You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

Confession #1: I am working on a YA dystopian with some post-apoc flavour.

Confession #2: I did not want to do this.

Confession #3:
I’ve been training for this for 20 years.

A few months ago, I had an idea for a dystopian. I quickly shoved it into a box and buried it the back of my mind. I had already gone through the angst of querying one project in a saturated genre and I figured that dystopian would be yesterday’s news by the time I had a book ready to query.
But I really liked the idea. I’d think about it on long walks and on rainy days and I’d find myself writing query hooks in the shower. And then an agent I was chatting with mentioned the magic words: I think there could still be a market for this when you finish.
Bam! Off like a shot. I threw myself into world-building with a vengeance. I went for long walks in the creepy industrial part of town. I visited the museum for inspiration. Once I decided to go in, I didn’t just dip a toe—I dove headlong (and hoped the water wasn’t too shallow).
I know what you’re probably thinking: She’s just another hopeful YA writer trying to jump on the next big thing.
Not quite.
I loved dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction long before it was trendy (again). At 12, I had already seen Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, and The Omega Man. By 13, I had read Stephen King’s The Stand (five times, as a matter of fact). By 19, I’d added 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale to my bookshelves and The Stepford Wives to my list of favourite movies (Stepford Wives is a stretch, admittedly, but I think you could make an argument for it). When I had a retail job at the mall, I’d spend my lunch break in the food court imaging a Dawn of the Dead scenario where the survivors of a cataclysmic disaster formed a new society in the wreck of a shopping mall.
You get the picture. I’m a geek.
But I’m a geek who has (unknowingly, admittedly) armed herself to wrestle with her stab at dystopian fiction. It’s the end of the world as we know it and I really do feel fine.

Advertisements

Continuing the wonderful trend started by Kate Hart. (I know, it’s five minutes early)

What is it? Post two of anything: book reviews, pictures, quotes, poems, songs, videos, rants, shout outs, whatever floats your boat. Just connect them somehow. That’s it.

My pick for this week: favorite films about apartment troubles.

The Apartment. Written and directed by Billy Wilder. Staring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

Why I love it: It’s impossible not to fall for Jack Lemmon in this role. There are certain scenes where his voice drops–sad and low and serious–and his eyes darken and you find yourself reaching for the remote to rewind because it’s just so perfect and unexpected. Shirley MacLaine is just breathtakingly gorgeous and the scenes are all played pitch perfectly. Plus, with great lines like in the above clip, how can you not fall in love:”I used to live like Robinson Crusoe; I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were. ”

The Goodbye Girl: Written by Neil Simon, directed by Herbert Ross, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason.

The Goodbye Girl (original, accept not made-for-tv-remakes) is one of those rare movies which is absolutely perfect. If every conversation was as witty as they are in the Goodbye Girl in real life, it would be exhausting. But, for two hours, the witty conversation is pure heaven. Plus Richard Dreyfuss is just flat out adorable in it.

…is a dangerous thing.

When I graduated from college, a friend organized a grad party at a local pub. She hired a DJ and he agreed to play a list we gave him — a list compiled of two song choices from each graduate (class sizes tend to be small at art schools).

I helped her collect the song titles. It was utterly fascinating. The girl who was frenemy and complete bitch? She picked J Lo. The one who thought Vogue was fine literature? Vitamin C. Oh sure, there were some cool choices in there, but mostly I remember the ones that made me think “Ah-ha! That’s why we don’t get along”. I can sing Jenny from the Block with the best of them but I don’t really want to be known as the girl who picked that to sum her up at graduation. And I’m sure people thought the same of my choices.

Which were:

What is it? Post two of anything: book reviews, pictures, quotes, poems, songs, videos, rants, shout outs, whatever floats your boat. Just connect them somehow. That’s it.

Who was the evil genius behind it? The wonderful Kate Hart.

My pick for this week. Opening credits. Most opening title sequences manage to get the job done but a precious few are brilliant to behold.

So choice number one is the pure genius of the Dead Like Me opening credits (so genius that I bought the entire first season based on them).

And choice number two is is the every-groovy opening to the anime series Cowboy Bebop.

I have no idea why I find this so amusing. Possibly because I’ve just come off a major Dark Angel kick and have watched all of season two in about a week and a half.

I’ll probably draw the ire of Avatar and Judgment Day fans but I think the two coolest things James Cameron has been responsible for are the original Terminator movie and Dark Angel.

DSCF4486

Having taken Wednesday morning off for an appointment, I figured I might as well take Friday afternoon off. While I could have taken a small day trip, I decided, instead, to have a bookish staycation.

12:10: Left work and headed to a Mexican restaurant with dim lighting and attentive (but not overbearing) wait staff. Had lunch while reading “Strange Angels” by Lili St. Crow.

1:25: Wander into independent coffee shop with unlimited WiFi. Settle in with “On Writing” by Stephen King and my iPod Touch so I can keep an eye on email. Chuckle. Tweet. Repeat.

2:00: Notice Radical Coffee Shop Guy (RCSG) as he comes in and sets himself up at a nearby table. I know nothing about RCSG other than the fact that the man spends more time in coffee shops than I do and he seems to spend every day bouncing between three different ones. Sometimes, I’ll leave him at one coffee shop only to catch up with him, an hour later, at one across town. He drives a bike and keeps his laptop in a pillowcase.

3:25: Sweet guy from defunct book club comes into the coffee shop and sits and chats while waiting for someone to show up for an interview. We discuss typography. It is satisfying and geeky.

4:25: Leave oasis of coffee shop and head to small used bookstore to look for a Vonnegut novel recommended by a friend. Bookstore has no Vonnegut and I find this strange.

The End.

Depending on who you ask, it’s either a pity or a blessing that my memories of Alice in Wonderland are muddy and vague. Though I’ve read both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, I was quite young when I read them and I’ve never had a desire to revisit the text. I’ve also never been a fan of the animated Disney adaptation.

That being said, around nineteen, I became infatuated with the notion of twisting the characters. I’d often work older versions of Alice or slightly more… ahem… dashing… versions of the Mad Hatter into illustration projects. And I was all over American McGee’s Alice (Chesire Cat pictured left) when it hit the shelves. My friends couldn’t understand the appeal in playing a video game where wonderland was a perfect nightmare. Meanwhile, I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to play such a game.

And so I walked into Burton’s adaptation/quasi-sequel fully prepared to leave all loyalty to Lewis Caroll at the door.

Two hours later, I was pouting because the credits were rolling and I wasn’t ready to leave Wonderland behind yet. Burton’s visual interpretation of wonderland was lush and balanced and not nearly as dark as I would have expected. I loved most of the characters. Though a few of the Hatter’s quirks irked me, it was relative easy to overlook these—especially when he tells Alice that it’s so very crowded inside his head. The designs of the white and red queen’s armies were inspired.

Oh heck. I could list all of the things I loved about it but it’s after midnight. I felt much the same way I did when I first saw Labyrinth as a kid. Much ooohhhing and ahhhhhing,

A few days ago, I recommended The Handmaid’s Tale to a friend who was on a dystopian kick. A few ours later, quite unexpectedly, I found myself itching to reread it.

By the second chapter, I was completely hooked. I devoured the book in less than 48 hours, staying up long into the night, grabbing the book first thing in the morning, before reaching for my glasses.

After I finished, I needed a hug. And I wondered how I had felt the first time I read it.

I have a dim memory of sitting on a bench under a tree, of holding the book loosely in my hand. I was eighteen, and at college. I don’t recall the text or what specific lines jumped out at me. Possibly it all seemed familiar–after all, the movie had frequently played on Canadian television.

I wonder if it chilled me then, as it does now, or if youth and naivete made its premise seem far off and impossible.

* Quote from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

And I won’t tell you what the SNI is because it’s more fun to be a tease.

The fiddle stylings of Ashley MacIsaak (and a few Natalie McMaster songs).


The beautiful designs of Alexander McQueen–specifically the Fall 99 and 07 collections.

The paintings of Andrew Wyeth.