Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Favourite Character!!!

“Blast you, you cunning voman viz your cunning vomanly vays!”

Yes... the woman that can inspire such passion and outrage could only be Luisa Danforth, Ace Girl Spy. She first met light of day in Treacherous Hearts, a WWII tandem tale written by me and the irrepressible Mark. She appeared in other stories as well, Brittanica: The Final Frontier (set well into the future), Sand and Crumpets (set in the present day in a Las Vegas brothel) and Love Among the Pyramids (1930s) to mention just three. Here are some excerpts from Treacherous Hearts, complete with original exclamation marks.


Then Luisa did what any other red-blooded Englishwoman would have done in such a situation: she kissed him! His firmly-moulded lips were a velvet whip to her senses! Down she plunged, in a miasma of ecstacy and ever-increasing longing… longing for a fulfillment that could not be denied any longer!


Hours later, she couldn’t say when, she was woken by a sharp jab to her ribs. Looking up into the dusty air of the barn, she could see that at the end of the hay fork that was prodding her was a robust young man, dressed in farm clothes that couldn’t disguise the broadness of his shoulders and his magnificent chest, nor his powerful thighs. But enough of that, thought Luisa. She had a civilization to save and she was the girl to do it.


She gave some attention to her travelling companion. He was a striking man, not only for his rugged jaw and closely cropped black hair, but also for the black eyepatch he wore. His one mesmerically blue eye drew attention away from the two pale slashes of skin on his cheekbones: his Heidelberg scars!


“Good night!” he whispered hoarsely, then bent and kissed her hand with lips that burned with unspoken passion. Luisa drew back, not daring to speak – how could she when she could barely trust herself to stand upright, let alone be coherent? It was all the signal Reinhard needed. Swooping down, he took her in his arms and kissed her with a scorching intensity that she had only known once before. Luisa did what any red-blooded Englishwoman would do: she kissed him back! His hands moulded her pliant form against his hard body. Luisa’s head swam with the intensity of sensation that was suffusing her very being with ecstacy. Somehow, she managed to pry herself apart from him, gasping for control of her senses, wanting nothing more than to be consumed by these magnificent sensations.


And with that Dalibor kissed her passionately. What wealth of emotions flooded Luisa’s body! She had only felt this depth of passion three times before! It was all she could do to stop herself from falling out of her seat and into Dalibor’s arms. Suddenly, from far behind them, she heard a man’s voice.

“Nein, for ze love of Gott! Do not be thus torturing me!” It was Reinhard and he had witnessed their impassioned farewell. Luisa broke away and looked over at the hapless Captain, still tied up to his tree.

“Poor idiot,” she sighed, then turned to look at Dalibor. “Be kind to him, please!”


Standing up, Louisa placed on hand on her heart while the other hand held her tea cup securely. She looked off into the distance and envisioning all the pink bits that made up the British Empire said, “By all that is Holy, while the Union Jack still flies over thick steamy jungles, vast plains, busy trading posts, bustling sea ports and over millions of natives and ex-patriots, and over all those who drink tea at an appointed hour and change for dinner, I will set Count Delrowski free!”


They entered and there, sitting on a wooden pallet was Count Delrowski. He rose elegantly, but it was obvious to Luisa that he wasn’t in the best of health. However this could not detract from his natural presence that seethed and coiled its way around the cell like a heady vapour. He was slightly taller than average with light brown hair brushed straight back from his intelligent brow. His startling blue eyes spoke volumes and his compact build was like that of a jungle cat, composed and ready for anything. He wore camel coloured wool trousers and a white linen shirt that had seen better days.


“Yes,” replied Ryzard, with a slight smile of predestination illuminating his handsome visage. So Luisa and the Baron hadn’t consummated their relationship? What a relief to the heroic Pole. Since he had first laid eyes on Luisa’s delicate beauty, he had burned with an untold passion that was all too new to him. What rewards lay in her strong yet supple arms? What delight to lose oneself in those impossibly fascinating eyes? What ecstacy to rain kisses on her swan-like alabaster neck? What transcendence to burn with the fire of a thousand volcanoes, as they finally entwined themselves in to a miasma of passion and…

But enough of that, he thought to himself, it was time to rescue the Polish pilots.


Silently and masterfully the Count swept Luisa out onto a magnificent marble balcony and into a rose-covered bower where they were hidden from view. And before she could catch her breath and continue her tirade, the dashing, one-legged, author-equestrian-hero-diplomat-soldier clasped her in his arms and did what any other red-blooded Polish man would do: he kissed her! The dancing, the music, the city, the whole wide world stopped for Luisa as she was lost in a tide of emotion and a depth of passion she had only felt four times before!

Suddenly the earth moved. And it wasn’t just the force of Ryzard’s searing kisses. A great booming sound caused the magnificent chandeliers to tinkle. Berlin was under attack!


“Yes… yes I suppose you’re right,” sighed Ryzard, turning about and taking Luisa in his arms. “By Vladimir! If you veren’t an ace girl spy, you vould make a hell of a pilot!” Inevitably, indisputably, irrevocably… Ryzard’s lips met hers and they were both swept away on a torrent of emotion, of a sort that Luisa had only experienced five times before!


“I mean, you oafish lout, that I’m willing to take us both out to save this nation, nay the world as we know it from your evil ways! Since the glorious days of Sir Bramwell Pemberton, gentleman spy, it is I, Luisa Danforth, a mere woman, whose natural fragility was always my greatest strength, who is the world’s greatest spy!”

“Blast you, you cunning voman viz your cunning vomanly vays!”


“Well, I say,” murmured Sir Bramwell in his still beautifully-well-modulated voice. “I say Luisa, you’re a credit to women everywhere!”

“Here, here! I say! Hooray! Three cheers for the old girl! Jolly good, what?” cried the Polish pilots who were learning English with great facility.

“Yes,” said Winslow meaningfully, “I’ve always said if Luisa weren’t a gel, she’d make a jolly fine chap!”


Luisa looked up at the Count with such meaning in her eyes that Ryszard did what any other redblooded Polish pilot would do: he kissed her!

What emotions whirled through Luisa’s mind? What torrent of physical sensation assaulted her slender form? She had only felt this way six times before

Call me Crazy.... but I Sense a Theme Here

From a selection of my tandem tales (writing exercises written with various good and talented friends):

From Springtime in Zurich:
Dr. Dietrich Jurgen opened the large window of his spacious office and gazed at the twinkling waters of Lake Zurich in the distance, now bathed in the light of the late-afternoon sun. He closed his eyes and breathed a sigh, running a hand over his fine wide forehead and back over his chestnut hair. His sideburns were slightly touched with gray. His deep green eyes were tired and seemed to have lost forever the bright gleam that had set him apart from his fellow students at university. There in Vienna he had been recognized early on as a brilliant mind and a great thinker and it was widely believed that he would surely contribute profoundly to his chosen field of psychiatry.

From Bramwell Pemberton, Gentleman Spy
Bramwell Pemberton stepped out of his shower and wrapped a towel loosely around his lean hips. Leaning against the window sill, he lit a cigarette and gazed thoughtfully over the view that stretched before him. He hadn’t been in Buenos Aires four hours, and already three people were dead. War was Hell, and they were calling this the war to end all wars. In a gesture of frustration Bram (as he was known to his friends) ran a hand through his hair, letting the unruly curls fall becomingly on his noble brow. There was a knock on the door.

From The Grimoire of Pengannon Castle
Seth emerged from his bath and walked over to the tall sash window of his hotel room, a towel loosely wrapped around his lean hips. Leaning against the jam, he lit a cigarette, folded his arms, and gazed broodily out onto the rain slicked streets. He was more irritable than usual. He hated the city and especially the people who populated it. Bankers were the worst.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck's daughter, Cecilia Peck, made a lovely documentary about her dad: A Conversation with Gregory Peck (1999). Here is one of the revelations from that film:

When Gregory was en route to Rome to film Roman Holiday, he stopped in Paris and was interviewed by a very charming young reporter, Veronique Passani. He had several months in Rome filming and then was coming back through Paris so he decided to call Veronique and ask her for lunch. She hesitated several times, in a silent and torturous manner, and he really didn't know what to make of it, before finally accepting his invitation. Weeks later, when they had had many dates and were obviously falling in love, he asked her why that first day, she had been so reluctant to agree to lunch with him. She told him that that afternoon she had been booked to interview Albert Schweitzer at the home of Jean-Paul Sartre!

They were married in 1955 and remained so until his death in 2003.

The Time Traveller's Wife

I finished The Time Traveller's Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger) last night in bed. I can't remember crying so hard over a book for a long, long time. The first time I cried this much was when I was seven years-old, part-way through Charlotte's Web (when Wilbur cries because the other animals won't play with him). Then again when I finished The Last Battle (the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia), because I couldn't bear that it was over and there were no more stories to come.

This is a thoughtful, clever, deeply-detailed novel, and a magnificent time-travelling love story. The heroine is breathtakingly patient with an almost incredible ability to love the hero: it is his dilemma which is the point of the novel. Henry is a man who, in a manner beyond his control, time travels through his own life and slightly before. He arrives at his destinations naked and disoriented. It's a rough life and it takes its toll on him. On one of his journeys he comes across a six-year-old girl and it is she who is destined to be his wife; in fact where he has just come from - she already is. It's an incredible juggling act by the author and an intriguing mind-game for the reader, who is attempting to keep it all straight. The story is written in the first person (Henry and Clare take turns) and it's all present-tense, with the author providing a sub-head at the start of each section giving you the date and the couple's respective ages. Clare's life is all told in a straight chronological narrative, with poor Henry popping in and out at all different ages, until she meets him in the "present" and they start their more formal life together.

This is so hard to explain! But anyway, I do urge you to read it. JenStar lent it to me (she's such a good source of books, always got something interesting to suggest and it was her doing that got me reading the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series).

This is a great love story and it will break your heart!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Happy Tobacco

I'm sitting here innocently typing away and - sniff! sniff! - I can smell pot. Well... it's not the first time, but they must be very near by. See, this is where I sit and type, so the window is right next to me. My neighbours just have to have a breeze waft by and I get to share in their happy tobacco. I have to say, the cooking smells here are excellent. Someone on this floor does roast lamb at least once a week and I distinctly detected mint sauce one day. Other lovely aromas too. I'd rather have the lamb than the pot. Hmmm, reminds me, I have a leg in the freezer.

Naughty Cheesy

I'm giving up wheat in an effort to find out why I feel so permanently allergic. Yes, it's my own diet-elimination plan. It's actually more drastic than that, but I don't want to go into the tragic, chocolate-deprivatory details here.

So... for old times' sake... here is a picture of a cheesey from a packet I bought recently. I think it's extremely saucy. So I photographed it, then I ate it. Yummy!

New Purchase

And I bought this little jug. I think it will hold flowers and stay in the spare bedroom with the William Morris curtains. I know, I know... I'm a girl, what can I say?

Race in Movies

For those of us who watch old movies, you can't go very far without the question of race coming up. In Hollywood the maids were always black simpletons, the cooks were Chinese, the Mexicans and Italians were eye-bulging lotharios or half-wits. I watched a few moments of a Bruce Lee bio-pic on Sunday and there's a scene where Bruce Lee goes into a movie theatre with his girlfriend and they're showing Breakfast at Tiffany's. She's seen the movie before and says to him, "this is so funny" about an upcoming scene. It's when Audrey Hepburn's character comes home and she's with George Peppard. Mickey Rooney as the Japanese landlord (or neighbour) comes out and he's angry about something and he carries on in most scene-chewing manner. It's excruciating. His depiction is not only tasteless and well past the time when such a thing should have been allowed (it belongs alongside a black-and-white minstrel show), but it's also incredibly un-funny. Anyway, Bruce's girlfriend (who is Caucasian) soon picks up on how offended he is and they leave.

Then I got to thinking about The Party (1968), which I love. I know some people are offended by Peter Sellers playing an Indian. Sellers plays Hrundi delightfully and he is ultimately the hero of the film, so does it matter? Well, maybe it does. Or does the fact that he is sympathetically portrayed makes it okay? I don't know. It would be far harder to take if he was playing him as a villain. I don't suppose it would be cast this way now, for one important reason: we have actors now who can play characters of different ethnicities. But even this has to be handled delicately. Remember the outcry when Memoirs of a Geisha was cast with Oriental, but non-Japanese actors. To the American producer, they probably "all looked the same". Same with Anna and the King, which spawned lots of controversy over the casting of Yun-Fat Chow, a Chinese actor, playing the King of Siam.

I'm just grateful we've come this far. I know there's a way to go, But I still love my old movies, despite the wince-making moments.

Top Ten Reasons I Love Second-hand Book Stores

10. Two words: low prices.
9. That promising damp, musty smell.
8. Hidden chairs to sit on.
7. Not a single large-chain, west-coast, American, coffee mega-empire branch in sight.
6. Quiet, bookish store owners let you do your own thing.
5. Hidden corners to sit on aforementioned chairs.
4. A personal inscription just inside the cover makes you wonder about the history of your new, pre-loved book.
3. If there is music, it's discreet and conducive to curling up in aforementioned corner.
2. No sales bins and no wretched impulse buys at cash register.
1. Discovering a book you'd forgotten you'd missed, and it thrills you to find it... re-discover it, then remember it all over again.