Reconstructions of Literary Characters

A few days ago, Moviepilot linked to an awesome blog, The Composites, uses police compositing software to create depictions of what famous characters look like according to their author’s descriptions. A few of these were spot-on to how I pictured them while reading the book (except I thought Annie Wilkes had blond hair?) In cases where a movie was made of the book, I felt vindicated at my own image rather than what many of the movies came up with. Definitely check it out.

The Composites

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Story 9/52: Note To Self —

Today’s story is more a character exploration than a full story, somewhere between a vignette and flash fiction. The seed came from a prompt on the excellent Reddit writing forum, Writing Prompts, though I have yet to read any of the other submissions to that prompt. (I will once this hits the streets.)

Coming up in the next week or two is my next foray into Southern Gothic. About a year ago I read a tweet on an agent’s wish list that said she’d love to see a YA Southern Gothic novel. It’s taken a long time for that spark to truly ignite, but my next few stories will be my way of fanning the flames. I always have considered William Faulkner and Eudora Welty to be two of my influences, so it wasn’t too difficult to encourage my Muse to focus her efforts in that direction for a little while. And my sword and sorcery novella, featuring, in the role of brawny manly-man Nordic ultra warrior hero, an overweight teenage black American girl who was taught to scrap and survive by a friend of the family, is about ready for public consumption as well. I’m somewhat excited about that one; that novella forced its way out of my head in just over four days, and now that I’ve cleaned the blood and brains off of it and made it somewhat sensible, I’m eager to go back to her world and write some more.

Story 9/ 52:  Note To Self —

It’s Oh So Quiet

First, I need to apologise for the light blogging. Unless, of course, you hate the blogging, in which case, you’re welcome. Between travelling to Long Island, and the start of hiking season, and the 52 Story Project placing a well-aimed foot in my tuchus, I’ve let the daily blog chores fall by the wayside. That will stop as of today, though.

In various bits of news, the great HR Giger passed away a few days ago, after injuries sustained in a fall. Or perhaps one of his sculptures ate him. No disrespect intended, of course. Then again, any time an artist passes, I picture something like the final scene in Eternal Gaze. At least, that’s what I hope happens to me.

Tomorrow’s story is also finished, though this is more of a flash vignette and character exploration than an actual story. “Aces” (one of my recent favourites, and I don’t feel arrogant at all about saying that) and last week’s story took a lot out of me, though hopefully you can expect more in the vein of the former than the latter.

 

Interpretation is Key

Something struck me today. No, not on the head. That’s happened enough. But I recently reread a Mental Floss article about whether or not famous literary authors intentionally put symbolism in their work, and that led me to the idea that a reader’s interpretation (within reason, of course) is at least as important as the author’s, and indeed, can sometimes be more important to the reader than any official meaning.

Case in point:  I’m going to dig into the archive of noted poet William Martin Joel. In his song “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” a song I grew up listening to (had no choice but to grow up listening to it, really… thanks, Mom…) he sings, in the first bridge

There’s a new band in town
But you can’t get the sound
From a story in a magazine
Aimed at your average teen

Gently cynical words, of course, and it adds a little depth to what is otherwise just an example of an adult contemporary pianist wanting to rock out for at least one album. (Later, he apparently dropped acid and angry pills and filmed the video for “Pressure,” which left a much different impression on me, but those stories will lead us back into why I like dark psychedelic fiction.) However, I didn’t have the liner notes when my Mom would play that song; I just had to pick out the words myself. And what I heard was:

There’s a new band in town
But you can’t get the sound
‘Cause it’s only in a magazine
Aimed at your average teen

Much more bitter, I think. And for years, that’s what I thought he sang. When I finally learned what the real lyrics were, I was disappointed. My version was what I held on while growing up, as something of an average teen, and reading about the important new changes in music that were revolutionizing the industry, and how important new bands (picked by the editors, and usually, conveniently, with a new major label album on the shelves) were going to enter my ears and change everything about how I hear and feel and even taste music. Somewhere in the back of my mind was that four-line phrase, what I thought I heard from a Billy Joel song, and I think that kept me from jumping all-in and marching right along with everyone else, rebelling in exactly the way we were all approved to rebel. Or at least it kept me from doing it too often and marching for too long.

Anyway, when someone tells you that your interpretation of a book is way off base, you can throw my Billy Joel story at them, or at least you can tell yourself that if it means something to you, everything is copacetic.

Oh, and today’s Billy Joel’s birthday. I’m not the biggest fan (and the whole time I drove through Pennsylvania, recently, I had that damn “Allentown” song in my head, playing on repeat for a good two hundred miles’ worth of I81) but he was still an influence.

Enjoy your day.

Story 8/52: For Love of the Game

There are a couple of things you can blame this on. One is the collections of American noir and mystery fiction that I’m plowing through. Another is the week I took off from the blog to straighten out a few things and get ready for another birthday. (Which is today, by the way… yay…) And third is the comments of at least one of my readers (you know who you are) complaining about frequent fantasy elements in my stories. Well, this is one of the darker stories I’ve written in a while, and it also has no magic. Perhaps it could use some.

Story 8/52:  For Love of the Game