And Now, Another From CLOCKWORK PRINCE

If self had been able to get to blogging a little earlier, she would have written a fine analysis of the chapter in The Third Reich at War which focuses on Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, the man who the SS called the “Blonde Beast.” Less affectionately known by the Czechs as the “Butcher of Prague.”

Not a gullible believer in Nazi ideology, Heydrich nevertheless crushed the heart of the Czech resistance movement. Also, was passionate about music and played the violin.

Stop right there, self. You intimated this post was going to be about CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Luckily for dear blog readers, she’s going to make good on her introduction and turn to the CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Because just imagine how quickly your fine Sundays would be ruined if you read about Reich Protector Heydrich’s many successes in eliminating the Jewish population of Prague!

Okey-dokey, self will backtrack.

Cassandra Clare has a great sense of humor and Will Herondale is soooo entertaining a character.

FOR THE 5% OF THE POPULATION WHO HAVE NOT READ THE INFERNAL DEVICES: SPOILER ALERT!

His death anniversary passed a week or so ago (Stop! Can it really be? Forsooth, Cassie Clare called attention to it on her author website: Will Herondale died on June 19, 1937. Self was so addled that she actually heaved a sigh of relief that he was not around to witness World War II. Until she remembered that of course he wouldn’t be around to witness World War II:  because Will Herondale is a fictional character!!! DUH!!!)

Here’s the scene where Jem and Tessa find Will in an opium den. All these years of procuring the drug for beloved Jem (Sissy!) and Will never tried it once. Not once. Until, distraught over the discovery that his family in Wales has been moved by Mortmain to a house in of all places Yorkshire, and unable to tell Tessa Gray that he loves her while watching Jem’s flirtations intensify right before his very eyes (i.e. the train back to London. See also: the carriage ride to London’s East End, where Jem’s hot breath stays in Tessa’s ear. That is, until she lays sight of Will Herondale’s “six feet of bone and muscle” lying supine in a yin fen den run by warlocks — DUN DUN DUN!), he succumbs.

No one at the London Institute, not even Jem (What’s that parabatai rune over your heart doing, Jem? Hasn’t it been bothering you greatly during Will’s disappearance?), bother to go looking for him. Until Tessa Gray receives a confidential note from Warlock Magnus Bane (Methinks the warlock doth care for that whelp Herondale, despite his protestations!) that Will is in trouble, and she waits six hours to tell Jem, and then Jem finally decides that why, yes, as the parabatai he must go and search for Will, and they ride in a carriage and hot breath on Tessa’s ear and all that, and arrive at scummy London’s East End, which is absolutely crawling with Shivering Jemmies and infants whose skin is the color of curdled milk, and they find Will in a den of iniquity, and Tessa knows they have to get him out of there, but Jem is frozen, unable to move (As if thinking: Oh no! Why did we have to find him? I was looking forward to having Tessa Gray all to myself!). And then Tessa Gray says:

If you do not help me, I swear, I will Change into you, and I will lift him myself. And then everyone here will see what you look like in a dress. Do you understand?

God, JEM CARSTAIRS WILL YOU JUST GET A MOVE ON???

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading Dionne Brand

from her poetry collection, Thirsty (McClelland & Stewart):

would I have had a different life
failing this embrace with broken things,
iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks
in the brain, would I know these particular facts,
how a phrase scars a cheek, how water
dries love out, this, a thought as casual
as any second eviscerates a breath

and this, we meet in careless intervals,
in coffee bars, gas stations, in prosthetic
conversations, lotteries, untranslatable
mouths, in versions of what we may be,
a tremor of the hand in the realization
of endings, a glancing blow of tears
on skin, the keen dismissal in speed

Self met Dionne Brand in Banff, just this past April.

Life-changing encounter. Forevermore.

Writing can change people.

Another excerpt from Thirsty. By the way, it’s Sunday in Ireland:

There was a Sunday morning scent,
an early morning air, then the unarranged light
that hovers on a street before a city wakes
unrelieved to the war fumes of fuel exhaust

Stay tuned.

Muse: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is MUSE.

What is a MUSE? A source of inspiration.

In Greek and Roman mythology, the muses were nine goddesses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who presided over the arts and sciences.

Books are self’s inspiration (muse):

My Writing Studio in the Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghamakerrig

Self’s Writing Studio in her Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghamakerrig

The Virginia Woolf book is from the bookshelves in her cottage. The other book is self’s personal copy, which she’s been bringing along with her everywhere because her novel-in-progress is set in 18th century Spain:

Reading for Self's Novel-In-Progress

Reading for Self’s Novel-In-Progress

And traveling, of course, is a constant source of inspiration.

Self took the picture below when she was with poet Joan McGavin, who took her to a demonstration near Lambeth Bridge (on June 17), calling for more action on climate change:

Houses of Parliament, Viewed from the South Bank, London, June 17

Houses of Parliament, Viewed from the South Bank, London, June 17

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Judith Barrington

from Judith Barrington’s classic Writing the Memoir

  • What we really need . . . are new images of of what it means to be a writer: images that include healthy food, exercise, a sane attitude, and a tranquil soul — all of which are surely more compatible with great writing than is being a physical and mental wreck. We need to encourage one another in these directions and reject the old stereotypes; we must remind one another that fighting with our families or suffering through a love affair that denigrates us are not essential pastimes for a writer. After all, writing is hard enough without adding alcoholism, drug addiction and angst to the qualifications. There is no evidence that good writing requires any of them. What writing does is require that we nurture the stamina it takes to work hard and that we stay fully conscious — and alive.

— Chapter 11 of Writing the Memoir (“Watch Out for the Myths”)

Self Wrote a Story About Climate Change: “The Freeze”

Apocalyptic, Dystopian, blah blah blah

The world is slowly dying, and — there’s no way to explain why an old woman is the only one in her family who survives, and why she ends up riding piggy-back on a teen-age boy (Hunger Games Catching Fire was an influence. Definitely:  Finnick and Mags) and they decide to follow Highway 1 as far south as they can. No electricity, no cars, no telephones. Just — the very edge of despair. Funny, she writes science fiction but her stories are pretty low on the science. Maybe she should start referring to them as allegories.

It was probably the Russians. Putin called Obama’s bluff, or maybe it was the other way around. The outcome — we were the outcome.

How still he was in the last broadcast. His suit looked too big for him. His hair had gone entirely gray. Funny, Obama had been young just six years ago.

— published by Bluestem, Spring 2015 Issue

Randomness: Saturday, 20 June 2015

Today the weather is all mixed up. Self felt cool-ish this morning so she put on a turtleneck sweater.

Sometime in the afternoon, it began to shower. Only briefly. Only the merest whisper of moisture.

Now, it is hot. So hot it is really punishing to keep the sweater on. But since she’s been traveling so diligently, most of her clothes are in need of washing. And she brought very little with her (because she knew she’d be hitting buses and trains and hauling her own luggage all over the UK). And she is also feeling somewhat lethargic. And it is too much bother to change into something else.

It occurs to self that a number of distinct words describing negative emotional states begin with the letter “D.” Such as:

distracted * distraught * distressed

It occurs also to self that it is hard to write without using the letter “E.”

She just tried doing a challenge on Jennifer’s Journal. Here it is, for those who care to try.

And it occurs to self that Word Riot, several years ago, published a piece by her that was a Dictionary of sorts:

It began thus:

A

Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.

Assumpta est Maria, you sang every week in the auditorium.

Angels. Angelus. Angelic.

Admit, admit this was all your fault.

Against. Must you always — ?

And on it went, all the way through the alphabet, self pulling random objects from thin air.

And she did it. She got all the way to the letter “Z.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Monday: Dionne Brand

One of the dearest people self met at the Banff Writing Studio was Canadian poet Dionne Brand. For not only was she brilliant, she would go out of her way to talk to self about her WIP, the one that got her accepted to the program. Dionne is one classy, classy lady.

Dionne is up for a Trillium Award this week. Naturally, self hopes she wins.

Here’s an excerpt from her poetry collection, Thirsty:

XI

i

you can’t satisfy people; we long for everything,
but sleep, sleep is the gift of the city
the breath of others, their mewling, their disorder,
I could hear languages in the lush smog,
runes to mercy and failure and something tender
a fragile light, no, not light, yes light,
something you can put your hand in, relinquishing

Today, self is off to Saint Bride’s, which Cassandra Clare used as the setting for the London Institute of the Shadowhunters in her trilogy The Infernal Devices. A copy of Clockwork Prince has been in self’s tote since she arrived in London. She researched how to get to St. Bride’s on the Underground, and found that the closest stop would be Blackfriars.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER FOR THE INFERNAL DEVICES

Be still, self’s beating heart! Blackfriars Bridge was where Jem Carstairs and Tessa Gray met each year for one hour, a ritual they fainthfully maintained for the next (500+?) years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London After Hours, Great Russell Street: Off-Season 3

Self is finding “Off-Season” to be a very interesting Photo Challenge.

She isn’t sure that these series of shots she took last night are really “off-season” — except when viewed in one sense. But she’ll post anyway.

She took these pictures last night, when she was hunting for a cheap place to have dinner.  She was on Great Russell Street. The British Museum, and all the shops along that street, were closed. So she peered in through the iron gates and the barred windows:

The British Museum After Hours

The British Museum After Hours

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

Across the street is an Antiquarian Bookseller named Jarndyce (How very Dickens). When self peered through the barred windows, this caught her attention:

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

It was a Sunday evening. She happened to be reading (in addition to the ever-present Clockwork Prince, ha ha ha!) a copy of Dionne Brand’s poetry collection, Thirsty. And here is an excerpt from Poem II:

The city was empty, except for the three,
they seemed therefore poised, as when you are alone
anywhere all movement is arrested, light, dun,
except, their hearts, scintillant as darkness

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Second (Or Third) Re-Read of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

Self had quite a busy Sunday.

She went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then she walked around, taking lots of pictures.

She finally, finally did a little work on her WIP, A Myriad Wildernesses.

She spoke to Joan McGavin.

She heard from Zack.

She began re-reading Clockwork Princess.

(Dear blog readers sigh)

She loves, loves, loves the angst.

Clockwork Princess opens with Tessa Gray in a gold wedding dress.

And Cicely Herondale trying to goad her brother, Will, into writing a letter to their parents, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in five years.

Cecily:  Would you consider a wager, Will?

Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.

Self likes Cecily! Got a lot of spunk, that girl does. Sort of reminds her of Arya Stark.

Let’s see, what else did self do today? She got herself a ticket to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is showing at the Gielgud. She hopes it’s as good as the Broadway production, which just won a bunch of Tonys, including one for Alex Sharp, who plays the male lead. Well, it should be just as good, since the play originated here, in London.

On Wednesday, self is seeing King John at the Globe (Hurrah!) Self loves the Globe. And this time, she won’t be alone: Joan will be watching it with her.

Self’s first time to experience the wonder of the Globe was last year; she caught a production of Titus Andronicus (which was properly billed as “theatre without mercy”). It was brutal, it was shades of Quentin Tarantino, it had people walking out before half-time. Self nearly barfed at the chopping-off of hands scene.

While walking around today, self saw a huge sign plastering a building: Fifty Shades of Grey, now out on video. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. London is like some futuristic, anachronistic, fantastical Victorian Steampunk city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London Is So Vivid: First Stop on the Shadowhunters Tour of London

Yup, self is once again in a foreign clime.

It was not so bad, the change this time. London is only eight hours ahead of California.

And it is warm in the city.

Warm = good.

Self’s first stop (after arriving from the airport ) was Westminster Abbey. Because, The Infernal Devices. This is, after all, her Shadowhunters London tour.

Here’s a passage from p. 9 of Clockwork Prince:

She had known that famous kings, queens, soldiers, and poets were buried in Westminster Abbey, but she hadn’t quite expected she’d be standing on top of them.

She and Jem slowed finally at the southeastern corner of the church. Watery daylight poured through the rose window overhead. “I know we are in a hurry to get to the Council meeting,” said Jem, “but I wanted you to see this.” He gestured around them. “Poet’s corner.”

DSCN9988

And it is true, dear blog readers, that one is really standing on top of stone slabs that say:  Charles Darwin. Charles Dickens. Samuel Johnson. William Wilberforce. It feels a little disrespectful, but even though a man decked in out the bright green robe of a docent insisted that the actual bones of the famous gents were underneath the stones, she didn’t quite believe him. It is also quite strange that there are some children buried there, along with Isaac Newton and Edward the Confessor, and also some anonymous knights. Mary Queen of Scots gets her very own chapel. And why do Jane Austen and the three Bronte sisters have to be beneath a whole wall of names of MEN: Keats and Shelley topping the whole.

DSCN9987

Photographs are not allowed, so these were a few random shots self took from outside the Abbey.

She had lunch at the on-site restaurant, the Cellarium Café. Try the duck with bok choy. The waiter recommended it, and it was so much better than the roast duck she had at Fung Lum in the San Francisco Airport.

The grass is so vividly green in England. Afterwards, she made an entire circuit of St. James Park, and wished she could linger, but she was also in a hurry to take a nice, warm shower. Because it felt like she hadn’t showered in 48 hours. A terrible feeling.

DSCN9992

Another place prominently featured in The Infernal Devices is the Thames, because of course Jem and Will spend a lot of time conversing on the riverbank, the Victoria Embankment, where they can look at Cleopatra’s Needle and, to their right, Hungerford Bridge. Self might make that the next stop on her Shadowhunters tour.

Self was telling a cab driver about Cassandra Clare’s mention of Poet’s Corner and the Pyx Chamber in Westminster, and suddenly the taxi driver said, “That sounds a lot like Harry Potter.” Which surprised self exceedingly but really shouldn’t have, because she knows that Clare got her start writing Harry Potter fan fiction. So of course, that overlay of the magical with the mundane — Clare was definitely influenced by J. K. Rowling.

But self likes Victorian Steampunk so much better than plain old Harry Potter magic. Because she adores the scenes of violent demon-slaying and all that mayhem occurring on Blackfriars Bridge. She really is such a bloodthirsty soul.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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