Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z: Zym

I started this April A to Z challenge with an introduction to the protagonist of my novel The Healer. So I decided that I would end with the the world I've created. This is the world of Ariana and Farai. Of the evil Sephiroth with his unquenchable thirst for the ultimate power.
Zym is one of Earth's parallel worlds, where magic powers technology. This is a place where meadows and lakes and seas and rolling hills coexist as on Earth creating its own different kind of magic. No it doesn't have two moons nor does it revolve in a complex trajectory around two suns. Its just Earth, merely in a different dimension.
 I leave you with the scene where Ariana, suffering from amnesia, stranded on Earth, reaches Zym. 
Maybe the next mirror you see yourself in, is a portal to another world? A new kind of magic?
Try it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

pic: www.rubylane.com
All of a sudden, the butterfly flew into the mirror, leaving behind ripples on the amalgamated surface. Ripples so gentle, so faint and yet so transient. Startled, Ariana almost dropped her coffee cup. The jiggling was enough that the paper sleeve slipped off and jolted brown liquid to spill over the rim onto the mirror.

Then right before her eyes, the drops of coffee sank into the mirror, into the ripples that the butterfly had left behind. Now a small hint of panic crept into Ariana’s mind. She looked around. The shop was still empty and the owner was away at her corner, speaking into the phone.
Ariana reached out and touched the rippled corner of the mirror and watched, aghast as the tips of her fingers disappeared before her eyes. She felt nothing, though. She stretched her hand into the mirror further. Still nothing.
Further and further she pushed until her face reached the surface of the mirror and her reflection blurred.  A wild impulse gripped her and she shut her eyes.
I’m going to regret this tomorrow.
And Ariana took a step forward into the mirror.
It was akin to stepping into a refreshing pool on a hot summer day. An exhilarating, yet a slightly cold shock ran through her. She opened her eyes. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y: Yoda

Talked about Darth Vader I have, earlier in the month. Another tribute to George Lucas's story telling, it is. 
pic: Wikepedia
Yoda. The ultimate teacher, the synonym of 'mentor'. I loved the portrayal of this all powerful Jedi. Small, large eared. Speaking in a Yodic syntax. He has trained many a Jedi before young Luke Skywalker, his last. 
I have loved watching Empire Strikes Back. I've watched this movie countless time but still I wait for the scene where Luke is trying to raise his ship from the depths of the murky swamp where it has sunk. Luke sighs. "I'll try"
"No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Priceless advice.

X: Xavier and the X-men

X-men is a misnomer. This is because this team has real fierce women too. I know that writing about characters is probably a cop out but I love the concept that Stan Lee has produced. The idea has been used in several books and of course in movies like District 9 and Avatar. 'Normal' people are driven by fear of the unknown 'un-normal' (abnormal sounds strange in this context) and fear gives rise to violence and genocide. 

Professor Xavier and the X-men are mutant humans, hoping to use their mutant powers for good. The Professor and his team of Cyclops, Storm, Beast, Marvel Girl, and others battled Magneto and his troops, over many of my happy summer holidays. It was a great vehicle for venting out teenage angst and anger about injustice and inequality that I was going through.

I enjoyed the recent movies as well, great portrayal of Beast by Kelsey Grammer! And of course who could not like the sexy Patrick Stewart?

W: Wang Lung, Madame Wu

The Good Earth was not my first Pearl Buck novel. That was the Pavilion of Women. And that was another W.
Wang Lung is a poor farmer, the protagonist of the Pulitzer prize winning book The Good Earth from Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck. His roots are deep in Chinese traditions and he believes in the power of the land. The narrative of his coming into manhood through his family, his children and his land and then the decline of his beliefs is a saga which could only be attempted by Pearl Buck. I thought his relationship with his wife (who he marries after seeing that she is frugal and a hard worker, and doesnt speak much) was very interesting and pointed to his self interest.

Pavilion of WomenMadame Wu. On her fortieth birthday, Madame Wu decides to take a break from physical part of marital life and tells her husband to take on a concubine. She has given it much though and thinks that she is fine with such a decision but the story evolves with an explosion of interpersonal drama that unfolds as the lady of the house picks a mistress for her husband.
Buck's narrative is absolutely fabulous, rather like peaches on a summer afternoon, soft, fuzzy, and so very refreshing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V: Vianne Rocher

Its the period of Lent. A period of penance. Of contemplation. Of self flagellation for the parish members of Fr. Francis Reynaud in the little town of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. Into this little town arrives a Chocolatier with her little daughter and slowly turns the town around, one chocolate at a time. Vianne Rocher. The one with magic in her chocolate.
What caught me about Joanne Harris's Chocolat was the difference between the two main characters in the story. Those of Vianne and Francis.  One trying hard to be what he is not, one trying hard to remain what she is.
The different point of views are so well written, and one falls in love with Vianne right away. Her magic arrives on the wings of a butterfly. Soft, and fluttering. Transforming people around her.
Rather, not transforming them but making them own up to what they actually are. To be true to themselves.

Divination is a means of telling ourselves what we already know.
It is a beautiful read. The book is like the ingredient in it which appeals to me immensely. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U: Uchida Kosaburo

Uchida Kosaburo is an artist to whom Mameha, introduces her protégé Sayuri. Memoirs of a Geisha. An extremely well written book by Arthur Golden, you'll never guess that the author of the work is not a Japanese Geisha from the early twentieth century. Uchida-san is an angry artist, patron of geishas, with a mole on the corner of his mouth that he often chews on as he's thinking. What a picture. At the end of the first meeting as Mameha and Sayuri step out of Uchida's house, Sayuri stops a bit.

pic: from Wikepedia
I couldn't help stopping a moment to take in the sunset which painted the sky behind the distant hills in rusts and pinks as striking as as the loveliest kimono -- even more so, because no matter how magnificent a kimono is, your hands will never glow orange in its light.
If you've ever seen Uchida Kosaburo's famous ink painting of the young woman in a kimono standing in a state and with her eyes aglow...well, from the very beginning he insisted the idea came from what he saw that afternoon. rapturous 
I can't imagine that such a beautiful painting could be really be based on just a girl staring foolishly at her hands in the sunset.

Its funny that there are internet searches for the ink painting and even several sites which tell people that this is a work of fiction, guys, don't go searching for the painting! If my writing was half as beautiful and convincing, I would consider myself successful.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T: Tara

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/6b/Gone_with_the_Wind_cover.jpg/200px-Gone_with_the_Wind_cover.jpgTara, the O'Haras' plantation in Margaret Mitchell's epic Gone with the Wind. The main reason for the protagonist being who she was and what she did. The thing that she cherished most, the thing that mattered most was Tara. Scarlett was loyal to the land, and the land, in turn, to her. She was not the goody good heroine that most people are used to. She did what she did, for Tara. I had found that most appealing and new when I read it a long time ago.
The impossible nature of her infatuation for Ashley Wilkes, and the extent to which she would go to save Tara was incredible.
Margaret Mitchell was a writer par excellence. She wove words into an intricate and alluring tapestry that stayed with you for years after you first experienced it.

Only her feeling for Tara had not changed.
She never looked out of her window at green pastures and red fields and tall tangled swamp forest that a sense of beauty did not fill her. Her love for this land with its softly rolling hills of bright-red soil, this beautiful red earth that was blood colored, garnet, brick dust, vermilion, which so miraculously green bushes starred with white puffs, was one part of Scarlett which did not change when all else was changing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S: Shimoda

He was a not-the-front-page messiah who gave rides on a bi-plane across fields to people who are scared of flying, among others. The one who said, "You don't judge the quality of a master by the size of his crowds."
This was a book that I read growing up, at an age when I was forming my philosophy of life.Walking down the beach bare feet with a couple close friends, discussing (read: arguing about) Bach was sometimes the highlight of the day. Illusions-The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah is a treasure chest of Donald Shimoda quotes. These quotes, were very cleverly penned by Bach, and which as a teenager I would scribble on my jeans or my back pack just to remind me of the power of words.
As a writer I could never pin down the genre that Bach wrote in. Maybe magical realism. The book is written partly as notes penned down by the pilot Donald Shimoda in his oil stained journal on his philosophies.
One of the first aspects which struck me was about perspectives.
 "The mark 
of your ignorance is the depth
  of your belief in injustice 
      and tragedy.
                          What the caterpillar 
           calls the end of the world, 
             the master calls a 

 No. Shimoda was certainly not your run of the mill, front page messiah.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R: Rivendell

Rivendell illustration.jpg
Tolkein's painting. Pic credit: Wikipedia
[Frodo] walked along the terraces above the loud flowing Bruinen and watched the pale cool sun rise above the far mountains, and shine down, slanting through the thin silver mist; the dew upon the yellow leaves were glimmering, and the woven nets of gossamer twinkled on every bush.

This is Rivendell the land of Elrond. One of the most beautiful places in Tolkien's world of Middle Earth, a truly remarkable place in fiction, probably one of the most well known ones.
This was where Bilbo stopped on his way back from his adventures with the dragon. This was where his nephew Frodo was nursed back to health after brutal attack on him by the Wraiths. This was where the Fellowship of the Ring was formed and the adventure of Frodo's trip to Mordor actually began.
It was certainly a creation of the Master Fantasy Story Teller.
No parallel.

Last year, this day ... R: Rage

Q: Quasimodo

Product Details
pic: from amazon.com
The bell ringer of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the hunchback Quasimodo, was created in the story by Victor Hugo to emphasize injustice and superficiality of the bourgeois. Who invokes in the reader a deep and violent sense of sympathy, tragedy and social guilt.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P: Parukutty

What in the world makes a woman give up her entire life for her child, struggle and sacrifice for her offspring? This question I've asked over and over again. I have yet to find an explanation. This question popped into my head recently while reading M.T. Vasudevan Nair's novel,  Naalukettu. It was written in my native tongue Malayalam, which unfortunately I couldn't read in the original language. It was translated and that made it a painful read. But like real good stories, this one shone through the tedious translation. For me, the main reason it made a mark was not because of the protagonist but his mother, Parukutty.
The story is set in the matrilineal society of Nairs in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The protagonist Appunni, always felt a grudge towards his mother because she deemed to marry of her own will and because of this, was expelled from her family. This meant that he, Appunni could not get the privileges awarded to a member of the large family and he could not live in the large manor (Naalukettu) but had to slum it with his mother. While the other kids in the family thrived and got excellent opportunities, Appunni didnt. He, despite being bright had to struggle for fees for his education and several times his food.
That is where the selfless character of Parukutty shines through. After her husband's murder, she takes up any job that is available, mostly like pounding rice into flour and such tasks. A girl who never had worked a day, growing up, had developed callouses on her palms putting her son through school so that he makes a life for himself.
Appunni has a falling out with his mother and the story is about his self discovery, as he deals with feudal lords and aspires to be accepted in his rightful ancestral home. It was a beautiful novel. Knowing how poetic Malayalam tends to be, I believe the novel must have been a gem in the native language.
I still think about Parukutty and all the Parukuttys in the world and wonder what makes them what they are.
pic: Goodreads

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

N, O: Nanny Ogg

I know this sounds a lot like a cop-out. And it is. I am not one who usually is at a loss for words but yesterday was one of those days when I couldn't write a syllable. Something to the effect of spirit being willing and all that.
Anyway, at the heart of my favorite witches coven is the character that I absolutely adore: Nanny (Gytha) Ogg. I know I wrote about Hogswatchnight and maybe another post about the witches might be a bit much, but what can I say, I'm a huge fan.
Nanny Ogg's personality is the one that draws a person in. With three marriages, several children and grandchildren scattered about in abundance all around town and country, and her numerous daughters-in-law in attendance she is the quintessential matriarch . Loves her drink and a nice dance after a few rounds. And of course her pipe. Her pet tomcat Greebo matches her in fecundity. If you ever get a chance to get to know her, you absolutely should grab at the opportunity. The most memorable for me are the letters she pens in Witches abroad. And of course she knows a lot of 'foreign' lingo':
The door remained shut.
"Let me 'ave a go," said Nanny. "I know some foreign lingo."
She hammered on the door. "Openny vous, gunga din, chop-chop, pretty darn quick," she said.
granny Weatherwax listened carefully.
"That's speaking foreign, is it?"
"My grandson Shane is a sailor," said Nanny Ogg. "You'd be amazed, the words he learns about foreign parts."

She's written a cook book as well, not in foreign lingo (My next Pratchett to read).

Pic: Wikepedia

She is certainly worth both the alphabets.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M: Mordor

It a place created by J.R.R.Tolkien and immortalized by the way by Peter Jackson. No. Its not a place, its a hellhole. The realm of lord Sauron, the epitome of evil and power gluttony. I remember reading Lord of the Rings the first time and shuddering as I read the descriptions of the dark, dark place. I bowed to the superior quill of Tolkien. Gloom, hopelessness, all descends on the heart as one reads on.
The home of Mount Doom, where the ring of power was forged. A place where happiness has never visited nor tried to. The smells of reeking decay that swirls through the lands.

It all settles on the mind and translates into a forceful desire for Frodo to succeed. Mordor certainly helps in the reader wanting, no, needing the protagonist to accomplish his goal.

...the sun now climbing towards the South was veiled in the reeks of Mordor, and through a threatening haze it gleamed, remote, a sullen red, as if it were ending the day, or the end maybe of all of the world of light. And out of the gathering mirk the Nazgul came with their cold voices crying words of death; and then all hope was quenched.

What fictitious world has hit you hard in the guts?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

L: Lisbeth Salander

If there was ever a character whose looks defies any stereotype of a protagonist, it's Lisbeth Salander. She's a short, skinny, tattooed, pale girl with pierced nose and eyebrows. Yes. She is the weird looking girl that kicks butt.
When I started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I thought it was a strange thing that Stieg Larson did. Why would anyone create a protagonist like Lisbeth who was so unlikeable? Her harrowing time as a child, made her an introvert and she developed a nonchalance to social niceties. But as I kept reading, which I was compelled to even though I didnt much care for the translation, I was soon rooting for her. Lisbeth was the girl in me, who did what I wanted to do to every male chauvinistic pig and woman-abuser in the world. By the end of the book, I would have kicked down people who even spoke ill of her. Her use of intelligence to get at powerful people gave me a high. But the main thing was how she goes through all that tremendous trauma and rises like a phoenix like a true hero.
An extremely intelligent woman, she is  the nemesis of men who abuse women. The Wasp, as she is known in the computer hacking circles, is a captivating character that remained in my head long after the details of the actual story got blurred and faded.
By the way, this is a great example of how a good story shines through mediocre translation.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K: Kalgan

Kalgan, which was the Las Vegas of the Galactic Empire appeared in Foundation and empire and Second foundation by the Sci-Fi master, Isaac Asimov. The planet, also dubbed the pleasure world of the Galaxy, had made an industry out of amusement. When the rest of the world spiraled into an economic and intellectual ruin, Kalgan survived because of the very nature of its industry. There was always the elite, which could afford such amusement, in a world which stood remote from galactic politics.
Asimov's prodigious stories are an inspiration to all who bow before the power of imagination. The Foundation series, so beautifully written, the saga of the decay of civilization and evolution of a new upcoming one, is the parallel of history. But what amazed me are the little details of the world that he envisioned sixty odd years ago, are real now.
Like the machine that Arcadia Darrell stood before, in Kalgan, on her flight from the soldiers who were closing in on her.
The voice that cut in on her was a thunderclap that iced the scream in her throat into a voiceless slash.
"Look miss," it said, irritably, "are you using that ticket machine or are you just standing there?"
It was the first she realized that she was standing in front of a ticket machine. You put a high denomination bill into the clipper which sank out of sight. You pressed the button below your destination and a ticket came out together with the correct change as determined by an electronic scanning machine that never made a mistake. It was a very ordinary thing and there was no cause for anyone to stand before it for five minutes. 

Oh yes. We are living in Asimov's science fiction world now. (Other than the fact that ticket machines do make mistakes now and then)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J: Jeeves

The suave, gentleman's gentleman, the Inimitable Jeeves.
Wodehouse's primary character about whom several books revolve is Bertie Wooster, whose comical misadventures would reach a uncharacteristically sad endings if it were not for his butler Jeeves.
In this case, the phrase 'the butler did it' takes on a different meaning.
The decorous man is always pulling out of thick soup, not only Bertie but also the menagerie of slightly ludicrous friends. Along with that in his inimitable way,  he also manages to make sure that Bertie doesn't go trotting about in rather fruity brightish scarlet cummebunds, which when he draped round the old tum, had caused Jeeves to have shied like a startled mustang. Besides all this, which is obviously more than a full time job, Jeeves also manages to keep Bertie's language complete.
“I shall begin by saying that Miss Cook, to whom I’m engaged, is a lady for whom I have the utmost esteem and respect, but on certain matters we do not…what’s the expression?’
‘See eye-to-eye sir?’
‘That’s right. And unfortunately those matters are the what’d-you-call-it of my whole policy.What is it that policies have?’
‘I think the word for which you are groping, sir, may possibly be cornerstone.’ 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I: Isabel Dalhousie

If there is one character whose shoes I would love to step into, it would be Isabel Dalhousie, the literary sleuth conjured by Alexander McCall Smith. Isabel is a philosopher and prone to introspection that I find unequivocally delightful. She is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, loves Auden and her hometown of Edinburgh. The fun begins when she is absolutely unable to resist prying into things that are really none of her business. Of course she keeps telling herself that she shouldn't be prying but curiosity does get the better of her and she manages to get to the bottom of several puzzling event that happen around her. Like who was the guy who plummeted to his death from the top tier of the theater, locking glance with her for a fraction of a second on his way down? Did he just fall? Or was he pushed? Or was it suicide?
Every time questions plague her until moral conscience pushes her into letting curiosity win.
Then there are gems of thought-seeds as I call it. Lovely sentences that make you pause when you read them and ponder a bit (may not be in agreement, in fact many times for me it is in argument).
When Jamie, her boyfriend, asks her
"What would it be like not to be able to go out in case people recognised you? what if you had done something so ... appalling that you couldn't face people?"
Strands of thoughts later came the lovely gem:
Without shame, guilt became a toothless thing, a prosecutor with no penalties up his sleeve.
Isabel's housekeeper Grace (makes me realize that McCall Smith likes the name Grace) is a stern Edinburgh lady, who is enamored by the occult, which makes for an interesting side story. Then of course there is Brother Fox. The red fox who slinks about at the bottom of Isabel's garden. Her niece Cat and her delicatessen, Isabel's little baby  boy Charlie, all characters in Isabel's life who together weave tapestries of delightful stories worth a couple hours with a nice cup of tea by the fireplace. In the company of threads of thought of the philosopher, as, say, she rejects an article for the Review of Moral Ethics.
"Letters with moral merit," she said to Charlie, "are often very dull. Humour, Charlie, needs a victim."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H: Hogswatchnight

This post is my first on a place this April. A fantastic one I encountered in Terry Pratchett's books.
Hogswatchnight is a place. Its a place, not in space but in time. On DiscWorld, the world that Terry Pratchett created, its the festival in midwinter. It is associated with pig slaughter which makes me believe that Pratchett fashioned this festival after zabíjačka, the Eastern European tradition. There are other Hogswatch traditions but the one that fascinates me most is that witches don't leave the house on Hogswatchnight.
This is a very lively time especially for one of my most favorite of witches, Nanny Ogg. She loves her drink and song. On Hogswatchnight, Nanny Ogg  invites the entire village (several comprised of her many offspring and their families) to her home for a merry time. As Pratchett describes in Wyrd Sisters, when Granny Weatherwax and Magrat two of the witches coven go to find Nanny Ogg that evening:

The din inside hovered around the pain threshold. ...the air in the room was already beyond the reach of pollution controls. 
... Nanny Ogg was sitting in a chair by the fire with a quart mug in one hand, and was conducting the reprise with a cigar. She grinned when she saw Granny's face.
"What ho, my old boiler,"she screeched above the din. "See you turned up, then. Have a drink. Have two. Wotcher, Magrat. Pull up a chair and call the cat a bastard."

My most favorite witches on their festival night.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G: Grace Makutsi

"There is a Dr. Leakey there. He is a very famous doctor of bones."
"Doctor of bones?" Mma Ramotwe was puzzled.
"Yes," said Mma Makutsi. "He knows all about very old bones.
She held up a picture, printed across two pages. 
"Is that Dr. Leakey?"
Mma Makutsi nodded. "Yes, Mma,"she said, "that is him. He is holding a skull which belonged to a very early person. This person lived a long time ago and is very late."

Grace Makutsi is the extremely competent secretary and assistant detective of the No.1.Ladies Detective Agency. Her face is adorned with extraordinary large glasses, she is equipped with a certificate from the Botswana Secretarial College endorsing her 97 percent in the final examination and she loves shoes. She lends another subtle shade of humor to this most delightful series by another one of my favorite authors, Alexander McCall Smith.

So much as I loved the main character Mma Ramotswe, the No.1 Lady Detective in the Agency, I enjoyed the character of Grace even better. Plus something about her love for shoes resonated in me. Sigh.

That and her absolute random logic. Like when she helped the apprentices of the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors get a customer's car working, with an easy jump start, an impressed Mma Ramotswe asks:

"Do you know much about cars?
"Not very much," answered Mma Makutsi. "But I am good with typewriters, and one machine is very much like another don't you think?"


Sunday, April 7, 2013

F: Farai

Farai is the character in my novel that I most enjoyed writing. His role rises slowly from being a distinguished warrior to the ultimate mentor of the Healer.
He was Ariana's contemporary at the Temple of Learning where they honed the talents they were born with and taught a few more. The difference was that Ariana was trained a Healer and Farai, a warrior. Diametrically opposite.
Farai, as a warrior was taught the use of his spells to defend and in attack. His highly developed senses could help him feel the aura that evil emanates, rather like a bloodhound would seek out a particular person among a crowd. But among his skills was a special talent shared by rare few on Zym: the ability to travel the pathways between parallel worlds.
The only drawback was that away from Zym, this large, strong man could only exist as a Monarch butterfly. And now with only his orange wings to communicate, he was to bring an amnesia ridden Ariana back to Zym.
To mentor the woman he loved all his life who now had no recollection of him.
To help her regain her powers so that she could be closer to imminent death and fight a battle that seemed almost hopeless.
A vicious circle concocted by an evil fate.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E: Ebele

The elegant and powerful high priestess of Zym is a strange mixture of power and compassion. When she materialized in my mind, it was as an antithesis to my villain. However the more I got to know the more real she became to me. Like most mothers, while her love for her near and dear ones is a source of her strength, it also turns out to be her main weakness.
As a mother does her children, her powers are connected to the people on Zym, she cares for them, participating in their governance. It is in her that even the energy of the armies reside. But all the magic and power that she can summon crumbled when Sepiroth attacked her through her closest family. She starts losing her strength, her powers, her life and even her body. Thus begins slow decline of happiness for all people. Ebele starts fading into nothingness, and it will require help from the amnesia ridden Healer.
In Ebele resides the secret that will cleave Ariana's courage. Even if Ariana regains her memory soon there may not much time remaining to save Ebele, whose life is unequivocally bound to Zym's fate.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D: Darth

When Lucas made his first trilogy, I don't believe he had the entire story with two trilogies in mind. But by the time the story was told in its complete grandeur Star Wars turned out to be the story of Darth Vader. From the birth of his Jedi beginnings through his journey of turning evil and then to his retribution.
Because life doesn't fly past us in reels of black and white. There is always the one in the fifty shades of grey.
For me, as a writer, the profile of a villain is very interesting for it is the villain who makes or breaks the story. Darth Vader, (or Anakin before he turned to the dark side) was a brilliant Jedi. His skills were almost unmatched. Superlative so to speak. But what brought about his doom were the things that bothers all of us at some point or the other. Complexes within oneself, death, losing a loved one to things unknown, fear of some kind or the other. Such issues bring all of us down. Turn us to the dark side. However, the prolific nature of Vader's powers was the very same quality that made his turning to the dark side, that much more trenchant. 
Darth Vader showed me that talent and achievement has nothing much to do with one's moral strength. It's sometimes unnerving to get lessons from villains like this.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C: Charlotte Lucas

"I am not romantic, you know.  I never was.  I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state."

Charlotte Lucas reminds me of several of my friends. Solid people. If there is one word to describe her, it is...practical. She is often eclipsed by her best friend, the bubbly, passionate Elizabeth Bennett. A lot has been written about Charlotte's choice of a husband and maybe that perhaps there was nothing to choose. But I don't agree with most.
Of course Charlotte isn't reckless and she isn't adventurous. But what is wonderful about her is that she doesn't miss the romance. None of that adventurer-wannabe business for her. She knows herself.
When I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teenager, I was appalled that someone could agree to the marriage proposal put forth by the absurdly pompous, the ever so boring and almost servile Mr. Collins, that too so soon after he was rejected by the colorful Elizabeth. Certainly Charlotte ought to have her head examined! The man who had propositioned her was a plain chappie spewing volumes and volumes of words at every occasion and buttering up Lady Catherine, the severe, starched up patron of Mr. Collins.
Charlotte saw beyond all that pomp and show and saw the steady nature of Mr.Collins. He was well settled and life would be fine. She looked deeper than the skin. Very mature.
Often it's easy to misjudge Charlotte, after all her personality is juxtaposed against that of her best friend, strong and romantic Elizabeth Bennett. Charlotte knows the situation she is in, More importantly she knows who she is. Which I believe is the most important virtue in a mature person. I have known many girls like that. Girls who are pragmatic to the core. Most of those girls are happy and content and by the way, still married after years.
But it took me several years to appreciate who Charlotte is. For me, she stood for all the girls in the world who are normal, who have their heads on their shoulders and feet planted firmly on the ground. I'm sure her description that she was plain and not pretty was Victorian. I have yet to meet a normal girl who isn't pretty.
There is a nice treatise on her here which I know you'll enjoy. I shall, in the meantime get back to Pride and Prejudice for the nth time.  A book worthy of a cold spring night and a large cup of cocoa. Lady Catherine is going to get it from Elizabeth. I love this part. Both are very unlike Charlotte. And both, (Lady Catherine in her own haughty way) like Charlotte.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B: Bertram Wooster

What ho!" I said.
"What ho!" said Motty.
"What ho! What ho!"
"What ho! What ho! What ho!"
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation. 

I was introduced to Bertie Wooster years ago in high school. Superlative writing by P.G.Wodehouse.
An idle rich fellow, Bertie's main job is  to entertain his many readers with his various escapades. Aristocrat and thoroughly spoiled by his butler, but a kindly guy. Always ready to go out on a limb for his friends and family, which invariably means that he gets entangled in a thick soup and needs to be rescued by his gentleman, in return for giving up his pink ties and checked suits. More about Jeeves later.
Bertie's family comprised of a medley of characters ranging from the formidable Aunt Agatha and almost adorable Aunt Dahlia and crazy Uncle George. And he is surrounded by folks with the names like Gussy Fink-Nottle and Tuppy Glossop.
But what gets my funny bone is his story telling. He has an admirable way with words. For example, Jeeves never walked. He always staggered in, floating noiselessly or projects himself into the room. Bertram Wilberforce Wooster's breakfasts with eggs and b., his b-and-s drinks and his incomparable descriptions all makes for delectably delicious reading.

"It was a simple, healthy life, and it seemed to suit poor old Freddie absolutely. Once the moon was up and the breeze sighing in the trees, you couldn't drag him from that beach with ropes. He became quite a popular pet with the mosquitoes. They would hang round waiting for him to come out, and would give a miss to perfectly good strollers just so as to be in good condition for him."

Monday, April 1, 2013

A: Ariana

She came to me in November 2011 during NaNoWriMo, all in a fog. 
In a fog for two reasons. 
First she had amnesia, no idea where she hailed from, who she was really, where her family was, and more importantly what her family was. 
Second, I was writing off the cuff without any outline. Running blind so to speak. Ariana Storm is my novel's protagonist.
As to where her family was, they were all very near (yet, so very far) all the time: on Zym, one of the worlds parallel to the Earth. My first draft  recorded her adventures in the magical world of Zym. And an adventure it was, with her battles with several demons, within and without. As I wrote my second draft, however I discovered her deepest fears and dreams. An artist, she was a vulnerable girl, afraid to hurt anything and a soul seeped in empathy. I realized that the novel is basically about her discovering herself, her past and what her family is.
Its during this journey that Ariana comes face to face with the catastrophe that awaits her.

If she doesn't regain her memory in mere weeks, not just her family but the entire Zym would be plunged into a murky night that meant the destruction of goodness in all worlds. Because, for all her weaknesses and her soft nature, she and only she possesses the weapon against the eternal darkness hurled by evil Sepiroth.