(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book vs. Movie, it's Howl's Moving Castle!

Some poor fool left a copy of Howl's Moving Castle lying on the table, so I stole it and read it.  It's very rare that a movie is better than the book, but I seriously loved the movie and I wanted to check it out!

I can't tell you which is better, because they're so different, but I can talk bout how they're different, which to me is a neat topic.

Like I said, the movie and book are very different.  The stories only vaguely resemble each other, with most of the major characters being at least recognizable, and Sophie's curse and Howl's deal with Calcifer being almost identical.  Since those two drive the plot, you can at least tell the book is the source of the movie.  This isn't like, say, Who Censored Roger Rabbit, where the movie (thank goodness) throws out everything but a few character names and starts over.  It isn't like Jackson's Hobbit movies or the Rescuers (or Peter Pan, or Mary Poppins, or... well, anyway, thanks, Disney) where the movie is the opposite of the author's intent.

Instead, they're... different.  What's the same and what's different?  Well, that's what interests me.  The book and movie have very similar beginnings, but as they go along the story diverges more and more.  Most of the movie's conflicts and events, like Howl's opposition to the war or Suliman trying to trap howl, aren't in the book.  The book focuses closely on Howl's conflict with the Witch of the Waste, and with Sophie's personality and her status as oldest of three sisters in a fairy-tale world.  These issues barely get walk-on parts in the movie.

Miyazaki blatantly uses the movie to push his own moral messages that aren't in the book.  There is only one brief mention of an upcoming war in the book, and Howl makes a lot of money providing services to the military.  The anti-war message in the movie is entirely Miyazaki's.  So is Sophie's hard-working patience and Howl's gentle, kind spirit.  The characters in the book are much more grey morally, with Sophie being angry and bitter, and Howl being a selfish womanizer.  You know the 'little mouse' sexual harassment scene in the movie?  In the book, it's Howl that harasses her, but he backs off when she doesn't like it.

What does Miyazaki take from the book?  This is the most fascinating part of all, to me.  It says a lot about Miyazaki, who was a manga artist originally.  He took images.  Suliman sitting in her chair bolt-upright in an opulent room surrounded by serving boys?  That's a vivid visual scene in the book, but the woman isn't Suliman and her relationship with Howl is totally different.  The appearance is copied almost identically.  In the book there's a wizard fight with a big swirling black cloud that is cut in half by lightning, with something leaping out.  That's Howl fighting the Witch of the Waste.  No airships or military wizards are involved.  Calcifer blazing up into a huge multicolored mass?  That's in the book.  The melting blob servants?  Those show up in the book very briefly in one scene.  The book is full of gorgeous imagery, and the movie only resembles the book at all because Miyazaki took those images, which usually meant keeping some shred of the book's story.

Oh, and there are no airships, no steam powered cars, no steampunk anything in the book.  Those are all Miyazaki's loves that he added for his own amusement.  He made them fit beautifully, but they're very much not part of the source material.  Everything military in the movie is a creation of Miyazaki, with no presence in the book.

So, yeah, I enjoyed studying how the book was adapted, since it came out so different.  What about the book itself?

I liked it.  The tone reminded me of that S. Morgenstern classic, the Princess Bride.  People live in a fairy tale world and know the rules of a fairy tale world.  It's not funny, but it is light.  Sophie and Howl are interesting people with an interesting relationship.  It contained only one terrible flaw to me.  In the book, Howl is from our world.  It's a horrible, immersion-breaking trope, and it seems completely pointless here.  Still, the book is a pleasant enough read that it wasn't hard to get past.

Howl's Moving Castle:  Book or movie?  Both, because they're different stories, each one worth your time.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Unanswered Messages

Okay, so!  I thought you folks deserved an explanation for why I have been so inconsistent answering messages left here.

I'm a flake.

That's it, really.  I could put qualifications in, but why obscure the basic point?

It may be useful to those who really want to get my attention to know HOW I'm a flake.  I get super-focused when I'm writing, or when some major life event is going on.  If a miracle happens, I'm able to drag myself away once or twice to post something, but mostly I just disappear.  Then when I get back, I post something during the scramble to catch up.

It's pretty common, by the time I have attention to spare to start answering messages, for me to have missed a whole slew of them.  It's not because I'm not interested in the messages.  On the contrary, the comments I get here TICKLE me.  I'm just a flake.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fan Art Roundup!

There is nothing an author loves more than fan art.  NOTHING.  It means that you liked our ideas so much, you wanted to make them your own.  Even when we're running screaming from pornography, we're skipping a step because you CARED enough to violate our sensibilities.

I figured it was time to gather together the fan art I've been receiving and show it off.  I am still a tiny name, and I don't get much, but it all makes me happy.

Most of it is from one person, my alpha reader Nicole.  Most of that are OCs of her own.  So, I guess I'll start with Wild Children.  I am not including Wild Children OC pictures here, which I swear I get more of than anything else by far.  Well, I'll throw in one, because Agouti Rex tried to Wild Children his own OCs.

Here is your I'm More Artsy Fartsy Than You Rant for the day:  Gosh darn it, people, I'd be more flattered if more of you noticed that Wild Children are almost never classic anthropomorphs.  I was so in love with the idea of random pairings of animal and human traits!

And yet, still, I treasure every picture.  Notice I have that one carefully stored forever in my fan art folder to show you folks.

Okay, I'll throw in one more, because this comes from Dana, who inspired Wild Children in the first place.  Funny story - she hadn't read the book yet when she drew this!
In the Not OCs section, I don't recall Wolfgang being this pudgy.  By MaeraFey


Jinx's story seems to be really popular, and I have two pictures by people trying to draw the Weaver of Pain!  One by Agouti Rex, and one by Nikki.  Sorry, Agouti - Nikki's is waaaaaaaay more accurate.  Still, I love the Weaver's design, and seeing anybody draw him is a PIP.  A PIP, Sir!

Those are the Wild Children pictures.  Nikki really really really liked Heartfelt from A Sidekick's Tale, and drew TWO pictures of her!

Next in this wandering, cold-induced fever dream of a post is Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Teeth pictures.  Oh, hey, I repeated the word 'dream' by accident.  I'm really out of it.  But check out these Coys!

Those are by Nerissa 'Queen Shubidu' Fuller and Pepfav.  The latter holds the title for actually drawing Fang closest to how he's supposed to look.  People keep wanting to make him a fluffy wolf.  He's more of a bulky silhouette of a dog.

Ooh, wait.  I almost forgot this, by my friend Ben!  It's probably the first piece of fan art I ever got!
Okay, so, so... Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain art!  Bad Penny by RiddleBanshee, eClaire by Phantom Dragon, and a giant crowd scene by Elyandrin!  Phantom Dragon is working on a picture of Juliet and Harvey, but I don't want to put it up until they've finished the book and learn more about Harvey.  Heh heh heh.


Oh, hey, there's a picture of Penny by Nerissa again.
And her interpretation of Goodnight, from 'Summer of Lob', the story of when Bull met Evolution.  I'm about 2/3rds done with that, if only I can shake this disease.
And now the moment you've all been waiting for - fifty million pictures of Remmy by Nikki, who loves Remmy more than life itself!  I was getting these one after another the whole time I wrote the book.  It was awesome.






Unfortunately, my fans... do not love Remmy.  So this was Nikki's response to the early reviews.

I'll finish up with my favorite piece of fan art, which is from Nikki.  Her interpretation of the Walpurgis Night scene from Wild Children.  Evocative, isn't it?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Random Book Review - Redemption In Indigo

I'd like to thank fellow author Albert Berg for pointing me to this book.

Today (okay, not today, like a month ago and I was too busy to write this), I read Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord.

I recommend it.  Like always, there are caveats.  The tone is 'verbal folk tale', which like fairy tales some folks will find too stilted.  It is creative, reproduces the feel of verbal folk tales well, and generally fun.

NOW FOR THE SPOILERS

As above, the book attempts to reproduce the tone of verbal folk tales, specifically the stories of the Caribbean which were a mishmash of the religions of slaves from all over.  This is an ethnic legend set I'm unfamiliar with, and all I recognized was a nod to Anansi from West African religions.  Karen Lord is a sociologist, so this is actually her area of expertise.  I get the impression she did a bit of recasting herself, but it was wonderful to be immersed in another culture's myth system.

The most interesting parts, to me, was the first third of the book, where the heroine leaves her odious husband.  It follows the world-wide folk tale pattern where he comes after her, and she has to come up with clever trick after clever trick.  The wonderful twist is that he's an idiot, and she has to come up with tricks to keep his stupid acts from completely humiliating him.  That would embarrass her in turn, and she doesn't want their breakup to be hostile.  She just wants to get away from a bad marriage.  She's very merciful and compassionate.

After that, the book becomes a little more traditional.  In facing the corrupted chaos spirit, she enters a modern American story pattern.  It's still handled in an unusual way, where the conflict is handled very passively.  He seems to win every battle, showing her time and again how she's wrong, but that she continues to care reawakens his own compassion.  That proves to be the real story.

Because it was more like a modern American novel, that part was less satisfying to me.  The clever and unusual twists also make it slower.  That was really the worst negative of the book.

I'll counter that with the best part of the book.  The oral story telling voice is perfect.  The narrator sometimes stops to chat with you about stuff.  Once in awhile that disrupts immersion, but mostly it has the feel of listening to your grandmother tell you a bedtime story.  I really liked it.

So, to sum up, neat book, unusual in format, but that strangeness is also fascinating.  I recommend it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chi Fi: So Many Costumes

I have returned from Chi Fi, a tiny first year convention up in Chicago.  A friend of mine had an extra ticket, and invited me.  He had a prepaid vendor desk, and I would provide company and sell the small handful of my books I had lying around.

Note to all considering going:  From an organizational standpoint, the convention was a shambles.  Attendance was miniscule.  Entire concerts happened with no audience because there was no schedule posted.

I had a wonderful time, because the very few people there were the nicest, most intelligent, most cool and interesting I've met at any convention, ever.

This is my pictorial of their awesomeness.

SUDDEN DETOUR.  This is a shirt sold by the booth across from us!  I bought one for Dana.

There were no ID badges.  All they had were these wristbands.  I have to say, this was the con's promise, and they DID deliver.  Many fandoms were united, and we were all gloriously one.

The first corset of the convention!  Not the last.  There were SO MANY corsets.  It was wonderful.  This nice lady stopped to chat several times.  In fact, anybody you see photographed in front of our table probably stopped to chat several times.  I left this one uncropped to show you our table.

Something awesome was revealed to me at this convention.  When adults buy my books for tween girls, they buy Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain.  When the girls are unsupervised, they gravitate to Wild Children.  I tried to obtain photographic evidence.

Notice this woman's hair.  I couldn't get her to bend over and let me just photograph the top of her head.  Her hair had cool swirls.  It must have been Hell to arrange that every day of the con, but she did.

EDIT - This lady asked me to include her twitter if I put up her photo.  At least, I'm pretty sure it's this lady.  I had trouble remembering who gave it to me.  Anyway, her handle is @Kcrowemcp, but do note there is NSFW stuff on her feed.

Check it, there's some writer named David Webber who has his own fan military.  They had a booth.

Random elf.  You know how it is.

I guess these guys are patriotic or something?

Another customer!  Or... maybe she's just the kid I flagged down for a random photo.  To be honest, it's completely blurry who I sold what to.

One of many, many, MANY Jedi.  I only photographed one, but they were every freaking where.  There was no point to having a whole stack of Jedi photos.

I love this dress, and I love it front and back.


Cosplay of Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite.  I was in love.

And then she put her jacket on, and looked even more adorable.

I took a few photos of random well dressed gents.  This is one of them.

My policy is to insist on photographing every teenage girl in a fez that I see.

This girl in the Homestuck costume was AWESOME.  She's standing next to her mother here, but she dragged her mother physically over to my table, whining and begging for her mother to buy her Wild Children.  And then they posed for photos.  This is one of my two favorite memories of the convention, and photographing the lounge singer Hollywood Monroe would have been impractical.

This lady had style.  I needed no other reason to capture her soul with my devil camera.

HAT.

These young ladies represent Midwest Anime-con.  I was ordered to watch the Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies, and despite my misgivings I shall.  My policy is to do anything a girl with candy in her hair tells me to do.

This is probably a character?  It's a well dressed woman in an eyepatch smoking a cigar.  If that's just how she dresses, that's more than good enough for me.

Is there such a thing as Too Steampunk?  This guy is trying.

Again, no idea who this is.  A woman in a beautiful white dress was sitting in a chair, so I took a photo.

This is Jen.  She cosplayed as Kim Possible at the convention, and we talked for HOURS.  So friendly and sweet!  I know her entire family history, now, how they shop, what she knows about kicking people in the knee, her parental issues, everything.  Man, was she great.

Remember Elizabeth?  I asked her Bird or Cage.  She chose Bird!  Notice the super tasteful way she covers her cleavage in the closeup.

A luchadore succumbs to capitalism.

There was a ball pit.  At one point it was used to dispose of a body, but this is not that moment.  I left this photo extra large for legibility.

Meow?

In retrospect, Finn and Tank Girl would LOVE each other.

Just, you know, an ordinary Saturday lunch.  I don't know any of these people.  I just thought they looked cute.

THIS.  This wonderful young woman bought Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth, my very last copy of the old cover.  Then she came back to buy Quite Contrary because she was loving it.  She praised my genius effusively.  Also, she knows, like, eight types of martial arts and can break parts of you that you didn't know you had.  Once you put the raven on her hat, she became the Perfect Woman.



Some character from Kill la Kill.  Taking this photo, I realized that I've watched the series, kinda liked it, know exactly who she is and what she's wearing and the sword and all, but damned if I know the name of ANYONE (or anything) in the series.

Another super well dressed man.  I took a lot of photos of him, and none turned out.  This was the best I could do.

Another hallway, another pretty dress.  I couldn't even come close to photographing them all.

This girl is probably with the other candy maids, but who knows?

YOU'RE A WIZARD, HARRIET.  Photographed primarily for Dana, who loves Harry Potter.

I'm not 100% sure this photo is ethical, because I'm not 100% sure he ever knew I took it.  I'm at least 95% sure he wouldn't mind, so I'm goin' ahead and posting.

More really fabulous dresses.

At some point in any con they let the succubi in, and it all goes downhill.

Fortunately, a vulcan showed up to kick ass.  She burst into hysterical laughter seconds after I took these photos, but that photo was too blurry to show.


The general consensus was that I had photographed this woman's dress before, but I don't think so.  Maybe her, but not this dress.

Her friends did The Wave while I took photos, and it was so adorable I had to photograph them, too.

I felt thoroughly chastised by this gentleman, and left the gaming floor forthwith.

Gandalf got no respect.  Seriously.  Joke after joke after joke.

I didn't know what was prettier, the girl or the costume.  I keep forgetting who the character is.  Maybe I just love 40s fashion.

Seagulls on the way back.  Because seagulls.

No photo I took in a moving car could capture the vast numbers of windmills on this wind farm, but this photo looks kinda nice.

And that, for the moment, is that!  Back soon with speculations about genre.