Saturday, March 3, 2012
The setting for my latest novel, LOVE AND NOT DESTROY, is a small town, as picture-perfect as anything designed by Walt Disney. There are clean streets, lined with small shops, illuminated by vintage lampposts hung with colorful flowering baskets. Walking along these streets are smiling, open-faced people, civil and friendly, seemingly in control of their destiny. Can anything be this perfect? As a writer, I hope not. More accurately, I won’t allow it to be. There’s no story in perfection. I’m compelled to seek the snake in Eden.
Seeking a setting for my story, I find this juxtaposition of dark and light irresistible. I have to tinker with it, manipulate the sunshine and the shadow. I need to show how fine is the line between the two, how delicate the balance. How can I do this? I imagine our little town at the height of its perfection–a soft, sunny weekend in early May. Dogwood blossoms frame every view. Tulips nod on every lawn. The museum is at its most festive, all spruced up for Folk Fest. The civil, friendly people are in a celebratory mood, enjoying a well-earned holiday. A shout rings out: “Blood! It’s all over him.” Everything changes. The illusion of perfection is shattered–and the story begins.
Cruel? Maybe. I like to think of myself of a reasonably nice person, but as a writer, I love upsetting the applecart. I’m not alone in this. Think of all the stories set in amusement parks or empty theatres. It seems the brighter the setting, the more frightening it becomes when the lights are extinguished. Add a doll or a tiny kitten and it becomes even more threatening. Nothing produces a more delicious tingle down the spine than a scary setting. And there’s nothing more fun to create.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
After 1810 the Neoclassical and Grecian styles waistlines began to drift downwards.
Sleeves were gathered, twisted, and tied, influenced by Romantic and Gothic designs. The “mutton leg” style, large at the top and tapering to the wrist, became popular. As the sleeve increased in bulk at the shoulder, so did the collar.
I know, exposed ankles . . . that is very shocking!
In addition to the more ornate styles, hats and hairstyles climbed higher to balance the widening skirts. Hair was ornamented with small artificial flowers, in bunches or wreaths, for full dress, and even in the house during the daytime.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Mel was yelling in my ear to get out of there, but I couldn't move - not with Annie's eyes boring holes in my face. I was like a rabbit held captive in a snake's gaze.
The gaze shifted to a spot over my shoulder and the spell broke.
I turned to make my escape - and looked directly into another pair of eyes. What had Mel said? Something about a dark alley? Someone you wouldn't want to meet there? The guy who'd caught Annie's attention definitely fit that bill. I took a couple of side steps to put myself in a direct line with the door.
He sidestepped too. It was like we were dancing. I couldn't see what was happening behind me, but it sounded like Annie was closing in from the rear, turning the dance into a weird threesome.
Mel's voice escalated, "Get out of there!"
"I'm doing my best," I told her before I jammed the phone in my pocket. Instinct was screaming even louder than Mel, telling me I needed both hands free.
Instinct was right. As I rushed past, dance partner number one grabbed my arm. He almost ripped my coat off. I twisted, pulled the coat close, and managed to shake him off with enough force to send him sprawling on his backside. I didn't know exactly how close dance partner number two was and I didn't wait around to find out.
I made a beeline for the door. I heard Annie shout, "Wait!" Did I heed Annie's call? Are you kidding? I pushed the door open. Outside, under the store's awning, a sale table was lined up against the side of the building. I took a few precious seconds to pull the table, filled with rows of tiny multi-colored bottles, in front of the shop entrance. It sounded like an out-of-tune calliope as the bottles tipped against each other, but none of them fell off the table and, more important, exit from the Curiosity Shoppe was blocked, at least for the moment.
I darted an apologetic glance toward the woman huddled in a lawn chair under cover of the awning.
She hopped up and shook her fist like she wanted to beat me to a pulp.
Get in line, Lady.
I dodged around a young couple pushing a stroller and picked up the pace. The light at the end of the block went from orange to red. I ignored it. A chorus of squealing brakes and honking horns followed me into the next block. I cringed but kept going. If this went on much longer, I'd have everybody in Seattle mad at me. I couldn't worry about that now. I slogged on, splashing through the puddles on the sidewalk until I got a hitch in my side. I stopped, leaned against a building, and looked back for the first time since I'd left the shop. No sign of either Annie or the dark alley guy. That seemed a little strange. A good thing, but strange.