30 October 2013

Washington and the Big #2

It's time for my seasonal update and while I don't have literary news just yet, I have some delightful pictures to share from a recent trip to Washington and John's 2nd birthday. If you're a fan of ice cream cake, Northern Exposure, or Twin Peaks, these shots are worth a look. And yes, I'm a 90's gal.

 Aftermath of an Oreo ice cream cake

 Main Street, Roslyn, Washington

 Mural on the Roslyn Cafe

 Lawn of the Roslyn Museum

Snoqualmie Train Museum

Twede's Cafe, North Bend

Uphill from Pike Place Market

East Market Entrance

Ready to tackle the border again

12 April 2013

Re-imagining and re-interpreting

I am currently working on a new novel which will be a re-imagining of one of my favourite childhood stories. Whether or not the novel ever moves forward remains to be seen, but I find myself constantly reflecting on the general process of literary remakes.

As an homage, the purpose of re-imagining a classic is to breathe new life into beloved characters and a treasured story (think of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book). But how is that best accomplished?

When should the new author reflect character traits and plot points of the original story? And when is it more appropriate to invent something new? In many cases, these questions answer themselves as you go. Historic settings, antiquated language, and old-fashioned behaviour must obviously be updated to create an engaging and plausible story. But if it was that simple, more classics would have modern versions, I'm sure.

I think it takes extreme finesse as a writer to create a new text that stands on its own, yet skillfully winks at its inspiration, allowing the original story to resonate in the updated work.

I should follow Mr. Gaiman's example and postpone this project until I can write with the above-mentioned finesse. In the meantime, I'll be looking for more insights on the pros and cons of this process.

21 January 2013

Write settings you know and love

Vancouver at Dusk (sxc.hu)

I spent most of today enveloped in thick blue fog 18 stories above downtown Vancouver. It's January, so the weather wasn't shocking, although we usually see some semblance of our surroundings by lunchtime.

Normally my desk has a view of the North Shore, albeit through gaps in the buildings across the street. And if I look behind me, I see West Georgia curving into Stanley Park, just out of view.

My cell phone has never taken a decent picture of this view, in either direction, on any day. Not when the sky is overcast or lit with a brilliant golden glow. Not even when the sky is a perfect cerulean blue with a fresh layer of crisp white snow on the mountains along the far horizon.

Thinking about my view in all its many costumes made me think about one of my favourite aspects of writing fiction. I write British Columbia settings I know and love. Describing landscapes and locales in intimate detail allows me to indulge in a near tactile revisiting of each place. While I'm sure some of my settings fall prey to the lens of nostalgia, I like to think I supplement my memories with adequate up-to-date research.

I'm currently working on new stories set in Vancouver, but I've also written about Victoria and several communities in the Okanagan. If you've never visited, they're definitely worth a trip. Even if you travel through the pages of a novel.

Bastion Square alley in downtown Victoria, BC

The iconic Empress Hotel in a rare snow-covered moment

Vernon valley view from Southwind Road