New words: 1261
First new line: It all fitted together somehow, and the abbey was at the centre.
Owain and the infirmarer are drawing conclusions, but Hyfaidd is readying for war.
Writing meme day 10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!
Ask me what normal situations they've been in. They interact with ghosts and demigods and shapeshifters and talking ferrets. They dream about murders. Personally I think the carnivorous tentacular mud that Jehan has to fight in Grass King is the weirdest of all.
Skirt of the day: black flouncey.
New words: 1089. And today book is being easy. Nice book.
First new line: Four men had gone in search of Gwgan by this route in the early morning.
Owain is drawing conclusions and wondering who is safe to question. Cadog is feeling helpful. Gif has sore paws.
Writing meme day 9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
Oh. That's a big one. The short answer is everywhere. I wrote before about how Joyain is partly inspired by the French tennis player Thierry Champion, who has such an interesting face. A character can arise from something or someone I've seen, something I've read or heard, or mis-read/heard. Valdarrien was an attempt to understand Aramis that took off in an entirely unexpected direction. Gracielis was a second attempt at the same thing, and went in another direction. Thiercelin began as a 'best friend' character, but he slowly revealed more and more about himself and became more and more engaging and interesting in himself. A lot of characters start as a 'what if': what if the clans-person is illegitimate (Iareth Yscoithi); what if the sister is prime minister (Yvelliane), what if the heiress is bored (Aude, and also Miraude, but in a different way), what if the captain is a radical (Jehan). Some characters just walk into the story -- Quenfrida is one of those, and so is Owain's friend Idwal. Some arise from me playing games while I walk or drive -- inventing a set of characters to be played by particular people led to the Cadre (Hsirei, Lienye, Sujhien and Qiaqia) in Grass King. Owain was a designed character -- I needed a main character who had the status and rank to have access to kings and bishops as well as ordinary people, who could travel relatively freely and who didn't have too many duties tying him to a particular place. That meant young, noble-born and male. The second sight was to give him a reason to engage with mysteries -- it's turned out to be a useful way of making him interesting to his king, too. Gaheris isn't mine (I really must do something with those stories) but while working on something else years ago, I came to the conclusion that Gareth and Gaheris may originally have been duplicates of one character. I also found that the common thing about Gareth being the nice one, Gawain's favourite and so on is mostly down to Mallory -- Gareth/Guerret is very minor until Mallory came along and wrote his tale; the one who is always with Gawain and is his favourite is Gaheris/Gaheriet. Plus I came across the imcomplete Gaheris tale that's part of the 2nd Continuation of Chretien de Troyes' Perceval and thought it was interesting, and then I do love an underdog, so...
Skirt of the day: panelled blue cotton.
New words: 1002 -- fairly quick, but not inspired.
First new line -- There was no conversation on the way back to the abbey.
Owain is wondering why King Gwgan was on the beach, Dyfnan is distressed and the abbot is competent.
Writing meme question 8: What's your favourite genre to write? To read?
Oh, easy one. What I love to write is weird stuff -- ghosts, mists, strange cultures. Fantasy, in the main, but of the odd, rather than the epic flavour. When it comes to reading, I'm more governed by the writing than anything else. I'll read in most genres, as long as the book is good, though I'm most like to try new mystery writers than anything else, I don't like most horror, and I've never read a western.
The knee is feeling rather better after a day of doing very little, which is good. In other news, about 5 pm our nice new neighbour came round to ask me to retrieve Ish, who had taken up residence in their bedroom and was being growly. He is a very bad cat.
Skirt of the day: turquoise linen.
New words: 1100, which is very satisfyingly shaped, and completely accidental.
First new line: The tide was on its way in: the pawmarks could have been there for some time.
Finally, a body. The king of Ceredigion is dead and his wife is missing.
Writing meme day 7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?
It depends. Most frequently, I have Radio 4 on, which is talk radio, mainly for the company. (I'm surprisingly good at ignoring it.) If it is being intrusive, or annoying, I'll sometimes put on music. I find the latter needs to be either predominantly instrumental or in a language I don't speak, or I find it distracting (and even when I'm listening to Finnish folk, or Hindi film music, I still stop to replay tracks, which is bad for my writing rhythm). Music in English or French can be very off-putting, as I end up listening, singing along, hunting for things it reminds me of and so forth.
Having said which, I do have cue tracks and albums for particular characters. Gracielis' song has always been Alice Cooper, 'Poison', and, despite its subject matter, Valdarrien's is Kate Bush, 'This Woman's Work' (it's the lines 'I know you have a little life in you yet/I know you have a little strength left'). The cue song for my unpublished Gaheris series of novellas is 'The Weapon,' Rush. The very first images for what became Grass King are hooked in my head by the Enya track 'Teahouse Moon', though if Jehan and Aude have a theme, it's 'Wish You Were Here' -- not the Pink Floyd album, but the song by L. Teijo, which has been recorded by various people, though the version I have in mind is that by Blackmore's Night. Drowning Kings so far doesn't have a soundtrack. If it ever does, it's likely to be something by Malicorne or Gabriel Yacoub, I think, as they have the right feel.
Skirt of the day: gold silk wrap.
New words: 1033
First new line written: Men from the abbey, men from Dyfed, men from Ceredigion gathered in groups of four and five to search.
On the beach, a white dog with red ears is barking its distress and Owain is blaming himself.
Writing meme day 6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?
I was a pen and paper person for many many years -- LWG went through two complete drafts in long hand. I wrote all my academic stuff by hand first, too, until Welsh Kings, which was partly written from pre-existing lectures. Bits and pieces of Grass King were written long hand, but most of it went straight onto computer, which seems now to be my process. I write best mid-morning (between around 9.30 and noon) and early evening (16.30 -- 19.00). And I mostly write on the PC at my desk in the alcove under the stairs in the marquis' and my bedroom, with my dictionaries and text books and reference materials to hand (and Mooncat on the desk, as often as not, though right now she's on the boiler downstairs, and Ish is managing me from the windowsill). The laptop gets taken out for visits and train journeys and writing dates, but I don't have the coffee shop habit. (I can imagine writing in a couple of our local pubs, but I'm not convinced that it would be good for my output.)
No builders today (and no skirt, either -- I'm in jeans). Meanwhile, I'm two thirds through Real Kung Fu, which is full of grand old actors from the 70s and 80s demonstrating that they still have it in their 50s and 60s (and maybe 70s, in the case of Lee Hoi San). A lovely, lovely pole fight between Yuen Biao (who would have been 47 when he made this) and Leung Kar-Yan in episode 11: beautiful choreography and speed, and Biao does the most elegant one-handed twisting back cartwheel (holding the pole). I asked the marquis, who is 45, if he anticipated being able to do such things at 47, to which he replied, 'As much as I've ever been able to'. Leung Kar-Yan, who was 60 last year, was never formerly trained and has signs of arthritis in his hands but still has the moves and has become a more nuanced actor than he was in his late 70s heyday. Other high points include a terrific contest between Leung Kar-Yan and Kok Jing-Hung (who would have been 37); and a Yuen Biao -- Liu Chia-Hui hand-to-hand in episode 14 which is hugely fast (and not undercranked).
New words: 547 (Short, but every little helps).
First new line: I see.’ Hyfaidd’s tone suggested he was tiring of this topic.
Gwgan wants a favour; the abbot is tactful, and Owain is awaiting explosions.
Writing meme, day one: 1. Tell us about your favourite writing project/universe that you've worked with and why.
Well, this is an easy one, in a way, as I have a fairly small corpus of fiction and have, to date, only written multiply in two backgrounds -- the world in which Living With Ghosts and Grass King are set, and the Alchemical city, where I've set two stories (only one of which is out as yet). The world of LWG gets to be my favourite as I've lived with it for so long. I was 16 or 17 when I first started thinking about it, I think -- back then it was two 'worlds' occupying the same space, one lived in by endogamous clans of shapechangers and one inhabited by elemental forms and such like -- living rocks, if you like. The first story was inspired by the hypothesised story of Gawain and the Fairy Mistress, which wa sput forward by the scholar Jessie Weston and had a otter shapeshifter find and fall in love with a woman who was actually a waterfall. (this went under the title Illuris. I never finished it, but the world hung around, and changed and developed, and my early ideas became back story. I like this environment because it's my stuff, mostly -- my symbols, my sets of interests and obsessions and influences, my set of misty, allusive, malleable, greeny-ghostly images, my space to wander and build and learn.
Skirt of the day: black crinkle cotton