In Juicy Writing, we considered why we write. Why are we motivated; what drives us toward that accomplishment. That way, if we’re tired of writing, we can look at our list and remember why we cared enough to go the distance. So here’s what I’m passionate about:
I’m passionate about making something that wasn’t there before.
I’m passionate about giving people something to think about.
I’m passionate about giving people an escape from anything that worries them.
I’m passionate about the people in my books. They’re real to me, and I want to give them expression.
I’m passionate about having something to do.
I’m passionate about doing something no one else has done before. Like snowflakes or fingerprints, no one else is going to write my stories, even if they were given the plot points and character profiles and assigned to do it.
I’m passionate about leaving something behind when I’m gone.
I’m passionate about taking chances.
I’m passionate about disappearing into a fantasy.
I’m passionate about finding out what happens next.
I’m passionate about the human race, and the fragility, beauty, nobility, and triumph of their existence.
I am about halfway through the very entertaining Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons. The book was written and illustrated by Vera Nazarian as a paranormal parody of Jane Austen’s book Northanger Abbey (which was Jane Austen’s parody of the dark fantasy novels so popular in her day). Nazarian gives equal credit for writing Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons to Jane Austen, which was a smart and fair thing to do. I haven’t read Northanger Abbey, but what prose I have seen suggests that the angels and dragons are Nazarian’s literary contribution to the parody; Austen’s prose is still there. I watched Masterpiece Theatre’s adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and Nazarian’s parody does not alter this likable heroine or the charming flow of the story.
I am enjoying Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons. It’s light, witty, and fun to read. The premise is that Austen’s heroine, Catherine Morland can see angels, as well as demons and dragons. Nazarian’s descriptions of the angels is particularly pleasing. Her style is very visual, and I can really ‘see’ the little angels and their firefly glow illuminating cravats, bonnets, puffy sleeves, and Georgian interiors. The demons masquerade as members of society, but the fact that Catherine can see and hear them as they really are makes for very amusing characterizations. The dragon is cool — I gather it plays a larger role in the 2nd half of the novel and look forward to its reappearance. There’s another creature that’s appears unexpectedly to vex people in the extreme — I won’t tell you what it is, but it will make you smile.
I haven’t read other paranormal parodies of Jane Austen novels, so I can’t say how Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons stacks up against them. I can only tell you that I find this novel very easy to read. The structure of the paranormal world is neatly drawn and makes sense. The dialogue and description just sort of roll you through the paragraphs (props to Ms. Austen for this, but Nazarian’s additions blend without any glitch in style). Nazarian’s contributions make me chuckle. You will probably like this if you like Jane Austen and classic chick lit of the 19th century, if you like fantasy novels, and if you like lighthearted horror elements. I like the dark, horrific stuff too, but that’s another type of book. For my lighter side, Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons does quite nicely.
Sharon always opens Juicy Writing class with that date’s reading from The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder by Jill Badonsky. Tonight, according to The Awe-Manac, it was National Sandwich Day and also a day to consider the worth and wonder of clichés. Sharon surprised us with a treat of tea sandwiches. As we munched on little white triangles filled with cream cheese-pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon, we wrote about our favorite sandwiches. I wrote a poem praising Day-After-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. Then Sharon went to the seventh page of Mary Balogh’s novel, Seducing an Angel, traced down seven lines and picked the seventh sentence after that: “It is the season, Alice.” Using that as a starting point, we could write using sandwich references or deliberately use clichés. I decided to do both and had a lot of fun. Here’s the scrap of story I wrote:
It is the season, Alice …, He immediately began scribbling, …when a young man’s fancy turns to love. Mortimer took a bite of his Monte Cristo sandwich and contemplated his next line as he chewed. Powdered sugar fell onto his Garfield stationary, but such was his concentration that he didn’t notice. “Ah,” he said, hit with sudden inspiration. He anchored the page with an elbow and wrote the next line of purple passion. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn if your eyes are like moonbeams and your lovely hair like thistledown. It is the milky smoothness of your voice, the hammy fullness of your communicative style, the sweetness and softness of your smile that I crave. To consume you would be heaven. “Heaven,” he mumbled, popping the last big bite into his welcoming mouth. He closed his eyes and thought, ‘Others’ love is like a red, red rose, but you, my dear, are as sumptuous as my favorite sandwich.’ “I’ll write that down!” Mortimer exclaimed, powdered sugar and Texas toast crumbs flying on his exhaled breath to scatter across his letter. Mortimer was not handsome, but he had a way with words and an appetite he was sure Alice could not resist. He would marry her in April — April was the loneliest month, after all — and he resolved to be lonely no longer. He would teach her to cook on their honeymoon. They would never go hungry and they would live long and prosper.