Life on the Fringe
Genre: Fantasy/Sword & Sandal
Who it Stars: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Niall MacGinnis, Honor Blackman, Nigel Green
From IMBD: Jason has been prophesied to take the throne of Thessaly. When he saves Pelias from drowning, but does not recognize him as the man who had earlier killed his father, Pelias tells Jason to travel to Colchis to find the Golden Fleece. Jason follows his advice and assembles a sailing crew of the finest men in Greece, including Hercules. They are under the protection of Hera, queen of the gods. Their voyage is replete with battles against harpies, a giant bronze Talos, a hydra, and an animated skeleton army, all brought to life by the special effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen
When it was released: 1963
Yasmine: Hello and welcome once more to movie night!
Marc: Grab your snack, some of Yasmine’s nuts maybe. (Keep your hands off my nuts)
Yasmine: That remark better be to the readers, not to me (checks hands, they are nowhere near said body parts). I’m munching on my low-carb mousse anyway. So, tonight, Marc and I are paying homage to a special effects technician we both admired and whose movies we loved. Ray Harryhausen, who passed away not long ago.
Marc: We’re watching Jason and the Argonauts. This is of course based on the ancient Greek myth. Before you ask, it’s the good version. The one from 1963, staring Todd Armstrong as Jason and a bunch of other people that are really only secondary to the main attraction: the special effects.
Yasmine: The acting wasn’t bad, dude. But yes, the special effects were wonderful, and the movie much fun.
Marc: This is an old film, but it retains a lot of charm. The acting is good, if a little hammy and very Dramatic. (Capital D for emphasis) The sets are ornate and and then sparse in turn, making careful use of camera angles so spare some small manner of expense. The first time I saw it I was just a small boy, but it went straight to my heart. Wish I could have seen it in a theatre.
Yasmine: I saw it when I was young too (don’t ask how many years back—I’m not telling). *stares at Marc—you keep quiet too.* In fact, it’s old enough that when *I* saw it, it was a re-run. *Koffs* And I loved it. I used to watch the Science Fiction Double Creature Feature every Saturday, and when this came on for the first time—oh man! Fighting skeletons, and statues coming to life, and dancing girls in front of ancient goddess’s statues! OH MY!
Marc: I must say that the character of Hercules in this is one of my favourites. It’s amusing to see a Herc going grey.
Yasmine: I too, liked Hercules a lot, but I think my favorite characters were Hylas, Hercules’ friend who was crushed when Talos fell, and Phineas, the blind oracle. I didn’t care much for Jason, to be honest.
Marc: One of the most amusing scenes for me is the picking of the argonauts, make note of the ancient Greek Speedos. How about you Yasmine?
Yasmine: The contest was funny, yes, but I liked the banter between the gods as they played their game of chess with the mortals as pawns. Zeus was far more jolly in this movie than in mythology, and Hera, far less of a bitch.
Marc: But of course, that’s really all preamble to the person who’s legacy this film is a part of. Ray Harryhausen. This film is a wonderful showcase of his craft and the stop motion field that in his time he really dominated.
Yasmine: I have seen so many of his movies. Now, of course, a lot of kids would think the special effects are corny and dated, but for the time period? They were amazing. They set the bar for FX back then. I believe Harryhausen was the one-man show of stop-motion animation. He practically created the field.
Marc: There are so many fantastic scenes that it’s hard to really pick one, however if you were to push me, I’d pick the fight against the skeletons. For the time it was an incredible level of interaction between stop motion and live actors.
Yasmine: Yeah, me too. *grins* I loved the skeleton scene and still do.
Marc: While this movie was produced in the tail end of the sword and sandal movies of the day, I still think it is one of the better efforts. The story is told well, the characters are well presented. As regular readers might be aware, I much prefer physical effects to CGI and this movie really is a show piece for that.
Yasmine: I LOVE good CGI, but when it overshadows the story and characters, then it feels like a one-trick pony. Hell, some of the most engrossing movies come out of the older use of special effects.
Marc: If you haven’t seen this movie by now, I strongly recommend you take the time to do so. Good get rewarded, evil dies horribly and the Gods party on same as ever. What more could you want?
Yasmine: A good friend to watch it with, I guess. LOL…makes it ever so much more fun. Oh, and snacks.
Marc: I think that about wraps this one up for now, don’t you, Yasmine?
Yasmine: Until next week! Keep Watching the Skies! (and hey, if you love old SF/Fantasy movies, FIND those books—KWtS comprises three, I believe, volumes of movie lore on these wonderful old films).
Dedicated to the memory of Ray Harryhausen. 1920-2013
Continuing my series about writing the Indigo Court Series, I’m going to focus on the complex relationships between Cicely-Grieve-Lannan and Grieve-Myst-Cicely in this series. First, it helps to understand that I wrote the Indigo Court Series as a twist on the Snow Queen fairytale.
The Cicely-Myst-Grieve triangle mirrors the triangle in the fairytale where Kay’s heart is captured and frozen by the Snow Queen, and Gerda, his love, must rescue him. Myst captured Grieve and turned him, so yes, the Snow Queen captured the hero and Cicely had to rescue him. But I’m also playing with another reversal of the triangle.
Lannan manages to bewitch Cicely—while she loathes him, she also craves him. And so Grieve must try to win out over the vampire. But both men are necessary for her survival at this time. The dynamics of both relationships, when combined, sets up a complex network of lust, desire, love, and sacrifice. What makes this more complicated, is that Lannan has evolved into an anti-hero, who has an unnatural obsession with Cicely. He has no qualms about using anyone and anything to further his own agenda, but now and then he surprises the hell out of Cicely and Grieve by going out of his way to aid/help them. In Night Vision, things come to a head, when Cicely is hurt, only Lannan can save her, and this act will forever change the dynamics between the three. Cicely and Grieve need Lannan, as much as they don’t want to admit it.
And, while I view Grieve as the metaphorical “wounded King” he’s also an antihero, because when Myst turned him into one of the Shadow Hunters, the summer-light, upright nature he once possessed, vanished forever. He still has that part inside of him, but he can never again be the man he once was.
I’ve always been fascinated by complex relationships and multiple partnerships—I tend to write poly characters better than monogamous ones because I understand the dynamics and I truly don’t believe in the one-and-only, or in “happily ever after”.
I believe there are many possible lovers for each person in this world, and my mind always wonders: Just what will happen if we meet two or more of those love interests in the same time period? Why should we have to choose? And, if we DO decide to choose one over the others, what are the deal breakers that cull out the ones we leave behind?
In my worlds, the nature of love is like a meadow. Love is messy, and wild, and unkempt at times. Try to turn it into a well-trimmed garden and it loses some of its passion. And the roses that smell the best always have thorns.
Vampires. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to agree they are iconic figures in mythology, legend, literature and film. The vampire represents sexuality, passion, carnality, and the seduction of the dark. Blood is the life force, and the vampire feeding off their victim—a sensuous communion.
Ever since I was was little and discovered Dark Shadows (before my mother realized there was a vampire in it), I’ve had a fascination with vampires. Although they aren’t my favorite paranormal creatures to write—for that the Fae and witches get my passion—I do love writing about them.
Only in my worlds, vampires are fully in their power. They are pretty much top of the food chain, and boy do they know it. And if a vampire falls in love with a human—or anybody—there’s a good reason for it. Equal relationships between vampire and humans are not a common occurrence—especially with older vampires, to be sure. In the worlds I write, it’s much more common for a young vampire to still be attracted romantically to mortals. But in both my worlds, vampires do keep bloodwhores—willing (usually) victims from whom the vampire feeds, and keeps as a pet. Usually a vampire who keeps bloodwhores will have several, referred to as a ‘stable’. Vampires are truly predators in my worlds, and they have to fight against their basic natures in order to retain some semblance of control.
In my Otherworld altaverse, vampires are still in possession of their souls—they are trapped in an undying body, neither truly dead, nor alive. Once they experience the final death, their soul is free to move on. They are known to exist and are fighting for civil rights.
In the Indigo Court world, the vampires are a lot more ruthless than they are in Otherworld—or rather, they have far more power politically and are able to get away with exposing their true natures. They tend to be more exclusive, choosing not to interact with mortals quite so much.
Each altaverse—the worlds writers create—will have its own rules regarding vampires. In mine, holy objects only affect vampires who were of that faith during life. A cross will only affect a vampire who was a staunch Christian. Star of David—former Jewish vamps. Pentacles—former witches/magical vamps. Holy water has no affect on them either unless it’s magically enchanted against vampires in specific, or again—if they were of the faith in which the water was blessed.
Vampires cannot be in the sun in my worlds, and sunrise—whether or not it’s showing—drags them down into a sleep they can’t awaken from until sunset. Running water won’t affect them, they can heal up from nearly anything but fire will dust them, sunlight will fry them, and a stake through the heart—of any sort—will disintegrate them. They can subsist on animal blood but generally, prefer human. In my worlds, there is no synthetic blood.
In my opinion (and that’s all this is), if I were to create vampires who are weak and angsty, it would disempower them. Which is why I love Dracula, and even Barnabus Collins (in the old series), and LeStat, and Spike over Angel. Yes, I *am* team Spike. Angel—nice eye candy but far too whiny for my tastes. Give me a vampire with bite, anyway!
OK, I asked for questions for my low-carb update, and I got them! First: NONE OF THIS IS MEDICAL ADVICE. If you want to try out these ideas, talk to your doctor first. If your doctor has prescribed a low carb regime for you, then we’re on the same page.
This is going to be a long post so buckle up for the ride. First, if you want to see my history of low carb, you can look at this link on my blog and it will link you to most of my low carb posts from the past: http://www.galenorn.com/Blog/category/low-carb/ I used to have a gluten free blog but it wasn’t getting many views at all so I closed it down and moved it all to my regular blog.
Second, I’m going to be reposting the recipes I’ve created in my forums. So if you want to, you can join them and participate. www.galenorn.com/Forums
Okay, a little background for those who don’t know. I have multiple food allergies and intolerances. That was rough enough to deal with. When I went gluten free, I switched over to GF flours and products. Unfortunately, gluten free tends to be VERY high glycemic and the flours are, for the most part, a lot higher in carbohydrates. Which my body does not process well. Within a couple years of going strictly gluten free, I developed pre-diabetes. I thought I was getting a handle on it, but then two years ago, I slipped over the line into mild type 2 diabetes. My husband is a type 1 diabetic and I’ve always sworn there cannot be two diabetics in the house—it’s a rough enough disease to deal with, with him—he can’t help or stop his. But my doctor assured me I could turn it around without medication IF I was dedicated enough. She told me to immediately go low-carb. To eat no more than fifty carbs a day, and try not to dip below thirty to start. She explained how to figure out ‘net carbs’ (total carbohydrate minus fiber minus any ‘sugar alcohols’ that might be in the food—if you want to know what those are, Google the term, please).
Having seen what diabetes can do to people, I had no lack of motivation.
After crying for about half an hour and feeling like I’d somehow failed, I steeled myself, went in the kitchen and started clearing the cupboards. I cleaned out the pantry. I cleaned out the fridge and freezer. And from that moment on—April 16, 2011—I’ve been low carb.
My blood sugar is back to normal non-diabetic levels. My blood chemistry looks good. I’ve lost about 100 pounds so far, my chronic pain has gone from a pretty rough level (I can’t take pain medications) to a mild level on most days. I feel better, look better, I can move around again without much problem (my joints had been hurting really bad, it was due to the sugar in my body, not the weight). Friends tell me I seem like I’ve ‘come back to life’…I’m the lowest weight I’ve been since my mid-20s, and though I have a ways to go, I’m a lot happier. I never could lose weight before—and now I know it’s because my body cannot process most carbohydrates.
For those who say you can’t keep up a low carb lifestyle, I say Bullshit…is it hard? Yes. Does it require dedication? Yes. But it can be done and it gets easier as time goes on. My thoughts are this: No food tastes better than feeling good. No food is worth jeopardizing my health. Will power is all in how much you want something. And how much you’re willing to work toward it.
OK…now to get to your questions:
Q: How do you try and go low-carb when you love bread, rice, and all that stuff?
A: Honestly, there is no magic key. How much do you want it? How important is it for your health? I love gluten free pasta, I love potatoes. I can’t have them and be healthy. I’m not willing to risk my life—and diabetes *can* kill—for them.
Q: What is Gluten free? What is gluten? don’t really understand it?
A: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If you are gluten intolerant or if you have celiac disease, the only way to avoid the damage and pain done is to avoid eating any and all products made with gluten. Meaning any wheat/rye/barley based foods. (Wheat is in so many things—you have to learn to read labels if you must go gluten free).
Q: I’ve seen you post gluten-free recipes in the past. Do you also eat GF or just occasionally incorporate those recipes into your lifestyle?
A: I live the gluten free lifestyle. However, now I have to make sure my foods are low-carb too. Which means when I bake, I use nut meals for the ‘flour’ (coconut, almond, hazelnut meal—ground nuts in powdered form, essentially), and for sweetener, my body does fine with stevia and Splenda. I was using sugar alcohols but they upset my stomach, and I refuse to use aspartame (I believe it’s toxic for the body).
Q: I am interested in the amount of carbs per meal/day. Also maybe a example of a couple of your meals?
A: I eat a maximum of 50-60 carbs a day. About 20-25 minimum. Examples of daily diet:
Net Carbs for the day: approximately 40
Q: I’m curious about two things: how many carbs per day do you have without feeling deprived and if you’ve experienced any negative effects from going low carb?
A: If I drop below about 20-25, I feel jarred. Some people can handle it, but that seems to be my minimum. And negative effects? Only during the withdrawal period when I was shedding the excess sugar from my body.
Q: Do you eat complex carbohydrates and, if so, how do they make you feel? Did you go off of the simple carbs cold turkey?
A: I eat almost no complex carbohydrates, except on Thanksgiving, when I allow myself a good sized serving of mashed potatoes. I do eat ½ sweet potato or a cup of winter squash several times a week. And yes, see the next question for the answer to the secondary question.
Q: For starting out low carb, do you immediately cut out everything, or start with little changes and work your way up? Blessings, Yasmine!
A: I had to go cold turkey. It was imperative to get the diabetes under control while it was still mild. The first three weeks were hell, I admit that. I was so foggy (brain fog) that I pretty much forgot my name (well, not really but close enough). I felt horrible—my body was detoxing from all the sugar and starch. After about 2 weeks, I began to realize how much less my body was hurting, and after 3 weeks, the brain fog cleared up. After a few months, I was feeling so much better. I started seeing results on the blood sugar after a couple weeks, and after six months, was fully back into pre-diabetes instead of diabetes proper. Now I have normalized my sugar. But I can never go back to eating the way I did or I’d be spiraling right back into the pain and diabetes.
Q: Does Samwise eat the same diet? Any advice on how to go low carb if you are the only one in the household going low carb? Also, how has your new lifestyle effected your writing? When I first started reading the OW series in 2008 (before you went low carb I think, not sure) there seemed to be more references to the sisters eating rich sugary food then there is in current OW books…..could be my imagination tho
A: For the most part, Samwise is low carb. He has type 1 diabetes and so many carbs spike his sugar. He eats a few more than I do, but I doubt if he goes over 75-100 carbs a day. He absolutely cannot eat anything like chips or French fries. He can eat small amounts of candy and we keep it on hand for if he goes into a low blood sugar swing.
As to my writing, it hasn’t consciously affected it—except I have a clearer head, but perhaps subconsciously? I suppose it might.
Q: Would love to see your recipe for sweet brownies. I am low carb too, but something has to fill my sugar needs! LOVE your writing. Cheers
A: Check on my forums. In the Hearth and Home Forum I’m creating a recipe thread. www.galenorn.com/Forums
Q: Is it low carb or no carb?
A: I don’t eat no-carb. While some people can, I can’t go that low. I eat from 20-50 a day on average.
Q: I am wondering how you managed to get through the first few weeks? I am supposed to try to go in this direction (Dr.’s advice) but struggle after the first couple of days. I become a very un-nice person!
A: Oh, I wasn’t all that nice either, but I decided that was just fine, given I wanted my health to return. And bluntly put: if you need to do this for your health, there isn’t a choice, IMO. I wasn’t willing to accept the damage diabetes can do. I wasn’t willing to let myself slide when I knew I could turn it around without medication.
So, hard as it was (and there is no magic pill to help you handle this), I said fuck it, and I just did what I had to do. I cried, I snapped at people, I got upset, and that was all okay.
And I realized how much I’d been self-medicating my moods with sugar to avoid the emotions I didn’t want to face. I learned to face them. Was it easy? No. Was it a PITA? Yes. Is it worth it? Every whine and tear it caused, it has been so worth it. I feel better, I look better, I have my life back. And as long as I keep doing what I need to, diabetes is no longer a threat. But ONLY as long as I keep doing it.
And, if anybody tries to sabotage your attempts at bettering your health, whatever you are needing to do, then they aren’t much of a friend.
When I started writing the Indigo Court Series, I had no clue Cicely would end up being part Uwilahsidhe, (the owl-shifting Fae). As with most of the work I write, that evolved through the writing of the book. When it dawned on me just what she was, I was excited.
One, I love writing Fae characters—especially half-Fae. Something about the intermix of human-Fae or, in Cicely’s case—one of the magic-born and Fae—appeals to me. I like the mix. But the fact that she was one of the Owl Shifters gave me a little thrill because I love owls.
For a long time, when I was younger, it was hard for me to remember that owls were actually birds. I know that sounds odd but owls seem like a species unto themselves and it still takes me a moment or two when I’m looking at a picture or thinking about them to remember: yes, they ARE birds.
Owls have a long history of magic. In some traditions they’re viewed as harbingers of doom or ‘black’ magic, but I see them as birds of mystery and magic, of shadow magic yes—but that does not denote an evil bent. Owls are also associated with wisdom—in the case of the goddess Athena. Owls watch in the night, they hunt with grace—gliding on silent wings.
When I was writing Night Myst, a serendipitous thing happened for me. I knew I needed to study up on owls, because even though Cicely spends relatively little time in her owl form, it had to seem ‘real’—grounded in what being an owl is like. It was right around this time when I stumbled on the internet’s most famous owl. I happened to find a webcam of an owl who was sitting on her first clutch of eggs. This was none other than Molly Owl. https://www.facebook.com/mollytheowl And the day I stumbled across her, Molly’s eggs were beginning to hatch.
I watched Molly for months. I watched her day in, day out. I’d keep a small window in the corner of my monitor with her on it, and watch as I wrote. I watched the owlets grow into fledglings. I watched her feed them. I watched as she hacked up owl pellets and as McGee—her mated partner—brought home food for Molly and the babies. I watched as the owlets grew into fledglings and took their first flight. And then, I watched as they flew away to their own territory.
I watched after that, through a second clutch until the day when, sadly, both McGee and Molly vanished and the owl box stood empty. And then, I sadly said goodbye to my favorite owls who had taught me so very much about the nature of being Owl. For despite all the book learning in the world, there is nothing that can beat observation. Observation of the creature in question. I learned more about owls from watching Molly than I could ever have hoped to learn by just reading a book.
Two pictures hang on my office wall—one of all four fledglings as they perched by the owl box one last time, and the other is a picture of Molly and McGee. I feel as if I was part of a very privileged group of people to share their lives for as long as I did. And I feel like Nature herself was my teacher, showing me how to truly make Cicely into an owl-shifter.
1. What do you love most about what you write?
Exploring the paranormal, metaphysical, occult and the psychological. And I love writing about amazing women who take control of their lives and somehow manage to find a balance between cultivating a healthy love relationship and being successful in a career. I mean, what’s not to love about gorgeous men? At this point, I’m being totally delusional and unrealistic. All the males in my stories are great looking. I know that doesn’t reflect what’s “real” at all, but I read to escape into a world very different from my usual one, and I think most people do the same. As a psychotherapist, after a long day slogging through my clients’ problems, I’m more than ready to cast off the mundane and dive into the extraordinary.
2. Tell me the name of one of your characters, a brief bio sketch about them, and what you loved and struggled with most while writing them?
My main female character is Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist. She’s a 30-year-old Denver clinician who tends to get stuck inside her scientific mindset. Meeting a bunch of real vampires upended her world view and thrust her into a dark world of preternatural madness. She’s an idealized version of me, except younger, thinner, prettier and having lots more fun. The challenge for me is making sure I don’t give her all my clinical limitations. After all, she lives in a fictional world and she has a lot more professional leeway than I do. I have the most fun sitting with her while she counsels her vampire clients. It’s so great to be able to apply human diagnoses to the undead!
3. What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever received from a fan or bought for your writing?
The most interesting thing I’ve ever gotten from a fan was an offer to tattoo two bleeding bite holes on my neck. I appreciated the gesture, but since the person had just started tattooing, I though I’d better pass.
4. What is your favorite paranormal creature to write about and why?
It’s gotta be vampires. I’ve been a rabid fan/reader since I was a kid. I think since vampires were human at one point, the changes that happen after the transformation fascinate me. And since they were human, the way they scare me is as psychological as physical. It’s just easiest for me to imagine having wild and crazy sex with a gorgeous [of course he has to be gorgeous] vampire.
5. What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
I love that someone recently described my books as “bloody, sexy and funny.” That’s what I’d love for them to take away: they’re laughing as they’re aroused and somehow creeped out.
6. Will you have espresso, mocha, cappuccino, latte, coffee, tea, or some other concoction?
I’m a straightforward coffee woman. Unless I can have wine or microbrew beer or a margarita, that is. I’m afraid to try any of the concoctions at Starbucks and other places because the last thing I need is another fattening thing to enjoy!
Lynda Hilburn writes paranormal fiction. More specifically, she writes books about vampires, witches, ghosts, psychics and other supernatural creatures. After a childhood filled with invisible friends, sightings of dead relatives and a fascination with the occult, turning to the paranormal was a no-brainer. In her other reality, she makes her living as a licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, professional psychic/tarot reader, university instructor and workshop presenter. Her first novel, “The Vampire Shrink” — which introduced us to Denver Psychologist Kismet Knight and a hidden vampire underworld — was released April, 2012. Book #2, “Blood Therapy,” arrived February, 2013. Book #3, Crimson Psyche, will be published in late 2013. Several more books in the series are planned. “Undead in the City,” an erotic paranormal novella, “Diary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker,” a satire/parody, “Until Death Do Us Part,” a humorous mini-story, and “Devereux: The Night Before Kismet” are now available in e-form from all e-book outlets. For more information, visit Lynda’s website: http://www.lyndahilburnauthor.com
Remember, if you can’t make it to a signing you can pre-order personalized signed copies from Seattle Mystery Bookshop
You can also pre-order signed copies of Autumn Whispers too, pretty cool, huh?
From Night Vision, by Yasmine Galenorn, copyright 2013
Indigo Court Series: Book 4
Release date: July 2, 2013
A movement to the right, behind a huckleberry bush, caught my eye. I stopped as a withered old crone shifted from behind the foliage. She was gaunt, with long, lean limbs, and a tooth that cunningly curled out from her upper jaw, over her bottom lip. Straggled, matted white hair cloaked her shoulders, and her clothing consisted of strips of gray rags that seemed to be sewn together in the semblance of a cloak and dress.
It was the Snow Hag, one of the Wilding Fae. She and her people had pledged themselves to my Court, and they’d come to our aid during the routing of Myst from the Barrows. They were cunning, the Wilding Fae, and old beyond time, but they could be reasoned with, if you were clearheaded and clever about how you phrased your words.
I inclined my head, acknowledging her presence—I’d recently found out she was considered one of the nobles among the loose-scrabble group.
“It would be a pleasure to speak with one of the Wilding Fae. One might wonder what she has to say.” I had been taking lessons from Chatter in dealing with the group, because he was extremely good at diplomacy and had a knack for navigating the treacherous territory that came with interacting with them.
She grinned, snaggletooth and all. “One would think a Queen‑to‑be has been practicing her decorum. One might appreciate the effort, if one was a member of the Wilding Fae.” She crept fully from behind the huckleberry bush. “This might be a time to discuss goings‑on that are disturbing, should the Queens‑to‑be wish to further their knowledge.
Writing about the Indigo Court Series is like following a trail of bread crumbs through a dark, snowy woodland. It’s not an easy series to write—primarily because the world unfolds itself to me in shadows and secrets, a step at a time. This is because the world of New Forest, Washington is inherently magical—it is a secret realm, and while it’s connected to the bigger cities, it is, at heart, isolated. I set out to write a dark gothic faerie tale and that’s what I believe I’ve succeeded in doing.
From the very beginning, the concept of the story was that it would be finite—limited. Once I’m done telling Cicely’s story, (which will be in book five—Night’s End…Night Vision is book four), the tale will be done, wrapped up, and finished. I’m not saying I’ll never write a short story or novella set in the world, but Cicely will have taken her place in the Golden Wood, and as with all faerie tales, her destiny will be resolved and solidified.
The magic of the world is endemic—everything in Cicely’s realm has a magical energy to it—from the trees to the Fae to the vampires to the yummanii to the Elementals to the different realms—everything is filled with a conscious, mystical presence. I suppose you can say that my background as a shamanic witch comes heavily into play with this book, and in some ways, the world of the Indigo Court has more of my personal beliefs in it than just about anything else that I’ve written, because the magic springs from the core of the characters—it’s not ‘given’ to them…instead, the characters and settings *are* intrinsically magical—their mystical natures are integrated into their very beings.
Cassandra Campbell is the narrator for my audio books, and I was thrilled when Recorded Books hired her, now that they are my audio book company. I really didn’t want to see them turn to someone else, since she’s been there since the beginning of both the Otherworld and Indigo Court series. We’ve talked on Twitter a lot, and it occurred to me you might like to see a behind the scenes look into how she records my books, and to her career in general. Please welcome her in, and one commenter will win an audiobook from my backlist (randomly picked by us). ~~Yasmine
1.How did you get into the business of narrating audio books?
About ten years ago, I was teaching acting and movement at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and doing commercial and documentary voice over work when one of my colleagues got me an audition for Books on Tape. I fell in love with recording books immediately and felt like I had come home to something the very first time I recorded a book! I’ve been doing it ever since!
2. What is the process like? I doubt if any of my readers (and I know I don’t) understand how this works.
I work both out of my home studio and in the recording studios of audio publishers. It’s hard work, the hardest part is starting and trusting that you’re going to capture something of what the author had in mind. It’s intimidating because you have to read a lot and for long period out loud. And you can’t drift off, thinking about something else while you’re narrating. If you make a mistake you have to start the sentence again. But it’s amazing, too, because you get to play all the characters, you get to drive the scenes, and disappear from real life for awhile. That’s the best part: you get lost in the story, you see the story in your head as it comes out of your mouth. The characters exist in your minds eye very clearly then you have to get out of the way and let the characters and let the story do the work. In your minds eye, you’re there!
3. How do you prepare for recording a new book? Do you read it in advance?
I get the manuscript from the publisher, read it on my own, making lots of notes about characters, pronunciations, accents and so forth. I generally read it silently the first time because I want to hear the authors tone, find the point of view, get to know the characters and the rhythms of the story. In the case of your books, I have gotten to know these characters over quite a few books and each is so distinct in my brain, from the way they speak to the way they dress, what they like to eat and how tall they are even. The D’Artigo sisters are all so individual, each with their own strong personality, a distinct rhythm, a vocal and emotional pace, pitch, and cadences, and different sensibilities. Each has their vulnerabilites. As do all their men, of course.
4. Have you ever narrated a book you didn’t like (don’t name names). If so, how did you deal with it?
I have recorded some books I haven’t totally connected, of course. Sometimes it’s frustrating. But years ago I made a decision about this. You have to find something to love in every book. I look at this this way: someone out there is waiting to read/listen to it. They are listening because it’s a genre they enjoy, it has meaning for them. Who am I to step on that? My job is to meet them on that journey.
I once read a review of a book I narrated and the person writing the review talked about how their long hours working in a factory was made so much more pleasurable by listening to the book I’d narrated. That made me so happy. I try to always keep in mind that there is the audience for a particular book and so try to give the best possible performance. It’s not about me or how I feel, it’s about the book.
That said, I have turned down a couple of political books that were so against my beliefs I just didn’t want to be associated with them.
5. My books have explicit sex scenes, cursing, and some gory scenes. Have you ever felt squeamish about recording something that seemed out on the fringe, so to speak?
Only once. In the early days of recording at home I had a studio built into a closet in my son’s bedroom. He was at his preschool and I was recording a really hot scene in one of your books. I t was summer so the room was already hot, and then it got hotter! I opened the door to let some cool air in after a particularly explicit scene and my eyes went from the manuscript of the story to a view of my son’s crib. I blushed deeply, it was such an odd juxtaposition.
Otherwise, no, I’m not embarrassed. I try to give them their due, express they fully for the audience. I figure, if I’m having fun, so will the listener.
6. I have a lot of strange names and unusual pronunciations. What do you do when you come to an author-created word or name that you don’t know how to pronounce?
This is tricky. There didn’t used to be much communication between authors and narrators and while it has changed, I know there are some names I mispronunced early on in recording your books. (Sorry!) But I have a big black notebook with all the names and place names in it that I keep in the studio so when I do one of your books now I have a reference guide. And of course now I have contact with you, so it’s much easier. If I can’t find it on line, I can contact the author!
7. I know you’ve recorded many books, but out of mine, what has been the worst villain in your eyes? And how did it feel recording him/her?
There are two. Hyto was particularly awful, his depravity really got to me and what Camille went through with him was just harrowing. The other is Dredge and what he did to Menolly. I think because both of these characters relished their own cruelty and their attacks on the sisters were sexual in nature they turned my stomach more than the others. Hyto being the father of Smoky added to the sickness of his persona. It was sickening to get inside their heads. But I have to say that I really admire how you have dealt with the subject of rape in your books. It’s so awful and harrowing, but you don’t shy away from having it happen, because of course it does happen in life. Instead your characters find a way to heal and live with their scars and their psychic wounds. I think that’s such a good message.
8. If you could record one special book that you love, that you have read over and over, what would it be?
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. Or The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.
9. Do you sing? If so, what do you like to sing?
I sang in high school in a choir and in musicals. I love to sing. Lately I’ve been singing a lot of stuff from the musical Sweeney Todd.
10. Have you ever wanted to actually write a book? Or do you prefer your end of the work?
Last year I started writing a novel but put it down after about the first 150 pages because I felt like I lost the thread of the story. I’m writing short stories now to practice writing. I hold authors in very high esteem and would love, love, love to someday be published myself!
Bio: Cassandra Campbell has recorded and directed over 400 titles since getting her start in audio books at Books on Tape 2003. A ten-time Audie Award nominee, she has won twice, for non-fiction in 2011 for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and as one of four readers of The Help, which won both best fiction and best Audio book in 2010. She has been named a best voice by Audiofile Magazine for the past four years, as a voice of the year for both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal in 2009 and 2010, as well as being on Audibile’s Best Of Lists for 2010 and 2011. She has received nearly two-dozen Audiofile Earphone’s Awards and many, many starred reviews. In addition to her voice over work in both audio books and commercials, she continues to work as a theatre director and actor: this summer she will direct As You Like It for the Independent Shakespeare Company in Los Angeles.
Please leave a question or comment and you will be entered for a chance to win a random one of my audio books on CD (we pick). — Yasmine