Saturday, February 25, 2012

Laurence Fox Appreciation Post

When I first saw him in Becoming Jane I thought he was sweet, but awkward. I may have even referred to him as "Lurch." However, he's been winning me over with his performance in Lewis. I was watching an episode from last season this afternoon and I realized that he had officially won me over. I was enamoured.
Maybe it's because Detective Sergeant Hathaway loves his Gibson guitar so much and looks so sexy when he's having a furtive cigarette (even though I hate smoking). Somehow the long limbs, the skinny tie, the new flippy hairdo all suit him. The quiet, intellectual types always get me of course.

I think Fox is a great actor and I am definitely a Hathaway lover. Update: I just found this video of him singing and playing the guitar. Swoon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ode to the Coffee Shop

I went to my usual coffee place today and decided to scribble down a few thoughts about it. I'm there about once a week writing and working:
My blue cotton scarf looks so vibrant draped across the the rich, cherry wood chair illuminated by a beam of white winter sun pouring in the window. It's warm today, but the sun isn't spring sun quite yet.
There is an incessant hiss and whir of the heater and the coffee makers-- the fruits of which leave a smokey, bitter taste on my tongue. Stirring spoons clatter against metal cups and then drip through the frothed milk on the lattes. It's a cacophony in the quiet shop.
Everyone here knows me by face, if not name. It is a cliche, but it makes an odd sort of sense. When a writer needs a haven that home cannot provide; where else is there to go? It's to the coffee house where you can sit among the din of music and conversation, sipping at the biting, but pleasurable hot drinks and working uninterrupted. It's my natural habitat, the paper coffee cups, the bagels, the endearing young staff, the public solitude.
It's an out of the way, indie place, that I might just dedicate my first book to. Enough of it has been drafted between these walls. I owe them for their shelter, their inexpensive high quality stimulant beverages, and their tolerance for letting me make a two hour drink last all afternoon with my books spread across their table tops; me staring into space, sighing, and inventing characters based off the other customers. So, here's to Patrick, Samantha, Jeremiah, and the rest of the staff who are unwittingly helping me on my way to becoming a novelist. Starbucks can just go jump in a lake.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Professor Moriarty and the Hound of the D'Urbervilles

From the back cover: "Imagine the twisted evil twins of Holmes and Watson
and you have the dangerous duo of Professor James Moriarty- wily, snake-like,
fiercely intelligent, terrifyingly unpredictable- and Sebastian 'Basher' Moran-
violent, politically incorrect, debauched. Together they own London crime,
owning police and criminals alike."

If The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are well thumbed in your library, you may find it interesting to puruse this collection of the adventures of Professor James Moriarty as told by his right hand, Sebastian Moran.
From their Conduit Street rooms, Moriarty runs a crime syndicate that encompasses all of London and has international connections as well. Moriarty arranges the mathematical crimes and Moran is his trusted gun hand, back from military service after nearly being clawed to death by a tiger which he then killed. The two men have a career of the most creative sort of crimes; from making the mistake of taking Irene Adler as a client, to a most delicious revenge against one of the Prof's former pupils, to the title story which chronicles their own investigation into a cursed family.
Holmes and Watson are boy scouts, comparatively. Moran and Moriarty are vicious, misogynistic, and anarchic, but immensely entertaining. Occasionally crude, but definitely colorful, Moran as our narrator ingratiates himself and by the end of his story is actually almost a sympathetic figure.
The book is divided into seven tales, some of which are stronger than others. "The Red Planet League" stands out as especially clever and humorous. After "The Hound of the D'Urbervilles" story arrives in the middle of the book, there is a slight dip in the story. Perhaps it's because the initial naughty pleasure of the insane concept has waned, or perhaps because we want to see the stakes raised more. However, the final story, "The Problem of the Final Adventure" is worth hanging on for. The raucous tone of the opening tales is subdued, but here's where we see some of that character development, the raising of stakes, and a surprising bit of pathos from our narrator.
Fans of the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle will see plenty of references and parodies from his Holmes tales throughout the novel, as well as some little digs at Doyle's continuity problems (Moran explains that all three Moriarty brothers are named James because their parents liked the name so much). No literature is safe, however. The title story concerns the D'Urberville line, yes, Tom Hardy's D'Urbervilles. Little passing references are also made to Poe's mysteries, Leroux's Phantom of the Opera, and even a nod to H.G. Wells. End notes, some more sarcastic than others will direct you to some of the allusions you may miss.
The treatment of Holmes in the story is a little odd. He makes very little appearance, though of course in the story of Holmes' adventures, neither does Moriarty. Implied off-stage tinkering serves as all the back story for their relationship in both accounts. Moriarty's view of Holmes is so very different than the view an affectionate audience has, that it's a little unsettling. Perhaps author Kim Newman intended it to be. Moran fiercely insists that Holmes was not Moriarty's arch enemy, but another slippery criminal trying to take Moriarty's place, Holmes was just bad timing, the last nail in the coffin of their crumbling criminal empire.
If you love the various incarnations of Moriarty and enjoy a bizarre romp through literature and crime, you should definitely give this book a try. Are the scenarios totally improbable? Yes. Are some stories less gripping than other? Yes. It still may be worth your time though. Sometimes the absurdity really is the point. Your pastiche collection won't be complete without this oddity.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Student vs Writer

I'm sorry I've been lagging on the blogosphere lately everyone. I fear this semester may be the death of me. It's February and I'm already feeling anxious for it to end.
Except my independent study, I'd like for that never to end. In fact, I feel like it's going to be a permanent, lifelong independent study. The more I work on and write one story, the more ideas I have for other stories. Writing perpetuates writing, I'm learning. I suppose all writers just starting out fear that they might not have another story to tell after they finish this one they're working on. I've had that fear. What if I miraculously get a three book contract and then have nothing else to say?
That fear has been quickly dispelled. I've found the opposite is true. I'm having trouble focusing on writing one story at a time. Of course I'm making extensive notes on my ideas, but I need to work on completing a story at least in rough draft form before I start any real work on the next story. It's a challenge when you're getting excited about characters and plots you'd like to introduce. The excitement of stories to come can make you less excited about the one you're slogging away in. You forget that it will be exactly the same when you start serious work on the next one; it's hard and you aren't always excited to be working.
School is definitely crowding in on my novelling time.
Still, every class, even if it's not an English course, has the potential to be inspirational. A historical fact or a number sequence can give you an idea. Time though, can be hard to budget. The Writer in me says, "Let's work on the next scene!" while the Student says, "I have to finish my maths homework." The Writer can be very persuasive.