Which door would you pick?

Doors (archways) photo
Photo by Michael Lomza at Ubsplash: Marianne's Palace, Kamieniec Ząbkowicki, Poland

There was a question posted in LiveJournal a few years back: You find yourself in front of seven identical doors. A voice from above tells you, “These doors lead to seven different places: Narnia, Neverland, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Camelot, Middle Earth, and Westeros. Which door do you go through?”

Well, first of all I would add two more doors that lead into my own worlds:

Syai, the China-that-never-was-but-might-have-been, either in “The Secrets of Jin-shei” or the book set in the same world hundred of years later, “Embers of Heaven.”

Worldweavers, the home of Thea Winthrop and Elemental Magic, where you could walk and talk with Nilola Tesla and Corey the Trickster.

Okay. My answers on the original seven because asking an author which of her own worlds  she would choose to live in is like asking her which of her children she loves best:

First off, the obvious NO: Westeros. I’ve never read the whole entire series but what I’ve seen of the TV show basically tells me that unless I step out of that door on the far side as ALREADY a queen (and even THEY often don’t fare all that well), my life would tend to be short sharp and brutal and thank you very much. I’ll pass. Besides, for some reason, what I HAVE seen of George R R Martin’s epic I’ve enjoyed on the level that it’s a punchy story that rolls you forward but on some deep and fundamental level it just never did satisfy me.

Narnia – if you has asked me this question when I was 14 I would probably have run, not walked, to Narnia. Particularly if I could meet Aslan (who was not, after all a TAME lion). There was just… something. Something magical.

But then I fatally read, or was educated about, the stuff between the lines, and Narnia lost its gloss. I can still love it, and enjoy it, but there is a tight wary part of me that wants nothing to do with the allegorical layering within it and I do NOT want to end up where I think I would end up if I went there, with Aslan magically transforming into one of those religious-postcard blue-eyed Jesuses with an expression of inexpressible beatitude and an attitude of “you will be just fine if you do what I say you do and think only what I say you think”. I’m sorry, but I’m way beyond that. I have my own ideas. If I could be guaranteed Aslan and ONLY Aslan, I might consider it. Otherwise…

Neverland and Wonderland share a particular characteristic which means I’d love to visit but not stay there long term – an overwhelming preponderance of the twee and the whimsical. In the case of Alice – particularly in the Looking Glass books – you might say that it all means an entirely different thing and that if you pay attention you might actually understand this and have an experience that is vastly different from what you think you are seeing. And while I do ADORE Lewis Carroll’s obvious and irrepressible love of language – if I had to LIVE with that I’d be insane in short order. I’d probably TURN into a Jabberwock and start eating people.

Hogwarts – oh, I don’t know. There are wonderful things in that world. There are also things that make me roll my eyes mightily and go, oh, REALLY?!? And learning pig latin to do spells… would lose its charm fast.

Which leaves us with Camelot, and Middle Earth.

Camelot was an enduring love affair, for me. I LOVE the Arthurian cycle (well, the parts of it before it turns into a Christian tract and the only thing that matters is finding the metaphysical equivalent of salvation in the shape of the Holy Grail. But it had a power to it that I responded to, the power of PEOPLE living a MYTH.

When I was 19 I even wrote an entire novel from the POV of Guinevere (and discovered that it was a damnably difficult thing to do because she could not POSSIBLY know half the things that I needed her to know in order to carry the plot forward, without resorting to silly little-girl tricks like listening at doors…) Given a chance to go through that door and find myself in Camelot… ah, well, the rub here is WHICH Camelot, and what I will find there. But this one would tempt me. Tempt me hard.

In the end there is only one door for me, though, and I am sure those of you who know me picked this one for me right from the start.

I am a Tolkien girl.

For a very long time I have lived and breathed Middle Earth. I may not know Quenya, but my heart speaks that, and Entish, and knows how to sing “Misty Mountains” in the original tongue of the Dwarves who wrote it. I understand this world, and I treasure it. In fact, I hardly need to open that door and step through… because I am already there.

I’ve been there for as long as I know.

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A new treat for my Patrons

I have written a new short story set in a world I may revisit some day: Val Hall, the Bruce Wayne Foundation-funded Home for Retired Superherors (Third Class). It’s all about…well, you’ll just have to read it.

A note about Patreon: as publishing changes, most authors need new sources of income. If you would like to help me continue writing about wizards and Weres, Jin-shei sisters, and girls who rise from the gutter to Empress, consider pitching in with a small monthly pledge. For the cost of a latte or two you too can become a patron of the arts.

Details HERE

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Wired asked writers to create 6-word SF stories

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so. – Joss Whedon

More from Wired HERE

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Your first book?

 

After my mother finished reading Heidi to me, I wanted her to start all over again. When she said no, I picked the book up and taught myself to read.

I was four.

HeidiIn the beginning there was the family treasure that my great uncle had given my mother when she was a little girl herself and she then gave to me, ‘Through Desert and Jungle’, by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

I went on to the flawed adventures that were Karl May’s wild-west-that-never-was, my family’s sets of collected works of Pearl Buck and Howard Spring, and the children’s sets of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” books. I then went on to illustrated tomes of the myths and legends of the world, to large glorious collections of the ORIGINAL fairy tales by the Grimms and Hans Christian Andersen, on to Wonderland, and Narnia, and Middle Earth, and Asimov and Zelazny and Frank Herbert and Ursula le Guin….

I began by falling in love with the wind whispering in the trees beyond the windows of the cottage that housed Heidi’s mountain dreams, and ended up by listening to the songs of the stars themselves. And Words were the vessel that took me there. Every time. All the way.

All this comes to mind because of an article in The Guardian headlined:

“‘Get your head out of that book!’ – the children’s stories that inspired writers

In my case, it was Heidi. In the case of other authors – Margaret Atwood, JG Ballard, Germaine Greer, Judith Kerr, Doris Lessing — it was everything from sinister water-babies to Chinese warlords, Norse gods to star‑crossed lovers.’

Read the whole story HERE

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Teens Readers Ted talkA Ted talk by Laura McClure offers us books for today’s teens

A science fiction and fantasy reading list for teen creativity

Creative writing is part of being a kid. Writing and reading goofy stories of lost kingdoms and Mars colonies helps the imagination grow strong. But a recent study uncovers an interesting, perhaps even dismaying trend: this generation of kids seems to prefer narrative realism when they write.

One example she offers is
Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds: Why you’d want to give this to a teen: In this futurist game of Diplomacy, Africa wins. A (mostly utopian) vision of Earth in the future.

See all her selections HERE

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Another book for today’s teens – and adultsWolf posterWOLF, Book 2 of The Were Chronicles, is on the way. 

You can pre-order it at Amazon HERE

Buy Random, Book 1 of The Were Chronicles, HERE

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All right. I’m a sucker. All of my cats have been rescues. I feel for every one of these poor tiny wounded souls. I hope there is an angel watching out for all of them.

20 Touching Before-And-After Photos Of Rescued Cats

Cats are mischievous creatures full of cuddles and purrs, an article at earth porm says, adopting one is a win-win, good for you and good for the cat. Here are before and after photos of rescued cats that show just how much a little love and care can change a cat forever.Rescued catSee all the cats HERE

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Speaking of cats…

19 Cats Who Are Having A Life Crisis Because You Won’t Let Them Inside

Your safety might be at risk if you don’t hurry up and let the cat in immediately, Matt Buco writes at Distractify.Cold cat“Seriously it’s getting a bit cold out here.”

Life crisis cats HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

For those of you who support worthwhile endeavors – here’s one. As a writer, and a scientist, and a huge Octavia Butler fan, this one hits all MY buttons…

“We use sci-fi to encourage Brooklyn girls to dream big”

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The Daily Word Counts of 39 Famous Authors:

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Quote of the DayQUOTE  Van Gogh~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Magical worlds

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIANarnia – a scene from the Disney film: Photo by c.W. Disney / Rex Features.

Have you ever wanted to escape to a magical world of fun and mayhem? Lindsay Taylor and Suzanne Smith, the authors of the Hattie B, Magical Vet series want to know, then offer their personal favorite fantasy realms, from Narnia and Neverland to Wonderland and Willy Wonka’s factory…

Someday, I’d like to think that the worlds of my Worldweavers series and The Were Chronicles will be at the top of readers list of their favorite magical places.

Taylor and Smith’s favorite of their top 10 list? Narnia, of course.

Narnia: C.S. Lewis managed to conjure such vivid imagery of a faraway mythical land, a place where the animals can talk, where the White Witch rules and the formidable Aslan guards the land and leads battles that it is impossible to have anything less than a fantastic vision of Narnia in your mind. If we could choose to travel to any magical world we would choose Narnia every time.

See their other choices HERE

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A friendly bite

I had a delightful time at Bitten by Books, answering some unusual interview questions about everything from whether I can fake an accent to my favorite vacation (easy, the first time I swam with dophins, in Tahiti).

That, of course, was followed by questions about the writing of Ransom, and the Were World in general, and then an interaction with the readers who frequent the book review site – an interaction which was still going on two days later.

This has been quite a ride, and some of the readers’ comments have been SO much fun to answer. I’ve been peppered with everything from which of my characters I most identify with to my favorite Muppet and everything in between. Swing by and take a gander at the interview there, but then do go on and scan the comment section. It’s well worth it.

Bitten by Books Q&A HERE

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The Future of Women on Earth May Be Darker Than You Thought

It’s easy to get caught up in the internet gender war trainwreck,” Annalee Newitz writes at io9, “where we’re still arguing over whether women belong in tech or rape victims are liars. But let’s set that shit aside and take the long view: Do we have any evidence that the future will bring greater freedom to women, or should we expect more dystopia?”

She notes that “One of the most important mathematicians in classical antiquity, Hypatia, was a woman. Every other ancient mathematician we study today? Male. Hundreds of dangerous pirate captains sailed the high seas in the 16th century. But hey! One of them was a woman!”
pirateIllustration by Steven Belledin

I could…look back in numb terror, counting how few generations separate me from women who had the same voting rights that my cats do right now. How easy it would be to take my rights away, turning the last century into a weird tangent in a history that has mostly featured women as what Zora Neale Hurston once called ‘the mules of the world.’

Read the whole essay HERE

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If you would like to take a step to aid women, Care 2 is urging the U.S. Congress to: “Pass the International Violence Against Women Act”

You can add your name HERE

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Good times at Village Books

My own local book store, Village Books in Bellingham, reports sales were up 9% over last year’s holiday season. Unfortunately, books were up only 2% while non-book sales were up 18%.

As an author, I say “unfortunately”, but co-owner Chuck Robinson has a different POV, of course: sheer delight.

About 49% of the month of December was in non-book products”, Robinson commented at Shelf Awareness. “Village Books’ wearables category, which includes scarves, jewelry, socks and even bras, did so well this holiday season that if it was separated from the rest of the operation, it would constitute a “sizable women’s accessory store” on its own.

Over the past few holiday seasons, Robinson said, the non-book side of his business has continued to grow rapidly. Robinson also reported a calmer, happier atmosphere in the store this season, with fewer staff members mentioning encounters with grumpy shoppers.

“Nearly every staff member commented on how pleasant customers were,” he said. “In spite of seeming less rushed, we did notice folks shopping later on Christmas Eve.”

Village Books RedVillage Books tries to help. Photo by Alma Alexander

Robinson reported that Village Books sold a “boatload” of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was the store’s Whatcom Literacy Council pick of the year.

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Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Lord Of The Rings’

Lord Of The RingsFor example: Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. and editor of his posthumous works, hated the Peter Jackson movies.

If you’re a dedicated fan and essentially consider Middle Earth a second home, Todd Van Luling writes in the Huffington Post, you probably have your own extensive knowledge of trivia surrounding J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. Since The Hobbit was released in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings 17 years later in 1954, Tolkien has garnered an extensive following, and has sold hundreds of millions of books. It’d be a decent bet to guess you own at least one of those copies.

Read the whole article HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

More Hilarious Questions Posed to the NYPL Pre-Interneta questionSee other questions HERE

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Quote of the Day

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”  ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Filming Jin-shei

The Secrets of Jin-shei

 

Someone just found my website, apparently by using the search string “Secrets of Jin Shei Film”.

Aw. Bless you for your faith and confidence, whoever you are.

And oh, the film rights ARE available, if that’s what you were after.

 

 

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Another one for the halls of history.

Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died at 86.

In confirming the news, the family said: “Dr. Maya Angelou … lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”

Krystie Lee Yandoli of BuzzFeed’s staff has collected some of her inspiring quotes.

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou quotes

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11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

We get frustrated with Hollywood’s propensity for weird sequels that seem to have little or nothing to do with the original, M Asher Cantrell writes at Mental Floss, but it just so happens that the practice is older than filmmaking itself.

Several classic stories have strange follow-ups you’ve never heard of, like the book in which Gandalf is a … a LUDDITE?

GandalfJ.R.R. Tolkien’s sprawling Middle Earth series covers more than a dozen books, several of which were published after his death. Of all of his extant materials, however, one culture’s history is mostly ignored–that of the people of Mordor. True, they’re the bad guys, but shouldn’t they get a say?

That’s the premise behind Russian author Kirill Yeskov’s unauthorized sequel, The Last Ringbearer. While it’s not an official sequel, the book is actually fairly popular on its own merits. Yeskov presents Mordor as a highly advanced society based around science and technology. Not unlike Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, The Last Ringbearer argues that “history is written by the winners” and that Mordor was actually a victim of the primitive cultures of men who blindly followed the Luddite-esque Gandalf.

Unknown book sequels

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Literary Homes You Can Buy Right Now

When thinking about our favorite authors, it’s natural to wonder about their personal lives and the places they came from“, Alison Nastasi tells us at Flavorwire. “When the homes of these wordsmiths are listed on the real estate market, we can’t help but fantasize about buying them and soaking up some of that writerly mojo by spending time in the same rooms they did, penning their well-known works.” Here are the homes of eight famous writers that you can purchase right now — if you have a few million extra in your pocket.

Beverly ClearyThe childhood home of one of America’s most successful children’s lit authors is looking for a new owner. Beverly Cleary took inspiration from the 1910 bungalow she grew up in, situated in northeast Portland. The house is on Hancock street, which is just blocks from Klickitat Street — the fictional home of Henry Huggins and the Quimby sisters, Ramona and Beezus. The home is also located near the Beverly Cleary School and the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park. Students at the school will be granted tours while the home is on the market.

Authors homes for sale

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Quote of the Day

Maya Angelou quoteShe’ll be missed.

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Alma Alexander
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Comments welcome. What do you think?

Which door would you pick?

Something going the rounds in LiveJournal posits this: You find yourself in front of seven identical doors. A voice from above tells you, “These seven doors lead to seven different places: Narnia, Neverland, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Camelot, Middle Earth, and Westeros. Which door do you go through?”

I would add two more doors that lead into my own worlds:

Syai, the China-that-never-was-but-might-have-been, either in “The Secrets of Jin-shei” or the book set in the same world hundred of years later, “Embers of Heaven.”

Worldweavers, the home of Thea Winthrop and Elemental Magic, where you could walk and talk with Nilola Tesla and Corey the Trickster.

Okay. My answers on the original seven (because asking an author which of her own worlds  she would choose to live in is like asking her which of her children she loves best):

First off, the obvious NO: Westeros. I’ve never read the whole entire series of books, and from what I’ve seen of the TV show basically tells me that unless I step out of that door on the far side as ALREADY a queen (and even THEY often don’t fare all that well), my life would tend to be short sharp and brutal and thank you very much but I’ll pass. Besides, for some reason, what I HAVE seen of George R R Martin’s epic I’ve enjoyed on the level that it’s a punchy story that rolls you forward but on some deep and fundamental level it just never did satisfy me.

Narnia – if you has asked me this question when I was fourteen I would probably have run, not walked, to Narnia. Particularly if I could meet Aslan (who was not, after all a TAME lion). There was just… something. Something magical. But then I fatally read, or was educated about, the stuff between the lines, and Narnia has sort of lost its gloss after that. I can still love it, and enjoy it, but there is a tight wary part of me that wants nothing to do with the allegorical layering within it and I do NOT want to end up where I think I would end up if I went there, with Aslan magically transforming into one of those religious-postcard blue-eyed Jesuses with an expression of inexpressible beatitude and an attitude of “you will be just fine if you do what I say you do and think only what I say you think”. I’m sorry, but I’m way beyond that. I have my own ideas. If I could be guaranteed Aslan and ONLY Aslan, I might consider it. Otherwise….

Neverland and Wonderland share a particular characteristic which means I’d love to visit but not stay there longterm – an overwhelming preponderance of the twee and the whimsical. In the case of Alice – particularly in the Looking Glass books – you might say that it all means an entirely different thing and that if you pay attention you might actually understand this and have an experience that is vastly different from what you think you are seeing. And while I do ADORE Lewis Carroll’s obvious and irrepressible love of language – if I had to LIVE with that I’d be insane in short order. I’d probably TURN into a Jabberwock and start eating people.

Hogwarts – oh, I don’t know. There are wonderful things in that world. There are also things that make me roll my eyes mightily and go, oh, REALLY?!? And learning pig latin to do spells… would lose its charm fast.

Which leaves us with Camelot, and Middle Earth.

Camelot was an enduring love affair, for me. I LOVE the Arthurian cycle (well, the parts of it before it turns into a Christian tract and the only thing that matters is finding the metaphysical equivalent of selvation in the shape of the Holy Grail. But it had a power to it that I responded to, the power of PEOPLE living a MYTH. When I was 19 I even wrote an entire novel from the POV of Guinevere (and discovered that it was a damnably difficult thing to do because she could not POSSIBLY know half the things that I needed her to know in order to carry the plot forward, without resorting to silly little-girl tricks like listening at doors…) Given a chance to go through that door and find myself in Camelot… ah, well, the rub here is WHICH Camelot, and what I will find there. But this one would tempt me. Tempt me hard.

In the end there is only one door for me, though, and I am sure those of you who know me picked this one for me right from the start.

I am a Tolkien girl.

For a very long time I have lived and breathed Middle Earth.

I may not know Quenya, but my heart speaks that, and Entish, and knows how to sing “Misty Mountains” in the original tongue of the Dwarves who wrote it. I understand this world, and I treasure it. In fact, I hardly need to open that door and step through… because I am already there. I’ve been there for as long as I know.

So, then. Which door would you pick?