Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty and I are having some creative differences this week. There was a topic Anty had suggested for me to write about, but I had to exercise my duties as a mews, and let her know (gently, because this insomnia thing makes her grumpy) that her idea was not very interesting, which it was not. Fridays are my day to blog, and Anty needs to trust me to do the job she asked me to do. At the moment, she is too busy chair dancing to “You’ll Be Back,” from the Broadway musical, Hamilton, to put up much of an argument anyway.
One of the things Anty has come to realize about days when it is difficult to focus is that she probably needs more stimuli. New music is always a good thing, and when it comes highly recommended by people whose opinion Anty values, that is a good sign she may want to have a listen. Anty has not seen Hamilton, but she loves when things people may not think go together -the American Revolution, Broadway, and rapping? What?- do go together, and not only work, but work far better than one would expect.
So far, Anty is only a few songs into Hamilton, but she has already listened to this song five times. No, wait, it is six now. When Anty finds a song that clicks with her, she is going to listen to that a LOT of times in a row, and she does get something new from each listen. I think it has something to do with that whole more layers thing. I probably should remind Anty that she has her DVD of Idlewild sitting on the DVD shelf in her office, and the combination of Prohibition and hip hop probably is going to jog something loose in her brain. Movies and art journal time are very good for things like that.
Anty has also never seen A Knight’s Tale, but that is on her list, too. She did not see it when it first came out, because it had too much of a modern slant – fighting for the honor of the queen, sure, but to the music of Queen? Uh, no, they did not have Queen in the middle ages, thankyouverymuch. Anty’s outlook has changed some since then. Now, she is more concerned with the feel of the story world, verisimilitude instead of strict accuracy. People who lived in other centuries wanted the same things as we do today, but the ways they got them were different.
Now that Anty thinks on it, some of these creative mismatches are the truest of all. Anty loves Elton John and Tim Rice’s version of Aida. Did I mention how one of Anty’s favorite-favorite tropes is star-crossed lovers? Well, it is. It is probably her favorite of all. Anty’s best definition of historical romance, the way she writes it and likes to read it, is a love story worthy of history. She thinks “Written in the Stars” has to be one of the greatest star-crossed lovers songs of all time. I will give you a spoiler here: Aida and Radames do not get a happy ending (well, not in this life) but in a historical romance novel, they absolutely would. I should amend Anty’s favorite trope as “star-crossed lovers who make it work.” She cannot get enough of that stuff, so she has to make more, of her own.
When Anty finds it difficult to put out story, then it is time for her to take some in, to fill her well. What well needs to be filled can vary from time to time. Sometimes, she needs an infusion of emotion. Other times, it is a grounding in the world of the time of the story. That does not mean facts and dates, which may surprise some. For Anty, it is the way the world felt.
Anty’s favorite research session ever, she thought was going to be a very boring one. She had gone to Old Mystic Seaport, with two other writer friends, who were excited to use the research library, and the people who could help them find the books they needed. When Anty got to the library, she felt like the walls were closing in, and didn’t know how to answer the person who asked how he could help her find what she needed. She didn’t know what she needed from all those books, so she told her friends she had to take a walk. It was cold and very, very windy, and Anty soaked it all in for hours.
She stood at the shore and watched the tide come in, walked through the completely deserted shipyard and inhaled its scents, picked up shells from the tide pools, and picked the brains of every costumed interpreter she encountered. There were not many of them, because it was really cold and really windy, but Anty did not mind. When she read, in her pamphlet, that an to talk about what life was like for a house slave in that era, she ran to the right building, so that she would not miss anything. By the time her friends met her for lunch, Anty was full of ideas and stimuli, and couldn’t wait to get all of it into her story. The story she was working on at the time -and hopes to again, in the future- was not set in the time or place of the museum, but that did not matter. What mattered was that they were near the sea, and there were the skeletons of ships, and that was the same centuries and an ocean away. Getting the feel right, knowing why a certain character loved ships more than anything else, that was what Anty had come for, and she got it.
That all feels vaguely subversive, but Anty likes it that way. It has been said that well behaved women never made history. Maybe the same thing applies to writing historical romance, as well. What is it some humans say, play by the rules, miss all the fun? I am not sure Anty is not having a little too much fun, listening to Hamilton. “Helpless” is playing, and this degree of chair dancing cannot be safe on that kind of chair. That had better be about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,
Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)