So listen, I just finished reading this book (below) called Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. No, I did not find this on my own. My very adorable husband saw it and, knowing that this involved two genres I love, bought it for me for my birthday. I will admit it: I liked it. It does seem a bit crazy to go so far as to merge Jane Austen with Dracula and such—but, well, there you have it. I liked the book.
It’s pretty interesting that so many people take Jane Austen’s characters and write their own novels about them. How would you feel if you were the author? And suddenly your hero is one of the undead? I’m not sure how Jane would feel. Probably furious. One of the editors I work with told me about this website where fans have written their own fiction about Harry Potter (www.harrypotterfanfiction.com). Does this sound a bit crazy to you? I know. It is a bit crazy. But have you ever finished a book, only to be desperate for more? Or furious at the ending? Consider a story like Little Women, where Laurie and Jo SHOULD have ended up together. Jo was too interesting to get stuck with the professor, and Amy was too self-obsessed and selfish to get Laurie. Do you ever find yourself creating scenes (composed of your favorite characters) in your head? Just sort of playing the ‘what if’ game and taking the story down different roads? Maybe you haven’t. I have. But think about this. Usually, authors give us the details we need about scenes, but leave room for our own imaginations to visualize exactly what we think a character looks like or how she dresses or what her voice sounds like. We know the basic elements of the setting, but we flesh out the rest on our own. Of course there are those authors who try to give us every detail of every aspect of the story (but that often just ends up being an overly detailed book).
For some authors, they write out pages of notes (just for themselves) describing a character. They do this to get to know the character. I was watching this documentary the other day about a TV show. One of the actors was explaining that every ‘extra’ in the background had his or her own story. The director would tell them exactly where they were going and why. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder why the director did that? Maybe just to help everyone immerse themselves in the scene? I don’t know. After I heard that, I was watching one of the episodes and suddenly thinking that the nameless guy in the back who was walking on the street actually wasn’t nameless and was going somewhere, and I wondered what his particular story was.
Think about your own novel for a moment. You’ve got the plot, you know your characters and you know what happens, but you probably know lots about the characters that no one else will ever know. Because YOU see their history. I sometimes think it would be interesting if writers would elaborate in this way for readers. Maybe on their websites or something. Post ‘behind the scenes’ material–the way we get extras on DVDs. Maybe we could see deleted scenes that editors, like myself, had to cut out for one reason or another. I’m sure some writers do this but I think it should become a bit more common. I know, at least, it would be great for those die-hard fans like the 28,000 writers on that HP website.
You might be wondering when we’re going to talk about spiders. That would be now. So listen to what happened to me yesterday. Jeff was not around so I was left to clean the litter box and sweep the basement bathroom floor. As I’m doing this, I see a terrifying spider. I’m jumping back and trying to think of what to do. Husbands are great for handling these unpleasant things. So anyway, I take the dustpan, hold my breath, jump forward and slam the dustpan down on the spider as hard as I can and then jump back again as fast as I can. I’m breathing hard and doing that weird sort of dance you do when you suddenly feel like bugs are on you and you’re freaking out. Then I realize that the spider, which should be dead, is nowhere to be found. You probably know the sinking feeling I had, knowing it was alive somewhere. (Even though I’m still not convinced I didn’t kill it!) I felt a twitch on my arm and nearly screamed, slapping myself instantly. Then I felt a twitch on my other arm and again, hit myself wildly. I remembered that there was bug spray in the cupboard and grabbed that, and unleashed about half the can on the floor, drenching a trash bag that was caught in the middle of everything and which was now flattened by my slamming the dustpan down on it several more times. Afterward, I reminded myself that Jeff wasn’t going to be around anytime soon and I needed to find a way to take the three steps past the pond of bug spray to get out of the bathroom. I used the broom to pick up the trash bag. Yes, imagine me with a long broom, a small trash bag dangling from the very end. I came upstairs and turned down the air conditioner because I was exhausted and sweating from the ordeal.
It’s moments like these when I appreciate Jeff so much. Well, of course, and the fact that he buys me books about Mr. Darcy and vampyres.