Monday, May 30, 2011

Choose 5 Fictional Characters for a Dinner Party


Kim Koning aka Girl with a quill asked me to do just that in an interview early May 2011.
 My answer:
1 - Clara Forsythe Allen, Augustus “Gus” McCrae’s old sweetheart in Larry McMurtry’s epic novel Lonesome Dove. Clara lives with her comatose husband Bob and their children on the Platte, near Ogalalla, Nebraska. She’s a great example of the strong American frontier women, pioneers who lived under the toughest circumstances, buried children and stood by their men, while being their own person as well.
2 – Asher Lev, the young Jewish painter in Chaim Potok’s novel My Name is Asher Lev. Asher Lev refuses to let his artistic talent go unexplored and as important even, unrecognized. I appreciate the difficult path he has chosen.
3 – Sarah P. Worth, voice in John Updike’s S. I’ve been in similar situations as Sarah and I think we would have great fun schmoozing together. Also would like to hear what she thinks of Updike taking on the project to tell a woman’s story. If there’s anything she would like to change or add.
4 – Kinsey Millhone, the sleuth in Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series. Just love her and want to sit her next to number 5 whom I think she must admire as much as I do. And perhaps she also feels as sorry for him as I, and will amuse him. Not completely sure about the latter, since we’re talking Old World Male and California Wild Card. But you never know and opposites do attract. Just really, really want to make up for all the hardship caused by that big B of wife of his.
5 - George Smiley, the middle aged spy I’ve come to adore reading John Le Carre‘s oeuvre.

Which characters would you choose? 
Care to share in a comment and as a post on your own blog?

Kim Koning introduced me to the Facebook Word Warriors. The dedication of this group's members to NaNoWriMo helped me finish the first draft of my novel Forgiveness last November. Kim set out to interview members of the group and I'm thankful for her attention and inquisitive questions. Kim's most recent publication is the short story A Ring of Fire which you can find in the anthology Tales for Canterbury.


The above interview section was previously published on May 11, 2011 in Dragonfly Scrolls.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Privilege of Remembering Baby

The headline reads: Mother Sues Hospital over Photos Dead Son.
According to News5 at WTWLdotcom "someone" sent Heather Werth a photo album with pictures of her prematurely born son who died at sixteen weeks. The young mother is suing the hospital over Abuse of a Corpse. The female anchor person on News5 asked her colleague, "Why did she (the mother) keep the pictures if they were so upsetting to her?"

The answer could give ammunition to the hospital's lawyer and those who recommend the making of pictures after a baby has died. They'll say: "She may not want them now, but she'll be happy she has them later.

To which I would say, that doesn't matter. What matters is the way the album was delivered, especially since Heather Werth told the hospital staff she didn't want them to take the pictures.

I can very well imagine Werth's shock opening the album and seeing pictures of her baby dressed up and modeled in different poses.

We have two Polaroid® pictures taken of Ariane Eira by Margreet the delivery nurse. Anneke our delivery coach took a few photographs of us holding our sweet little girl. Those pictures are precious and we keep them in a special place. But we can choose when to see them. And let me tell you, there have been times where looking at them was unbearable. 

To send an album in the mail the way the hospital did defeats the purpose of memorial photography. There's no solace in receiving such a present.

To repeatedly re-experience a traumatic delivery is not at all uncommon. Penny Simkin founder of DONA likened this to PTSD. This is a "natural" occurrence. To have the imagery pushed upon you may trigger episodes that may been tapering off. In Heather Werth's case to wake up and go to bed "seeing" the pictures of her dead son in her mind may not be the same as PTSD linked to a traumatic delivery, the effect is the same.

Incidentally Tracey Hill-Bensalem told me the other day that she wrote about her research for a story in which a baby is stillborn. She Google-ed "what does a stillborn child look like?" looked at pages upon pages, and was touched by the sadness of it all. In response to her post I wrote how I (and I'll add here like to) remember our little girl.

Our Ariane Eira's eyes were closed, her lips burgundy rose petals dropped on pale smooth skin, she had the tiniest blond curls as if set around sprigs. Her limbs, fingers and toes were long, like her daddy's, her nails mother of pearl. No peep, no breath, still sheer perfection.

For some reason suing is the M.O. in America to get attention for unwanted practices, I don't know if that's the way to go when doing so may only prolong the suffering, but I do think a reprimand at the address of the hospital is in place, if only to make clear not everyone wants the same.


This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Zealand Authors Tell Canterbury Tales of Hope and Aid


Remember the natural disaster that hit  Christchurch, New Zealand?
Writers performed creative acts of healing...
RJ Astruc, Philippa Ballantine, Jesse Bullington, Anna Caro, Cat Connor, Brenda Cooper, Debbie Cowens, Matt Cowens, Merrilee Faber, AJ Fitzwater, Janis Freegard, Neil Gaiman, Cassie Hart, A.M. Harte, Karen Healey, Leigh K. Hunt, Lynne Jamneck, Patty Jansen, Gwyneth Jones, Tim Jones, Kim Koning, Jay Lake, Helen Lowe, Kate Mahony, Tina Makereti, Juliet Marillier, Angel Leigh McCoy, Linda Niccol, Ripley Patton, Simon Petrie, Grant Stone, Jeff Vandermeer, Mary Victoria and Sean Williams.

They sign for:
Tales for Canterbury Blog button
Click on the tree to the left to learn more.

The short story anthology Tales for Canterbury is loosely themed around survival, hope and the future ...

All profits of this anthology will be donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cristos Tsiolkas's Greek Drama Down Under

The SlapThe Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Someone I talked to at the library (a librarian in training) was surprised to hear I loved this book. She said she didn't like the characters, the things they thought and did. I didn't like them that much myself, jerks and traitors, old and young chauvinists, victimized women and whining children... But my goodness some of them are sexy!
Cristos Tsiolkas is without a doubt the master of portraying the flawed persona, and he shows no fear to admit that all these folks are his brain children. Which of course does not mean he thinks as they do. Authors are too often burdened with responsibility of their character's points of view, the author is not equal to the narrators! Let that be clear!

Using the word persona, with its Greek origin, is appropriate when discussion the work of a Greek Australian author who writes about a community of immigrants from Hellas. 

Aren't we all actors on a stage, either created or adopted? The only character I really felt for was a teenaged boy who questions his sexual orientation, and struggles to find his own place on the stage of life. Other than him, I recognized most all of the people —for yes that's what they are, real people— in Tsiolkas's drama. Am I not, aren't we all a combination of the good and the bad and the ugly, combined with love and affection, covered up with a smile or grunt. What is hiding behind the mask? That's what it's all about.

As a writer with a background in the theater I enjoyed thoroughly how Tsiolkas lets the chorus of his drama tell the story, one by one. Each and every one relating the events in deep point of view, which is no small feat.

Take that to the bank Christos Tsiolkas!




View all my reviews


This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Sunday, May 01, 2011

ScriptFrenzy Fuels Passion for Scenario Writing

If there was any doubt in your mind that writing a film script in less than one month may be likened to climbing the Mount Everest, check out the stats below. That my friends is a steep incline if I ever saw one. The Stairmaster® at my gym has nothing on that baby! Except for the exercise manufacturer's motto: Real Work Real Results

Don't think I didn't do nothing the first 19 days. I was thinking about another writing project, a manuscript I whipped out during the NaNoWriMo of 2010, that I wanted to use as inspiration for the film script. On April 1st I published a post on FaceBook and on Twitter, stating:
My screenplay "Counterfeit" has been optioned still very hush-hush. Can see both Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller as MC, oh boy I could SCREAM!
That first day of ScriptFrenzy I wrote 3 pages. Just writing the scenes made me want to finish reading through the draft of the "Forgiveness" manuscript for more useful sections. On April 19 I picked up the screenplay where I left off. In order to finish on April 30th I had to write at least 10 pages per day. Did I? No, not right away, but the closer the peak came in sight, the faster I typed. 
How thankful I was to remember Lia Keyes' tip during the NaNoWriMo sprint: "Don't delete, everything you type adds up for your word count." How hard it is to control the urge to delete when you're an incorrigible editor though!
 Using the Forgiveness WIP I gained insight in my manuscript's characters' motivation and actions. Alongside that I discovered how much "back story" and character make-up is present in the monologues written during NaNoWriMo. Plus, I returned to an old lover, scenario writing. All in all a fantastic experience. Onward and upward, forward. There's some tweaking to be done, another 20 or so pages to be written, but then my friends, I'll have the 120 standard for a feature film.  
Many thanks to the office of LETTERS AND LIGHT (and Dawn the Script Frenzy Municipal Liaison for Seattle) for support and inspiration!
Do you switch between genres or formats? If so, how does one influence the other?

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License