Tuesday, April 28, 2009

my four walls transformed

A few things:

First, Holly Black rocks my socks. I didn't think I was a very big fan of urban fantasy until I read Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, all modern treatments of Faerie set in the wonderfully familiar tri-state area. (I actually read Ironside first, but the above order is the correct one.) They are dark, and real, and rough, and they're about Jersey teens getting mixed up with dangerous faeries. (Well, "dangerous" pretty much describes all faeries, in fact.) You definitely don't have to have Jersey roots to enjoy them (I first heard of them on the blog of an Irish writer who adored them), but I did like that extra sense of familiarity. Like in Valiant - the main character, Val, pulled out NJ Transit tickets she'd been carrying around for weeks, and I remembered that I actually still have a ticket between New Brunswick and Hamilton in my wallet.

Anyway, loved these books. They're full of compelling characters who do so many things wrong but you're rooting for them anyway. Valiant did an especially good job of combining the dangers of living on the streets in New York with the dangers of dealing with the realm of Faerie. You've got dysfunctional families, deception, deals with faerie courts, serious drug addiction, and (dare I say it?) a hot troll, all right there in the same book. I finished it last night, and the ending was amazing.

Second, John Brown has interesting things to say about writing groups and reader feedback in general. I've never read any of his work, but I follow his blog because it frequently contains helpful insights about writing. This particular post, in case you don't feel like following the link, talks about how important it is to get feedback based on effect, not a catalog of problems or suggested fixes. He also makes a point about how it can be counterproductive to give the same group of people multiple revisions of things they've already read, because (and I'm paraphrasing here) with each reading they'll become more desensitized to the effect of the work and just notice the mechanics more and more. This makes me question the wisdom of allowing my group of alpha readers to include pretty much everyone who expresses serious interest in reading drafts of my story. But I suppose there are other things I should worry about before that detail - like actually finishing the story.

Third, you guys all lose at the comments game. (Although some of you gave me comments personally and I appreciate that.) And there was so much to argue about in that post... *sigh*. The debates we could have had on the validity of the examples, or the definitions of love and evil... and of everyone who read that post or heard me talk about it, only my mother bothered to try calling me out on the moral problems with portraying love and evil as compatible, as I suggested I might do someday. Of course, I still intend to do it. And I will infer from general comment silence that no one has any examples for me of love and evil coexisting. Right? I mean, you guys wouldn't hold those back if you had them, would you?


meagan said...

I still have a ticket from Hamilton to Trenton. Between the two of us, one of us could make it from Rutgers to the state line.

Ruthann said...

...because goodness knows we have to make so many quick getaways across the state line.