03 September 2007

The Glamorous Life? Or, Revisiting Brideshead and a Reason to Celebrate.

Ah, the glamorous writing life, and the leisure of long holiday weekends. Who am I kidding? It's Labor Day, family that is normally off at work is instead here, I'm neck-deep in turning a completed half-draft manuscript (extremely detailed outline) into a full draft while doing some historical research on the side and if I don't get the laundry in this morning, we will have to embrace nudism as a lifestyle choice. Which would neither be practical nor pleasing. Of course a quick look at my calendar (hmm, could post about organizing) tells me this is my day at Unusual Historicals, and the brain, she goes blank.

Not that there isn't a lot to talk about. I write in several different periods, from Tudor to Edwardian, with stops in Stuart, Georgian, and Colonial periods. The half draft I'm currently wrangling is a time travel between modern NYC and early sixteenth century Scotland. Including ballroom dance, clan feuds, primogeniture and what foods might be stocked at a Hungarian deli. Not to mention creating a museum exhibit on life and leisure in sixteenth century Scotland (I owe a museum worker buddy much chocolate for all the brain picking on this one.) I'm also at work on a companion book to that one, which will take a shell-shocked hero from WWI and drop him down in century sixteen. What can I say? I like angst. Besides, it gives me a chance to indulge in a Brideshead Revisited marathon and say I'm working.

The first time I saw Brideshead, I'd taken it from the library as one of my "always meant to see that" choices in the DVD section, popped the first disk into my laptop, and fell irrevocably in love. I will never ever be able to look at Castle Howard without knowing in my heart of hearts that it is Brideshead. Am I the only one who actually wept upon seeing the grand fountain empty in the WWII storyline?

Actually, the whole thing has me sniffly, because it's an angstpuppy's dream. There's the lost friendship of Charles and Sebastien, Sebastien's downward spiral,the star crossed lovers Charles and Julia -- or did Charles love the Flyte family more than any individual member? Or did he love the life they represented, that genteel nobility that seemed to gasp its last after the Great War changed England forever? How do we choose between faith and desire and when do we let go of those we love who have made other choices?

All great fodder for writers of any genre, and I think especially romance. Loves and losses and second chances can play out in beautiful and intricate fashion over the years, and in historical romance, we have lots of years to play with. I applaud Harlequin for starting their Everlasting Love line, where readers can follow the love relationship of the hero and heroine for years or even decades. Right now they're only taking contemporary stories, but wouldn't that be perfect for historicals? Wars, continents, long sea voyages, ah bliss. I could do some of that.

Hmm, guess not so tongue tied today after all. I guess it all goes back to the fact that writers write. It's what we do. I'd insert a wav file of the theme from the BBC comedy "Chef" here if I could find one, and nab it to give props to us storyteller types. Writing, too, is a serious profession, and I couldn't be happier that it's mine. So let's celebrate the things that give us writing bliss. Maybe we need our own holiday.

If there were a holiday to celebrate romance and/or historical writers, what would you call it, when would it fall, and what's the traditional gift exchanged?


Michelle Styles said...

Oh I adore Brideshead Revisited. Castle Howard is much a star of the series as any of the human stars.
I understand they are remaking it.
The question about who Charles was in lvoe remains open. But is full of angst.
Your wip sounds intriguing.

Erastes said...

I just adore Brideshead. I love the series, but Jesus I adore the prose. "Ours were the naughtiest of sins" (paraphrased)

I think that Charles fell in love with Sebastian, but then the idea of the aristocracy, only to find it all as brittle, and veneer-like as Sebastian ever had been. So desperate to escape the stodge and dark of his middle-class existence, he couldn't help but be disappointed, but still hold that period in his life as a golden moment. I wept buckets.

Anna said...

Michelle, I've heard about the remake, too, but I don't know if I could bear to watch it, the original being so darn near perfect in many ways. Castle Howard being one.

Ideas do come from all over, and when I had to find a backstory for the hero of the WWI/16th century book, Brideshead came roaring to the fore.

Erastes, I totally agree with you about the prose. After seeing the series, I had to grab the book, and mercy. Gorgeous indeed. Really good point about Sebastian and ideas and veneer. Et in Arcadia Ego indeed.

Jennifer Linforth said...

I agree that historicals would be great for the Everlasting Love line. I adore my era (1860-1900) in Austrian history... it is rich with such romantic and heart wrenching changes. I can totally see following one hero and heroine through several years and several stand alone books.

hummmm... food for thought!


Anna said...

Jennifer, historicals would be a perfect match for the Everlasting Love line or something similar. In fact, that's what I thought they were asking for when I first heard of the line, then found out it was only contemporary. Ah well, perhaps Harlequin or another publisher will want to dip a toe in the historical "everlasting" waters in the future. I love to follow a hero and heroine through the seasons of their life.

Austria is such a rich and lovely setting; definetly needs more exposure.