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From Phyllida's Desk

Escape Artists

A couple of weeks ago I heard a talk by Francine Prose, author of Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. Like many writers of fiction, Ms. Prose uses the word “books” here to mean novels, and her talk was similar to the first part of Reading, a discussion of the reasons people read, or might want to. First on her list was: Escape.  Read More 
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Labels: Sick, Obese and Prejudiced?

Most of us have heard about “Tea Party” candidate Sharron Angle telling a group of Hispanic students, “Some of you look a little more Asian to me.” I read one interpretation which claimed Ms. Angle was attempting to show that she didn't “see race,” but reactions were, naturally, mostly negative. Nobody wants to be labeled by an outsider telling us what category she thinks we belong to.  Read More 
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Becoming Lady Amalie

Readers of my LiveJournal blog may have noticed that my user name is Ann_Amalie. Some may have wondered where that came from. When I first started to write (fanfiction set in a sword-and-sorcery world), “Amalie” was my alter ego. She was a telepath, a misfit, who comes to this fantasy world in  Read More 
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Perception and Reality

Since my last post, (Seeing Blue) I've been thinking more and more about perception in a larger sense. By “perception,” I mean the way the act of seeing, or more precisely, reading, determines the way in which we understand a work of fiction.

“The camera doesn't lie,” we often hear, especially after being confronted with yet another candid snapshot of one's “self” looking like a star-nosed mole having a bad hair day.  Read More 
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Seeing Blue

In the third season of Mad Men, Don Draper's latest extramarital interest, a freethinking schoolteacher, asks that unanswerable question: How do we know what you call “blue” is the same thing I see and call blue? Now a new book goes even further, telling us English has more color words that many other languages, and that ancient Greek appeared to have no word for blue at all. (Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, by Guy Deutscher. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt)
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Pride and Prejudice and Myrmidons

My second novel, Pride/Prejudice, as the / in the title indicates, is a kind of "slash" fiction, a version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with same-sex relationships between the characters. Of course, by describing the story this way, I seem to be implying that the original novel is "heterosexual," and that by "slashing" it I've changed the characters or the story--that I've "homosexualized" it. Even the publishing contract describes the book as one in which Austen's characters are "turned" bisexual.  Read More 
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Bette Davis Performs in North Carolina

No, this is not simply an excuse to say "What a dump," although I sure felt like saying it when I got back to my dusty apartment from my "mini-tour" of western North Carolina.

My reference to the movie star is about her persona, not any particular quotation.  Read More 
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Sleeping With the Enemy

I'm leaving in a day or two on my one event to promote my Pride/Prejudice: a three-day "mini-tour" of western North Carolina, centered around an invitation to the cosmopolitan Malaprop's in Asheville, and including appearances at two other independent bookstores.

Many people, when they hear I've had a second book published, routinely ask if I'm going on a book tour, even though, for most authors, the tour is no more a part of our lives than manual typewriters or fountain pens (which people also assume we use). We persist in our beloved stereotype of the shy writer who dreads speaking in public, with the agent or publisher pushing this reluctant wallflower into the spotlight, a modern Iphigenia sacrificed for favorable trade winds, or at least good PR.
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The Pleasures and Perils of Prono

I got my first angry e-mail message the other day from a Jane Austen fanfic site:

“It is thoroughly disgusting to read of your use of the P&P characters to write prono [sic] to Jane Austen's works.
You should be ashamed but I am sure the money you are raking makes it all worth it to you.”

Where to start? Surely Austen fanfic writers are better spellers, although perhaps it's a clever device for getting the message past my e-mail program's spam filter. And does anyone really believe that writers like me are “raking” in money? Seriously? Or that we write for any other reason than that we need to, have to--that it's a labor of love? And what, exactly, do fanfic writers do, if not “use” another writer's characters? And why is using them in anything, from “prono” to alphabet books to Christian inspirational romance, reprehensible?  Read More 
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Emma's Perfect Mood

I saw the “new” Emma (from the BBC) the other night. And I'm in love: with Emma herself, as portrayed by Romola Garai; with Blake Ritson (Mr. Elton); with Tamsin Greig (Miss Bates)—and most of all, with what I can only call the “mood” of the production. I haven't been so excited—heart racing, blood pounding, given to jumping up and exclaiming out loud unexpectedly and out of context—since I saw Prick Up Your Ears, Alan Bennet's amazing screenplay of John Lahr's book about Joe Orton.  Read More 
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