Saturday, June 18, 2011
The block was full of kids ranging from me and my best friend Anne, the youngest, to older brothers and sisters, in their late teens and early twenties. None of us could really afford the chocolate shakes. I'd stare at the picture as I counted dimes. One day, my brother was there, watching us in line. He must have seen me counting, figuring, looking disappointed, because he got up off the curb and said, "What do you want? My treat."
I was afraid to say the shake, but he guessed it and said, that's fine, and he pulled what looked like a fortune to me from his pocket. I'm sure it wasn't, but slicing a dollar bill from what looked like tens and twenties had my eyes open wide. He worked. He was older. From that day on, if he was ever around when the ice cream man came, he'd jog over and buy me a shake.
That wasn't his only magic. He let me play in his bedroom when he was out. He had swords and daggers hanging on his walls, medieval wall hangings, a spiked flail hanging over his pillow. And he had a wall of model cars. I didn't take anything down, I just touched things gently, and then lay on his bed and made up stories. I liked cars and dolls equally as a kid; I liked swords and easy-bake-ovens. He encouraged my imagination in what others might have dissuaded.
And he was an artist, is an artist. He'd let me watch him draw. I'd sit at the kitchen table and watch the array of pencils bring out shadow and light to form trees and mountains and cabins and our own small house in a little street.
He's taken to going on vacations with my family now. And I tell him he has to bring his paints and canvases. It takes him nearly the entire week to get up inspiration, and then he sighs and unwraps the canvas and sets out the paint jars and palette. I wonder if he's doing it just because I'm waiting. We bring home at least two small canvases, little things he says aren't worth anything.
I love them. I have two of his large paintings hanging in my house, along with the little things. I still have the sketches he drew me when I was kid, even the fire engines he helped me draw for a school project. He'll be retiring soon, and I told him he has to come out more often, have dinner with us. He and Gary are very good friends. Maybe we'll go out for ice cream, and maybe I'll order the biggest dish!
Older brothers can be magic to a younger sister. I wonder sometimes how much he's responsible for my opinions of men and my underlying belief they're good guys.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
My novel Beside the Darker Shore is due out July 7. Here's a little teaser:
What might the ethical Governor David Gedden give up for one man’s exquisite beauty? It’s terrifying to consider when the man is a destructive blood prostitute and David is responsible for the state’s peaceful vampire community. Blood sales in Boston are up, blood taxes support a thriving new nightlife, neighborhoods have been refurbished, and deaths by vampires have plummeted. David is assured reelection.
But the blood addict, Stephen Salando has returned from exile with one unalterable plan: to make the good governor a vampire. Stephen is an immortal dhampir, whose beauty obliterates reason, who rouses in David a fierce desire he’s ignored his whole life. For David, to have Stephen means to ally with the community’s archrival, to have him means becoming a potential killer himself.
As Stephen stood to put in his music, he downed his glass of wine, the orange light catching the liquid’s flow, streaking Stephen’s neck. There was no doubt he was beautiful, his slender silk neck belying the strength of tendons, of arteries that pumped eternally renewing blood. Did he think David could take that blood, could bite into this man whom he could hardly touch without ravishing as a human?
“If the intimacy of Stephen frightens you,” Arturo said, “think of the eternity I’m offering. You will have time for my villa in Potes, and I will take you there. Time for Italy and India, for Scottish moors and Arabian deserts, for Plato and Lawrence, Prokofiev and Paganini.
Arturo’s voice was lulling, his smile charming, and David couldn’t help a small smile in return.
“At night,” he continued, “we will skim our hands over Rodin's Orpheus and Donatello's David, stand beside de Chirico's melancholic street and Hopper's slanted shadows, voyeurs to each century and secrets in ourselves.”
A solitary, sad guitar strummed through the trailer, mixing with the breeze through the slatted window, and Stephen slid on the bench, next to David, while Arturo leaned back into shadows.
“This music is lonely,” he said, “rain and bare branches and twilight sky. Like Stephen.”
David’s arm was a twitch away from Stephen’s. Their legs brushed beneath the table. A drum began slowly beating alongside the guitar, propelling the night, yet holding them still. David sipped his wine, knowing it would taste like Stephen, and realized that what he wanted was entirely selfish. He wanted immunity, to taste all this, to drink only for himself.
He looked at Stephen, his dark lashes, sleek cheekbones. He wanted those soft lips parting, the taste of his breath, burgundy-rich, so near his mouth. He tasted Stephen before their tongues met.
Friday, June 10, 2011
In a carnival, people are thrown into a place of the unknown, where anything can happen. Carnival is the time when no rules hold, when one can become whatever he or she wishes. And even if the writer knows a character's core personality and uses this "core" knowledge to drive the plot of a story, there should remain a mystery, "a realm of the unresolved," something neither the writer or reader can fully know or understand.
"The beauty of life is in its uncertainty," the poet Yoshida Kenko says. And in a good book or film, sometimes we understand something without being able to explain it; we feel it and don't know why. When I read these ideas, I thought of one scene in Little Miss Sunshine.The teenage boy who had all his hopes set on being a pilot finds out he's color blind, runs off from the family, screaming out his rage and frustration, and he won't return to the family van. The sister eventually comes down the hill where he sits and squats beside him. Nothing is said, nothing explained, but we understand without explanation why he returns to the van.
We all know those moments from books and movies. Creating them? I think to do so, we have to let our story have a life of its own, guided but not quite pinned down. There's magic in that and I think the audience feels it.