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Image copyright Flick CC user Marcelo Graciolli

Hello Lovelies,

This is a scheduled post because I currently do not have home WiFi until arriving back in Sydney.

I write this as I try to get everything that needs doing before our WiFi is disconnected in preparation for returning to Sydney. Of course I can visit a WiFi hotspot if I really need internet access, but with the soon-to-be absent internet, I’m beginning to realise just how dependent we have become on it.

Gone are the days when we ponder the answer to a questions for hours or days before heading to the library or asking someone more knowledgeable on the subject. Nowadays instead of getting frustrated with an answer that’s “on the tip of my tongue” but you can’t just quite remember, we turn to trusty Google and enter the most absurdly vague search terms imaginable and somehow still manage to find what we were looking for.

I cannot even begin to imagine writing a novel in the days before the internet, especially one which would require significant amounts of research, like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for example. I have nothing but absolute awe and admiration for the writers who tackled their research without the modern (if somewhat overused) convenience of the internet.

I myself didn’t have internet at home until I was around fifteen or so and that was only the drearily slow dial-up version with the modem that made funny noises. Those noises will be something that the younger generations will never understand as well as the habit of clicking on the webpage you hoped you needed for your assignment and then going to make a sandwich while you waited for it to load. Now we become frustrated when the page fails to load the instant after we click on it.

As a society we have become extremely dependent on the internet, we use it to research, to keep in touch with people, to watch movies, share photos, writing and everything else and to generally procrastinate and waste endless amounts of time. Any information we seek is at our fingertips.

The internet definitely has its uses, but often it is more of a tool for distraction than anything else. Whilst writing I often have several tabs open, researching and checking facts and details as I write, this is extremely useful. However I am also guilty of having Twitter and Facebook open at the same time, definitely a distraction and I would probably get a lot more writing done if I banned myself from social media for a while but it helps me to procrastinate.

I don’t let social media overtake my life though. Sure I have Facebook and Twitter but I’m not on there giving the world play-by-play updates on my life or trying to make my life seem more glamorous than it is. I’m on social media, but it doesn’t rule me.

Sometimes I think we need to take time to disconnect ourselves from the World Wide Web, time to be in the real world and actually experience life and see it through your own eyes, instead of through the screens of our smartphones or through the status updates of our friends on social media.

So get out there, go offline and experience the world the way it is supposed to be experienced. Make memories to cherish forever not status updates for “likes”.

Enjoy,

KK

 © Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content
 

 

 

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Long May She Reign

mary-queen-of-scots-portrait-by-francois-clouet-1558
Mary, Queen of Scots. Portrait by Francois Clouet 1558.

 

Hello Lovelies,

Lately I’ve been trying to fill the void left by Outlander and Game of Thrones. In the last couple of months I’ve watched all available episodes of Vikings, Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife and now I’m halfway through the third season of Reign.

I know what you’re thinking, instead of binge watching all these shows, I really should be taking advantage of the long wait for Game of Thrones and Outlander and getting some serious writing done, but in case you didn’t already notice, I’m an extreme procrastinator as you can read about here, here and here.

Now, back to Reign. If you’ve never heard of this series, I’ll forgive you. I hadn’t heard of it either until I was on the search for something to fill the long months of “Droughtlander”. I thought the perfect way to fill the void would be with another Scot, Mary, Queen of Scots to be precise. The series is about the young queen and her early years at French court, it sounded like the perfect way to cope with “Droughtlander”

****The rest of this post may contain spoilers for Reign****

The series is categorised as an “Historical Drama” or “Period Drama”, I’d say the term “historical” is used rather loosely in this case. Now, I’m not expecting a fictionalised series to be 100% historically accurate, but it would be nice if it had resemblance to the historical events that apparently inspired the series in the first place. However it’s so historically inaccurate that the only resemblance to actual historic events is the names of some of the characters and perhaps a few of the key events, although even these are twisted and changed in order to convert them to the teenage angst and drama of the series.

The relationship between Mary and her first husband Francis the Dauphin of France is depicted as some great romantic story of two teenage (around the age of 18 I guess) royals who were betrothed as children for the sake of an alliance, but who were actually deeply in love with each other. This couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact Mary and Francis were married when Mary was 16 and Francis was only 14. Francis ascended the throne a year after their marriage.. Francis was always a sickly child and his constant ill health resulted in his death a year later at the age of 16. There is also doubt that their marriage was even consummated, so here we have a young queen, a widow at the age of 18, in troubling times for her country and her treaty with France hanging on by a tether. Definitely not the great story of love and loss as shown.

Next we have the costumes, with many of the female characters wearing sleeveless, sheer  and revealing dresses that were totally inappropriate for the time, Yes, I understand it was French court and many morally questionable things probably occurred there, but the ladies of the court would definitely not be wearing some of the dresses worn in Reign, that’s for sure!

Next we have the music, I wasn’t expecting Bear McCreary quality but I also wasn’t expecting to hear Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” either! It really hurts my brain to hear very recognisable modern music in what is supposed to be historical drama, especially when paired with the out of place costume choices.

Now let’s move on to the accents, everyone at French court seems to have these terrible English-sounding accents from the Italians, to the French to the Hungarian Lord Julien (for the record Juilien is NOT a Hungarian name and his accent is not even remotely Hungarian sounding). Now, even though the show is mainly set in French court, I was not exactly expecting everyone to be speaking French as they would have at the time, but I was at least expecting SOME sort of accent. Mary, Queen of Scots was Scottish, that is true, but she was raised in France from the age of 6, therefore I would have expected her to have a French accent, not a Scottish one, however, Australian actress, Adelaide Kane (who portrays Mary) instead employs this wishy-washy posh accent that is somewhat generically English-sounding, as do her ladies in waiting, her betrothed Francis the Dauphin of France, King Henry II of France and practically everyone else at court. Even the Queen of France, Italian Catherine de Medici, has the posh English-sounding accent, when you would expect her to have perhaps a slightly mixed Italian/French accent, having lived in France since the age of 14. Occasionally some Scottish visitor to French court may have a somewhat Scottish-sounding accent, but that’s as good as it gets. Don’t even get me started on the slight American accent of Mary, Queen of Scots’ mother, the French native Mary of Guise (Marie de Guise).

I’m beginning to think Diana Gabaldon, Ron Moore, Meryl Davis, Terry Dresbach, Bear McCreary and the entire Outlander cast and crew have ruined me for any other Historical Drama, their attention to detail and in keeping as historically accurate as possible in the world of fiction has caused me to notice these historical inaccuracies in other works of fiction even more than I would have before. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, whether it be in writing, film or television and have also enjoyed exploring the actual history that inspired such works. After reading Diana’s Outlander series though and watching the series come to life, I think I have become even more critical of works of fiction which are not historically accurate. However, Reign is possibly as historically inaccurate as they come.

Some of you may be aware that my own writing includes historical fiction, set in the 1910s and then in the 1930s. Now I am not saying that it is 100% accurate and true to history in this time, but a lot of time and research is done on my part to ensure that the events and details of the time are reflection in the telling of the story. Details such as clothing, key events, living conditions and so on are meticulously researched in order to attempt to reflect the times in which the story is set. Yes, my work is historical fiction, but if the historical aspect is not presented with at least some sort f accuracy, then you might as well just call it fiction.

The question is though, will I continue to watch Reign as a form of procrastination? My answer is yes, despite the inaccuracies of this “Historical” Drama, my inner angsty teenage drama queen will continue to revel in the dramas of French court, the rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England and the romance and heartbreak of Mary and her ladies, no matter how far from historical fact it might be. I’ll enjoy Reign for what it is, a slightly trashy drama series, set in a time and place that it not my own.

 

Enjoy,

KK

 

© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

“Best Novel of the 20th Century”

Hello Lovelies,

This week saw the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman . Whilst it has received mixed reviews, I’ve decided that it will be one to add to my TBR list and I’ll make up my own mind.

With all the media attention over the release of Go Set a Watchman and reading To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, I naturally headed over to Wikipedia to find out a little more about its author, Harper Lee.

In high school, To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the novels we read for english class, as well as watching the 1962 film adaptation. As I’ve said before, I was the kind of student who loved when it was the time of term when we did novel studies, the novel we were meant to read over the term was usually read in just a few nights and To Kill a Mockingbird was no exception. I can’t even remember what grade I was in at the time, year 10 perhaps, but I knew nothing about what the novel was about or how it was once (and still is) considered to be rather controversial in the themes and topics it addresses until we began our novel study. Needless to say, I finished the book quite quickly, as always and enjoyed both the film and the novel, but that’s the last I really thought about it.

When I saw in my newsfeed that Harper Lee was releasing another novel that in fact was part of a series that To Kill a Mockingbird was intended to be, I found myself intrigued as to what type of person Harper Lee was. With the quick answers that the internet provides us with these days as opposed to when I was in high school (we had internet, but with the download limits, the internet was strictly for necessary school work), I googled Harper Lee without hesitation.

Coming across the Wikipedia page, I was a little surprised to find that Harper Lee was a woman, I have no idea why, but for some reason I always thought that the Mockingbird author was male. I was even more surprised to find that To Kill a Mockingbird was 89 year old Lee’s only published novel until the release of Go Set a Watchman. I guess I just assumed that with the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, in both novel and film, that it would just be one in a long list of works, but I was wrong. In fact, according to Wikipedia, in 1999 To Kill a Mockingbird was voted the “Best Novel of the 20th Century” in a poll by the Library Journal. Whilst Lee has written of pieces, Mockingbird was actually her only published novel until the release of Go Set a Watchman. 

I was also intrigued to read about the semi-autobiographical nature of To Kill a Mockingbird and the connection between Harper Lee and Truman Capote. It is also rumoured that this latest publication is actually part of a trilogy, which would be interesting to see. At the ripe age of 89 will Harper Lee release a third novel after stating that she would never publish another novel after Mockingbird?

On another note, I’ve written a few times about my introduction to the Outlander series recently, I’m now onto the second book in the series and I only have one word to describe Diana Gabaldon’s work….. AMAZING! Do yourselves a favour and add the series to your TBR list if you haven’t already. As for Go Set a Watchman, I’m waiting until later in the year to order both books in hardcover and reading them one after the other to get a proper feel of them and make up my own mind about Go Set a Watchman, until then I’ll try and ignore the spoilers and media sensation over the “racist” Atticus Finch.

Happy Reading!

Enjoy,

KK

* facts and information on Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman and To Kill a Mockingbird retrieved from Wikipedia.

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let’s Talk About…. er… Intimate Relations

Hello Lovelies,

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some of the places in the world that I would like to see, that list included the Scottish Highlands (if you missed that post you can read it here). One of the reasons that the Scottish Highlands was included in my list is because one of my good friends introduced me to the TV series Outlander, knowing that the books that inspired the series have been on my to-be-read list for quite some time.

Over the last few days, I found myself with a little bit of time and decided to actually start reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, the first book of the Outlander series and it is everything I had hoped it would be! Diana Gabaldon is an absolutely amazing writer and I can’t wait to work my way through the series, which has eight books so far with a ninth book being written right now, not to mention Diana’s other works which build on the stories of some of the secondary characters in the Outlander series.

As I make my way through the first book in the series, not only have I noticed and admired the quality of Diana’s writing, but also the way in which she describes the more… intimate scenes in the book. It’s no secret that the Outlander series (both the book series and the TV series) contains… well… sex, but there’s something I noticed about the way in which Diana describes these more intimate scenes which I’ll discuss in a moment.

Image courtesy of Flickr CC George Duncan
Image courtesy of Flickr CC George Duncan

Unless you have been living under a rock, most of you will be familiar (or at least heard of) E.L James’ Fifty Shades series and the subsequent hype and apparent disappointment of the film. Whilst I think that E.L James’ writing style leaves a lot to be desired, the story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey showed some small amount of promise. However, the relationship of the two main characters was built around their sex lives and the rest of the story built upon that. This is similar to many other contemporary romance novels, such as those by Sylvia Day, Meredith Wild and J. Kenner (although these writers are in a totally different class compared to E.L James). In these contemporary romances, the relationship between the characters revolves around their sex lives and the emotions that develop. Every element of “intimacy” is described in every sordid detail from the beginning to the “happy ending” and whilst sometimes that may be a good thing, other times it’s not really what the story needs in order to develop. I mean, that’s all well and good for the genre that these books are in and the stories the writers wish to tell, but it’s not right for every romance story and it’s especially not right for Thomas and Rose’s story.

You see, I’ve been battling with the idea of including some of the more intimate details of Thomas and Rose’s relationship as it develops not only throughout Lonely Hearts, but also throughout the rest of the series. I feel that by acknowledging these aspects, the readers will understand the develop of their relationship and it also adds another level of emotion for the characters. I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst it is essential to acknowledge the degree intimacy that develops between Rose and Thomas, as it shows the develop of their relationship, it is not something that needs to be described in explicit detail.

***Possible spoiler alert*****

This is similar to my experience so far of Jamie and Claire’s relationship in Outlander, even though their relationship takes a natural development leading to… intimate relations, it is not the defining aspect of their relationship. The particular scenes I’m referring to are (so far) dealt with quite tastefully without the need to describe every sordid and explicit detail. The scenes are there, there’s no mistaking that Jamie and Claire are intimate, but some of the finer details of the particular encounters are tastefully left out. I know I am only part-way through the first book and this may very well change and I’m fine with that, however it has given me something to consider in my own writing – that it is possible to write about intimate encounters between characters without it defining the characters’ relationship or the book itself. I don’t want Thomas and Rose’s story to be one of those books that people flick through to simply read the “naughty bits”. It happened with Fifty Shades and I’m sure Google would be able to find similar lists for other books as well, but this is not the type of story that is Thomas and Rose’s. Sure there might be romance, maybe even love, but it is not what their story is truly about. With the help of Jozsef, Rose gets through each day but she feels the darkness of her past constantly at her heels trying to pull her down, she sees things that others don’t, including the shadows surrounding Thomas. Thomas has his own darkness and in some ways it feels similar to Rose’s but also very different.

So, as I head off to add some more questions in my notebook about Thomas and Rose’s story, it seems that it is possible to write about “intimate relations” without it defining your characters or story.

Enjoy,

KK

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.