Seven ‘Bookish’ deadly sins

Having boasted of my ‘bookish’ virtues last week – I do love an oxymoron – this week I thought I ought to even up the scales.

I’ve tracked back through a few blogs to see if I should be crediting this tag to someone, but it seems that the originator has either been lost in the mist, or they decided to remain anonymous. Given how much we reveal in answering these seven questions, to ourselves, as much as anyone else, maybe they wisely preferred to disappear.

So, deep breath, and before I change my mind.

GREED
What is the most expensive book you own? Which is the least expensive?

I’ve just treated myself to The Writer’s Map, which cost nearly thirty pounds, and think myself very extravagant.

The least expensive? There have been so many bargain books, and the ones I didn’t value haven’t stayed with me… Recently, I bought The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, for fifty pence, in a charity shop. Whether you measure that in pages or weight, that’s a lot of book for the money.

GLUTTONY
What book or books have you shamelessly devoured many times?

Where do I begin? Probably with my earliest memories, ‘See Jane, Spot, see Jane run.’ Those were The Happy Venture Readers books. I was still returning to them after becoming hooked on the Famous Five, Secret Seven and The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse. Was it for the sake of the illustrations, I wonder?

I’ve just looked them up on a bookseller site, and if only I hadn’t read mine into bits, I might have used it for my GREED answer.

Lets fast-forward to adult reading, and some of the ones that I turn to most often. The short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, oh, and Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Then, there’s Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons, The Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon, any Jane Austen novel… all the writings of Angela Carter – yes everything, because all of her writing feels fearless and exciting.

LUST
What attributes do you find most attractive in your characters?

Curiosity.

ENVY
What books would you most like to receive as a gift?

Something that is one or more of the following: witty, challenging, thought-provoking, beautiful, exotic, poetic, prosaic, magical, exciting, shocking, hard-hitting, atmospheric, minimalist, heartfelt, hilarious, relevant, life-affirming, emotive, complicated, surprising, relaxing, warming…

Have I missed something? That’s the book I really want.

PRIDE
What book or books do you bring up when you want to sound like an intellectual reader?

How honest must I be? I want to claim that I don’t try to sound like an intellectual reader, but I used to boast about how many books I’d read. Luckily, no one ever challenged that, or they’d soon have discovered that most of my list was light or pulp fiction.

SLOTH
What book or series have you neglected out of sheer laziness?

I started The Odyssey around a year ago, and do want to finish it, but somehow I keep picking up other books instead. Maybe it’s because I already know the outcomes.

WRATH
What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

I’m trying to think of a writer I find offensive, and yet read. I can’t. I stopped wasting valuable reading time on fiction that didn’t work for me years ago, once I’d realised reading wasn’t a test of endurance or a competitive sport, and that I’d completely missed the true meaning of ‘being well-read’.

But, an author I have mixed feelings about is DH Lawrence. I love most of his short stories and poems. Through them, he covers many on the list of wishes I made under the ENVY heading above. His short writing is often layered, complex and surprising.

His novels, on the other hand, leave me mostly cold. I’ve tried, and tried again, to see them as something other than interesting examples of techniques. I always fail.

You may have noticed I’ve not been tagged. I’ve done that thing my dad advises me is best avoided, I volunteered.

If you’d like to see where the idea came from, you might start with Re-enchantment of the World, or Calmgrove, and work back.

Book preview: Jean Lee’s novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen.

A Stolen-KindleCvr-MARKETINGJean Lee’s novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, is a story with a heart.  Yes, it’s a racing, pacy quest story, but the main character, Charlotte, cares.  Cares with attitude though.  Charlotte doesn’t know the meaning of passive.  She’s a girl who can and will fight for her space, and that of those she cares for.

As the story opens, Charlotte is a talented young pianist hoping to study music at Lawrence university.  She’s taking her younger sister out of their dysfunctional home, and is heading across country so they can live with their aunt.  There’s a problem on the journey, though, and the sisters transfer to the wrong sort of bus.

As in any well paced story, quite how wrong that bus is, is tricky to pin down.  Is it the vehicle?

A green bus thunders and belches a black fog of smoke as it approaches.  Only Charlotte sees the raven watch the bus as intently as the others do. Its brakes sound terrible, and the E in the old SCENIC TOURS sign is peeling off as if to flee before anything else can happen to it.  The bus groans as it halts, then regurgitates a burly man with chalky white skin.

The language is certainly sinister.  But there are other worrying elements. Amongst the unattractive other passengers is a man Charlotte calls, Potential Homicidal Maniac.  As for the driver’s mate, Jamie, it’s not just his habit of sniffing the luggage as he loads that raises hackles for Charlotte, her instincts scream, ‘Don’t go, stay here.’

Luckily for us, there’s not really an option.  The road the sisters set out on will lead to Charlotte’s quest, and the situations she encounters will reveal the true nature of her character.  Like us, she enters the realm of River Vine with no understanding of potential dangers, which may seem like a weakness, but we soon discover that this can be a strength, too.

The people of the realm are locked in a power battle that resonates beyond the walls that should contain it.  Charlotte’s involvement in the situation will lead to unforeseeable challenges to the balance of power.  Human flaws and weaknesses, it seems, can be a source of unexpected strengths too. Charlotte is not a straightforward character, she’s a girl who carries hidden scars: a dark secret.

HomerCo-incidentally, I’ve also been reading Homer’s, The Odyssey.  It makes an interesting parallel.  Both Odysseus and Charlotte journey into unknown lands to encounter beasts who may or may not be monsters.  It’s been good to see a twenty-first century girl taking up that three thousand year-old mantle and making it her own.

Nice read Jean, thanks for keeping me hooked.

  • Today, (31st October 2018) from sunrise to sundown this Halloween, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is Free.   Click on the title to find it on Amazon.

List of Sources: MUSIC MINI POST From Jean Lee

My many thanks to Cath for such a beautiful review! To celebrate my novel’s release as well as embellish the reading experience, I wanted to share just a few snippets of music that helped inspire portions of my story. Some of these artists I’ve already written about on my site, Jean Lee’s World, and so I invite you to my site to learn more about these pieces.

“Bus,” by Mychael Danna for The Sweet Hereafter

https://jeanleesworld.com/2015/02/27/writers-music-mychael-danna/

I love the unsettling nature of this track. It’s short, yes, but it provided me with a sense of silent unease—how even when you’re around other people, an isolating landscape makes the most picturesque forest eerie intimidating.

 

“Overture,” by Daft Punk for Tron: Legacy

https://jeanleesworld.com/2017/04/13/writers-music-daft-punk/

Dorjan is the first of the (good) shapeshifters that Charlotte meets. This moment of transformation stuns Charlotte—and, in its own way, Dorjan, too, having not walked on two legs in many years. I wanted to feel the pause of life with this change, that moment of awe striking Charlotte’s senses as Dorjan recovers his own.

 

“Heroes,” covered by Peter Gabriel for Scratch My Back

https://jeanleesworld.com/2015/02/27/writers-music-mychael-danna/

Ever since I first drafted this story, I imagined a scene of magic creation with this song. Liam is an artist, and with this song I could imagine his magic and heart’s memory coming together to build a piece of beauty for Charlotte.

 

“Hanging/Escape,” by Craig Armstrong for Plunkett & Macleane

https://jeanleesworld.com/2018/10/04/writing-music-medea-i-mean-craigarmstrong/

When it comes time for Charlotte to face The Lady of the Pits, she’s totally out of her element. All seems lost, and her sister’s surely a goner. Yet Charlotte fights back. Hard.

This music helped me feel that.

 

“Love Reign O’er Me,” by The Who

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDbAtWpoA6k

I used quite a bit of The Who’s Quadrophenia when I wrote, but I love “Love Reign O’er Me” in particular because it’s a song of washing all of society’s expectations away and becoming pure and free in hope. Both Charlotte and Liam are slowly learning to overcome what their past lives heaped upon them, and wash themselves clean with hope.

 

“Alice’s Theme” by Danny Elfman for Alice in Wonderland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce0dZbPOepE

This likely feels like a given, as this music helped me write the moment Charlotte chases one of The Lady’s followers through a forest behind the Wall. It’s very much a “down the rabbit hole” moment, with disregard for the unknown surroundings in order to pursue a magical small creature. Elfman’s got the perfect balance here with the strings in their heavy arpeggios and the choirs singing to Alice as she leaves her reality behind.

 

“The Promontory” by Trevor Jones for The Last of the Mohicans

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tjdswqGGVg

There comes a time when you’ve got to face an old demon, that which represents all that you once stood for. This music helped me feel this moment for Liam when he stands alone against The Lady of the Pits and her followers. When your heart burns with love instead of fear, you move with a warrior’s unwavering rhythm, just as Jones’ strings and percussion do here.