In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Time Travel in Fiction: THE HUNGER GAMES and LORD OF THE RINGS

Every author has a different way to "get into the mood" for writing. Today I pulled on my new "Team Katniss" sweatshirt and the words flowed well, until time-to-make-breakfast interrupted.

Katniss, in case you haven't followed recent YA adventures or you don't have a TV where the movie trailers are airing (for the March 23 film release), is the protagonist of The Hunger Games and its fierce sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. She lives in a post-disaster America called Panem, and, as in Eliot Pattison's detection series also set in the future (first book is Ashes of the Earth), her society has been knocked back to primitive in many ways. Katniss's most obvious skill is hunting with a bow and arrows; her more important one is sorting out right from wrong, I think.

I'm not always comfortable with the way books blend the skills of the past with the robotics, computer life, and communications of the future. But I had no trouble "suspending disbelief" for The Hunger Games. I've just enjoyed my third time reading the trilogy.

It's also a good counterbalance to the trilogy that haunted my teens, The Lord of the Rings. When I re-read this threesome recently, it hit me for the first time that there were no strong personalities among the women there -- I didn't really notice before, because I've always identified fully with Frodo in Tolkien's trilogy, ignoring his gender and instead connecting with his sense of being way too deep in something he doesn't understand, yet determined to somehow go forward and meet his own commitments to justice. (Well, let's emphasize that I try.)

So it's a relief really to be able to identify directly with Katniss and at the same time with her gender and her hesitations around whether "love" is going to work for her, and how to define it. The most important part of The Hunger Games is fighting for survival and then for freedom. But a story's not going to be much good unless the people in it matter to the reader, and Katniss matters to me.

Let me wrap up this post with on off-topic but heartfelt shout of thanks to Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews Blog, where The Secret Room (set firmly in "today") made an appearance on Friday. Many thanks for the perceptive analysis of the book! And yes, there is a sequel on the way, that picks up where Shawna left off at the end of The Secret Room. More about that, another time.

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