Happy Anniversary

Today is a public holiday in Auckland and the top half of the North Island of New Zealand as it’s Auckland Anniversary day, not that it really means a lot given that I don’t actually have a job.

So today I’m celebrating another anniversary; today 200 years ago Pride and Prejudice was released.

If I was really pushed to name one favourite book Pride and Prejudice would probably be it, I generally read once a year. But of course I was a teenager in the 90’s and there’s a very good reason that I started reading Pride and Prejudice and that has nothing to do with wanting to be well versed in the classics and everything to do with Colin Firth.

It was 1996 when the BBC Mini series played in New Zealand, it was the year of Alanis Morrisette, everyone was obsessed with Friends and I had a ‘Rachael’ hair cut (my hair was made for that cut) in the winter of 1996 Pride and Prejudice played and I was obsessed.  I have vivid memories of going on a ski trip for Rangers (oldest branch of Guides in NZ) and us all sitting around at 8.30 on the Sunday and saying “Pride and Prejudice is starting now…” because the cabin didn’t have a TV  – but we’d ALL set our videos to record it.  I also remember my friend and I getting in trouble for not listening History because we were too busy talking about people being ‘agreeable’ and ‘amiable’.

I’ve since gone on to read all of Jane Austen’s books, to wish that her last name was spelt with with an i rather than an e so I could claim that we were related and visited Chawton in Hampshire where she lived and wrote many of her books, the house in Winchester where she died (well the outside) and her grave in Winchester Cathedral.

So Happy Anniversary not only to Auckland but to Pride and Prejudice and The Darcy’s who’ve been living happily ever after for 200 years.

First Procrastination helper for the year

So most people are back at work (not me, I’m an unemployed bum) and are struggling to remember what they were supposed to be doing.  I know last year I was surprised to come back to a lot of applications for a job I forgot that I’d posted.

But to ease you all back into working life I have a couple of links to help you put off actually doing any work.

First up is one I discovered yesterday, Lousy Book Covers is  a brilliantly terrible look at the, ahem, wonders of cover art among self published books.  It’s quality like this that make me hesitant to self publish.

The other is an oldie but a goodie – David & Goliath have  a range of clothing and stationary – Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them, they also have a game – which is lots of fun.

Happy Procrastinating.

RIP Bryce Courtenay

Today one of my favourite authors, Bryce Courtenay, died.  He’d had cancer and it had been announced a month or so ago that he was terminally ill and that the book he was releasing (which was released last week) would be his last.

I’ve written on here before that I’m essentially like a drug dealer in that I force books on people and for years one book that’s been pressed on a lot of people has been The Power of One by Bryce Courtney has been high on the list of books that I pressed on people – probably just behind the Harry Potter Series (but then I’ve always said I’m from the evangelical wing of Harry Potter fans).  Between lending out The Power of One to people and reading it repeatedly myself  I’m now onto my second copy of the book.

If you’re not familiar with the book (don’t count the movie because huge liberties were taken with the story and apparently Bryce Courtenay hated the movie – which proves I’m right) it’s the story of PK who is an outsider – he’s sent to a boarding school as a 5 year old where he’s brutally bullied.  He goes on to excel in everything with the idea that he could hide in the front then no one could touch him, set in South Africa in the 1940’s.  It’s an amazing book with a really brilliant ending and any who hasn’t read it really should (but trust me don’t bother with the movie).  The sequel Tandia is nearly as good as is Jessica.

I was lucky enough to meet Bryce Courtney when he was doing a book tour supporting the book Four Fires and he was a really lovely man, I told him I’d read all of his books (which I had at the time – I’ve got a bit of catching up to do) he said ‘Ah! I bet you haven’t read ‘The Family Frying pan’!’ when I told him that actually I had, he was genuinely surprised and apologised and said he usually caught people out with that one.

I still have his last two books to read so I’m lucky but I’ve been reading his books since my late teens and will miss reading new ones.

Can no one get it right?

This week the programme Camelot  started on New Zealand TV.  Now I’m a long time fan of the Arthurian Legends and each time there’s a new adaptation I get my hopes up and tune in.

I recorded Camelot when it screened earlier in the week, and this afternoon sat down to watch it. It’s never a good sign when  you start disagreeing with a TV Show before the titles you know you’re not in good shape.

The standard story of King Arthur goes like this – Arthur’s Dad Uther fancied this woman called Igraine, but there was a slight problem – she was already married.  Rather than admit defeat Uther turned to his magician mate Merlin to do a few spells which would mean Igraine’s hubby was elsewhere fighting and Uther (disguised as Igrianes hubby) would go and have his way with her.   Of course, as is the way in these things Arthur is conceived and Igraine and Uther marry.  Igraine’s Daughters from her first marriage are sent away – Morgan Le Fay is sent to a convent and Morganna is married off.  As part of the deal Merlin takes Arthur away at birth and has him raised  so he’s able to be king.

Camelot decided that Morgan would be Uther’s daughter and Igraine’s step daughter, this is what had me yelling at the TV before the titles had played, I decided to give it a chance.  I should have stopped then as it didn’t get any better, the completely unconvincing Arthur apparently had no idea that his foster parents weren’t his real parents.  Even Joseph Fiennes who I love couldn’t save this and I didn’t even make to the half way point of the episode before deciding that I couldn’t stand this nonsense any longer.

I don’t understand why it’s practically impossible to make a screen adaptation which is consistent with the legend.  The legend has lasted for around 1000 years, which is a pretty good indication that it’s a compelling enough story without changing things.  Take Morgan Le Fay – she is traditionally out for revenge because her mother was essentially raped and forced into marriage by Uther who sent Morgan and her sister away.  Those are pretty strong reasons for wanting revenge – changing the story so that Uther is Morgan’s father doesn’t make her story stronger it makes it weaker.

When I write my Arthur book (which I will one day) I hope that any screen adaptation actually gets the story right.

Stick it to the man

Not something I usually say because A) I’m a pretty law abiding person and B) in a corporate sense as someone who works in HR I pretty much am ‘the man’.  But this week is an exception, it’s Banned Book week, a time where readers of the world stand up and say ‘Oi! Hands off our books!’

A lot of libraries have displays about banned books and there’s some surprising inclusions – my friend Jennie and I are still trying to figure out why the Anastasia books are banned in some places and we saw that in a display when we were at university.

There are usual suspects – the loony tunes people who think that Harry Potter encourages children to worship satan or think that adults can’t decide if they want to read about sex, drugs and rock n roll.

The books I’m currently may not have been banned but given one of them involves  an angry deity possibly smiting a city it’s certainly the kind of thing that could be.  So go read stuff, especially banned stuff.

And so I’m back

So it has been a wee while since I posted, but I have an actual legitimate cause for not blogging – I was writing, or more to the point rewriting.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m entering a competition at the end of this month (eek!) so the last week or so I’ve been doing a lot of work on the book.  I’ve sent it to a group of my friends for second round of editing this group is made up of

  1. A Shoe shop owner who’s good at picking out the words I’ve forgotten and avid reader
  2. A former teacher who now works in publishing and general grammarian (that’s the polite term)
  3. A university researcher who’s had to edit his thesis and is a general grammarian
  4. A vet and avid reader

This should make sure that all my punctuation, grammar and spelling is perfect and there aren’t any inconsistencies so that I can hopefully wow the judges when I enter it to the competition.

I don’t know that I’ve actually said on here what my book is about.  Essentially it’s about a 16 year old who finds out that that her family have been hiding a massive secret from her – they can time travel.  She only finds out for the first time when she actually travels.  But someone is messing with her life and they seem to be using time travel to do it.

Obviously I can’t share more than that in case I actually win!

Cats and fairy tales

This weekend my flatmate’s mother was staying with us up from Christchurch for the weekend.  My flatmate stayed in the office over the weekend, sleeping on the sofa bed.  Of course as Nala practically lives in my flatmates room this threw her a bit, but she soon got used to sleeping in the office. In fact both last night and tonight she was waiting in the office for my flatmate.  Of course tonight the bed has been pulled apart so Nala ended up looking like The Princess and the Pea:

This isn’t the only time that cats and literature have met in this house, there was the time Fonzie reenacted ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat:

And of course there’s Fonzie’s general love of books: