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Blogging My 2013 Oxford University Summer School Experience

2013.08.11 | 2013.07.28 | 2013.07.14 | 2013.07.07 | 2013.06.30 | 2013.06.23 | 2013.06.16

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Discovering Mrs. Standhope
I had received criticism that two of my characters, an English couple named Mr. and Mrs. Standhope, were too formulaic and only existed as a vehicle to advance the mazzeri subplot in the story. I hoped that at Oxford I would meet an English couple who could provide inspiration for more memorable and essential characters. And did I ever. Only it was just "Mrs. Standhope" that I met. One of my classmates, Marjorie, an outspoken, sassy, witty, and slightly "daft" (but in the nicest, more endearing way) Englishwoman, turned out to be the very essence of the character I had hoped to create. And she has agreed to help me with dialogue and description to make "Mrs. Standhope" into a version of herself. Mr. Standhope is off to the dust bin along with Marjorie's ex! I know that my readers will take as much delight in her as I did if I can get her properly translated onto the page.
Tue, August 13, 2013 | link          Comments

Monday, August 12, 2013

Too Much Imagination

In all my years of taking writing classes and being critiqued, Jonathan Miles was the first to suggest that I had "too much imagination". As a result, I throw in irrelevant or superfluous information, get too wordy, explain too much, and don't let the reader the privilege of drawing his or her own conclusions. So that was my task as I went through the week at Oxford. To pare down, keep to the essentials, and STOP explaining stuff!

On the way home on the plane I was reading "The Paris Wife", the novel about the wife of Hemingway. The author has a scene where Hemingway meets Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. Stein has read one of his stories and said it was not to her liking. She says, "Three sentences about the color of the sky. The sky is the sky and that's all. Strong declarative sentences, that's what you do best. Stick to that...When you begin over, leave only what is truly needed." Pound gives Hemingway similar advice, "Cut everything superfluous. Go in fear of abstractions. Don't tell readers what to think. Let the action speak for itself." Of course, I'd heard such advice before, even from my reading of Stephen King's "On Writing", but it sunk in this time. So I will begin over keeping that advice in the forefront of my mind.

Mon, August 12, 2013 | link          Comments

Home, Jet Lagged, and Catching Up

I have been home for 5 days now and just beginning to catch up with sleep, finances, laundry. In kind of a fog from the jet lag although sleep hours are back to normal. I feel like I want to continue to blog and post about the trip in retrospect, from my notes and memories.

Our time in Saint Maximim was filled with solving transportation problems, getting Aveline started in her day-long French school, which she loves, and trying to do some sightseeing with the baby in tow while Aveline was at school. Every evening we took a swim in the lovely in-ground pool at our home exchange house, fed the kids dinner, ate a leisurely French dinner ourselves (my daughter and myself), and then collapsed into bed to get ready for the next day.

We took day trips with the baby. The first to Cassis where I took a dip in the Mediterranean, which had turned suddenly cold a few days prior, had a fabulous lunch of their famous moules et frites (a huge bucket of mussels in a lobster and red pepper bisque sauce--yummy!), and walked the waterfront. I had been there before and it's just as relaxing and inviting.

Another day we headed 150 km to Digne Les Bains for the Lavendar Festival. We discovered that the "festival" consisted mostly of a big parade with floats and bands and the street lined with tables so everyone could have lunch before the parade started. Aveline just loved it. My favorite was the band in traditional costumes all on bikes! They kept perfect formation with one hand on the handlebars and one on their instruments. Quite the sight!

A third trip was to my all-time favorite restaurant on the terrace of the Logic du Gutteur in Les Arcs sur L'Argens (north of Saint Tropez). Fabulous food (you can drool over the food on photo page). The last time we went (with my daughter, son-in-law, and his mother) we had arrived late, but Maggie, with her excellent French had talked the chef into staying and preparing lunch for us and a waitress stayed on as well to serve us. This time we arrived on time and it was just as fabulous as before. Tres cher--but what the heck!

Then on another day we traveled to the Abbaye du Thornonet and after visiting that ancient place had lunch at the Logis du Thoronet--equally elegant. A salad with duck gizzards, smoked duck, and foie gras to die for followed by a scrumptious filet in a rich mushroom sauce. The French certainly know how to do food.

Before I headed to the Marseille airport to head home, Maggie talked me into visiting the Basillica in Saint Maximin. I was glad I did. It's quite beautiful and like many Catholic churches in Europe has a crypt purported to be the resting place of Mary Magdalene. I wrote and performed a dramatic portrayal of her years ago so it was interesting to see the relic they have.

Mon, August 12, 2013 | link          Comments

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Best laid plans of mice and men....

And here I thought I would have time to blog every day, maybe every other day. But...NO! The last days at Oxford were incredibly busy--finishing my major assignment for the week, meeting individually with my tutor, and, of course, keeping up my new friendships--Julie from England, Gudrun from Norway, Charelle from Netherlands, Nada from South Carolina, and a number of other writers and folks taking different courses. Then on a bus to Heathrow, a plane to Orly, a rental car to the little town an hour and a half south. What fun that was finding a little out of the way village at night. Asked several people for directions and finally arrived where Maggie and the granddaughters had visited with long term friends for the week I was at Oxford. From then on it life went from fairly fast paced at Oxford to hectic in France.

The next day I drove to Strasbourg and the beginning of yet another adventure. We stayed with the Mamie Antoinette in her beautiful 4 BR Strasbourg apartment along with Mwanday, 10, and Candace, 8. These are two little girls my daughter (with my help) tutors at home. We met the grandmother when she came to the States to help with their care there for part of the year. What a gracious woman. Of Congolese descent. So we were immersed not only in French culture but Alsatian and African. We attended a African mass with beautiful singing and a special Congolese priest visiting from Rome. I also attended a magnificent organ concert at St. Thomas church. It was the annual commemorative concert held at the exact hour of Bach's death and the superb world reknown organist played a dozen Bach pieces on the grand pipe organ.

Rented a car while in Alsace and visited the beautiful, beyond quaint villages on the Alsation Wine Route. Eguisheim being the most incredible. It was like being transported back to the Middle Ages. The next day we visited the marvelously reconstructed Haut Koenigsburg chateau. What a marvel that it was brought back to its full splendor by Kaiser Willhelm in 1908.

Other highlights of Strasbourg were the music and light show on the magnificant Catherdral, which rivals any in Europe. A river boat trip. Yummy Alsatian food with its German influence. And, of course, meeting many of Antoinette's friends, all warm, welcoming. By the end of 10 days, I was beginning to understand at least half of what was spoken in French, but could only guess at what was spoken in Lingala.

Then a TGV train ride to the south of France. A real challenge to get 2 adults, 2 babies, 2 strollers, 2 car seats, 4 large bags, and 4 small bags on and off the trains twice. They give you less than 5 minutes at the stations to accomplish this and gave us a lecture about having too much luggage. Thank goodness a young man from New Hampshire helped plus a few other strangers. But we were greeted at Aix-en-Provence by Marc, the owner of the home exchange we had arranged. He and his wife Christine and daughter and her fiance were wonderful hosts for the evening before they took off for San Ramon today (Wed, July 31st) to stay in my daughter's home for a month. The home is gorgeous, photos later, with a huge inground pool, and very Mediterranean look.

Tomorrow Aveline will start her French school with other 3 year olds. She will stay all day for 3 weeks. Maggie and I will take the baby and do some sightseeing during the day. Next week I will begin my journey home--a two day affair--and Maggie will stay on to the end of August. She will be on her own with the children until husband Jason arrives on the following Monday.

It has been a grand adventure to say the least. Maggie is writing her own blog about what it's like to travel internationally with two little ones. The first week they didn't understand the time change at all. But now are going to bed a their usual times.

I still would like to write more about the work I did at Oxford, but today wanted to catch you up with what has transpired since my last post.

Wed, July 31, 2013 | link          Comments

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Harpsichord music and Harry Potter
Last night I attended a concert by Sweet Zephyr featuring early music from Georg Telemann, Johann Mattheson, and Johann Melchior Molter. Delightful group featured two baroque oboes, a natural trumpet (very interesting instrument that is one step up from a heralding trumpet), harpsichord, and baroque bassoon. The setting was the chapel of Exeter College, a small chapel with tall stained glass windows all around and beautifully painted (etched?) pipes for the organ.

Then today a visit for my grandsons, Ryan and Sam, both of whom read all of the Harry Potter series very early in life. I visited the grand dining hall at Christ Church that was featured so prominently in the film. Hundreds of students were pouring through--the highlight of their visit to Oxford.

I've finished my final project to present tomorrow, an excerpt for my novel. Hopefully it will be well received. But looking forward more to hearing the works of the other 11 students, all of whom are marvelous creative writers, each with a different special talent. I'll miss them greatly when this is over. We've shared so much of our lives over this week, especially during meals and hanging out in the courtyard on in the common room.
Thu, July 18, 2013 | link          Comments

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Working and playing in Oxford
I barely have time to keep up with the blog, there is so much going on. My course takes up the entire morning, then there are three hour-long meals (quite delicious) with lots of chatting with tablemates, plus the extracurricular activities.

Because England is having an unusual heat wave and AC does not exist here, it can be quite draining to push through the day and try to get some good rest at night.

But I've met many people who I think will be lifelong friends. And all with so many good stories to share. At dinner tonight, Tony talked about doing bookbinding in his youth and how difficult it was to imprint the goldleaf on the cover at the end using a copper tool that had to be just the right temp (which you determined by spitting on it). There are other folks from the States but also from Australia, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands. Most are my age or much older--well into their 80s--with a scattering of young people.

I enjoyed the Inspector Morse tour very much but wish I could have recorded the detailed descriptions she gave of each location, including the episode and the plot. One murder took place in the very exclusive Randolph Hotel and the room in which the "death" took place is still asked for by tourists.

Our class exercises continue to be interesting and challenging. Today we watched a few opening minutes of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff and discussed how character is developed in film and how that differs from the written word. We also wrote a dialogue based on the first meeting of two people who've met through a personals ad. I chose the one about a man who calls himself "Parasite" looking for a wealthy 40-50 year old woman who likes to scuba dive. Gee, just like onling dating back home!
Tue, July 16, 2013 | link          Comments

Sunday, July 14, 2013

First session with tutor Jonathan Miles
I joined about 15 others for our first session with our marvelous tutor, Jonanthan Miles (his historical account of the Wreck of the Medusa is slated to become a film). He suggested at the outset that perhaps there is no such thing as "character"; there is only what a person does or does not do in the moment in a given situation. He asked us to think about all the iterations we go through in a 24 hours day--the person we become as each new situation arrives. He talked about the slow process of discovery as we meet an actual person. How we get to know a stranger on the train (with a reference to Hitchcock's film of that title), or at the next level how we might get to know someone sharing a month's holiday with us, and finally what we get to know in a long term, close relationship. So what we skillfully hide about a character as the reader first gets introduced to them in our novels is as important as what we reveal. When we meet someone in real life, they control what we get to know about them. This is what our characters should do--control what they let the reader know about them. His general criticism about our initial pre-course assignments was that most had revealed way too much information about their characters, taking away the intrigue, the discovery, the slow revelation that is so necessary to creating a compelling character. Today we meet with him individually to go over our initial assignments. We also did an in-class exercise to practice the art of revealing a character slowly, not providing too much information and leaving the reader wanting more. We were instructed to let the reader engage with the character through hints and guesses, suggesting that knowing less and teasing more intrigues the reader. Too much, too soon, and the reader gets bored with the character.
Sun, July 14, 2013 | link          Comments

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Oxford - On the street where I live

Arrived in England yesterday morning and spent the day getting acquainted with Oxford. What an amazing city--just oozing with culture, in its architecture, activities, and general ambiance.

Found a delightful hole-in-the-wall place to get my first full English breakfast--bacon, ham, sausage, baked beans, egg, baked tomato, and mushrooms. Yummy. At the little counter in the back was the perfect English gentleman who looked liked he'd just walked out of My Fair Lady.

Checked in to Rewley House. This continuing education center is beyond all my expectations. Modern room with garden view, delightful dining room, open atrium, lecture hall, classrooms, all in one location. I'm esconced at No. 12 Wellington Square in room 8 on the second (read...third) floor.

First night's dinner around the corner at the very famous Eagle and Child Pub, a must recommendation from Pastor Scott! And well worth it. Perhaps sitting where C.S. Lewis sat and hobnobbed with his pals will improve my writing. And the Fish and Chips was not to be missed. A wonderful first dinner in England. Even a small
glass of ale--however, combined with jet lag it found me nodding off during the play. How embarrassing!

Saturday morning now and the program starts at 3 pm. But already met a delightful retired woman from Germany who is taking a course on Sicily and also arrived a day early. She is an amazing example of a single retired woman who travels widely on her own.

Last night, jet lagged as I was, I attended a preperformance lecture and then a stunning performance of Taming of the Shrew by an all-female cast. They have taken this production on the road all summer including at the Old Globe in London. Incredible acting with only 7 woman playing all the roles in the play, including each playing an instrument with appropriate musical interludes (with words from the play itself) woven in. All in the spectabular setting on an open inner courtyard of the Bodleian Libary.

I'll be posting photos of the trip on another page of this website. Check them out.

Sat, July 13, 2013 | link          Comments

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Golden Anniversary of My First Trip to Corsica Summer of 1963

This summer marks 50 years since I first went to Corsica at the tail end of an exciting month-long cruise of the Northern Mediterranean with a group of twelve other adventurous souls--mostly students from California colleges. I've recently been in touch with the organizer of that cruise, Robin Williams from Laguna Beach and here are a few of his comments on that cruise aboard the Widgeon of Fearn, our sturdy diesel Norwegian fishing trawler turned "yacht".

From Robin: The time we had on the yacht in 1963 is one of the richest times of my life.  Can you imagine?  We were on a yacht on the Mediterranean Sea and that is something that is only allowed to the SUPER RICH.

If my memory serves me, we each paid $200 for an entire month aboard which included all our food as well as a spot to put our sleeping bags on the deck (there were only 6 bunk spaces below). The Skipper was British and took along his pal and drinking buddy, Gawain, who were the first off the ship in any port.

Gunnar, a Swede my age, served as our chief cook and translator. The first group (in July of 1963) brought the boat down through the French canals to Cannes, where I joined up. I had been staying in Zurich on my own for a week and took the train to Cannes. I found Robin sleeping on a bench in front of the American Express office!

Each day we decided whether to linger in a port or sail on to the next. To save docking fees, we put our clothes in plastic bags and swam to shore at some ports. Gunnar shopped for fresh groceries daily and grilled eel on a little hibachi on the quay.

We went inland to Florence and Rome by train and then back to the boat at Ostia. In Rome we roamed the city by night and slept (all in one hotel room!) away the very hot August days.

We survived a terrible mistral storm on our crossing to Corsica and were stranded in Bonifacio 5 days until it subsided. That's where we tried to sneak two Foreign Legionnaires off the island. Our mission failed but they gave Robin a beautiful engraved Corsican dagger in gratitude for trying.

The Corsican Dagger was the original title of my current novel in progress. The dagger is still in the story (a symbol for Corsicans of the fight against evil) but the title is now Mother Tongue.

An Excerpt from the Novel:

The Professor walked back over to her desk. She drew open a drawer and retrieved a dagger. Handing it to Liz, she pointed to the carved inscription on the blade. “It says, morte al nemico, or death to the enemy. The enemy is the Evil One himself.”

Robin had hired a cameraman to film the entire adventure in 16mm film--intended to be a travel film for future trips. But when he left Bonifactio to go to Ajaccio to fly home, he had to put his duffel bag with all the cans of film on top of a rickety bus. Somewhere along the way, it fell off and was lost forever. C'est domage!

So the memories are just those left in our minds and in the words of my novel. Robin went on to lead and film many travel adventures but none the likes of his first endeavor. You can access his travel films (marvelous ones on Turkey) at his website

Sun, July 7, 2013 | link          Comments

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stage 3 of Tour de France reveals more of Corsica's stunning beauty

This final stage of the Tour in Corsica started in Ajaccio where my main character, Liz Fallon, awaits her fate in a French gendarmarie following a fatal encounter between the Corsican sepapartist and the French anti-terrorist chief whose lives have been changed by her appearance on the island. The route then wound through mile after mile of switchbacks, precipitous drops, perilous downhills, and spectacular formations of pink granite rising like rugged stalagmites from pristine coastal beachers. The final desitination was Calvi, known for its beachfront citadelle and its status as the home of the 2e Régiment étranger de parachutistes or 2e REP. This world renown crack intervention unit was originally based in Bonifacio in 1963--when my fellow shipmates and I tried to sneak two of their members off the island. This real-life adventure was very much the original motivation for writing my novel. Here is a passage from the novel when she is trying to get inside the head of the island's anti-terrorist chief, Philippe LeClerc:

     LeClerc hesitated and then changed the subject. “Were they successful?”

     “No, someone snitched,” said Liz. “It all fell apart. My mother felt badly because the Legionnaires told her that they had wakened with a bad hangover in Marseille and found themselves signed up for six years.” 

     “Impossible. It is unlikely they joined involuntarily. The paras were the elite of the Legion, a special intervention force, even back then. No one would have been shanghaied from a bar.”

     “And if they’d gotten caught trying to escape?”

     “They would have been stripped, placed in solitary confinement, probably suffered a beating. Attempted desertion is still treated very harshly in the Legion.”

     Liz shifted her position on the rock and broke off a nearby stalk of rosemary, twiddling it between her fingers, savoring her skill in getting LeClerc to talk about his family. Find out about the father and you’ll find out about the man, she thought. “And your father would have allowed that sort of thing?”   

     “He would have ordered it.”

Tue, July 2, 2013 | link          Comments

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stage 1 and 2 of the Tour de France in Corsica reveals many locations featured in Mother Tongue

I have spent two days watching with fascintion the initial stages of the 2013 Tour de France, Almost every road, every city, every aspect of Corsica's incredible landscape shown on the Tour appears in my new novel MOTHER TONGUE. I would like to share passages from the novel that include those locations which many of you may have seen on the Tour.

Stage 1 of the Tour began in Porto Vecchio, a seaside town on the southeastern tip of the island. This is where one of the FLNC attacks takes place in the novel.

     Liz stared at a shot panning across a row of cots covered with plaster dust and hundreds of bullet holes in the walls behind them. The news announcer said there had been three simultaneous attacks just after dawn, almost at the very moment LeClerc had been driving up Cap Corse. Speculation was that they were in retaliation for earlier police raids in Balange. The first video was of an attack on a police barracks in Porto Vecchio. It had been strafed right after a platoon of police trainees had left the building for breakfast.

From its start in Porto Vecchio, the Tour route took a dip south to Bonifacio. This is where I had my own Corsican adventure at age 19, trying to sneak two Foreign Legionnaires off the island. And where my main character was conceived. This is a snippet of a conversation she has with Philippe LeClerc, before he reveals he is the head of R.A.I.D., the anti-terrorist force in Corsican.

     Liz related some general details about her mother helping a group of college kids try to liberate two Foreign Legionnaires from the island. Not until the words Bonifacio and summer of ’63 did he respond. “Incroyable! My father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the 2me Étranger du Parachutists, the second airborne, of the Foreign Legion at that time. He was sent to Bonifacio after the exodus from Algeria in ‘62.”

     “Do you think he could have been the officer over the men my mother and her friends tried to sneak off the island?”

     “Je ne sais pas,” said LeClerc.

Stage 1 ended in Bastia (amid a snafu with a bus getting caught under the finish line sign) and this is where Liz meets an estranged cousin for the first time.

     Liz went through the list and settled on two listings, one in a nearby village and one in Terra Vecchia, the old port district of Bastia. No one answered at the home in the village, so after their brief conversation, she headed off on foot to explore the one located in Bastia. She walked up the Boulevard du Général Graziani, past a flotilla of sidewalk café tables sheltered under brightly colored umbrellas, and trekked on to Terra Vecchia. The ultra-modern shops of downtown Bastia with their Parisian fashions soon gave way to shabby multi-story dwellings. She couldn’t decide if the plaster hanging in ragged peels, exposing the lathe and even the plumbing underneath, was a sign of poverty or historic preservation. Her ear caught the sound of laughter and conversation, in a mixture of French and Corsu, emerging from the Irregular pattern of small windows dotting the upper stories.

Stage 2 of the Tour from Bastia to Ajaccio passed through Corte, the ancient capital of Corsica and hotbead of separatist activity where much of the action in the novel takes place. My daughter and I visited there in 2006. This is a passage as Liz drives into the city for the first time.

     Within minutes she dropped down into a valley and entered the outskirts of Corte with its modern, multi-story buildings. As she neared the turnoff to the university, she slowed to navigate a roundabout and caught her first glimpse of the Corte’s Citadelle. The ochre fortress rode atop a hunk of rock that soared hundreds of feet above the valley floor, casting a long summer-evening shadow across the landscape and almost wrapping its dusky fingers around her car.

Sun, June 30, 2013 | link          Comments

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Suggested Reading List for Oxford

The suggested reading list for the "Creating Character" course at Oxford is quite varied. Although I didn't have time to explore every one, I did get an enormous amount out of the ones I was able to read. Dicken's Our Mutual Friend excels in making even the most minor character memorable. This taught me to introduce every single human being in the novel in a unique, memorable way, even the maid one passes in the hallway. Virginia Wolff"s Mrs. Dalloway was a treasure trove. I made a list of 32 different ways she presents her characters and was able to add a good deal of variety in my character descriptions.I don't know about Rushdie--couldn't get into his writing style or characters. Our tutor, Johnathan Miles, said not to worry if we didn't get to everything, that there would be handouts in class of what we will discuss. Blessings on him!

Beckett, S.  Happy Days.

Bock, J., S. Harnick and J Stein. Fiddler on the Roof. Script or DVD

Chaucer, C.  ‘Prologue’ to The Canterbury Tales.

Dickens, C.  Our Mutual Friend.

Nichols, P.  Privates on Parade.

Rushdie, S.  The Moor’s Last Sigh.

Shakespeare, W.  Richard III.

Woolf, V.  Mrs Dalloway.‘

"Harlequin Romance" novels (Barbara Cartland, for instance), or a news stand war or erotic novel, and also consider characters in memoirs, autobiography and poetry.

Sat, June 29, 2013 | link          Comments

Monday, June 24, 2013

got Kindle?

Just a reminder that my first novel, Degrees of Obsession, is now available on Kindle for 99 cents. Such a deal.

I just booked my last reservation for my trip to Oxford and France. Now to the big spreadsheet! When I travel I put all my travel info on one Excel spreadsheet. And with all the various connections and the planes, trains, and automobiles, this is going to be more important than ever. I think the only conveyances we won't be on are boats and horse-drawn carriages. But you never know!

Mon, June 24, 2013 | link          Comments

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Eagle and Child--Best Oxford Pub

Thanks to Pastor Scott I got my first recommendation for my visit to Oxford and it's only a short stroll from Rewley House.

The Eagle and Child lays claim to a number of interesting literary connections. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and fellow writers met here and dubbed themselves 'The Inklings'. They nicknamed the pub 'The Bird and Baby'. Just the place for an aspiring novelist.

And check out this menu! Our spring-summer selections are all about zesty tastes, vibrant colours and delicious textures. Savour starters like succulent crayfish tails in gazpacho mayonnaise. Then move on to mains including smoked haddock pie with a creamy cheddar and spinach sauce, or steamed Scottish salmon fillet with garden peas and buttered baby potatoes. Ginger-beer glazed pork belly, ribeye steak and other gourmet treats make our salads irresistible. I'm drooling already!

Sat, June 22, 2013 | link          Comments

Join me at Oxford this summer

Welcome Friends, Family, and Fellow Authors.

I'm blogging my Oxford experience this summer. Please join in with comments about your own summer adventures, your favorite writing courses, or whatever comes to mind.

I am delighted to be taking a week-long residential course on "Creating Character" at Oxford University's Summer School for Adults (OUSSA) starting on July 13th. I will be staying at Rewley House with persons from all over the world enrolled in the wide variety of courses offered by this unique program. I have already submitted two assignments to the course tutor, Dr. Jonathan Miles. Each student has individual sessions with their tutor to go over these assignments. Every morning there are two class sessions. The afternoons and evenings are devoted to "homework" and exploring the many sights and events around Oxford.

I already have made plans to see The Taming of the Shrew put on by the traveling troupe from the Old Globe Theater--complete with an Elizabethan stage set up outside the Bodleian Library--touted to be one of the most thrilling settings to see a Shakespearean play. This production features an all-female cast. I saw the same play this past spring at Ashland--that production was set in the 1950s on the boardwalk. So two very different interpretations of a classic comedy.

I am looking forward to finding new ways to further develop character in my newest novel, MOTHER TONGUE. Even with just reading the assigned materials, I made a decision to alter the background and motivation for my protagonist and am currently revising the entire novel with that new vision in mind.

Sat, June 22, 2013 | link          Comments

Link to web log's RSS file

A bit about OUSSA

I will be taking a one-week residential course on "Creating Character" by well-known author Jonathan Miles,  July 13-20, 2013, at Rewley House, Oxford


I will be joining people from the UK, Europe and further afield (me!) for enjoyable, yet serious study with some of the finest tutors in the country. For over 100 years the Oxford University Summer School for Adults (OUSSA) programme has been making it possible for everyone to take advantage of the Oxford system of expert tuition in small groups.

This intensely practical course explores character. Through examples stretching from Chaucer to Becket, you will identify the ingredients that give fictional beings life. When, does a character take on an archetypal status? When does a character degenerate into a two-dimensional stereotype? Most people feel comfortable creating characters that they know well. But what about those figures that are more distant from our everyday experience and yet who seem to demand a place in our stories? And what about the possibility that there may be no such thing as character? This writing workshop explores different ways of approaching and building rounded, interesting, recognisable but not cliché-ridden characters.

The only entrance requirement for a summer school course is enthusiasm for the subject and a commitment to undertake the required coursework before and during the summer school.