In Awe of Twilight

I have a confession to make and I can’t write this post until it’s done; I never had any plans of reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. Nothing against Ms. Meyer, I didn’t even know what they were about. My aversion stemmed from the over hyping of the serious, millions of screaming teenage girls etc. I got sucked in by the whole hype thing with Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, and decided there and then, NEVERMORE. I’d love to dedicate a whole post to how much I loath Paolini’s books, but I feel that the least said the better, let’s not add to the hype. So that is my I was unfairly prejudiced against Twilight and I hope all fans can forgive me.

Luckily for me Twilight got made into a film and for that I will be eternally grateful. When I saw the film at Christmas I was struck by the raw emotion of it and of course (as anyone who knows me would have guessed) I was near tears for the majority of it. I decided then that I would read the books, that I HAD TO read the books, however due to various other reading commitments (reading lists for uni, the huge pile of unread books in out living room) I never quite made it out to the shops to get the series. Then came May 2009 and I had mostly finished my writing course, handed in one of my essays for A210 and the pile of unread books was no more, so when I saw Twilight on one of my weekly shopping trips I picked it up to read after the weekend.

One chapter in and I was hooked! I started reading on Sunday and on Wednesday morning I had finished all four books (on Monday after finishing Twilight I went straight to the bookshop and bought the New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn). Inbetween reading I watched the film twice, first on the pirate copy we bought at Christmas, and then the proper copy as I went and bought the special edition because I just had to see the special features. And then of course I bought the soundtrack, which was perfect. So yeah I am now a Twilight fan, and proud of it.

Because the books were labled as YA fiction I did have my doubts, most if it would be insanely and unrealistically angsty as teen fiction tends to be. Well there is angst, no doubt about it, but good angst, the kind you can believe in. The raw emotion I felt in the film is even more evident in the books, and I cried, if possible, even more whilst reading. I was in awe of Stephanie Meyer’s ability to write in 1st person, it’s something I’ve experimented with myself on occasion, but I’ve never quite got it right. This story is perfect for it though, by seeing everything through Bella’s eyes the reader gets more invested in the tale meyer tells. And as Bella is without a doubt the character who changes the most through out the series the reader is given a more complete picture of why Bella changes the way she does and why she makes the decisions she makes. Without  Bella there is no story, without her Edward can just go on with his life as he has for the last 90 years, he won’t miss what he’s never had.

In any case, reading Twilight inspired me to dig out an old story I started about 8 years ago and now i have two pieces for my ECA. Both are the beginning chapters of a novel, the first one, the one I was originally planning on sending in is a Timetravelling-ish story where our heroine jumps from 2009 and right into 1815 and the Battle of Waterloo. It let me combine my love of sci-fi/fantasy and the Regency era and I’m quite please with it, even if the ending is a bit weak. But now of course I have a contender and this is more a urban fantasy/ supernatural drama kind of story. It started out 8 years ago as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer sequal, except there was no one there from Buffy, the similar things ware The Watcher council, slayer lore and Watchers. There isn’t a single vamp in sight, instead we have other things which go ‘bump in the night’. As the story developed and I stopped plagarising Joss Whedon, the Watchers Council became the  Assembly of Elders and consists of humans, ‘good’ demons, witches and other beings (this is still a bit sketchy), the slayer becomes an immortal warrior who can live for ever, but who is not indestructable. So she could easily live for several millenia without aging, but shot her in the head, plunge a knife in her heart she is as dead as the next person.  The watchers are called mentors or companions, and can be human, or not. They live their normal life spans, so are regularly replaced, once a warrior has lived a while and gone through a few mentors these are usually relegated to the post of research assistant because that’s really all the use they are. In any case the story begins with the current warrior, a girl who looks ot be in her 20s, having almost lost a fight. She survives but has completely lost her memory, the beginning of the story is really her quest to get her memory back and identify who her true allies are. It’s changed so much since I started writing it, and I think some more changes are waiting to happen as there are quite a few things I want to change, need to change, but these are more in the later story so the beginning chapters should be fine as they are.

To make things even harder for myself I do have a third story ready for the ECA, a pure Regency story with quite a bit of drama. I am reluctant to send it in though because while I am really happy with 90% of the novel, I am not happy with the beginning and that is the part i would have to submit. Well I still have a few days to decide and polish so at this point everything is possible.

I’m not entirely sure how I went from a post on how much I love Twilight (wanna-be teenie that I am) to talking up my own writing, but oh well. All I wanted to say was THANK YOU Stephenie Meyer for a brilliant books series.

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Catching up with JAFF

I’ve finally been able to catch up on some JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) stories. Since leaving the UK in November I haven’t had much time for the world of Darcy, Elizabeth et al., not only because I have had limited internet time, but also because my favorite JAFF site has been down. HG (Hyacinth Gardens) is sorely missed, although it looks like the site might come alive again in the next few weeks. Fingers and toes crossed!!!!
For now I’m getting my fix from AHA (A Happy Assembly) at www.meryton.com, a lot of my HG favorites post there and it’s given me a chance to discover a few I haven’t read before 😉 I’m trying to mix the more angst ridden stories with more fluffy ones, although I find both types make me cry for different reasons of course. I must say it’s getting a little annoying to always cry at the drop of a hat, but I suppose after 20 years of it I should resign myself to the truth, I’m a soppy, emotional, hopeless romantic.

I finally found the courage to watch The Duchess a week or so back, and predictably cried my eyes out. Not being a big Keira fan, I can’t forgive her Godawful Elizabeth Bennet, I didn’t want to watch her make a mockery of G.’s life, but thankfully she was REALLY GOOD (More than I can say about Kirstin Dunst as Marie Antoinette, but I won’t digress even further). Poor G. such a sad story, sad life. What really PI**ED me off when the trailers were showing last year was the Princess Di angle. Seriously what was the point of that? G.’s life was interesting enough, I would say far more interesting than Princess Di’s (although I love her too), and there should be no need to exploit Princess Di’s memory to get the cinema crowds in.

Anyway back to the original topic, JAFF. I’m currently reading a few different WIPs, mostly moderns as I tend to get annoyed with the Regency that get facts etc. wrong. Unless they come particularly recommended I stay away until they are complete and then browse the comments.
A modern story I’ve been reading for a while now is Miscommunication by JulietR, it was posted on HG until it went down, but luckily it’s also found on AHA. It’s a typical P&P (Pride and Prejudice) fan fic, with Lizzy and Darcy on center stage. However it starts on an interesting premise; Darcy has married his terminally ill cousin Anne, this is to give her a few good years away from Lady Cath and experience some good things before her time comes. Lizzy meets Darcy in Anne’s finally year, and Lizzy and Anne develop a sort of friendship. Then after Anne dies (well a while later, we do have all the usual problems, Wickham, Hunsford and so on), Darcy and Lizzy start going out. And that’s where we are at for now. Not sure how much is left now but it must be coming to a close I’m sure. It’s such a delight to read, and I really appreciate the footnotes at the end of each post, save me having to google things to find out what they are. In any case it is a story I would highly recommend. It’s low on angst, the times when it does look a bit dicey everything is quickly resolved. It is so well written, some chapters will have you laughing, others crying and some will have you doing both.
Another modern I’m reading is Forgotten First Impressions by Excentryke, which has recently cranked up the angst with a heartbreaking plot twist. The premise of the story is that Elizabeth is a single mother living in New York with her sister Jane and friend Charlotte. Her daughter Mabel is the result of one night of passion with a man Lizzy can’t remember, not really anyway, when she was in college. Enter Darcy who had his heart broken many years back by a woman he fell instantly for and shared a passionate night with. See where this is going? Well your guess would be right but the twists and turns that take us to these revelations are very entertaining. I won’t say more about it except it’s got a crazy, delusional Jane in it. I thought I’d seen the bitchiest Jane of all times in one of Amber’s (HG Queen) stories (can’t remember the name right now), but this Jane is just amazingly cruel. You have to read it, but if you are an angst weenie maybe you should stay away for a little while, the author has said things will start to resolve now but how quickly is anyone’s guess. I don’t mind though, I’d go mad without a regular serving of angst.
The next story I want to bring to your attention is Cherchez La Femme by Irene, another modern where a M.E. called Esther Brighton is framed by persons unknown and convicted of a drug trafficking charge. However instead of going to jail she is recruited by the CIA to work in a spec ops division, where she can put her M.E. skills to good use. Goodbye Esther Brighton, hello Elizabeth Bennet. I love the premise, it’s well written and well thought out, and I can’t wait to see how it all works out.
A modern with a different story and main character is The Modern Caroline Bingley by Excentryke. It features; you’ve guessed it, Caroline Bingley and starts the day before Darcy marries Elizabeth. I’ve only read two chapters so far, but eagerly looking forward to more (I know there have been a few more posted). Caro’s love interest (I assume) is a guy called Max, and he seems to have his own personal baggage. And Caro of course needs a cargo plane of her very own to carry all her baggage. As I said it’s promising, mainly because Caroline is made human and is not being passed off as some sort of ridiculous caricature. Definitely a story to watch.

I’m not only reading moderns though, I do find my way into the regency section. The regency I’m reading at the moment is a sequel to the exquisitely written Teurig by MAB, and is called Love Will Find A Way. The story starts a few months after Lizzy and Darcy and Jane and Bingley are married. An important government document disappears, and the puzzle solving sisters are called upon by the government to continue their work. The opening premise has some similarities with a Sherlock Holmes story, where his brother seeks his help to find a missing document which could possibly cause war. From there though Love Will Find… follows its own path; finding the document might be what they are working towards, but what happens on the way is far more important. Darcy resents not being included in all aspects of Elizabeth’s life, and Lizzy is scared that she will lose herself if she surrenders everything. While it’s a cleverly written mystery, which I know will be as exciting and entertaining as Teurig, it is also a story about the trials of marriage and how to make it work (well at least I hope they will solve that issue in the end), and I eagerly await all new chapters.

While I’m having fun reading all these new stories I am missing a few from HG. A Mother’s Favorite Wish is one of them; though I’ve heard it’s also located outside HG so I will go hunting for it in the next few days. Another story I need to finish, and I know it’s finished at DWG (Derbyshire Writers Guild), is Shem’s The End Is The Beginning…. The last chapter I read was at the airport in Manchester before flying off to Abu Dhabi in November, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing. The premise was very original and I’m sure there is an older post about it, so I won’t harp on about it. Once I’ve read it all I’ll harp some more though (so now you are warned).

Now I feel I should reveal my reason for returning to JAFF after my long absence. Well I bought a book called The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough. It’s set 20 years after the end of P&P, and from the back cover write-up had an interesting premise. Well I can only say one thing; it was a pile of crap. The author must really hate P&P; I can see no other explanation. I never finished it; it was just too damn depressing and not really that well written. The characters are caricatures, nowhere near believable or realistic. It was surprising really as McCullough wrote The Thorn Birds, which was excellent. So maybe her strength lies in creating her own characters and not altering other peoples, as a fan fiction writer (I don’t care how accomplished the writer is, if you take other peoples characters it’s fan fic) she kinda sucks. Well in any case, my meeting with that terrible book made me flee back to the warm and fuzzy world of online JAFF, where some true gems are hidden.

In my next JAFF post I think I might concentrate on complete stories, and maybe do a top 10. We’ll see.

Copyright © 2007-2011 Line Sletvold Finnan
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