Monday, August 30, 2010

SCA Event Book Signing 11 September...Venue Change

This will affect only the 11 September book signing:

Angels Anniversary will be held at Crescenta Valley Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave, La Crescenta, 91214. Due to issues with the City of Monrovia, this event will NOT be held at Recreation Park.
DIRECTIONS TO CRESCENTA VALLEY PARK: From the East: 210 Fwy to Pennsylvania Ave off-ramp. At the end of the ramp, turn left, cross Montrose Ave, turn right on Honolulu Pl. Merge onto Honolulu Ave, proceed to park entrance on left. From the West: 210 to Pennsylvania Ave off-ramp. At ramp end, turn right & follow directions above.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Alfred Hitchcock Moment

I spent most of the day yesterday working with my publisher, Peter Paddon of Pendraig Publishing, on a couple of video promos for "Son of Air and Darkness".  In addition to being a brilliant publisher, writer and lecturer, Peter is also very talented in the field of film production, it having been his major area of study at university in England.

We all arrived at his studio that morning to see the storyboards he had produced the day before with cartoons against the backgrounds that  would be used and the voice-over of Peter reading from the book the passages that would be used for the film clips..  I had provided most of the costumes and props (chain mail, Roman helmet, spears, Celtic leaf blade sword, tunics and such) and Jenna Borgen  had made up a feathery glossy surcoat to go over the black linen Morrigan dress.  Jenna is both a consummate costumer and make-up artist and quickly applied the theatrical make-up including woad spirals to the cast, and some really scary make-up to transform yours truly into the Celtic Battle-Goddess, the Morrigan.

Ah yes...the Alfred Hitchcock moment...appearing in my own book promo!

It had started out as a joke.  When we were auditioning people for the various roles in the promos none of the red-haired actresses who had signed up for the audition had actually managed to show up.  Later that evening I started kidding around with an old friend about how the scene should be played and Peter said..."'ve got the part". After several Doctor McCoy-like protestations of  "I'm a writer, not an actress" failed to work I gave in and started sewing for the role..

We were very fortunate to find  two really great actors...Stephen White, whose intensity totally typifies Dubhghall, amd his friend Neil Etman, who was perfect as the Roman Guard. 

Filming went smoothly, until we got to the capsules of theatrical blood.

Long ago, when Bela Lugosi was the most famous vampire on the screen, when vampires were in black and white and did not sparkle, they had a really tasty recipe for blood used in the movies:  chocolate syrup. Ever since the day Dorothy Gale set foot in Oz and the world expected everything in Technicolor people wanted to see blood in shades of dark red, which would have been fine except that in order to get the colour and the consistency right they have had to go to something made with high fructose corn syrup and red food colouring, which somehow also has an undertaste of saccharine.  It is perhaps one of the most vile tastes in the world...and when Stephen and I had to bite into the capsule the first time I am sure a tiny twinge of revulsion must have passed, however briefly, across our faces.

I'm sure the editor (Peter wearing yet another hat) will work it all out in post production.  Having seen the takes against the green screen, I can hardly wait to see the final cuts.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Lies Beneath

I never really gave much thought to where ideas come from.  They come from everywhere. 

I have a Muse who breathes the words of my characters into my ear and I write them down.  That's part of it, but there is a lot more to it than that. 

Everything I have ever written, from the more than one thousand sonnets written in a single summer to the novels I have written over the span of decades have within them the seeds of everything I have ever experienced or dreamed of experiencing throughout my life.  A name here...a physical description there...all have been amassed either consciously or unconsciously and have been assimilated into what I hope is literature. 

Some were conscious choices.  One name, Michael George Hartley, was lifted from a character in "Lawrence of Arabia".  I had always loved the lyrical way the name rolled across my tongue and one day a few months ago it found its way into a later volume of "The Glastonbury Chronicles".  Some of the other things, physical descriptions, for example, were a bit more insidious and I had not realised  that I had dredged them up from characters in shows I had loved until about four days ago when I looked at one recurring character (though he has different names at different times) and realised it was Little John from "Robin of Sherwood".  Another, Emma in "Uneasy Lies the Head" who will appear again as Alize in a later volume, is Maid Marion.  And so it goes.  I'm sure there are more in there from that show, as it was and through the miracle of DVD still is a very dear favorite of mine, and is actually incorporated into "Uneasy Lies The Head".  (Talk about the old theatrical convention of Deus ex Machina!)

Whatever a writer observes becomes a part of his or her research.  Words. phrases, names. physical locations, miscellaneous useless information...all are stored away in that mental library and come bubbling up into the conscious mind when needed. 

We are what we write, or more correctly, we write what we are, even if we are not aware of it at the time

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Signings and the SCA

I had a marvellous day yesterday at Recreation Park in Monrovia, California at the  Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) Crown Tourney for the Kingdom of Caid (Southern California, Hawaii and Clark County, Nevada),. It was a splendid place to set up a small pavilion and sign books while surrounded by the glamour of the Dark Ages, Middle Ages and Renaissance as expressed by its members in all manner of gorgeous period attire, the brightly coloured banners waving in the gentle breezes, the picturesque canvas pavilions, and the sounds of rattan swords clashing against steel armour and wooden shields.

The SCA is an international non-profit organisation which has events every weekend somewhere, and many science fiction and fantasy authors are or have been members.  It was founded in the mid 1960's by Diana Paxson and her friends, and among members has included Katherine Kurtz, Poul and Karen Anderson, and several folks related to the Star Trek world including Dorothy C. Fontana and Bjo Trimble.  The latter is currently (as Flavia Beatrice Carmgniani) the Baroness of the Barony of the Angels (Los Angeles, California).

I will be doing another book signing at the same park on Saturday, September 9, as the Barony of the Angels celebrates its 40th Anniversary at Recreation Park, 620 South Shamrock Ave. Monrovia, CA, 91016

I will also be signing books at Mediaeval Marketplace on Saturday, November 27 at Kuns Park, 1600 Bonita Avenue (between Bonita Ave. and Magnolia St.) in La Verne, CA 91750.  The shopping there will be extraordinary...all in a mediaeval setting.  My third book, THE SWORD OF THE KING (Volume II of The Glastonbury Chronicles) will be available for signing at this event, as well as UNEASY LIES THE HEAD and SON OF AIR AND DARKNESS.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Moving Write Along

There are many times I am thankful for being a Gemini.  It enables me to switch hats so quickly others might get whiplash.  Going between past and future when I write and having to spend several hours of the day in the "real world" is enough to make even me dizzy sometimes, but now...

Now I am in the midst of writing two different series with various characters which cross between them, one series set predominantly in the past, the other predominantly in the future.  The problem?  I am writing them both in the first person.  This means having to stay inside the head of one of them during one series and the other during the second series and never letting either character know something he shouldn't or have experiences outside his own realm of knowledge.  This also means making sure the voice is right for each, the reactions, the emotional make up, and the psychology.

It is easy in "The Glastonbury Chronicles" to go back and forth between the King and the Knight, by whatever names they have in those lives (and by whatever faces they wear) as they become more and more telepathic with each other as the books progress.  They are bound to have similar voices and similar psychologies, as they have been bound together for millennia. Yet there comes a time where even they diverge, and finding there are certain secrets they do have from each other, certain corners of their hearts which can express their individuality in ways the other does not always understand came as a bit of a shock to me.

But then, I have always maintained I do not write these books, I am merely taking dictation from characters who somehow seem to have lives of their own.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hello Harkness My Old Friend

Somebody asked me who I would like to see play the characters in my novels were they to be made into films.  Difficult to say.  I definitely think anyone playing the King of England should be just seems to make sense.  Nobody comes to mind right  now for Stephen in any of his incarnations, and that is going to be a tough bit of casting for anyone.  I can think of a lot of folks who were right for the part 15 or so years ago when "The Glastonbury Chronicles" series began to emerge in the first draft of the first volume, but that was a long time ago.  Back then I had never even considered who would play Stephen or Kevin or any of their various incarnations, though when I was writing the last couple of volumes the face of John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness of "Torchwood") somehow superimposed itself onto the character Kevin had become as he made his way to the pages of those manuscripts, especially in "The Coin of the Realm".

Of course there is nothing to say the different incarnations of the characters in different volumes need to be played by the same actors.  They are the same characters inwardly, with the same memories and all that has made them who they are over the millennia, but the phrase "whatever face he wore" occurs on more than one occasion.  The eyes are always the same,  the colouring is usually the same, but the faces are not always, hence as Kieran and Neil they are identical twins, conjoined at birth...which brings up the question...what happens if the firstborn son of the King of England is conjoined twins, born at the exact same time?  Under the rules of Primogenitor who is next in line to the throne?

"The Sword of the King" (Volume II of "The Glastonbury Chronicles") will answer that and more when it is released October 31 by Pendraig Publishing.

Monday, August 16, 2010


There is a French group called Manau I have listed in my music favourites.  OK, so hip hop was never one of my favourite types of music before.  I normally find it to have violent undertones and somehow it just grates on my nerves.

This group is different.  It's French, and the bulk of the music I have heard and of which I have viewed videos on You Tube centres around the Celts.  Most folks forget that the Celts were as much a part of French history as the history of the British Isles, be it the Gauls or the Bretons, or any of a number of groups which passed through what is now France (named for the Franks) on their migration ever westward.

Of particular interest to me are "La Tribu de Dana" and  "Le Chant des Druides", two pieces which stir in me my own Celtic roots, and even though it has been decades since my college French classes, I recognised a good deal of what was being said or sung.  A printout of the lyrics in the original French cleared up most of the rest, and I can now understand about 95% of the songs without having to make that backward leap of first translating it in my head into English before understanding it.  What a breakthrough!

So if you're interested in something recorded in 1998, something that may be a stretch for your musical tastes, give the album "Panique Celtique" a listen.  There is some background sampling from Alan Stivell on the songs.  I understand it was the subject of a lawsuit, and I wish both parties well.  His music just somehow belongs with theirs, and the Celtic images in the videos are wonderful too. 

No, That Wasn't Thunder!

So here I sit, trying hard to put fingers to keyboard and words to Chapter 20, when a sound akin to the combined rumble of a freight train and the staccato of hail races across my roof from one side of the house to the other.

AHA!  Every cat in the neighbourhood has by now learned that the greatest raceway in the area is on the roof of this house, and the Kittyanapolis 500 is in full swing once again.

"Listen to them, the Children of the Night."

As if I had a choice...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

All in a Day's Work

The day began with the thunder of tiny paws and a demand from Gandalf the Grey  (age 3 months) to be fed, along with the indignant looks of  the older tomcat D'Artagnan (he of the golden fur and peridot eyes and about 13 years of seniority) suggesting the kitten should pipe down and treat the matter of feeding time with a little more dignity.

While I was up, I thought, I might as well check my email, and, oh, grumble, yes, grumble, read back the meagre pages I had churned out the afternoon before.

Several hours and 3000 words later I emerged, having finished both Chapters 18 and 19 of THE BLOOD OF KINGS, whooping and hollering and doing a victory dance. I had finished one of the most crucial scenes of all which will tie "The Glastonbury Chronicles" series back in with the "Tales of the Dearg Sidhe" series and link the far past with the far future, for though the heroes of both series have paths that cross again and again, this is the ultimate junction of their lives, the one which will change the course of one life forever.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010