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Posts Tagged ‘London’

I find myself reading with interest a blog post by Steven Southard. Steven has a story in the Hides the Dark Tower anthology due out from Pole to Pole Publishing this fall. (An anthology I highly recommend. It contains some thought-provoking and fabulously-written stories).

Of course, the minute you include Da Vinci, I’m already interested. An artist, inventor, and scientist, Da Vinci is one of my favorite creators from the past. I had the good fortune to see some of his art, up close and personal, this August in the Queen’s Gallery in London. Smaller in scale than you might imagine, nevertheless his black and white sketches were intricate and accurate.

So what in the world does this have to do with writing? The first (of seven) Da Vinci principles Southard examines is curiosity. I’m an advocate of curiosity – in fact, I think it’s one of the most important things a person can possess. We sometimes forget the wonder and curiosity of childhood, when we should be holding on to them for dear life.

For your reading pleasure, here’s a link to Curiosita.

 

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“A world in which there are monsters, and ghosts, and things that want to steal your heart is a world in which there are angels and dreams, and a world in which there is hope.” – Neil Gaiman

And this is the kind of world Neil Gaiman sets his stories in — and the kind of world most speculative writers try to set the stories in. Me, included.

Neverwhere was the first Gaiman novel I read — I’ve been a fan of his writing ever since. Neverwhere is set in the subways and underground world of London. In my mind’s eye, I imagined all the stations mentioned and districts of London. I imagined the smells, sights, and sounds of the London, England above and below. I thought I heard the distinct British accent of the characters, also.

I had the good fortune to visit London this summer — using the subways (or The Tube, as most everyone I met referred to it) for transportation. London above and below was an experience I’ll not soon forget. And as good as my imagination is, I didn’t get the location of Neverwhere quite right.

Neil Gaiman does a great job of creating his Neverwhere world (complete with monsters, ghost, things that want to steal your heart, angels and dreams). And now, I’m re-reading the novel to add my experiences in the locations mentioned to the book experience.

That said, I think there might be room for me to use a few of the quirky things and people I saw in London above and below to create my own London story — with monsters, ghosts, angels, dreams…and hope.

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On July 28, 1866, English author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, was born in London, England. Most of us read (or had read to us) The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which Beatrix self-published in 1901. In 1902, Frederick Warne & Co. published a 3-color edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Miss Potter’s charming vision of English country life and animals would soon become childhood favorites. Though I must mention, her second book, The Tailor of Gloucester, was also initially self-published!

We don’t usually think of Beatrix Potter as a fantasy writer, yet she is one. Her careful study and sketching of her pets, including mice, rabbits, kittens, and frogs, and vivid imagination helped her build a magical world of talking animals rendered in soft watercolors. But even the children who read and love her stories know that Peter, Benjamin, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Jemina Puddle-duck, Squirrel Nutkin, and their friends don’t really wander about England’s Lake District dressed in tiny jackets and shoes. Such foolishness is mere fantasy!

So Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter! Thank you for your delightful books that introduced so many of us to a magical world where bunnies drink chamomile tea for stomach aches and farmers make scarecrows out of tiny rabbit clothes. And for those of you who haven’t seen Miss Potter, I recommend this movie about Beatrix’s life.

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