Interview with Storm Bennett-Clark!

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Look who it is, guys!

Well, you can’t see her, but trust me, she’s here, at least virtually.

Storm Bennett-Clark, who, as I mentioned before, will be running a personal blog to be launched on TUESDAY MARCH 11, has stopped in for a little visit and an interview. We’re loving this whole promotional aspect of her online presence. Can you tell?

All right. Here we go.

What will your blog be called?

Storm: Probably just “Storm’s Blog,” because I’m original like that, but the URL address will be something like ‘beaniehatsandtea.’ It depends on what’s available, but as soon as I find out, you’ll be the first to know!

What made you want to join us lovely people here in Blogland?

Storm: Hahaha, a lot of things. I really enjoy reading blogs and watching vlogs, which is something I only started doing recently. I enjoy the community aspects that can grow up around them, and the social interactions that people all over the world have with each other really fascinate me. And, as I hope to become a journalist someday in the not-so-far future, I thought it would be a good chance to hone my writing skills.

And your life is pretty fascinating.

Storm: Haha, yes, some people think so.

Are you going to incorporate your personal life in your blog?

Storm: Definitely. All 4 of my grandparents lived in the States in the 1960s, and were avid members of the social movement involving hippies. That’s how my parents met. Today, the Bennett-Clarks are what we like to call “eco-hippies” — this basically means we try to live as environmentally friendly as possible; instead of being commercial consumers we try to focus on other things, like family, literature, learning, arts, yoga, organic eating, and self-expression. We don’t think of ourselves as hipsters (hipsters never think of themselves as hipsters, anyway), and I’ll talk more about this in the blog.

What else can we expect from you?

Storm: I would say to expect nothing too unexpected. I like schedules and outlines, but being spontaneous is something I enjoy as well. I’m going to talk about things like my family (twin brother Mica, two younger sisters Sepia and Moonflower, best friend Hanna, awesome parents), my hobbies (reading, music, crafting, drinking tea, movies…eating), and opinions (feminism, hipsterism, conformity), and how I generally live my day to day life. 

Will you tell us a little about Pedro?

Storm: Ah, yes. Pedro. He’s an interesting little guy. He’s a wanted fugitive by the Global Garden Gnome  (GGGG), for reasons which will be explained on the blog. When Hanna was in England a few years ago for vacation, he crawled into her backpack and smuggled himself into Canada. She and Pedro didn’t exactly get along, so he came to live with me. Hanna calls him my souvenir, but he’s decided to be my “sidekick.”

I’m intrigued. Okay, just a few quick questions. Favourite band?

Storm: Bon Iver. Or Daughter.

Favourite food?

Storm: Peach yogurt.

Favourite colour?

Storm: Orange.

Favourite book?

Storm: I personally don’t think that’s a question. It’s unanswerable. I like Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, The Hobbit, The Inheritance Cycle, Little Women, The Picture of Dorian Gray…just to name a few of my very favourites.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Storm: I’m excited to finally join Blogland and hopefully start building relationships with readers and sharing my story! I know Pedro is, too. If anyone has any questions, they can leave them here for you to answer or stop by my Facebook or Twitter! See you all on Tuesday!

Reminder that the launch of Storm’s blog will be on Tuesday! She’s really looking for help promoting, so feel free to share the links or any of the little promo pics we made (see this post).

Copyright Storm Rose Bennett-Clark.

Copyright Storm Rose Bennett-Clark.

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What do Henry Cavill and Liam Neeson have in common?

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Whilst watching television, a preview for the movie Battleship came on. The lovely and talented Liam Neeson is in this film, and as his face flashed across the screen, my brain went into movie power mode. I ended up with this.

Liam Neeson starred in Star Wars with Warwick Davis.

Warwick Davis starred in the Harry Potter franchise alongside Alan Rickman.

Alan Rickman worked with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio was in Abyss, directed by James Cameron.

James Cameron also directed Avatar, starring Zoe Saldana.

Zoe Saldana acted in the recent Star Trek movie with Chris Hemsworth.

Chris’ brother Liam worked in The Hunger Games with Donald Sutherland.

Donald Sutherland worked with Rufus Sewell in the TV mini-series Pillars of the Earth.

Rufus Sewell starred with Henry Cavill in Tristan and Isolde.

Henry Cavill and Ben Barnes played minor roles in Stardust.

And Ben Barnes starred with Liam Neeson in the Chronicles of Narnia

Taa-da! The slightly nerdier version of ‘the seven degrees of separation.’

May your weekend be filled with movies of all qualities and genres. What’s your favourite movie, actor, or actor collaboration? I really can’t decide, but one of my favourite films is “A Fairy Tale: A True Story” based on the Cottingley fairies, WHICH I KNOW I PROMISED A POST ON, but really don’t have the time. I’m too busy re-devouring Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and heading to a benefit concert with my sister and my best friend. GIRL’S NIGHT. Anyway, treat yourself to some eye candy (i.e., anything Henry Cavill’s in. I’d post a picture, but it might be awkward if your partner walked in on you licking your computer screen.)

I see what you did there, authors…

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We’ve all done it. Sit down with a good book, open it, and exclaimed, “Hey, I see what you did there!” at a double meaning in a character’s name. It’s a common practise, and it’s always fun for the reader to clue in to a hidden pun.

J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, gives us plenty of ironic names, of which I will point out a few:

  • Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix – Guy Fawkes, famous for trying to assassinate James I and blow up the Parliament buildings in 1605 (the Gunpowder Plot; remember the rhyme Remember, remember the fifth of November?). Phoenixes are known for bursting into flames at the ends of their lives, only to be reborn in its own ashes.
  • Sirius Black – Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and part of the constellation Canis Major, or the Big Dog. Sirius Black is capable of turning into a massive black dog.
  • Remus Lupin – one of two children of the Roman myth Remus and Romulus, who were raised by wolves. ‘Lupin’ is also derived from the Latin word lupinus, meaning wolf. Remus Lupin is a werewolf.
  • The Black extended family – everyone in this elite, pure-blooded wizarding family is named after a star, constellation, or other galactical object. E.g. Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco and Scorpio Malfoy, Andromeda Tonks, Sirius Black…

Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins also gives some “Ooh, I see what you did there” moments:

  • Peeta Mellark – assumedly derived from ‘pita’ bread. Peeta is a baker in District 12.
  • Castor and Pollux – twin brothers of Greek mythology; when Castor is killed, Pollux shares his immortality with his twin, and they are transformed into the constellation of Gemini. In Mockingjay, their roles are reversed. Pollux has lost his tongue to the Capitol and works as an Avox in the utility pipes and passageways under the city; Castor eventually buys his freedom.

Now, these are some pretty large and obvious examples, but they still make me smile. The more you read — and the more time you spend on Think Baby Names.com — the more “I see what you did there” moments you’ll have. It’s fun.

As I was writing my manuscript, Arden: the Girl from the Mountains, I unknowingly used a few of those moments.

No joke. It was an accident.

  • Ilex is my large, down-to-earth, golden king of North Ferin. I googled ‘King Ilex’ just to make sure that a King Ilex has never existed before. And behold — a variety of holly called Ilex x altaclerensis, also known as ‘Golden King’

Golden King — of the garden and of North Ferin.

  • Tristan, the name of my temperamental, emotionally insecure prince who makes his rounds with the ladies, is a name that means ‘noisy’ (he and Arden often have shouting matches) and is thought to be derived from the French word for sad: triste. Also, a lover’s tryst, or secret meeting between lovers; Tristan often meets in secret with his mistress Clemma.
  • Princess Tamsin is the mentally unstable twin sister of King Ilex — and Tamsin means ‘twin.’

These were accidents. I had no idea of these meanings when I created these characters. When I found out, I burst into laughter. What are the odds?

…Then I had a couple purposeful “I see what you did there” moments.

  • Charles and Brandon, brothers who are employed in the king’s army, are a play on Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, brother-in-law and best friend to Henry VIII, athlete, ladies’ man, and knight. Originally I had planned on calling the brothers Thomas and Wyatt, after one of my favourite Tudor-era courtiers and poet, but I ended up with Charles and Brandon.

Yes, I know this is Henry Cavill PLAYING Charles Brandon, but I couldn’t help myself — isn’t he handsome?

  • King Filip and Queen Ismire is a bold, nearly polar-opposite play on King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, the Catholic Kings of Spain, and parents of Catherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII
  • Princess Joliet, the youngest daughter of Filip and Ismire, based loosely on Juliet Capulet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
  • Clemma, Tristan’s mistress, comes from the fruit ‘clementine.’ Clemma is extremely sweet and temptingly beautiful.
  • Custos Montem is a magician who is appointed to one be of Arden’s guides in her search for her missing ward. His name means ‘Guardian of the Mountain’ in Latin. (Or at least, according to Google Translate!)
  • Arden Falconer, the name of my protagonist, was also intended. Obviously, her last name represents her career — falconry, but I had to hunt a little deeper for her first name. At first it was Mina, but I began the quest for a different, more meaningful, and landed on Arden. Meaning ‘great forest,’ the Forest of Arden is also a beautifully magical place in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Also derived from the word ‘ardent.’

It’s extremely and deviously enjoyable writing these meanings — like hiding Easter eggs for children and wondering in supsense if they’ll find them.

My question to you: do you enjoy finding these “I see what you did there” puns? Are there any others you’ve found in books over the years?

“I see what you did there!”

I Endorse Nerds!

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(Commissioned by me and created by my lovely sister.)

Behold — a badge a nerd like me can flaunt with pride. I realize that there are different types of nerds, but this kind happens to fall within my lightsaber-wielding, broomstick-riding, fire-breathing, Narnian-fighting, Hobbit-loving, Hunger Games tribute boundary of epic nerdiness.

So enjoy. Flaunt your inner nerd. Be proud. Feel free to share on Facebook or other blogs!

Nerd out.

 

I endorse nerds. So should you. Embrace your inner nerd and wear this badge with pride.

 

Selfish Characters Are Popular?

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It’s been recently brought to my attention that many popular main characters are too selfish. The prime example given was Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games trilogy.

I didn’t know how to take this. Yes, when you think about it, Katniss might be selfish. Then again, she’s a sixteen-year-old girl thrown into an arena of teenagers forced to fight to the death and trying to fulfill a promise to her sister.

Of course she’s selfish, especially in Book One. She’s trying to survive.

This got my mind whirring. Are other main characters selfish? I thought of Bella Cullen from the now-disgraced Twilight saga. Yes, she’s unbearably selfish, though no one really pays valid attention to her anymore. I thought of Harry Potter. While he’s a kid with way too much to handle and trying his best to be sacrificial, some of his actions betray the selfishness of a teenage boy. Eragon from the Inheritance Cycle — if you look at him deeper, he’s a selfish kid too.

Then I thought: are these characters selfish because of their youth? All of them are teenagers, and teenagers are inevitably selfish.

Are they selfish by accident of the author? Are they made that way?

Does it bug the reader when a protagonist thinks of nothing but him/herself? In poor Bella Cullen’s case, yes. That girl would have no self-esteem if she could hear people talk about her. In Harry, Eragon, and Katniss’s cases I don’t think anyone holds it against them because of their later actions.

Characters have to be flawed, but no one wants another Bella. So when do you draw the line and make a protagonist a little more selfless?

I’m figuring that out. Now I’m painfully aware of how others might read my character’s actions. Out of selfishness? Or out of love? I don’t want my Mina to be annoying to the reader. 

While I couldn’t care less of what other people thought about me, I want people to like my character. And, as Mina and I are still being acquainted and don’t trust each other 100% yet, I’m trying to be acutely aware of what her actions/thoughts might provoke in others. To a degree she is selfish — she wants to go home to her little brother and salvage her business. But I’m trying to make her see the bigger picture: maybe it’s best for everyone if she stays at the country’s capital of Naphiring.

I think she’ll come around. We need to get to know each other more; I need to figure out what makes her tick. Once I become situated with being in her head, I’ll be able to pull myself away and tell her to think of other people when necessary. “Think of Tristan and Ilex. They might need you more than you need your brother. Think about it, Mina.”

Just some thought. Take it how you will. 🙂

The Woman in Black and the Hogwarts Express

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Dan Radcliffe trades in his wand and broomstick for a briefcase and a hatchet in his new film “The Woman in Black.” Taking up the role of young lawyer Arthur Kipps, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect… Previews looked classically terrifying and Dan looked wonderful in his Victorian get-up, so what did I, as a movie goer, have to lose?

One my greatest fears going into this film was Dan. I want him to succeed in the movie business, but he’s been Harry Potter for so long that I wasn’t sure if I could see him playing anyone else. And, as I settled down in my back row seat hugging my coat tight, I crossed my fingers, for his sake. There were little more than a dozen other people in the theatre, and it was only the first full day playing — was it that awful?

The short answer? No, it certainly wasn’t awful. The beginning was typical for a ghost story, but it was catching and disturbing, and I heartily approve. Then we meet Arthur Kipps, widowed four years ago and still grief-stricken, with a young son (Misha Handley) he can barely look after. Dan as a father… it wasn’t convincing so early in the film, but little Misha, who is Dan’s real-life godson, was adorably tragic.

For the first ten or fifteen minutes he was still Harry Potter, especially as he left London via a scarlet train, headed for the remote countryside. Luckily, as we meet the one other non-dead prominent character, Mr. Daily (Ciaran Hinds), Dan begins to sink into Arthur’s skin. Arthur’s job is to go through paperwork left behind in a dead widow’s mansion, and when he begins seeing a woman dressed in black the village children begin dying in mysterious ways.

I am disappointed at the depth of the supporting characters. Mrs. Fisher, whose daughters we meet just as the curtain rises, is brimming with plot potential! She’s caring and frightened and there’s just a smidgen of romance between the married innkeeper’s wife and the lonely single father. Mrs. Fisher easily could have added more dialogue, which was as scarce as Hippogriffs! The rest of the villagers, each with their own tragic stories and fears of the mansion, could have easily added a more human and less nightmare-like quality to the film. I almost feel like this would be a better TV mini-series than an hour-and-a-half film.

Ah, and now we reach the star of the film: that creepy, stone, vine-covered, menacingly beautiful mansion, set apart from the rest of the village by a causeway that made it only accessible certain hours of the day. Although if Alice, the deceased owner, had only died a month ago, why was the interior of the house such a mess? Was being haunted by her sister, Jennet AKA The Woman in Black (Liz White), driving her mad and hindering her house-keeping skills?

The nursery was my second-favourite room in the house. Full of creepy wind-up toys like cymbal-clanging monkeys, dolls with glass eyes, and freaky dancing clowns, it’s creep factor pretty much rocketed off the creep-o-scale. Along with the fact that Alice hadn’t bothered touching anything since the death of her adopted son/biological nephew and it’s where Jennet hung herself, the nursery is both haunting and sad.

First favourite part of the house is the staircase, chalk-full of ancient portraits covered with artfully placed cobwebs. I love old paintings, so enough said there.

And, because I’m picky and appreciate details, I’ll whizz through some other things: Music — alright. Underused around the middle of the film. Use of mirrors — awesome, but you have to pay attention. Costumes — amazing. Everyone should dress like that. Font for credits — too modern for my liking. Could have used the same calligraphy used for Jennet’s letters. Ending — I didn’t like it. It felt somewhat rushed and unfinished, and it made me a little angry actually.

There was a 1989 version of The Woman in Black, where an Arthur Kidd was played by Adrian Rawlins, who played Dan’s father in the Harry Potter series. If ever I get my hands on the novel by Susan Hill, I’ll gobble it up to see if the plot and supporting characters are any stronger, and I’ll let you know what I think.

I’ll give The Woman in Black a solid three out of five stars.

And beware of cymbal-clanging monkeys!

PS: It’s not allowing me to post a pic, but you can see some movie stills here.