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11.18.13 An Author’s Journey: Interlude 2: Morning Coffee Klatch with Sophia (aka, Of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and That ‘Andre Norton Person’)

11.18.13  An Author’s Journey: Interlude 2: Morning Coffee Klatch with Sophia (aka, Of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and That ‘Andre Norton Person’)

Hello, again, Friends:

A while back I wrote a blog about the earliest fantasy influences on my writing, and attached a “must-read” roster for fantasy books. (See )

That list barely got through the 1980s, but in the midst of a busy week planning promotional stuff for the release of The Codex Lacrimae, Part 2, I woke up with an urge to finish that blog, bringing things up-to-date on the fantasy books I’d enjoyed over the last 20 years or so.

With this week’s launch of CL Pt 2, the effort seems worthwhile, because now that The Codex Lacrimae is complete, I imagine that the “where do you draw your inspiration from?” question might arise again when I’m doing readings for book clubs or at book stores.  Before I completed that fantasy list, though, I need to make sure that I mention the science fiction authors and books that I read as a kid.

“Why?” Sophia asks, when I run the idea by her at the start of the day.  It’s 5:15 a.m. and we’re two sips of coffee and three crossword puzzle answers into our morning routine.

Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert (better than coffee at 5:15 a.m. in Carlisle house)

Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert (better than coffee at 5:15 a.m. in Carlisle house)

“Why, what?”  I reply, amusedly distracted.  Jon Stewart’s introducing The Daily Show’s “moment of zen,” and the The Colbert Report is on deck.  We start each day watching “dvr’d” episodes of these shows, believing that the day should have some laughter in it before the daily stresses hit.

Speaking of tensions, there’s something in Sophia’s tone…

I press the pause button on the dvr, unsure where she’s laying the next conversational trap.

Sure enough, she’s peering at me above the top of the newspaper, waiting.  Normally, I’d compare my wife’s beautiful eyes to those of a wide-eyed doe, but I’ve not yet met a deer whose glance can slice a man apart like Sophia’s laser bolts.  (I’d compare the effect to the X-Men’s Cyclops without a visor, but then be mixing metaphors, so skip it.)

Her look lets me know that I should’ve waited until her second cup of coffee to broach any subject.  But, we’re now in the moment – and, as with all of the longer marriages that remain vital and interesting – I was damned if there’d be any retreat on my part.

“Why write about earliest influences,” she clarifies, “and why science-fiction? I thought you were writing an epic fantasy series.”

“A series that ends in the 22nd Century,” I remind her, wincing because my tone sounded petulant even to me.  “Sci-Fi’s always been part of the plot.”

“But that part of the story’s not until much later.  Why bring it up now?”

Frank Herbert, Dune (1966)

Frank Herbert, Dune (1966)

“Because I’m excited now, and I might not remember this train of thought in the future.  I’ve been re-reading some of the classics, and realized how much of these authors’ works I’d absorbed as a kid.  It explains a lot, how I approach a story, what trust I give to the reader…,” I interrupt myself, searching for examples.  “You read anything of Bradbury, Asimov’s Foundation series, or Frank Herbert’s Dune books, and you’re fully immersed in their worlds.”

“Oh, God, not this again.  Those are all old authors —”

“—and dead,” I qualify, anticipating her protest. “So are Shakespeare and Dickens, but their works live on.”

“I meant, the style was different then.  They wrote differently.  It’s like when you wrote about Tolkien and Lewis, and how they write about Middle Earth and Narnia is much different than what you see in the films.  People don’t have time to read dense books, anymore.”

“Literature is literature, and people will always make time for a good story,” I say.  “It’s like watching the classic films.  You don’t just not watch Casablanca or It’s A Wonderful Life because they’re in black-and-white. The stories are the thing.”

“But that kind of writing doesn’t always sell these days,” she cautions.  “Does anybody even read Asimov and Herbert anymore?”

“Does anyone read…,” I take a breath, not needing coffee anymore to get my blood pumping.  “Of course, people read them!  Adriana and here entire sophomore class had to write a book report on The Martian Chronicles a couple of years ago, and Herbert’s son has taken over the Dune series.”

“Fine, but you’ve tried to get me to read some of those ‘classics’ before – I don’t get them, and some have long paragraphs and techie-writing.”

Blade Runner (1982; Harrison Ford,

Blade Runner (1982; Harrison Ford,

“But, you’ll watch the movie versions,” I say, thinking suddenly of Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, one of my favorite films, and (yes) an adaptation of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep.  “Many of the better adaptations capture the essence, but you’ve got to go to the source material to dig down and really get lost.”

“You’re such a dork.”

“Harpy.” I retort.

“I’m too tired to talk,” she says, her eyes disappearing behind the newspaper section she’s folded against her knees on the couch.  “Let me have my first cup of coffee.”

“Fine with me,” I agree, and tap the play button on the remote. “You can read about my Sci-Fi influences in tomorrow’s blog.”

“I thought you were going to let me read those things before you post,” her voice carries above the blanket, vying with Stephen Colbert’s intro bit.  “Make it relevant.”

“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  I’m my own man,” I grumble, trying to channel Mark Wahlberg’s Terry Hoitz’s “I’m a peacock, I’ve got to fly” line in The Other Guys.  “I need to be me.”

“Be you,” she says, “just don’t blur the lines.”

Next Time:  Coffee Klatch, Part 2: The Rest of the Conversation…

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