No More Body Wars!

Today my lifelong friend posted a blog titles Confessions of a Skeleton:

Have you been living under a rock?  Have you been lucky enough not to have your Facebook feed covered in outraged comments about Mike Jeffries (CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch) and some of his recent statements?  If so you might need to do a bit of reading to understand this post.
Abercombie & Fitch CEO Explains why he hates fat chicks
Or
The 10 most ridiculous things Mike Jeffries CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch has said
If you’ve read these or similar articles continue on.

 Confession Time:

  1. I am not just skinny.  I am underweight.
  2. I am not on the weight to height ratio charts at doctors offices.
  3. I spent my childhood being made fun of for being too skinny.
  4. I’ve been told countless times throughout my life that because of my weight I am unattractive.
  5. I’ve eaten a great deal of junk food in an effort to gain weight. (Horrible idea)
  6. I lie on my drivers license and add 10lbs (half the time they laugh at me and make me use my actual weight)

She went on to paint a sobering picture of what it’s like to grow up one of the “lucky” girls, who are just skinny, no matter what. The bullying, the emotional abuse, the endless struggle to attain the perfect weight. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

This next quote hit me hard:

As a child I got called all sorts of names like ‘the jolly green giant’ or ‘grand-daddy long leg’ and playing hide and seek with me wasn’t fair because I could ‘turn sideways and disappear’.  I was always the skinniest and tallest of my age group and extremely shy.  I was not a “cool” kid.

I grew up with Cealleadh, and may have been one who said some of these hurtful things to her. If I did, I would have said it was just a joke, meant to be funny. That would have been a lie. I would have been cruelly punishing her for being skinny when I wasn’t.

The most horrible part is I don’t even remember.

I do remember standing in a dressing room full of other girls and saying, loudly, “I hate skinny chicks!” Imagine who I hurt with those words. Anyone smaller than me, obviously, felt hated. Anyone larger than me might have thought, “If she thinks she’s fat, what does that make me?”

Of course, I didn’t hate skinny chicks. I loved Cealleadh and all my skinny friends. But not enough to spare them deflective lashing out over the thing I really hated: My own body.

Like Cealleadh, I’ve recently thrown away my scale. I want to be healthy, and I think my body has been telling me for years that it’s healthy is a good fifty pounds larger than I think it should be. It’s a process, but I know it’s made me happier.

Read Cealleadh’s story, and then look at the hurtful memes at the end. How thoughtlessly those messages get shared! We all want to feel good about ourselves, but let’s not try to find validation at the expense of others. That will never work.

The A&F scandal and Cealleadh’s reaction have my mind churning, thinking about the young people I hope will one day read my fiction. Realistic characters should have flaws. A young female MC might have body issues, an antagonist might exploit them with bullying. But I wonder what kind of social shorthand seeps in without me noticing. Does the abused protagonist think she’s fat when she’s really not? Every time? Is the antagonist always the skinny chick?

In life, I might have some answers: find memes with love for everyone! But with fiction I’m not sure how to turn this realization into action. I do know when I figure it out I will be a better writer.

Worlds and Wonders with SL Morgan, author of Ancient Guardians: The Legacy of the Key

Welcome to an Author Spotlight on SL Morgan, author of Ancient Gaurdians: The Legacy of the Key, in which she will:

  • Take us into Pemdas, the intriguing utopian paranormal world she created for her story.
  • Introduce us to its inhabitants, who shun technology in their own world, but use it for good in ours.
  • Tell us why she’d rather live there!

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Description:

No matter where you are, facing your reality with passion and purpose will always lead down the path you were intended to go.

Reece Bryant was able to pick up the pieces of her broken life after the sudden death of her father. Though emotionally draining, she found the courage to move on, which would have made her father proud.

After finalizing the last of his estate, and returning to pursue her degree in medical school, she has never felt so confident. While making her way through this world on her own, she is
suddenly confronted with the truth of her existence, and the reality of her future.

Find Ancient Gaurdians: The Legacy of the Key on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Watch the trailer!

Step into Pemdas (an excpert from the book!):

Reece was amazed at the fact that horseback was their preferred method of transportation. “But, why is it like that here? I really don’t get it. It seems that Pemdas would be
more technologically advanced, given the car we left the park in. And the object that was in your hand that you were looking at in the car–” she directed at Levi, “that was like a cell phone or computer wasn’t it?” She looked at the fountain, “I guess that’s what is confusing to me.”

“You are correct in your assumptions about our technology. It is far greater than Earth’s. The device in my hand was what we use to communicate with Pasidian’s command center. We
communicate with it telepathically.” Levi responded.

Reece remembered the way Levi had seemed to be ignoring her in the car earlier, and how he was staring so intently at the transparent object in his hand. “Well, I guess that explains why you were constantly staring at it in the car. You were using it to have a conversation through your mind?”

Harrison laughed, “Yes. That is why you had the privilege of conversation with me in the car. Levi wasn’t ignoring you; he was informing Samuel about the success of our mission.”

“Then why wouldn’t you use your cars and stuff like that here?”

“We only use things of a technical nature when we visit other worlds. The use of vehicles helps us to blend in with certain cultures, when necessary. And those communication devices are essential for our communication with Pemdas while we are on any given mission.”

Reece frowned in confusion.

Levi leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, “Reece, I believe the best way for me to simplify the cultures and customs of Pemdas is this; you see, all cultures change over time, they change with the leadership. Pemdas has lived for thousands of years without civil war and unrest; therefore, our leaders have remained in power for longer periods of time. As a result, our change came slower. However, it was mainly due to that fact we have been able to witness how too much change can have very negative effects on a culture, and more importantly, its environment. For example, we witnessed this as we watched Earth evolve into what she is today. After seeing the negative effects these ‘advances’ brought to the planet, the Pemdai chose not to embrace that sort of change, and to
remain in a time prior to the industrial revolution on Earth. It is not only the Pemdai rulers who have chosen this way of life, but it is also a mandate of the Pemdai people as well. No one here is eager to compromise our environment, or our health, for a ‘convenience’ that is unnecessary.”

“The difference between your culture and ours,” Harrison added, “–is not that we do not understand technology, or even that we don’t use technology, it’s that we refuse to allow a selfish compulsion for unnecessary conveniences to govern the quality of our lives, the lives of our children, and the future of Pemdas.”

SL Morgan on introducing readers to her new world:

One of the most difficult pieces to write in Ancient Guardians: The Legacy of the Key was explaining why the alternate dimension that my protagonist, Reece Bryant, was taken to was still technologically advanced, even though their methods of transportation and their clothing they wore seemed to prove otherwise.

When Reece is taken into this alternate reality, she is brought there in a car, that proved itself far more advanced than cars from Earth. So of course, she would expect to see other technically advanced things in Pemdas, however, her first impression was that she time traveled back into the 1700’s. Below is where Reece is confused about the cultures of this new dimensions and she is questioning the men who brought her
there.

In order to make this all believable to Reece and to my reader, I had to come up with a believable reason as to why a technically advanced culture would have no desire or reasons to have cars or other technical things of that nature in Pemdas. They use technical items on Earth while protecting it, why wouldn’t they just use it in the beautiful dimension on Pemdas as well? [This] excerpt was (in my opinion) make
or break on all of this. I really needed it to work, and after I wrote the explanations, I sat back and thought to myself—“Wow! I think I nailed it.”

I had a lot of questions for SL about Pemdas. The world is as much a character as the ones who walk on two legs.

Which came to you first, the world or the main character?

The world and the concept of other dimensions existing came to me before the characters did.

What does Reese learn in Pemdas that she couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

The existence of aliens and other dimensions outside of Earth were validated to her when she was brought into Pemdas for her protection.

Would you like to live in Pemdas?

I would absolutely love to live there; my inspiration for Pemdas was a combination of the nature and the glowing beauty of Pandora in the movie Avatar, and the English countryside. I can’t imagine a more beautiful environment to live in.

If you could choose one aspect of Pemdas to incorporate into our reality, what would it be?

When I really think about it, the aspect that I would incorporate into our reality is that they don’t have a fast paced way of life like ours. I also like the fact that they don’t depend on technology the way we do.

I knew I had heard the word “Pemdas” before and it must mean something, even had the vague idea that it was an acronym for something. It wasn’t until I noticed Levi’s cool rationality that I remembered my algebra: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addiction, and Subtraction, the order of operations. When did that word present itself as a name for your world?

I had been struggling with a name for this world for quite some time. I had a few names that I wasn’t sure if I should go with or not, and my son actually mentioned the name Pemdas and explained what that meant mathematically and it fit this world and the natural talents of the Pemdai people.

Ancient Guardians is a series. Once it’s over, will you write more stories concerning Pemdas?

Yes, as a matter of fact I’m currently writing in the fourth book of this series, while the second is already in the process of being edited and prepared for publishing. I suppose I’ll stop writing the series when the ideas stop coming to me, right now the adventures keep getting better and better.

Connect with SL Morgan:

A huge thanks to SL Morgan for appearing on Fictional Mess. I hope you enjoyed her insights as much as I did.

Have you created a new world for a story? Did it turn out to be a place you’d like to live?

 

How to Care about Characters, with Cyndi Tefft, author of Between

Author Spotlight: Cyndi Tefft

In which Cyndi:

  • Introduces us to new characters
  • Shares the evolution of her scene, and
  • Striking the right balance between action and emotion

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Description:

It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water’s life isn’t alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven’s siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

Between, Kindle Edition is now $0.99 on Amazon!

Also available in paperback.

Just inside the cover:

Ravi’s lips were soft and familiar against mine, but my mind was elsewhere. I was so not ready for my history final and should have been back at the dorm, studying.

“Lindsey, you’re so beautiful,” he said, pressing me against the seat of the car. His mouth trailed over my jaw to my neck, his breath warm in my ear.

“I love you,” he whispered.

That snapped me back to reality.

Damn. I liked Ravi, I really did, but not as much as he liked me. The kissing was nice, but I didn’t feel IT, the connection, the zing. The L word? Ugh. I didn’t want to lose him as a friend and I did love him, in a way. Just not that way.

“Ravi…” I began and he stiffened.

“You know what, never mind. Just forget I said anything, okay?” He jerked away, his voice tight with embarrassment. He turned the key and the engine roared to life.

“No, really, it’s just…”

He flicked on the high beams. “Let’s just go.”

Fat droplets of rain splattered on the windshield and built into a steady drumming on the roof. The swish of the wipers and the hum of the heater echoed in the chasm between us and I struggled to think of a way to alleviate the tension. He flipped on the radio and the sound of screeching guitars raked my nerves.

The highway was deserted and we hadn’t seen another car pass by us for miles. As he started around a corner, I touched him on the arm.

“Ravi, I’m sorry.”

He turned to me with a frustrated sigh, giving minimal attention to the familiar road. “No, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have said it. I know it’s only been a couple of months, but I feel like…”

“Look out!” I yelled.

The sedan in front of us was creeping along and we came screaming up behind it. His eyes snapped forward and he slammed on the brakes. My chest seized with panic as the car started to hydroplane, the tires sliding across the slick asphalt. He wrenched on the steering wheel and pumped the brakes, trying to regain control. The sickening crunch of metal mingled with my screams as we rammed into the other vehicle.

The headlights flung streaks of light like fireworks in the driving rain as we spun out of control. We sailed off the roadway and the car hung in mid air before the hood smashed into the ground. Distorted acid rock pounded in my ears as the car rolled down the embankment. Ravi’s body floated over mine, his face contorted in fear. The pine tree outside my window beckoned with relentless persistence until the car door wrapped around me in a vicious embrace, squeezing the air from my lungs.

Cyndi’s insights into the scene:

 It’s a short scene but it introduces both Lindsey (the main character) and her boyfriend, Ravi (whom she’s not really that into) right before a brutal car accident. This scene was a challenge for me as a writer because I wanted to open the book with a bang, something that would grab the reader’s attention right away, but I also needed to sprinkle in enough details about Lindsey and Ravi to give the reader a foundation to build on. It’s not every book that the main character dies in the first chapter! LOL

Was this scene the very first you wrote for this novel?

While it is the first scene in the final version of Between, it is not the first scene I wrote for the book. In my first draft, I started out describing the weather outside Lindsey’s window (I learned later that many new writers do this!) and fleshing out her college roommates before moving on to Ravi and the crash. While I like the backstory that I wrote, it wasn’t necessary for the reader to know all that up front, so I cut it and sprinkled some of those elements into the story later on.

 

How did it evolve as the novel progressed?

The car accident scene was originally much longer (everything was longer!) before it went through many rounds of edits. I put too much detail in when I originally wrote it, and had to work hard later on to strike a balance between the description and the emotion.

 

Do you miss anything from that first draft?

In the first draft that I wrote, Lindsey and Ravi have their first kiss at a sorority dance. It’s a sweet scene and I hated to cut it, since it shows a side of Ravi that you don’t get to see until much later, but that’s what happens when you go through revisions!

 

What is the very last thing you changed about this scene?

Boy, it was so long ago that I can’t remember. I worked it over so many times. Being the first chapter of the book, I really wanted it to grab the reader’s attention, to make them have to turn the page to find out what happens next. All the revisions were with that goal in mind.

 

Were you worried that beginning with the death of your protagonist might be too dark for your audience?

Yes and no. It’s not that I think readers wouldn’t be able to handle a death early on. In fact, it’s easier because they knew hardly anything about the characters at that point, so it wouldn’t be as much of an emotional blow. But I did purposefully introduce Aiden early on and not allow Lindsey a great deal of time to wallow in her loss, as this book is not about death, but about the life she finds after. In Between, she feels bursts of longing for what she never got to experience in her old life, but that is balanced out by a supernatural calm that she feels in Aiden’s presence. It was my hope that, since the accident starts the book, that they’d be able to emotionally move on sooner toward the light rather than spending too much time grieving her death.

What other titles should we look for?

The third book in the Between series, Even In Darkness, was on April 1st.

Where can readers find you online?

Book Two:

Hell Transporter

cynditeffthelltransporter

Book Three:

Even in Darkness

Evenindarkness

Note: Are these covers not gorgeous?

Free YA Fiction: Vanquish: Call of the Kestrel, an Amazon Breakthrought Novel Award Quarterfinalist

No doubt, the internet is bursting with free stuff, and not all of it is pirated illegally. But don’t you get what you pay for? If it’s free, isn’t it most likely crap? Maybe. But sometimes incentives, like celestial bodies moving in the firmament, align, and someone decides to give you something quality, something good enough to pay for.

Right now, Amazon is that someone, and their Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalists are the things. 500 novelists, including 100 in the YA category, all vying for a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance. Eventually (May 21st-29th, to be precise), we, the paying public, will get to vote, but for now we can sample a buffet of excerpts free on our Kindles, and review to our hearts’ content.

What am I Tasting?

I knew A.P. Russo as Retro Rocket on an online writing community. His username was apt: he posted a chapter of a WWII robot uprising that was both fresh and classic, as Emma Watson would be if she decided to bring back seamed pantyhose.

As a newbie to the site, I was enchanted, quickly favorited him, and waited anxiously for more chapters. None came. Disappointed, I carried on, wondering sometimes if I shouldn’t de-throne him in favor of more active members (not that I had a  limited number of spots–this was all in my head), but every time I hovered my mouse over the button that would banish him from my news feed, I remembered the giddy, childlike anticipation he induced, and decided that if that was all he ever gave me, it earned him a place on my list.

Little did I know . . .

Vanquish: Call of the Kestrel, Russo’s ABNA placing entry, is not the story I was introduced to earlier, but it has the same feel. There’s a war on, and Briley’s older brother is going off to fight, leaving her to . . . fly the mail plane? It seems like I’ve been here before, but everything has changed.

In just the first few pages, Russo proved he doesn’t fall into easy clichés. When grease-monkey Briley’s mother confronts her with a basket of laundry, I thought, here it comes, the Why Can’t You Get Domestic, You Anachronistically Feminist Free Spirit Speech. But, no! Briley’s mom intends to do the laundry herself! She needs Briley to fix the pump.

Mom would like Briley to get the job done without covering herself head to toe in grime and dirt, but they are Technicals. Keeping their farming community’s crucial equipment in working order is not just what they do, it is their religion: Briley earns an upbraiding for taking Pythagoras’s name in vain!

From my enthusiastic hyperbole, you can tell I am thrilled, thrilled, to see Russo/Retro make it to quarterfinals, and can only hope I’ll get a chance to vote for him in the last round.

But if steelpunk* isn’t your style, there are so many others to choose from. Amazon has obviously taken care to represent all genres of YA in their quarterfinals selection, from Chicklit to Fantasy to Comedy. Check it out. Maybe your favorite will make it to the top.

What’s the angle?

It’s true, there’s no such thing as free lunch. Like toothpick-skewered chunks of cold honey-baked ham under a plastic dome at the grocery store, these free offerings are only parts of a whole, designed to whet your appetite but not satisfy. But does that stop us from dipping that ham in the mustard? Never.

Amazon is obviously hoping we’ll stick around to buy the winning novel for $9.99, or whatever they’ve decided ebooks should cost this week. They have a $50,000 advance to earn back. I’m not going to let that keep me from taking a look, as many looks as I want.

Why is it Worth It?

As a writer, I see this as an amazing opportunity to find out what really matters to publishers and agents. These 500 entries have been chosen from an enormous slushpile: what made them stand out?

As a reader, what’s to complain about? It was free! I get to vote! If they decided to televise this with Simon Cowell providing a “droll” Brittish commentary, I’d be there with bells on. I’m that kind of American.

*Am I getting that right? I can’t keep track of these punk genres. They multiply like horny bunnies. On a dirigible.

Why YA Shouldn’t Fear the Dark, with Makayla Yokley, author of The Ruby Curse

Author Spotlight: Makayla Yokley

In which Makayla:

  • Gives us a sneak peek
  • Offers insights into the creation of a scene, and
  • Speaks out in favor of dark content in YA

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Seventeen-year-old Violet Seymour is the only person to ever escape the highest maximum security prison in the steam-and-clockwork powered nation of Arcova. She is also a link in an ancient bloodline of heroes. When mages start going missing, Violet is the only person who can find them.

Our take: Violet makes a surprising heroine from the first paragraph, which finds her imprisoned, and not wrongfully, either.  This gritty, bold girl carrying heavy secrets is the perfect character through which to experience Makayla Yokley’s broken steampunk world.

Find The Ruby Curse ebook on Smashwords.  Not sure?  The first nine chapters are free!

Also available in print on Amazon.

A scene from the book:

Mammoth creatures came from within the forest. Ogres of about eight or ten feet, probably weighing several hundred pounds, pushed the trees out of the way as if they were nothing more than troublesome streetwalkers. They threw their weight forward as they sloshed into view. They dragged their knuckles across the loose dirt, creating big, bloody patches on their fingers. Their tiny, button-sized eyes hid under an extended, Neanderthal-like brow.

Something big and metallic caught the light when the pair stepped into the range of the fiery glow.

An enormous gear was attached to their shoulder, connected to thin iron beams— or maybe they were pipes— that burrowed under their skin like artificial bones.

“Oh my god…” Ethan breathed, taking a step back.

The ogres roared into the air, holding their enormous metal hammers up to the sky with the same ease as if a normal person had picked up a regular hammer. The blood trickled down the length of their forearms from the wounds made by their barbed-wire gauntlets, shining meticulously against the light.

Fighting an ogre was suicide, especially one with mechanical attachments. But what other choice  did we have? A blazing firestorm guarded our backsides, but there was nothing stopping us— and by us  of course I mean me— from escaping into the woods and running until the ogres were a distant memory.   That actually sounded pretty good…

After digging into the book, we couldn’t wait to ask Makayla some questions.  First, she shared her struggles writing the ogres in the above scene.

This whole scene with the ogres was added last minute while I was trying to figure out how to break up some of the slower scenes with something exciting. I’m not really all that great at writing fight scenes— ironically, given that most of the series is fighting— so I had to do quite a few drafts of this fight to get it to the point where I was happy with it. I had done some concept art of the ogres to get an idea of what I wanted, and then completely forgot about it until I wanted to put this scene in, so that was helpful to have when writing them!

What did the scene look like when you first sat down and wrote it?

It was really disjointed. I had no sense of what my characters were or what they were doing. I barely had any concept of scene! Morrigan and Nox had just vanished into thin air and the whole thing was just completely blah. It never would’ve stood up in the novel if I didn’t rewrite it, and I think it went fairly well.

Why did you make the changes you made?

Consistency mostly. I have this problem with just forgetting about Morrigan and Nox sometimes and having them fall back into the background of the scene when that’s not where they belong. They’re characters and they should be included, so I made a special point to put them in. It wasn’t a strong scene as it was and I needed to give it more umph.

Do you miss anything from that first draft?

Not really, no. If there was something I absolutely HAD to have from it I found a way to incorporate it. The first draft was so terrible I was more than happy to axe all the bad stuff!

Your ogres are pretty gory, and your novel even carries a content warning for those under 17. Does this kind of content come naturally to you? What would the novel be missing if you left it out or toned it down?

It actually does, and hopefully that’s not a sign of something! (haha!) But seriously, I’m not afraid to make something dark if it needs to be. I don’t believe in sugar coating anything and I feel like it would be a terrible understatement of both the world and what I think people can handle. If I took out all the darkness and stuff that causes the content warning, I feel like I wouldn’t be doing the story justice.Besides, I kind of think of the setting as a character in of itself. It’s a place ravished by technology and industry, devoid of most (if there’s any at all) natural touches. This world has been tainted and corrupted, just like Violet, and the two are interconnected. It might be fair to say that the way that, symbolically, Violet and her world are synonymous with one another.Though to be honest I think I might’ve been watching too many dark animes when I built her world.

It’s not just the ogres that get this treatment. Violet herself can be pretty gruesome.  Why did you choose to write an unpretty heroine?

I was playing with the idea of a Byronic Hero when I first came up with her, and definitely intended to make her someone you wouldn’t expect (or want) as a hero. She’s cruel, she’s strong, and she’s someone who will keep fighting no matter what is thrown at her because she can take it. I can’t say what exactly, but she’s been through a lot, and she’s because of that she’s become the person she needs to be in order to survive.

On the flip side of that Violet is still a kid. She can be as big and mean as she wants but when it comes right down to it she’s still a seventeen year old girl and still shares the same feelings, interests, and vulnerabilities of a regular teenage girl. The difference is that she tries (sometimes. Not all the time) to suppress these ‘regular’ feelings because she has so much other baggage and she doesn’t always feel like a teenager. Who could blame her, right?

What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?

I think it was feeling like it was adequately “steampunk”. I always had this belief that if you’re going to write in a new genre, you should do all the research you can and stay as true to what people expect from that genre as much as possible while still experimenting with new angles. This was my first steampunk experiment and because I recycled the plot from a Tolkien-esque fantasy I tried to write right before, I had to make sure I took the total renaissance feel out and replace it with a science fiction Victorian era feel that I learned through research was what steampunk was. I didn’t want to publish something that would be branded as terrible because I didn’t know a lick about what I was writing. I think the amount of research is definitely paying off though.

What’s next?

Right now, in the word factory known as my WORD program, I’ve got the sequel to The Ruby Curse, “Briar Light” in production alongside countless other half projects that may or may not ever reach completion. Briar Light is what’s important though, because I like to think I might be able to get it out this year, though I’m not promising anything.

Briar Light will continue on the adventures of Violet, Ethan, and Aurora; and while I can’t say more than that, I CAN say we’ll get to peek into the swamp elf culture, learn a little more about the naturalistic theory of magic (while in The Ruby Curse we got to learn about the scientific theory), and meet a new villain.

Like what you’ve read?  Connect with author Makayla Yokley on the web:

Jane Eyre and I: Why We Don’t Get Along

I cannot like Jane Eyre.  I am too much in love with Jane Austen. How common is this?

I rented the movie version starring Mia Wasikoska and my husband found me up late one night watching it.  When he asked if he would like it, I said, “Well, it’s better than the book.”

“So, yes?”

“Maybe?”

Silence ensued while he waited for elaboration.

“It’s like Jane Austen, but without the humor.”

He walked away without hesitation.

It’s true, it just wouldn’t do to laugh at Jane Eyre.  While Austen’s heroines “dearly love to laugh”, Jane Eyre steels her heavy heart with a stiff upper-lip and a cast-iron backbone. Very admirable, but not very funny.

There is also the dis-jointed structure of the book, which seems to have an existential crisis every hundred pages, losing track of it’s horror elements here and it’s romantic ones there. The first third can be skipped without loss, or be substituted with any book by Dickens, and, at the point where the ending should be, the plot skips off into the heather and doesn’t come back til long after supper.

Are those the real reasons I don’t like Jane Eyre?  No, I dose myself with melancholy as often as I want a good laugh, and I have forgiven many a book its structural flaws. It’s much more simple than that.

I just don’t like Rochester. And it’s all Jane Austen’s fault.

Physically, of course, Rochester is everything my heart desires. Who doesn’t like tall, dark and brooding? That combination is almost as good as a talking Man-Tiger. With Rochester, as with all men, it’s what is inside that counts, and his insides are all wrong.

Rochester is anything but straight-forward, his moods are changeable, his romantic ideas are all high-standard idealism. He is quick to laugh and quick to rage. He keeps secrets and plays games.  How enchanting.

But Jane Austen has taught me to distrust brooding, passionate, tortured souls. Does Rochester more closely resemble Darcy or Wickham? Brandon or Willoughby? According to Austen, Rochester is just the sort of man to toy with a heart and leave it for a fortune or to lure an innocent girl to her ruin for fun. It is a truth universally acknowledged, at least between her and me

Austen and I want a man whose love is solid and honest, not in desperate raptures. We don’t trust a player. How can I believe Rochester’s passion for Jane to be undying? It is another one of his games: shock the world by marrying the governess.

It would not have surprised me at all if the sequel revealed Jane locked in a tower with her mind and corsets undone, her husband tormented to distraction by some other girl who didn’t read her Austen and so didn’t learn her lesson.

(But I love Mia.  Isn’t she lovely?)Image

This is a post.

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