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Having cried all over the WRINKLE IN TIME trailer, I thought I’d better re-read the book immediately to get a proper feeling for it again. It’d been at least twenty, possibly thirty, years since I’d read it, and…

…it’s kind of equally weirder and more mundane than I remember it.

I was prepared for, although somewhat exasperated by regardless, the Christian allusions; whenever I last re-read L’Engle, I was adult enough to notice her books are really laced with Christianity, so I knew that was going to be there. The story itself is actually a lot more straight-forward than I remember it being; possibly I’ve conflated the other books with it, or maybe it’s just that the weird bits are SO STRANGE that I thought the story structure had to be a lot more complicated than it really is.

It’s not, from a modern storytelling perspective, especially well told. It takes about four chapters to really get going, and it’s only a 12 chapter book. There’s a lot of telling, but not much in the way of showing in terms of…*why*. Meg is not, to the adult modern reader, particularly sympathetic: she doesn’t fit in at school, she’s angry in general and specifically very defensive about her father’s absence, and is apparently some particular kind of dumb that excludes being spectacularly good at math. That dumbness may be meant to indicate she’s socially inept, but although that certainly appears to be true, it doesn’t seem to be what’s really going on.

But that…dumbness…whatever it is…is crucial through the whole book. Meg doesn’t tesseract as well as the others. Meg is more vulnerable to the Darkness than the others. Meg won’t understand if you explain the thing…but I never understood why. (I’m not sure I understood as a kid, either, but it didn’t matter as much to me then.) And it’s apparently not something that came on simply because Mr Murry disappeared, because even he comments on it, and had done so before his disappearance, so you can’t lay her anger/ineptitude at the feet of her father’s disappearance.

And, just as much as Meg’s lack is not explained, neither are Calvin and Charles Wallace’s aptitude. Calvin communicates well; well, okay, that’s fine, but why does it make it easier for him to tesseract? Charles Wallace is, as far as I can tell, not even actually human, and Calvin, who does not come from the Murry family at all, is apparently More Like Charles than Meg is. But I don’t know what they are, or why they are, or why they’re the special ones and our heroine isn’t (well, that last one is institutionalized sexism, but let’s move past that). I remember *loving* Charles Wallace (and crushing terribly on Calvin), but I find him fairly creepy now, and that’s as the parent of an extremely self-assured little kid who, like Charles Wallace, is quite certain he’s able to Do It His Way without listening to the wisdom, or at least the experience, of his elders.

The one thing that maybe felt the most true to me in the whole book was Meg coming around to being the one who can save Charles Wallace. She wanted someone else–her father, specifically, but ANYBODY ELSE–to have to do the hard work. She was terrified and resentful of having to do it herself (and possibly that’s what the aforementioned “dumbness” is, since everybody keeps saying If you’d only apply yourself, Meg,, but that still doesn’t explain why she doesn’t tesseract as well, etc), and that seems very appropriate to a 13 year old to me. To people a lot older than 13, too, for that matter. But it comes in the 11th hourchapter, and her willingness to go on there is the only time in the book that she moves forward of her own volition. I’m not saying that isn’t fairly realistic, maybe, for a young teen, but in terms of making a dynamic book, it…doesn’t, really.

There are parts of the book that remain wonderful. The Mrs W are still splendid; Camazotz (which I always read, name-wise, as being what happens when Camelot goes terribly wrong) is still EXTREMELY CREEPY, and the thrumming presence of IT remains startlingly effective. Aunt Beast is wonderful. (So basically: the aliens work a lot better for me than the humans do.)

It doesn’t feel like a book that could get published now. It would need more depth; it felt shallow to me. A lot of its weirdness seems to me like it came very specifically out of the 50s and early 60s; I don’t think that book would, or perhaps *could*, be written now. It’s very internal in a lot of ways, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the film adapts the weirdness and the internalness and Meg’s basic lack of agency into an accessible story. My *feeling* is that they’re going to do a magnificent job of it, that it’s going to be one of those cases like Frankenstein or Jeckell & Hyde where the book’s conceptual foundation proves more powerful in film than it does on the page. I hope so!

But you know what I really wanted to do when I finished reading A WRINKLE IN TIME? I wanted to re-read Diane Duane’s SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD, because I felt like the Young Wizards books use A WRINKLE IN TIME as a conceptual springboard and dove off into something that worked a lot better as a *story*.

So I guess I know what’s up next (or soon, anyway) on the Catie’s Re-Reads list. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I’m somewhat better than I’ve been, but I’ve still got a cough and snotty nose. No, I haven’t gone to a doctor, but only because it turns out there’s a shortage of doctors in this town and nobody is taking new patients. We got signed up with a clinic in theory but we still haven’t gotten notification that we’re actually in their system, so…yeah. Anyway. At this point I think I’m going to have healed up before I’m in the system. Whee.

That said, all I want to do today is lie in a lump on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine all afternoon, but I’d have a 7 year old beside me saying, “What? What?” and fake-laughing at things, which wouldn’t really be much fun.

The Wrinkle in Time trailer dropped yesterday and made me cry. Twice. It looks amazing. (“Mommy,” Indy said incredulously, “are you *crying*?” Yes. Yes I was.) Anyway, I haven’t read the book in at least twenty, possibly thirty, years, and I immediately bought a new copy to read it. I didn’t think it would hold up, honestly, but I’ve read the first chapter and so far it’s still amazing.

I also re-read THE HERO AND THE CROWN a couple days ago and for the first time the acid trip battle with Agsded actually made sense to me. I’ve only read the book about forty times, so it’s nice that I eventually became able to really follow that scene.

Also I don’t remember crying through Talat’s rehabilitation before. *wipes eyes*

I made crabapple jelly with the last of LAST year’s crabapples, some cherry jam, pitted more cherries that Dad brought out, and bought some peaches that I need to process today and see if I’ve got enough for jam. I have frozen strawberries, too, and some many-berry mix frozen berries. Jam, glorious jam. :)

There are TWO kittens in the garden. We’re calling them Topsy and Turvy and are feeding them and their mama. I’m waiting for the local rescue people to have a capture cage available, so hopefully that’ll come through soon.

I turned a grant application in last week. I’ve got a book proposal just about ready to submit. I have copy edits to do and need to email my editor about line edits. And…I’d have to look at my to-do list to see what’s next. That’s plenty to get me through the week, though. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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We watched The Expanse late last year, & liked it a lot, so I got Ted LEVIATHAN WAKES, the first book in the series the tv show is adapted from, for Christmas. He read it & liked it & said I had to read it, so I did a couple days ago.

It was very good. It also happens to be one of the best adaptations from book to screen I’ve ever encountered, which is unusual and appealing. Anyway, having finished it I immediately started the second book, CALIBAN’S WAR, which Ted has not yet read.

LEVIATHAN is a good book. CALIBAN is a terrific one. It made me laugh out loud repeatedly, and there were lines I stopped to read to Ted. There was a thing from the last book that hadn’t been addressed, and I was muttering about it, and Ted said “Maybe it’ll come up later,” and I said, “I’m on page 342 and it hasn’t been addressed yet, I don’t think it’s going to be.”

In the middle of page 343 it was addressed. :)

“Oh no!” I aid, and started laughing. “A new element?” said Ted. “Holden!” I said. “There must be a law, like Murphy’s Law. Any bad choice you can make, Holden will make. Holden’s Law.”

And then reading the last several chapters went like this:

Me, involuntarily: Fuck!
A few pages later: Hah! HAH HAH!
And a few pages later still: Oh, shit! Shit shit shit!

Ted: DO YOU MIND?
Me: NOT AT ALL

I can’t wait to read the next one. GOOD BOOKS YO.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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It turned out re-reading HANDS OF FLAME was somehow slightly less weird than re-reading HOUSE OF CARDS, although it was ALSO full of things I either barely remembered, didn’t remember at all until it came to the moment of it happening, or remembered when something else triggered the memory but it turned out I was wrong about when it happened.

This is just full of spoilers, obviously, and so I’ll cut this entry here instead of letting most of it dangle out like I’ve done with the last two.

Read the rest of this entry » )

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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So this is the book I had to rip 2/3rds of out & rewrite and revise what was left in 6 weeks.

It turns out I’d forgotten a LOT of what happens in it. I actually got seriously invested in finding out what happens! That was weird! :)

Like, I had no idea Margrit got involved with the selkies so fast in it. Not that I could tell you when I *thought* she had, but…definitely not that fast. And although in the actual descriptions, Kaimana is meant to be shorter and bulkier than most of the other Old Races leaders, I was reading his introductory stuff and I thought OH MY GOD KAIMANA IS DUANE JOHNSON and now I’m totally in love with that idea. *laughs*

And then Margrit’s off to face down Daisani, right? Around chapter 10 or so? And Daisani’s all shocked she’s there that morning, “under the circumstances,” and I tell you what, although I remembered what The Circumstances were as soon as I read that sentence, I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that Those Circumstances HAPPENED. And then I spent the rest of the book NOT SURE who had PERPETRATED Those Circumstances! I forgot whodunnit! In my own book!

Also there’s a bit in the book where Margrit describes the perfect ice cream as “chocolate with pralines and a caramel swirl,” which Haagen Dazs went on to make for several years. I’m not saying somebody was reading the Negotiator Trilogy, but I’m not sayin’ they weren’t, either! (It really was stupendously good ice cream, and tragically, they’ve discontinued it. #woe)

Oh, god, the ball. All I can really remember about the ball is that trying to get the timeline to work for this book/that scene was MURDEROUS. I remember having to compress the whole damn thing so it would work and just augh. It was awful. It worked out fine in the end, even I can’t tell that it was horrific to write, but seriously, I started reading the ballroom scene and I was like AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH NOOOOOOO THIS WAS SOOOOO BAAAAAAAAAAAD TO WRIIIIIIIIIITE :)

I’d totally forgotten about the tango, which…didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I mean, it did, but also it didn’t. So I wonder how I might choose to write that now, except, y’know, I’m not gonna rewrite it so it doesn’t matter. :)

MARGRIT AND BIALI AT THE BALL! “You’re all right, for what you are.” AUGH! BIALI! MY HEART!

I liked the quorum scene, though. I actually didn’t know how the last vote was going to go. I was sitting there counting the characters and the votes on my fingers and trying to remember what would happen. I wonder if it was different in an earlier version of the manuscript, or if I just couldn’t remember. :)

If you’d asked me, I’d have said the scene with Rebecca at Trinity Church happened in the 3rd book, and that the (apparently upcoming) scene where Cam finds out The Truth About Alban was in this one. I would have been wrong. O.O (I’m quite impressed with myself for Cole’s characterization. It seems like there may have been some Editorial Disagreement over Cole’s level of flip-out/hatred/fear/anger, because he’s basically a decent guy, but re-reading it I think I wrote him right, and well. I said modestly. :))

Ok, my last observation falls more into spoiler territory so I’ll put it behind a cut….

Read the rest of this entry » )

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I’m re-reading the Negotiator Trilogy, which I haven’t done since (before) they were published. I’m doing this so I can write KISS OF ANGELS, which is set (at least partially) after the trilogy, and in some ways I have only a vague idea of what the books are about. I mean, obviously I know what they’re about, but…

Some of you may know that the reason I haven’t written more book-length Old Races stories is that writing the Negotiator Trilogy was…awful. Just awful. Like, I had a small nervous breakdown, writing the third one. The Negotiator Trilogy is 375K long; I wrote well over a million words trying to get there. (For reference, the complete Walker Papers series, including “Banshee Cries” and the NO DOMINION collection, is just under 1.1 million words.)

The first book went through six major, massive revisions before publication.

The second book got an edit letter 6 months late that said “please insert a plot into this book” (that’s not really what it said at all, but that was the solution to what it DID say). It had to be torn apart and a plot forcibly inserted, which required throwing out and completely rewriting about 2/3rds of the book…during the time I was supposed to be writing the third book.

Because the revision letter for book 2 was so late, I’d started WRITING the third book, but because book 2 had no plot, and because there was a character I really desperately wanted to introduce in book 3 who it turned out didn’t belong there, I could not get book 3 written. I wrote between 200-300 pages six times before I got it right, and by that time I doubted myself so much I literally brought the manuscript, in tears, to my husband and said “please tell me if this works at all.”

On top of all that, the copy editor didn’t like my writing style and rewrote huge chunks of my sentences, leaving me to struggle with correcting them (this was before copy edits were done electronically) and leaving errors that remain in the books to this day.

It was an *awful* experience, and it’s why I’ve only ever written short stories and novellas in the world again. Even so it took me years to even consider that.

So! I know what happens in the books, but…not very clearly, because so many versions live in my head, and besides that, it’s been ten years. To write KISS OF ANGELS requires some revisiting of the old material.

I have never, ever (due to the reasons ennumerated above) wanted to re-read the Negotiator Trilogy. I’ve been hoping that they’d turn out to be good enough that, a decade after the fact, they could at least draw me in a little and make a re-read a modestly enjoyable task instead of a sisyphean one.

I’ve just finished HEART OF STONE, and it turns out they are!

In fact, there have been sentences and phrases that, if another author had written them, I would have been envious of the skill and wordcraft there! (That’s a real moment of cognitive dissonance, lemme tell you. :))

Nothing in the story has really *surprised* me, but there have been a number of times where I’ve gone, “Oh yes, this is the thing that happens here, I remember that,” and also, “OH I SEE WHAT I DID THERE, MAYBE NOBODY ELSE EVER SAW IT BUT I SEE WHAT I DID THERE I’M SO FUNNY AHAHAHAH” because I’m a great big dork. *laughs*

One of the things that is *particularly* interesting to me is that I had to work very hard to write Romancy Sensual Sexy Reactions stuff in that book, and I felt like, god, SO heavy-handed, SO awkward, SO awful. But re-reading it? It’s really not any of those things. Which is just fascinating. I mean, I was, like, embarrassed at the heavy-handedness of it all, when I wrote it. (Yes, yes, this from the same woman who wrote THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, but that book didn’t go through the evolution that HEART OF STONE did. TQB was (almost) always supposed to be full of smut. :))

Another thing that I kind of knew but which is much more obvious on re-reading is that holy cats, the short stories have different versions–sometimes MUCH different versions–of the backstory mentioned in the book. Like, there’s stuff in the book that’s just plain wrong, if the short stories are to be believed. Which, IMHO as the author, they are. :)

The nice thing is I’m totally okay with that. I figure two things: One, all of these characters are at least hundreds and often thousands upon thousands of years old, and one can hardly expect anybody to remember the truth accurately over that period of time.

Second, and much more importantly, many of these characters are inveterate liars anyway, and should never be assumed to ever be telling you the truth. (I mean, seriously. You wouldn’t trust Janx or Daisani, would you? You *shouldn’t*, anyway.) :)

Anyway, so now I’m on to reading HOUSE OF CARDS, and I’ll blog about that while I’m finishing it! <3 -Catie

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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C.E. Murphy

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