posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy
Today I'm thrilled to be welcoming Kris Kennedy back to the Lair to celebrate the release of her second historical for Kensington, The Irish Warrior. We had a blast when Kris was here last year touting her debut novel The Conqueror and we're so glad she was able to join us today. She's going to tell and show us some of the writers who have influenced her.
Take it away Kris!
First, a big “Thank-you!” to all the Banditas for having me back again this year to celebrate my second release, The Irish Warrior, which just came out 1 June! I’m super excited about this one, which was the 2008 Golden Heart® winner for Best Historical. Which of course means I’m also super nervous.
In part, this is because I’m a newbie to the publishing world, and I know nothing. Every so often, I fool myself into thinking I know something, but I’m quickly confronted by the truth, or alternate viewpoints, or new ideas, which show that my knowledge is rather . . . Umm, let’s say rudimentary. In other words: I know nothing. But hey, at least I know I know nothing!
One of the ways I navigate this “know-nothing’ state is I listen, and I learn. I try, as often as possible, unless someone is paying me to teach a class, to keep my mouth closed. And I absorb. And one of the best things to absorb is great writing.
In The Irish Warrior, I decided to pay a few little homages to some of the stories that have influenced me, either in a deep moving way, or in a lighter, fun way. Some of the stories that have stuck with me, deep inside.
I think this happens both unconsciously and consciously. We are deeply taken by some turn of phrase or stylistic approach or plotting choice, and it penetrates so deeply it becomes our own. Imbued with our own sensibilities, of course, changed from the original, but part of our own natural repertoire of storytelling. And then there are the conscious homages. The stylistic turns of phrase or characterizations or set-ups that we adopt knowingly.
In THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies, in the first one, when the hobbits are on the road and they sense a Black Rider is coming, Peter Jackson used an old Hitchcock film technique, of that foreshortening, where the world seems to tunnel in and get at once closer and further away.
Later, Peter Jackson showed up in a scene in the film as an extra, just like Hitchcock used to do. All these were little homages to a great who came before him. A nod. A thank-you.
That's what I'm talking about.
I wonder if this is easier to do in film, in part because we all are (or should be) concerned withy anything that smack of plagerism. Additionally, each author has his or her own distinctive Voice. We don't want to copy someone else's.
But homages are different. They are tributes, and thank-yous, and I put a few of them in The Irish Warrior.
One is to the LITTLE HOUSE books.
Laura Ingalls had such a way with descriptions. Simple and potent. I felt as if I was riding on her wagon, all the little jiggles and shuggles of the endless bumpy ride, and the great bowl of the blue sky atop her head. The ponies running along the edge of Silver Lake, and releasing the baby Great Auk on the melting lake. The stocked larders in winter and the crunching snow underfoot, the long hot rustling grasses during haying season, and the thick-walled muskrat homes Laura and Pa are looking at in the opening of The Long Winter.
There's a couple passages in The Irish Warrior that adopt this style. One is right after the hero and heroine have stolen a boat, and just before a dangerous brush with soldiers, and in between two hot, sexy close-calls between the two of them, there's one little passage that closes out a chapter: "They floated off, the old man watching them, until the tall grasses swallowed him up and the only thing to be seen was the blue bowl of sky overhead and the long, stretched-out wings of a dark, silent cormorant that flew overhead.”
Not sure if it comes across to the reader, but to me, that was Laura Ingalls writing.
I also paid tribute to THE SECRET GARDEN in one little line. Or rather, part of a line.
The hero and heroine have escaped the bad guy and been on the run, and are finally lying down to rest. Senna, the heroine, is well aware her life in in danger . She knows she’s “fleeing for her life with an Irish rebel, out on the wildside, beyond the Pale, past rescue, past safety, past any future she’d ever dreamed of.” And yet . . . something has been awakened inside. Yes, she’s more frightened that she’s ever been before, but she’s also more alive. She lays down next to Finian, “near him but not touching. She put her head on the hard ground and smelled the cool dirt and pale green points of grass, then looked up into the sky and watched the day take its bright, wild shape.” And those pale green points of grass are just what Mary Lennox finds after she follows the robin into the secret garden and starts her own little secret garden, watching the pale green points poking through the dirt, a process which is awakening everything inside of her as well.
But I’m not high-brow about my homages. :-) I gave a little nod to TREMORS as well. Remember that movie? Com’on, you do. I loved that movie when I was a kid. And I thought the way they had to leap across those huge boulders to escape the . . . worm-y thing, was so ridiculous and fabulous. So, in The Irish Warior, the hero and heroine have to make their way across a river, and they do it by . . . jumping boulders. They didn’t have those long vaulting-type branches they did in the movie, but I definitely had them make their “leaping, slipping, flying way across the boulders” just like they did in TREMORS.
And depending on how loosely we define ‘homage,’ it’s possible that every book of mine so far, including the one I’m writing now, pays homage to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, via my heroes. They are Aragorn-inspired. ;-)
Some of the next ones on the “You Have Moved Me So I Will Pay Homage” list: Anne of Green Gables books. E.M. Forester. Agatha Christie.
I have to fit my next homages into a story which is set on the eve of Magna Carta, about an audacious knight who comes up against a woman on a mission. She upends his world, but unfortunately, their missions collide, and jeopardize the kingdom one of them is trying to save.
Thanx so much for joining us today, Kris, and for giving us some insight into your writing! I've definitely paid homage to some of my favorite writers.
How about you? Do you ever do homages to other writers or storytellers in your writing? Ever think you see it in books by authors you love? One commentor will win a signed copy of The Irish Warrior!