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"I don't get the love interest. I mean, am I supposed to like him?"
This is a response I hear often from readers. And it's started me thinking. Are writers supposed to write a love interest that every reader will fall in love with? For example, in a story where the main character is a female who falls in love with a guy, then this should be a guy that the reader can fall in love with too. But as years pass, I completely question that thought. It just doesn't make sense.
This is a story, not a blind date. A book is an opportunity to experience someone else's story. We certainly wouldn't all be attracted to the same people in real life either. Rather than asking if we can fall in love with the love interest, a more honest question would be, Can we believe that the main character would fall in love with him/her?
The problem of the "universal" or "neutral" or "default" love interest: someone so non-specific that a hetero female reader can imagine into him the kind of guy she would want to date. (Think of the Disney princes: Phillip, Charming, Eric--very little personality there, which makes it easy to fall for them and write onto them our own ideas of perfection.) But by writing these neutral love interests, we run into the same problem as we do with those neutral main characters. We lose so much of what makes books amazing and powerful.
I'm a heterosexual female but I didn't fall in love with Harry Potter, and yet I still enjoyed the books. But then again, since he was the main character, was my job as a reader to identify with him, not fall in love with him?
What are we as readers supposed to do? Feel? Experience? Take away from a story?
When a book successfully writes a love interest who is "universal" enough that millions of readers can fall in love with him, that book has the potential to be a huge hit. But is that the only kind of book worth publishing? Is it the only kind of book worth reading? Can we enjoy and find worth in a book that doesn't give us a main character who easily reflects us back to ourselves and a love interest who we wouldn't fall for in real life?
One suggestion: toss out the term "am I supposed to" when talking about books. What that implies is you're trying to figure out what the writer intended you to think/feel and if they succeeded or failed. 90% of the time when I read what someone claims I was intending to do as an author, they're wrong. Trying to guess author's intent is a pointless exercise. This is no longer my book. This is your book now. You are the reader. You are the director of this movie in your head, of which I just wrote the script. You are in control. What do you want to get out of it? What do you learn about yourself by reading it? Are you seeing something a little differently than before? Are you experiencing a story you couldn't have come up with on your own? Are you entertained, interested, feeling and/or thinking something worthwhile? Are you different now than before?
Patty’s Suitors is pretty much Kit Cameron’s book, if you’re looking for an easy way to remember it (and I am). It also gives us proposals from Ken and Phil (yes, again) as well as another flying visit from Big Bill Farnsworth, but Kit is new and Kit is involved throughout. And Kit is funny, and Phil Van Reypen hates him, so I’m pretty cool with that.
Kit is the cousin of Patty’s new friend Marie Homer (who exists to provide an alternate love interest for Ken as well as to introduce Kit, but who seems nice). Patty ends up accidentally talking to him on the phone one night when she’s trying to get hold of Marie, and, being Patty, conceals her identity and flirts with him instead of apologizing for the wrong number.
This clearly appeals to Kit’s sense of humor, and, once the issue of Patty’s identity is cleared up, they spend most of the rest of the book playing pranks on each other. He proposes to her, too, but she mostly talks him out of being serious about it.
Anyway, it doesn’t mean much. Once she’s out in society, people are always proposing to Patty. And then she steers them towards her friends. Kit gets pointed in the direction of Daisy Dow, who used to be awful to Patty but I guess isn’t in love with Bill Farnsworth anymore. Ken is paired off with Marie Homer by the narrative even before he’s proposed to Patty. I wish Ken didn’t have to propose to Patty, though. It reduces him, somehow. He’s been a part of Patty’s life since Patty at Home, and everyone thinks he’s great. I understand that everyone has to fall in love with her, but when it comes time to refuse him, Patty has to give him reasons she’s not in love with him and reasons he shouldn’t be in love with her, which is a) super condescending, and b) not her decision to make.
She doesn’t give Phil reasons. I’m very resentful of Phil Van Reypen being treated better than Kenneth Harper. And Patty apparently likes Phil best right now, which makes me like Patty less than I’ve ever liked her before.
Bill shows up toward the end, in an episode that should definitely tell you, if you didn’t already know, that he’s endgame. There have been plenty of men and boys who have been jealous of Patty’s other suitors, but none of them have made Patty jealous, and that seems to be the point of this bit — to show us that even if Patty doesn’t know it yet, this one is different for her.
, carolyn wells
, new york
This past week, Rachel Sussman’s colossal photography project—and its associated book—The Oldest Living Things in the World, which documents her attempts to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older, was profiled by the New Yorker:
To find the oldest living thing in New York City, set out from Staten Island’s West Shore Plaza mall (Chuck E. Cheese’s, Burlington Coat Factory, D.M.V.). Take a right, pass Industry Road, go left. The urban bleakness will fade into a litter-strewn route that bisects a nature preserve called Saw Mill Creek Marsh. Check the tides, and wear rubber boots; trudging through the muddy wetlands is necessary.
The other day, directions in hand, Rachel Sussman, a photographer from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, went looking for the city’s most antiquated resident: a colony of Spartina alterniflora or Spartina patens cordgrass which, she suspects, has been cloning and re-cloning itself for millennia.
Not simply the story of a cordgrass selfie, Sussman’s pursuit becomes contextualized by the lives—and deaths—of our fragile ecological forbearers, and her desire to document their existence while they are still of the earth. In support of the project, Sussman has a series of upcoming events surrounding The Oldest Living Things in the World. You can read more at her website, or see a listing of public events below:
Imagining Deep Time (a cultural program of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC), on view from August 28, 2014 to January 15, 2015
Another Green World, an eco-themed group exhibition at NYU’s Gallatin Galleries, featuring Nina Katchadourian, Mitchell Joaquim, William Lamson, Mary Mattingly, Melanie Baker and Joseph Heidecker, on view from September 12, 2014 to October 15, 2014
The Oldest Living Things in the World, a solo exhibition at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, from September 15, 2014 to November 2, 2014, including a closing program
Sept 18th: a discussion in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences exhibition Imagining Deep Time for DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous), Washington, DC (free and open to the public)
Nov 20th: an artist’s talk at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
To read more about The Oldest Living Things in the World, click here.
Portrait sketch of Sir John Seerey-Lester, fellow instructor at the SKB Workshop in Dubois, Wyoming.
I just wanted to make sure you all know that Cybils Awards judging panels will be announced this week--Wednesday, to be exact! It's always an exciting time because I know, once the panels get announced, it's time for me to start thinking about books... Read the rest of this post
I really appreciate getting to see other people’s sketchbooks. It’s sometimes refreshing to see un-edited or less-edited thoughts in their raw form, and in visual symbols so it’s more vague and confusing than if it was spoken. Or sometimes clearer. I think you may possibly understand what I’m saying? So I’ll be reciprocating often, here.
Peopled by the bewildered, the belittled, the aging, the tales in Stone Mattress follow characters deposited in modern society but haunted by a palpable, insistent past. Atwood is a legend with fiercely devoted fans, but her works are so witty and absorbing that, even if you've never picked up one of her books, you'll immediately [...]
Surrounded by nothingness, a knight lives with his wife in a small house. Every day he must defend their home against attacks of other knights. What he gets as reward is love and a satisfying meal.
Although I have previously blogged about the beautiful work of Jean Haines on my personal blog (see original post here) I really felt that it was necessary to include her work on the Illustration Friday blog, I didn’t want you to miss out on this talented artist!
Haines traveled the world between 1989 and 2006, touring Asia, the Middle East, America and Europe. During this time she found many influences for her art career, in particular China taught her a lot about brush control which is evident in her work today. Currently, Haines resides in England where traveling is still a huge part of her career.
It is easy to be envious of Haines’ talent in watercolour; her style appears loose but we know there is an element of control which create these vivid, unique pieces of art. The strongest elements in her work appear when the subject is subtly hinted at but we still know it is there. As many artists are aware, watercolour is arguably one of the hardest mediums to use yet Haines makes it look natural and effortless; a rare talent that should be recognised by all.
More of Haines’ work can be found on her website.
Thanks for reading,
The best advice I ever got, as an author was, "Write what you know." Kerry Madden-Lundsford takes that to a whole new level with her debut novel (republished - 2014), Offsides.
The daughter of a college football coach, Kerry Madden-Lunsford grew up in a series of hometowns, transplanted from one place to the next with the changing of the football season, uprooted from childhood friends with almost no warning. It is this hectic, whirlwind lifestyle which Madden-Lunsford draws upon in writing her first novel, Offsides.
The first thing Kerry will tell you is, "No, my father isn't John Madden." She does, however, pull memories-some good, some bad-from her days as the oldest child of a football coach, being uprooted from one football-crazy college town, to the next.
I found Madden-Lundsford's characterization of an awkward, self-critical, defiant Liz Donegal, refreshing and believable. While she protests every move, we know she will eventually give in and pick up roots, once more, in order to follow her father's never-ending search for that elusive head-coaching job.
On the surface, Liz appears to be an island; never quite fitting in, even with her family, but in between the lines, you feel the love and loyalty the Donegal family possesses, even when her closest confidants, her mother's sister and her father's brother, appear to leave her behind.
While I'm a dog lover, and cringe at the thought of losing a beloved dog, Madden-Lundsford writes an especially vivid scene in which the grave of "Bear Bryant" is dug up by his replacement, "Halfback". Equally traumatic is that all this takes place during Liz's boyfriend's first meeting with her family.
I highly recommend this book for YA and mature teens.
Further proof that Offsides is written from experience? Check out this picture from one of the author's latest booksignings.
Offsides: Amazon KindleKerry Madden Books
|Kerry Madden-Lundsford with Lynn Majors, wife of famed Tennessee football coach, Johnny Majors|
Mary Cunningham, author, Cynthia's Attic Series,
The Adventures of Max and Maddie Series
Have you had your daily dose of Surrealism? I think not. I shall endeavor to help.
In her sweeping survey of the way humans have fundamentally altered the planet, Ackerman once again dazzles with her luminous prose and boundless curiosity. Far from a book weighed down by doom, The Human Age examines both our mistakes and our triumphs to demonstrate that, while we can't reverse course, we can forge a new [...]
It's hard to know what to expect when a songwriter tackles a full-length novel, but Darnielle has created a complex story that lives and breathes on its own merits, while still retaining the moments of razor-sharp intensity that give his lyrics their acclaim. Books mentioned in this post Wolf in White Van John Darnielle New Hardcover $24.00
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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VIOLA NICCOLAI PER
BILBOLBUL ROOM 2013
Sabato 20 Settembre 2014 alle ore 18, presso l'hotel Al Cappello Rosso, Albergo in Bologna dal 1375, verrà aperta al pubblico la BilBOlbul Room 2013 realizzata da Viola Niccolai, ultima delle installazioni d’artista permanenti che arricchiscono la collezione di stanze a tema dell’albergo.
L’inaugurazione della stanza sarà un’occasione per festeggiare l’uscita del primo albo illustrato da Viola Niccolai, La volpe e il polledrino, fiaba eziologica di Antonio Gramsci, in uscita per Topipittori, che sarà presentato la sera stessa presso l’hotel.
PRIMA EDIZIONE DI BORGOINDIE
BilBOlbul sostiene il nuovo festival BorgoIndie, che si svolgerà venerdì e sabato 19 e 20 settembre 2014 nel bel borgo medievale di Brisighella.
BorgoIndie, nato da un'idea di Marco Ghezzi in collaborazione con Francesca Santoro, è alla sua prima edizione e organizza una conferenza, concerti e una mostra mercato tutti dedicati allo sviluppo della creatività e della produzione indipendente.
Last flowers of the season sing a song…
models: Big ass hot pink rose, Candi Rose (rosa mundi)
There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's about Juliet and... her wet nurse. At least, that's what the data junkies at FiveThirtyEight.com claim. As does Jim Carter, aka Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey. What is up with [...]
Icon work for a video game that teaches complex math strategies to jaded middle schoolers. #educationdoesntnecessarilyhavetosuck
is how I feel when I'm playing around with my computer, but now the elephant's on a shirt...
Lionsgate has unleashed the official trailer for Mockingjay part one. The video embedded above offers glimpses of soldier Gale Hawthorne, former Hunger Games victor Peeta Mellark, and the reluctant rebel Katniss Everdeen.
Throughout the past few months, several promotional videos have surfaced for this movie including two “Panem Addresses” from the villainous President Snow and a teaser trailer. The next installment of The Hunger Games film franchise will hit theaters on November 21, 2014.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Join In The Fun Starting September 16 Sweater weather is here!! Which means time to cozy up to a good book with your pumpkin spice latte (or, you know, soy latte if you’re not buying into the whole pumpkin mayhem). To stock readers’ shelves for the season, Atria Books is announcing a massive #FallFictionGiveaway, with 15 of the most park bench, al fresco cafe sitting, curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine ready books of the Fall! Not only will fans have a chance to win a new book each day, there are TWO ways to enter: Facebook.com/AtriaBooks and Twitter.com/AtriaBooks! Make sure you follow Atria to be eligible to win and keep up with the daily giveaways.Follow Atria on Twitter: http://bit.ly/1m4onuILike Atria on Facebook: http://facebook.com/AtriaBooksGiveaways will be posted at 10 am every day until the end of September, with one winner from Facebook and one winner from Twitter being chosen the following day.Stop by Atria's Facebook and Twitter pages daily for a chance to win.
Each day there will be a new post and tweet for each of the books in the picture with instructions on how to enter that day's giveaway!
You can enter them all or just a few--whichever books you want to win!
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