Tag: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Literary luminaries on their Atlantic crossings

I recently returned from a trip across the Atlantic on the only true ocean liner sailing today, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. The trip from Southampton to New York was nothing short of magical, however (isn’t there always a however?) we did pass through strong storms for a good portion of the voyage. I am prone to exaggerate for the sake of a good tale, but even the captain declared them strong and the Beaufort scale set the winds at Force 11, violent storms. That’s proof enough for me!  While crossing I came across three other Cunard passengers of historical interest. Each was a literary luminary of his era and each had a slightly different view of the crossing. During my trip, I had moments of agreeing with all three although I had no complaints with the ship, which was glorious, they’ve come a long way since poor Charles Dickens suffered. “She stops,” wrote Dickens about his crossing, “and staggers and shivers as though stunned and then, with a violent throbbing in her heart darts forward like a monster goaded into madness, to be beaten down and battered, and crushed and leaped on by that angry sea.” He spent ten days of his 1842 […]

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The Business Part

While I can’t vouch for its veracity, the story that Charles Dickens invented the book tour when he started reading–performing–A Christmas Carol in 1853 is a nice one. According to lore, no other major author had read his or her own work to an audience before. I don’t know about you, but that seems like entrepreneurial spirit to me. Over a century later, most of the English-speaking world can’t imagine December without his ghost story. It  is undoubtedly a great tale filled with iconic characters and important questions about life choices. Maybe we’d all be reading A Christmas Carol even if Dickens hadn’t stepped onto the stage of City Hall in Birmingham . . . and maybe not. Once you’ve got your galleys and/or ARCS, you’ve got your pub date, and you’re waiting for the actual books to be printed, what are you supposed to be doing? I’m sure with a little googling and some emails,you could secure a stage in Birmingham, but if that’s not your scene, what do you do?  Work on your next book! (Yes, Paula, I hear your voice in my head.) Take my–and your–agent’s advice and keep writing the next book, but you aren’t done when the last book is out of your hands. As much as many writers wish that a writing career were just writing, […]

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What We'd Do With Captive Authors

Michele: Here was my question of the week for my fellow Miss Demeanors:   You get to have the author of your choice, dead or alive, all to yourself for a couple of hours. Who is that author, what three questions would you ask him or her, and what setting would you choose for the meeting?    I know, it’s more than one question and it’s fun. I’m taking Jane Austen for a mani/pedi. No doubt she could use one after walking around the grounds of Pemberly in those dreadful shoes and doing all that needlework, let alone writing by hand with a quill pen.Here’s what I’d ask her:1. Do you intentionally write funny material or does the comedy seep in through the stories you tell?2. How did your own relationships with men influence your portrayal of them in your books?3. How do you view the status of women in the world today compared to the era during which you lived and wrote?  Paula: So many writers, so many choices! I could watch a rehearsal of Hamlet at the Globe Theater with William Shakespeare, attend a Regency ball with Jane Austen, or sail down the Nile with Agatha Christie. But since nobody said anything about time […]

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Descriptions. What's your preference?

My neighbor is a big reader and we had an interesting conversation over the fence this lovely spring weekend. He doesn’t like to read elaborate descriptions. To him, an elaborate description is the gun on the tabletop in scene one that never gets discharged. He gave an example: in the thriller he is currently reading there is a scene where the protagonist walks down a long corridor. The scene is complete with a detailed description of the doors the protagonist passes, what he sees at the other end, etc. In the end, the man gets to the end of the hall and goes into a room. My neighbor read the passage carefully, sure that the careful attention to detail meant that there were important clues in the text – or at a minimum something would happen behind one of those doors. He felt that the description made it difficult to separate important detail from general atmosphere.  This is a problem for writers. First of all, no two readers are the same, so you can’t satisfy everyone. Some people like to use their imagination to fill in most of the details of places and people. A long narrow corridor. A tall dark stranger. Good […]

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