Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ancestoral afflatus

Nope, my post today isn't about old relatives farting. Sorry to disappoint! But it is about finding inspiration. I don't think I've talked about this before, but one of the other activities I use to distract myself from chores and working on Power Trio is doing my family's genealogy.

In the 1980s, my grandmother (dad's side) typed about a thousand pages of genealogy .. on a typewriter! She traced everyone back to Sweden in the 1600s. I've had the book for almost two years now, and I've been slowly transcribing the information so that we can share it more widely, be able to search, and update it. Selfishly, I'd really like to update it, since it was done the year before I was born, so I want to put myself in there.

[Random tangent: Here's a little note from my cat Winston for all of you: hoR^tg/y. I'm impressed he got a capital letter and a few symbols in there. Maybe he's the real writer in the family.]

Back to the family tree- there's some really great stuff buried among the pages of basic demographics (date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of death, and marriages). My grandmother took a trip to Sweden to visit the extended family still living over there and went to a place called the Horn and Pipe in Ljungby. This estate is fabled to be home to trolls. She brought back tons of documents with info about the legends and the home, and I've been typing and translating those too- thanks, Google Translator! I also had some family who went to Alaska for the gold rush. There are a ton of great photos of them with their huskies. As I've expanded and dug into the my mom's side of the family, I've been able to trace my ancestry back to Samuel Wardwell, one of the few men killed in the Salem Witch Hunt.

What's been really neat is seeing how these bits of family history have manifested in my writing. I've given a few of my characters interesting family stories and tied them to historic events. I like to think of everything I do as "research," but learning about my family has probably served me better than all of the hours I log watching cruddy television.

Anybody else out there have an interesting person in their genealogy  Any skeletons from your closet that have made it into your writing?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Watching The Carrie Diaries is like reading, right?

Like any aspiring writer, I spend a lot of time researching. Reading books on craft. Checking out self-editing books. And, of course, reading tons of fiction. And since I write YA I must also research "the youths." I'm always looking for great YA reads. Just finished Ready Player One, and it's one I definitely recommend.

As a devoted follower of Sex and the City and fan of solid works of YA, I was drawn to Candace Bushnell's The Carrie Diaries back in 2010. Then, like most things on my to-do list, I didn't do it. How convenient that they have now turned it into a TV show!

Because, somehow, in my head watching an entire year of TV takes less time than reading a 400-page novel.

I lie to myself everyday.

Anyway. Tonight, I watched the first two episodes of the show. I liked seeing AnnaSophia Robb in the lead role. I've been picturing her as one of the characters in Power Trio since seeing her in the Race to Witch Mountain reboot. I was surprised to see Knives Chau from Scott Pilgrim is still in high school- someone should get that girl a tutor. But, did anyone else watching notice that some of the cast strangely resemble other actors?

I took me a full 60 minutes before I realized that Austin Butler wasn't Chord Overstreet.
Austin Butler PictureChord Overstreet Picture
Austin Butler (Sebastian in The Carrie Diaries) and Chord Overstreet (Sam in Glee)

And another 15 before I figured out that Katie Findlay wasn't Madeline Zima.
Katie Findlay PictureMadeline Zima Picture
Katie Findlay (Maggie in The Carrie Diaries) and Madeline Zima (Mia in Californication)
And now I'm thinking my relentless TV and movie watching might be the reason Power Trio has lain dormant for the better part of a year. Time to enact some no-tech nights.

[Images from imdb.com]