You remind me of the babe

…in which I talk about my love for Labyrinth. With footnotes.

Ever seen Jim Henson’s Labyrinth? If not, you need to rethink your life. Just sayin’.

I love this movie. Not only is the music fantastic (all songs by David Bowie, need I say more), but it has this girl:

Jennifer Connelly is gorgeous at any age.
Jennifer Connelly is gorgeous at any age.

and this guy:

Sparkling like a boss since 1986.
Sparkling like a boss since 1986.

There are a lot of reasons I adore it: it’s wildly imaginative; the music is brilliant; there are muppets, and Jennifer Connelly; and David Bowie sporting a mullet that would put MacGyver* to shame. But more than that, the strength of the story and characters, specifically Sarah, is what resonates with me.

Why?

Because it’s the story of a girl who says No. And wins.

Briefly:

Jareth, the sparkly, devious, goblin king, has stolen Sarah’s brother and whisked him away to the Labyrinth, giving Sarah 13 hours to solve said maze**. Or else he will turn Toby into a goblin.  Rather than risk losing, he throws various wrenches into the works and eventually attempts to seduce her. Keep in mind this a family film*** so said seduction involves a ballroom and music and a gorgeous puffy, sparkly dress. And a dance with a handsome king. Watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. And yes this is possibly my favourite song in the film.

Up until this point, Sarah has been running around dressed like a teenager. Suddenly, she is dressed like a woman and in a very adult environment. And someone – a man not a boy – notices****. Keep in mind she’s fifteen. And if you watch her face (go ahead, watch the video again. You know you want to 😛 ), you can see she’s trying to figure out if she’s comfortable with this whole scenario. She’s at an age where you’re not a girl and not a woman, but something in between, and she’s trying to navigate her way through that in-between stage. Been there. Not easy.

So there she is, on the king’s arm. And he’s singing to her and treating her like one of his adult courtiers. (Take note of said adult courtiers in the vid) For a while she seems to go along with it, but eventually remembers what she’s looking for and breaks free from the illusion.

Fast forward to the end of the film. She’s practically won. And then Jareth appears with his final offer:

“Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.”

And her response?

“You have no power over me.”

BOO-YA.

In doing so, she comes into adulthood and acknowledges her sexuality on her own terms. Not on somebody else’s. She learns, early, how to say No to something that isn’t right.

And Jareth? He’s defeated. Her refusal is seen as a definite thing. It doesn’t covertly mean “yes”. “No” means “No”. End of story.

As it should be.

 

I promised you footnotes:

*And if you have no idea who MacGyver is, you need to rethink your life again. 80s/90s TV shows FTW.

**Technically a maze and a labyrinth aren’t the same thing, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment. Carry on.

***Debatable.

****Personally, I think Jareth does actually fall in love with Sarah, but it’s moot because he still acts like a skeeze. That’s also a whole other blog post. Maybe.

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Did someone say…STEAMPUNK???

…among other things…

…namely the fact that the bottom has dropped out of the temperature and looks like it’s going to stay there for the foreseeable future.

 

coulson-notmydivision
Phil Coulson is not impressed

ANYHOW.

So the other week as I was working on the novel, I came to the realization that it is set in the Steampunk age of this world. It was the fact that a character mentioned an airship that clued me in. And I squeed.

 

steampunk-blimp-pictures-1a
Airship love.

Isn’t that beautiful? *sighs*

As the writing went on, the vision of this glorious, bright, bustling, steampunk harbor city popped into my head and I got all excited until I realized that there’s only a small glimpse of it in the novel. <cricket noises> So I whined to a friend of mine and she just laughed and told me to use it in the sequel. Except that this novel won’t have a sequel. And besides, I wanna play in that city now.

You can see where this is heading, right?

So I was procrastinating researching on Pinterest (I see you looking at me that way. Stop it.) for images of “steampunk city” and this gem popped up:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/303218987386684718/

I took one look at it and then a (short) story idea, complete with characters, went on to map itself out for me. And it’s set in this city I want to play in. But here’s the kicker: it’s set in the criminal underbelly. So at the end of the novel, you will have a glimpse of the bright surface. But in the short you’ll see what lies beneath. The narrow streets, the dark warrens, the thieves and cutthroats. And I get the feeling it’s going to be dark and bloody. And the characters are pretty cynical, but not without loyalty.

And I love it already.

THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY DAMMIT.

Ahem.

On that note, I’m outta here.

À tantôt!

p.s. currently addicted to “Iris” by the GooGoo Dolls. Enjoy.

 

Something old, something new…

…by which I mean, I had a meeting with my thesis supervisor today and it got me thinking. About a lot of things.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My research focus is, broadly speaking, women in Anglo-Saxon & Old Norse texts. And since I’m only just beginning this venture, I was feeling very. Overwhelmed. By. Everything. That. Has. Already. Been. Written.

And I’m supposed to think of something NEW to say?

 

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Thankfully, my supervisor made me feel a whole lot better and I came away with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for why I’m researching this topic in the first place. And not just because I’m huge nerd (which I am. In case that wasn’t obvious).

It’s because the women in these tales are freakin’ awesome.

My fascination with all this grew out of my love for Tolkien. He writes beautifully for women (Melian, Luthien, Galadriel, Arwen, Eowyn, to name a few), giving them depth and presence, and so I wondered at his source material. The ancient tales that inspired him.

And that’s how I discovered Wealhtheow in Beowulf. In the midst of this very masculine heroic world, there walks in a queen. And not just a pretty face, but one with grace, intelligence, and authority; her speeches are written in the imperative, signifying that she is not just a pretty face. She is telling them what to do.

Moving on, there are such Norse figures as Brynhilde, Unn the Deep Minded, Yrsa, and the list just goes on. And yes. There are some who are vicious, jealous figures. But my point is that they have a very distinct presence in the sagas and the elegiac poetry. Some wield swords, some wield magic, some wield words. And they are a force to be reckoned with, even within the constraints of their time.

And they are amazing.

And that, in turn, makes me think of the women I write. They look so different from the characters I used to write. They’ve grown (I hope!!) in presence and strength and power. Some of them will use swords and be bad ass in that way. Some of them use words. Some of them use magic. And I might not agree with all of their choices. But they are based on the things that inspire me from these bright, beautiful, ancient tales. They are based on the awesome women I am privileged to know. And they are all rooted in the fact that being a woman is a beautiful thing. Not without its difficulties, but still a good and beautiful thing.

Waes hal!

 

 

In which it is still February

*polishes header*

*puts on the kettle and arranges the tea things*

*sets out the welcome mat*

Hi. And welcome to my space. It’s blizzarding outside (the true north, strong and free, baby) and I am safely inside nursing a cuppa and wondering why Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain thought settling here was a good idea. My mother’s prosaic solution is that they just couldn’t go any further. And until I come up with a suitably exciting theory, I think that’s what I’ll have to live with.

mrdarcy-dealwithit

And yet the snow and the cold and lands of ice and snow still fascinate me. While the current writing project does not involve a land of eternal winter, it’s a plot bunny I’ve filed away for future use (by which I mean: I’ve stuck it in a box and sealed it with duct tape and shoved said box in a closet with the others) so that I can concentrate on the novel at hand dammit. Which has just hit the 40k mark.

AND I’M SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED.

I’ve been living with this story for a long time. It’s a rewrite of something I wrote years ago and have now come back to. Watching the world and characters expand and grow into what they were meant to be is…thrilling. And lemme say, the writing really helps me get through the cold, long winter days.

Stay warm out there.