwear, but since it’s obviously an issue which intrudes quite frequently into her own thoughts I don’t feel too bad about asking:

Can we expect Kes* to make it a priority to adopt sleeping attire more appropriate for the occasional nocturnal interruption of sword-wielding, thing-hacking, horseback-riding adventure**?

No.  She’s going to get home (finally) and TRY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY* HARD TO PRETEND THAT EVERYTHING IS BACK TO NORMAL AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  Since you posted this question I’m pretty sure Kes has made some remarks about sleeping in black leather and Kevlar but she’s joking.  She’s trying, somewhat urgently, to keep her spirits up in a situation rather designed to smash those suckers flat.

*Assuming that she makes it out of this alive and sane^

^This is a McKinley story, after all, and the Hellgoddess, while a lover of cliffhangers, nonetheless would never hang her heroine out to dry

Well, not for very long anyway.  This is a McKinley story.  I have every intention of bringing Kes safe home**, although she’s going to have to get used to the lack of normal and the disturbing existence of change.  I don’t know if the bloodstain in the front room is permanent or not, but Kes is going to have a major problem with funny creaky-old-house noises, you know the kind that you and I say ‘mice’ or ‘hellcritters’ or ‘dream’ and put a pillow over our heads or turn the music up in response to?  Kes won’t be able to.  Or anyway she probably better not. . . .

**Kes might prefer the term “horror”

And she can start by learning to say ‘adventure’ rather than ‘horror’.  Poor woman.  I’m so with the hiding-under-the-bed impulse.


. . . the thing that I am MOST enjoying about Kes is that it’s episodic. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities, my first Dickens, and wishing for that possibility to read something in installments. . . .  given that I can, if I want to, read whole new books all in (roughly) one go — the 800-900 word nature of Kes is exciting. . . .

Are you too young to remember the . . . uh oh, this is not an easy google search so we’re going to have to rely on my memory.  BAAAAAAAD.  Well, when I was a young lass, ANALOG used to run serials.  This would have been in the ‘60s, because I was introduced to both ANALOG and their serials by my First Boyfriend in junior high.  And they made me crazy.***  I don’t know if ANALOG still runs them—I was just looking at the table of contents of the current issue†—and I don’t see anything that overtly says serial but that’s not definitive.  And I can’t remember if F&SF did (or do) serials too?  I can’t begin to keep up with my book TBR piles, I stopped subscribing to fiction mags decades ago, the idea of a steady, relentless additional few hundred pages arriving every month makes me cry, although I’m perfectly capable of buying or ordering several hundred more specific-book pages every month, and usually do.  And if I’d been alive back when Dickens was publishing HOUSEHOLD WORDS I would totally have had a subscription.

. . .  [Kes] doesn’t want her life to go High Forsoothly. YES. In spite of my fondness for fantasy and fae and all that . . .  I don’t really believe any of it exists. And I do have a way deep-down fear that someday it will show up and prove me wrong.

I have a deep-down fear that it won’t show up and prove me . . . um . . . right?  Although if it involves wielding a sword—which I know as little about as Kes does††—and riding to battle in my nightgown I’ll pass.  So would Kes, of course, if she didn’t have a mean author jerking her around.  I’m sitting here wondering what I can safely wish for, in terms of some manifestation of magic in this our real world, you know?  Be careful what you wish for.  Is there anything that is both undeniable and harmless?

I can totally understand the act of closing eyes to force reality to come back. . . . .  But I’ve also dealt with GMs before, and I know full well that you never break in the middle of a mind-frelling (and/or battle) bit.

I’m really worrying about ‘GMs’.  Gastric Mucosa?  Grandiloquent Mayhems?  Giant Metatarsals?  Gorblimey Maelstroms?

Plus which, like TheWoobDog, I’m assuming this will not end with Kes a smear and Murac saying ‘Gah, wenches’

::falls down laughing::

or something of the sort.

I think ‘gah, wenches’ will do nicely.


I *am* worried about Sid. I’m getting close to pulling an entitled reader moment

Hee hee hee hee hee hee.  Try it.  Go on, try it.  Hee hee hee.

and demanding to know where she is! Too many episodes without Sid!!!

Mwa hahahahahaha.  Hint:  there may be barking soon.

And that twisted strap thing? If Kes doesn’t fix it, it’ll turn into a nasty. I’ve been there, and I know.

Mwa hahahahahahahaha.

Hunter Gatherer

While I am a partisan of Murac . . . I would like to point out that “A man who takes good care of his horse can’t be all bad.” is kind of a bad way to judge him. As a fantasy style mercenary his horse is his very close to his life, livelihood, and continued good health. Taking good care of his horse is an important business/survival practice and (possibly) has nothing to do with goodness or badness.

We-ell.  Point taken, but I don’t think really effective partnerships between Person and Horse are made if the person solely looks at the horse as a means to an end.  I don’t think the horse is going to put itself out for the person without some kind of, you know, relationship bond, even if the feeding regime and stable management are sound—which as a mercenary’s horse they won’t always be.  So you have to be the kind of dude who can fulfill this charge.  Which means you have some spark of positive emotional connectedness behind that leathery exterior.   Whether or not this has any effect on your attitude toward other human beings is, however . . . unpredictable.

But I can understand how Kes is grasping at straws here after that “at least they’re not going to rape me” moment. (Although I think Flowerhair would not be undecided on the Good vs. Bad issue if Murac were a known rapist there still remains the unknown.)

If Flowerhair knew him to be a rapist she would (excuse me) have cut some salient bits off.  But, you know, The McKinley Story thing can be relied on here too.  If Murac were that kind of total scumbag, he wouldn’t be getting the air time.  Remember that KES is for fun.  I don’t say there won’t be some genuine thorough-going villains . . . but Murac isn’t one.  Although personally I don’t want to invite him over for a cup of tea and a chat about world politics either.

Somehow the comment about Kes’ younger self “She might even have thought Murac was romantic in a ramshackle sort of way.” made me think of her as an Agatha Christie heroine momentarily.

Snork.  Well, I read a lot of Agatha Christie in a very short space of time when I was young and impressionable.  Possibly these things Will Out.

So, on another topic, tangential to Katsheare’s comment… I’ve been wondering if there’s a new kinship with serialized authors such as Alexandre Dumas (and others) developing?

Elizabeth Gaskell maybe.  Or Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  Or Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Or George Eliot, if you will allow SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE to count as serialised.  Or as a novel.


* * *

* Very to the ten to the whatsit power.  Very to the max.

** And if the Story Council should be so indiscreet as to attempt to get in my way I will WHACK THEM.

*** So did he, but that’s another story.

† The internet really is amazing.

†† I took some fencing lessons, but with a modern sabre—nothing like the practical hacking-and-hewing items that Murac and his lot carry, or that Silverheart, for all her superior breeding, is also built for.



Tra la la la la la la . . .

I’m going to be Guest of Honor at Boskone next year.

Boskone, I hear some of you saying?  I think it’s one of the oldest and most regularly annual of the (American) SF&F conventions* but I’m afraid I don’t pay any more attention to the fan-run end of the book world than I do to the professional publisher end** so I could be wrong.  But it was my first big SF&F con, back when BEAUTY was new, and I was living next door in Boston.  I attended sporadically for some years before I got kind of burnt out about the public-author thing generally*** but I’ve retained a soft spot for Boskone.

I had an email from next year’s chairperson about a fortnight ago inviting me to be next year’s GOH and I thought BOSKONE?  I WOULD LOVE TO BE GUEST OF HONOR AT BOSKONE . . . and have since been in agonies not so much of indecision but of trying to figure out what the frell I could do about the hellpack if I said yes.†  Pav isn’t a problem;  given the basic facts of bull terriers she’s, you know, normal.  The hellhounds, now. . . .

But a friend dropped round for a cup of tea this afternoon and in the process of trying to force said hellhounds to eat their lunch I found myself moaning to her about the situation.  She, having extracted the salient facts that (a) YES I WOULD LIKE TO BE GOH AT BOSKONE NEXT YEAR and (b) no I haven’t been anywhere in the last seven years because I have these bizarrely-constituted hellhounds†† . . . said, FOR PITY’S SAKE SAY YES.  GO.  GO.  You’ve got a year:  we’ll figure something out.†††

So I said yes.  ::Beams::

I asked the chair to let me know when they announced it so I could time it to go up more or less simultaneously on this blog.  That was about seven hours ago and she answered by return electron that they were going to be putting it up on NESFA’s web site by the end of the day and I could go ahead as soon as I liked.  I don’t think it’s up yet—although as I say Google does not love me—I’ll add a link when it does.

BUT HERE’S YOUR OPPORTUNITY.  SEE AND HEAR MCKINLEY LIVE IN PERSON.  Although you want to remember that I’ll be sixty-two by next February, so don’t expect much:  I’m old, wizened and EVEN CRANKIER THAN YOU REALIZE.  But I’ll be there.  Smiling in a dangerous manner.


* * *

* Here’s Wiki’s stub about it:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskone  The New England Science Fiction Association has a web site but it’s kind of full of this year’s Boskone at the moment, which is only just over and also, I am stupid, and Google doesn’t love me.

** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall

*** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall harder

† I’ve spent a fair portion of the last fortnight making phone calls toward this end.

†† Remember that in my life this isn’t as appalling as it sounds.  I like staying home and hurtling and ringing bells and planting rose-bushes and so on.  But it would be nice to go back to America SOME TIME and not be a foreigner the minute I open my mouth^, and while day to day I don’t think about it, and year to year the idea of author touring is about as appealing as going into battle in your nightgown^^ . . . the invitation from Boskone made me fall over the edge immediately.

^ Except that I will be because while my accent hasn’t drifted east much my usage sure has

^^ Now I wonder why that image occurs to me

††† Peter said exactly the same thing, only faster.  And his kids will keep an eye on him in my absence.

How to ruin my day


Merrilee will want to try to make a book out of it at some point

We’ve all mentioned how thrilled we’d be to have this in book form at some point and that touches on another thing I’m really looking forward to. I’m under the impression that you’re ‘writing without a net’ right now; in other words, I’m thinking that we’re getting to see what a first pass through a story looks like. I assume that in the process of turning this into a book, you’ll go through your normal re-read and ‘oh *that’s* why that was important – I’d better add this detail in, in light of that’ process of re-writing and editing. I’m looking to and hoping to see who/what gets emphasized/de-emphasized/deleted/added as part of the process. This is potentially a fascinating sneak peek behind the curtain and I’m really enjoying it.

I don’t even know where to begin to respond to this one.

Do you realise that by calling KES as she appears on the blog a ‘first pass’ and assuming that I’m going to rewrite the whole thing from the beginning when Merrilee and I turn it into a book-like object, you are implying that it, you know, needs it?  Unless you’re Anthony Trollope, first versions of a story are rough.  You rewrite because you have to.  Because the story doesn’t make sense after the villain turns out only to be misunderstood, because the main character doesn’t come into focus till page four hundred and twelve because you were trying to write about an enchanted lemur and it turns out she’s a fruit bat.  Because you fell in love with the word crepuscular and used it forty-seven times in the first chapter and, as anyone who has done any serious writing knows, you can rarely merely swap one word out for another, usually you have to change the phrase or the sentence which then bodges up the paragraph or the scene and you have to rewrite that . . .  because on page two you thought Bathsheba was going to stick David with a hat-pin, steal his second-best armour, and run off to battle to fight at her husband’s side.  Oops.

You rewrite in the hope that you will eventually produce something that you could give strangers to read.

At what point you start soliciting other people’s opinions varies.  I hear terrifying rumours that some writers hang rough drafts on line and invite comments.  I’d become a ditchdigger or a linesperson before I did that—and I don’t think they hire sixty-one-year old women to dig ditches, and retraining to be a linesperson wouldn’t be a good choice since I left my head for heights somewhere back in my thirties.  Before I married Peter—who does now see early drafts of my stories—NOBODY saw ANYTHING till I’d got as close to finished with a story as I could.  Even I acknowledge that you need an outside eye eventually, to tell you the elisions that don’t work because nobody else knows the story as well as you do, and Gibbervig and Sorfrella got up to what together*, or because you so can’t see the forest for the trees any more that while (ahem) you may just be a prone-to-tangents storyteller, the chapter about the history of interspecies harness** really slows the action down.  My current editor prefers to see things a little sooner rather than a little later—although I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m almost always laaaaaaate turning stuff in and she wants some reassurance that the story exists and she’s not trying to hold a place on the next list but twelve for a will-o-the-wisp—and I acknowledge her right, as the woman whose butt is on the publishing line on my behalf.  But I don’t like it.

Once I’d got properly into KES I let myself acknowledge that it was a real story—as real as any of the ones that were first read by strangers in paper covers in their entirety—or that existed in their entirety before they were excerpted on line.  I’m writing without a net, yes, because I’m hanging bits of the story for strangers to read before I’ve got to the end of writing it.  But I’m writing it as well as I can as I go.  I rewrite the individual eps before I post them.  What I post is NOT first pass.

Yes.  I’m giving away for free what is just as much work as what I write for money.  But it’s a slightly different kind of work;  different harness—speaking of comparative tack—different pressure points.  I wouldn’t have had the chutzpah to invent a genre-fantasy-writing heroine who gets embroiled in offcuts from her own stories for a book I was expecting Merrilee to pitch to my—or any other—editor.  I’m aware that messing around with the boundaries between reality-reality and book-reality is very popular just now*** but KES is not something I would have risked doing.  Except as a kind-of-joke-but-then-again-not-a-joke on my blog.  And yes, I’m hoping to recoup some of that writing time by turning KES into a book that people will pay money for a copy of, hard or e-.†  But . . .

But I’m not going to rewrite her.  Bottom line:  I can’t.  The story arc is very very very VERY VERY VERY VERY different, doing it in 800-900 words a shot and usually ending with something more or less cliffhangery.  The story is the story:  but KES has let me mould her into 800-900 word chunks, and you—or anyway I, this writer, Robin McKinley—doesn’t get a second chance.  If I tried, I’d wreck her.  I’m not going to try.

I’ll fix errors, when I shuffle her together into one file to send to Merrilee.  And I will scream and hurl myself out windows and so on when I discover the howlers I know are there even if I don’t at present know what they are—and I just hope there aren’t any I can’t fix without tearing up the foundations.  I’ve silently fixed I think three easily-tweaked ones already;  I keep notes—inadequate notes and always of the wrong things—but I mostly don’t reread, except specific snippets (when I can find them) for specific purposes of stumbling accuracy.  I’ll try to swap out the superfluous uses of crepuscular without rewriting any scenes.  But that’s all.  Tidy up—although there will be more of this, and it will be more of a struggle, than I’m going to like.  But I am not going to rewrite.  Not.

And as for a sneak peek behind the curtain—that’s not what you’re getting.  That’s not anything you’ll ever get from me.  There’s a reason I don’t blog much about my writing process.  I’m a privacy fetishist.  And it’s a lot easier to do the smoke and mirrors thing about my life than about my writing.

* * *

* And furthermore when did they have the opportunity to do it?  Didn’t the Siege of Mormormorungal crack up straight into the Battle for the Nineteen Dozyhazes and the Sentient Orchid?  —I’ve never been good at time, in reality or out of it.

** Horse tack was a relatively late invention;  domestic horses were a doddle after dragons and flurdlelumps.  Horses are smaller and more persuadable than dragons, and at least you can sit on a horse;  there’s the whole suspended-cage business with flurdlelumps because of all those legs.

*** Thank you, Jasper Fforde.  He may not have started the trend single-handed, but he’s where I first met it.

† KES does tap into my real writing energy.  The blog doesn’t.  The problem with the blog is time.  I’m a slow writer, even of the blog.  But I don’t come away from the blog thinking MUST HAVE BREAK FROM WRITING STUFF.  The main reason I’ve cut KES back to once a week is because if I spend any more time on her she will cut into . . . well, PEG II, for example.

Not answering your KES questions



sputter sputter sputter… eeep.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

That’s the cliffiest cliffhanger yet.  Eeep.

Now this interests me.  This is in response to Kes #15, “Keep it together, tha useless mare”.  I thought the cliffiest cliffhanger was #14, the ep before, “By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me”.  Granted my view is a trifle different than readers’.

It is also interesting—to me anyway—that plucking Kes up and plonking her down In Another Part of the Forest when the reader is getting the story only in 800-900 word snatches with looooong gaps between, must produce a much bigger HUH? factor than it would if the reader could turn/fingersweep the page and keep going.  Yes?  Or am I over-interpreting?  I was thinking that you could, not unreasonably, suspect me of cheating.  I’m not—or I don’t think I am—by the somewhat elastic rules of storytelling—and the somewhat differently elastic rules of fantasy storytelling*—it’s allowed, not to tell your readers stuff.  Till you feel like getting around to it.  Till the story insists.


I look forward to Sunday mornings – make a pot of green tea, settle down with my tablet, check Kes’s latest predicament. But these blog posts need to be much longer if they’re to last 2 cups of tea.

I have a great idea!  Only read KES every fortnight!  Then you’ll have an ep per cup!  That works!

So thank you for today’s episode. And thank you for a heroine who is only 10-plus-some years older than me. I read and enjoy YA fantasy but I do occasionally wish for more stories with protagonists who have a little more life experience.

You’re welcome.  And also thank you.  The apparent near take-over of YA in this end of fantasy storytelling does discourage me a trifle sometimes, despite the fact that I have substantially contributed to it.**  Some day I am going to write a story with a kick-ass heroine who is over sixty.  We can still kick ass, you know.  It just hurts more afterward.***


. . . if I were in Kes’s place I’d just get furiously angry. Look, it’s not my fault no one told me to go into heroine training!!!


Furiously angry keeps you moving forward, though, and so is very probably a useful reaction.

Yep.  Adrenaline-rage, which allows slender willowy people to sling large sacks of (wet) compost around.  For example.  It’s a very useful tool and I wouldn’t want to be without it but I possibly overuse it a trifle.  If what you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Kes does adrenaline-rage too.  For better and worse.


Three thoughts:

1) Everyone in Kes’s world(s), stop being mean to her already & give her a freaking break!!!

Everyone?  We need a few villains and persons of dubious motives for story tension.

2) Her horse!!!! There’s a horse for her!!!! Yaaayyyy!!!! . . .

Of course there is a horse for her.  There was always going to be a horse for her.  Remember she’s an even-more-blatant-than-usual wish-fulfilment for me.


Well . . . escape is maybe putting it a little strongly.  She side-slipped worlds at a very good moment.  As to why she side-slipped worlds at that moment. . . . ::whistles::


But…where’s Sid? Is this Sid morphed into a horse?

Nope.  Very different personality.

(No, Kes needs Sid as Sid, the faithful hound. This has to be the faithful steed, yhight…Star? Socks? Brownie? Bay..um…Bayeux? Bayberry? Eli?)

Snork.  I like Bayeux.

Horse. Horse is good. Good horse is good. Evil horse…I don’t even want to think about it.

No, no!  Good horse!  Very good horse!  Brave noble patient horse!†   Cheez.  These frelling supple professional-fiction-producing minds.


Yay, the horse. I’m wondering if this is Merry? Otherwise, how will Merry fit into this? or has the story council let that slip out yet?

Hmm.  This might be the moment to warn you all that I’m not a big fan of the parallel worlds thing.  Connected overlapping similar-in-weird-ways containing-confusing-parallels worlds, yes.  Parallel worlds, no.  Nothing—except frelling algebra—is x = y in this world;  why should reason and logic suddenly reign just because we’ve breached a few walls between one messed-up and inconsistent world and a few more of the same?  Although it wouldn’t surprise me if Monster and Merry became very good friends.

Also, I will be very relieved when Sid shows back up in the picture.

Sid’s okay.  Although she may be having her own adventures.  And she has a very important part to play in the coming . . . ::whistles some more:: . . . well, whatever.


Didn’t the kitchen table start making horse-like motions a few episodes ago?

Yup.  But remember what I said about parallel.  Here’s another suggestion for how not to make yourselves crazy trying to figure out how the pieces fit together:  you can dye your hair orange this week and purple next week.  It’s sunny today†† but it will rain tomorrow.†††  A table that stamps its feet today may be a table next week.  And an octopus the week after that.

I too am curious what happened to the big black monster. And everything else.

You’d better also remember that I don’t tie things up neatly or give full, exquisite explanations.  Curiosity is good.  It keeps you awake.  You’ll know more about most things before END OF PART ONE scrolls up on your computer screens.


I’m thinking some hybrid between

[photo of Shire horse—or anyway it should be a Shire and it could be a Shire]


[photo of Andalusian horse—and I know it is an Andalusian because it’s on the Wiki page for Andalusian horse, although I keep wondering if the lad is a midget or the horse is standing on a box, because Andalusians are not huge]

what’s your image of the biggest horse? 

I’ve had an enormous [sic] crush on Andalusians forever.  Talat, although somewhat inspired‡ by an Arab stallion I used to know, is really more an Andalusian.  The only heavy horses I’ve had a chance to know up close and personal are Shires and Clydesdales—and Suffolk Punches to a very limited extent—and Shires win hands down.  I adore Shires.  I know it’s not as easy to get a good cross as to take one Andalusian stallion and put him to one Shire mare‡‡, but it’s like Sid being (probably) Saluki/Deerhound.  Monster is probably Andalusian/Shire.  And they’re each a really excellent cross with only the BEST features of both bloodlines.  Hey.  I write fantasy.

Even if for a newyorker that has never seen a cow any horse in that stressful situation and while not standing properly would look big or bigger.

Ahem.  Kes doesn’t know from cows, true, but she went to horse camp for several years in her teens.  She’s not totally clueless.‡‡‡  We’re going to say it was a good horse camp too, which I realise is pushing the reality connection pretty hard—but Kes does know the basics of how to ride.  Probably not to battle in her nightgown however.


Two of my all-time favorite fantasy novels   featured a cavalry that rode without either bridle or stirrups.

Haven’t even finished reading the episode…had to come say I LOVE that grin at a couple of my favorite fantasy novels too! (Go Aerin & Hari!!)

I’ve known from the beginning that Kes must have read McKinley.  I was going to have to refer to this some time.

I looked back at Monster.

I know I asked for a name, but now I’m hoping there is a chance he gets renamed along the way; although Monster will be an affectionate name before long, I suppose.

Well hmmph.  Personally I think Monster is a very good name for a huge horse, but in fact I think it’s like Sid is also the Phantom.  Give poor Kes some slack here:  she’s a bit pressed.  She’ll name Monster when things quiet down a little.§  No one was trying to kill her when she gave Sid a name.

* * *

* Insert standard rant here about how you do get to make up your own rules, writing fantasy, but then you have to follow them.  No Mr-Spock-reveals-new-skill-after-the-commercial-break.^  Also no all-powerful mages throwing lightning-bolts of awesome power at one another while making mean faces.

^ Spock ex machina, one might almost say.

** When I first told Hannah what I was doing, a year and a half ago, after she stopped laughing, she said, Make her younger.  Merrilee will want to try to make a book out of it at some point^.  It’ll sell better if she’s younger.

I remind myself that at least there are quite a few strong heroines in fantasy around now.  Some of the books they’re in even receive a certain amount of advertising.  EMoon and I can remember when this was not the case.  Especially the advertising part.

^ Great publishing minds think alike

*** Ow!  My foot!

† This is still a McKinley story, after all.

†† Wrong.  No.

††† TRUE.

‡ ‘Inspired’ isn’t quite right;  it’s like as Talat blooms into his own self, it turns out some of Binni’s tack fits.

‡‡ And the stallion would have to stand on a box.  But I’d be afraid to do it the other way around:  she might break.

‡‡‡ Another pet peeve is characters in books who never learn to ride, they just get on a horse and hey presto.  It’s not like that.

§ Unless it turns out he’s already got a—er—Abernathy’s Elegant Mythology by Abernathy’s Hyperborean Mystique out of Plutonium Farms Bethany-by-Night name already.  In which case we’ll have to shorten it.  To Abe.  Or Myth.  Or Pluto.  Or Fred.

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