Gray, new books, ponderations, writing

Fifty Shades Of Darker Gray – when characters fight back

 

Marston Moor really is going to be a grim book.

(With much humour in it, but I very much fear that it will be a sort of grisly, Babbitty battlefield humour.)

Today I have been much thinking about Gray. It’s no spoiler that Gray is a woman; we’d call her genderqueer now, but in the 1640s cross-dressing women were sufficient of a menace that King Charles went public about his disapproval of such wenches in the Army, issuing a proclamation in 1643 to prevent the horror of it all.

There will be probably one day be a Gray story, because she intrigues me, too, but I’m not always sure I like her, never mind understand her.

This all comes from a remark about Tom Hiddleston – an actor who’s doubtless a mighty fine actor, but who doesn’t float my boat – one of those daft little memes that goes “Tonight, darling, all your neighbours will know my name.”

And I thought that was too funny not to use. Now, you know, Hollie – staid old married man whose idea of naked is leaving his sword on the table downstairs and whose definition of ecstasy is ember tart and Het in the same place at the same time – it’s not something he’d ever say. And Luce would probably be too busy kissing his way up the inside of the lady’s wrist and trying to look poetic and yearning whilst wrestling with her laces. Venning – nah, Alice would kill him. And the chances of Russell going to bed with anybody for another… well… a while, are remote: he’s too scared, after the last time.

So it’s going to be Gray, isn’t it? It’s going to be Gray, trying to demonstrate to a troop full of testosterone that she has bigger balls than they do.

The thing is, though, I was thinking about that young lady. I just can’t work her out at all. She is a woman, who dresses, fights, and behaves like a man. Does she want to be a man? I’m not sure she does. (I’m not sure it would cross her mind to, either.)

Does she want to be a woman, though – I’m not sure she does that, either, and given that she is going to have a relationship with one and possibly two members of the rebel rabble, that’s what I find intriguing.

And that’s where I start to flounder a bit. Because imagine this: there’s Gray. Young, not exactly what you’d call pretty, but in possession of all the necessary female anatomy, kicking around one of the rowdier sorts of knocking-shop with some disreputable sorts. There she is, swaggering about making slightly tipsy remarks of the nature attributed to Mr Hiddleston. This is the point at which she’s going to fall into the arms of some young man who’s going to make her a real woman… right?

And the answer is – no. I wish to goodness it was, but she’s resisting it every step of the way. She just is not going to let me write it that way. And she’s going to have her fling with one of the whores, and … so she’s going to be gay, right, and that’s why she dresses as a boy, because she’s some sort of butch drag queen?

And – nope, she won’t let me do that, either. (She’s currently glowering at me with her bottom lip sticking out like a baggage-mule’s, and her eyes narrowed. Definite no, then. )

Gray’s mother was raped by a soldier at the siege of La Rochelle, but I don’t think that’s it, I don’t think she’s frightened of men, I don’t think she has any trauma in her past from which the right man will free her. (Don’t think she’s frightened of very much, actually.) And when it comes to it – so to speak – she does like sex. Though she is, very definitely, the dominant one. So to speak. And then again, possibly not.

Which leaves me with an unpalatable fact.

She’s a woman, who is not motivated by “feminine” things. She’s not moved by relationships, or sex, or love. She’s not gay, and she’s not straight either. She enjoys the physical aspects, but she enjoys them just as much with a woman as a man, and she’s quite open about that.

Now I could decide that I’m going to write her differently. That I’m going to make her change, when she meets the right man: that really, she’s got a heart of gold – because that’ll make her nice and accessible, it’ll be a nice comfortable read.

But she’s not like that.
And yes, the man she marries – and she will, and if you’ve read all the books you know who she marries – she will break his heart. He’s one of the more likeable lads of the rebel rabble and there is a strong argument that he deserves better. But does he? Or is he marrying her because he thinks, in typical cork-brained romantic style, that love will change her into someone he likes much better…?

If you work on the assumption that people in books should be real people – should be themselves, should be believable, even if that means they’re not always nice, or kind, or comfortable – she’s good.

But by heck, she’s hard work to write as herself. 
Advertisements
Standard
Gray, humour, Lucey, poetry, politics, romance, Thomazine. writing, women

To His Coy Mistress, Some Lines After the Battle New-fought at NASEBY

Why court’st thou death instead of me?
Why, mistress, must thou prove thy worth
By putting all thy foes to flee
Despite the virtues of thy birth?
For lady, spurn me as you must
I know and love thy bravery
That’s never failed to keep thy trust
In th’face of the King’s knavery
Yet may I hope, my mistress gay,
My plea your fair ear reaches:
You dress yourself in fine array
And put on skirts instead of breeches?
I dare not test, lest what I find
Is frailer yet, a bubbled glass
That shatters in a changing wind
Or withers, like the mower’s grass
Yet, lady, your secret’s secure
– As yet is mine: that I am yours.
If you wondered what Luce was writing during A Wilderness of Sin….
Standard
Babbitt, Fairfax, Gray, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Lucey, new books, Russell

The Smoke of Her Burning – and a bargain!

 
To celebrate Yorkshire Day, an exclusive cover reveal of the new book, The Smoke of Her Burning, set in Selby 1644. And to celebrate the cover reveal, the first three books in the series will remain at 99p each till the end of August! – help yourself here.

I hope there’s a good explanation for this, Colonel Babbitt,” Fairfax said, with a sigh. 
“No,” said Hollie honestly, “but there is an explanation.” 

There’s a lot of miles between Essex and Cheshire…. 

…and newly-promoted Colonel Hollie Babbitt is cursing the most recent additions to his company, for every step of them. 

A scarred lieutenant with a death wish, and they don’t call him Hapless for nothing. 
Captain Drew Venning. And his dog. 
Captain Penitence Chedglow, last seen smashing up the inside of Worcester Cathedral in an excess of godly zeal, and his new companion in bigotry, the silent but violent Webb. 
The mysterious Trooper Gray, a one-man insurrection. 

Forced to leave a posting to Cromwell’s Eastern Association as a result of some more than usually scatter-brained chivalric meddling by the posh poet Lucey Pettitt, Hollie finds himself up to the elbows in freezing mud at Nantwich, mired in intrigue and insubordination. 

When Hollie’s old nemesis Prince Rupert relieves the siege at Newark, freeing up a cavalry force to hammer Fairfax’s garrisons in Yorkshire, it looks as if the gallant Parliamentarian defenders will be overwhelmed in the North. But after a fierce attack is repulsed, the Northern Royalists retreat to their foothold at Selby, with its vital strategic command of both the Ouse and the road to York. 

It will be hard. It will surely be bloody. But Hollie’s rebel rabble may be the difference between victory and defeat for Parliament in the North.

Standard
children, Colchester, Gray, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Lucey, ponderations, writing

Luce’s love life

Wilbrecht is five today.

It’s an odd thing, being in a room full of happy, healthy, lively, noisy, well-nourished children. On the one hand, it’s something like being dropped into a pan of boiling water, when you first walk through the door. Hot and well-nigh unbearable, for about thirty seconds, and then you start to become numb.
And then on the other hand, you think how very fortunate they are, and how lucky we are to have them, and what a privilege it is that the vexatious little buggers are happy and healthy.  (And that five years ago there was no Wilbrecht, and six years ago I did not imagine there ever might be.)

And, you know, I wonder what it might be like, if you were on your own – that you loved someone, maybe, but that maybe they didn’t know, or that it just wasn’t the right time or place to tell them – if maybe, it might choke in your throat, to see a room full of happy, healthy, bright children, and to think – I could do that. One of those screaming, laughing little whelps could have been mine. If she hadn’t died. If she had known.
That everyone you knew, even the unlikely, even the plain and the unpromising, belonged. And there you were, at twenty-ish, single, a widower, someone who had known what it was to be a part of a little commonwealth, and who had lost it. Thinking, perhaps, that life was unfair, and wondering what your own children might have looked like, if you had been blessed.
If she hadn’t died.

How you might have loved your never-children. Dried their tears, kissed bumps and grazes, told stories. Wiped noses. And it would have all been a kind myth, because you would have been just as cross and impatient as any other of these harrassed parents at times, but not in your never-world.

They loved their children, even in 1645.

Reckon we need to get Luce married off?

Standard
Gray, Lucey, new books, Russell, writing

Selby – a poll, please!

I have a certain situation, in Selby, and your opinion would be much valued.

Luce, Gray, and Russell, inside the barricades. Doing deeds of daring nefariety, if that is a word, which Hollie is going to go mental about when he finds out, but there it is.

(“You did WHAT!! If you get your damn’ fool self killed Lucifer your bloody auntie will never sleep with me again!”)

Luce – nice young man, earnest, principled.
Gray – no principles at all but likes Luce and wouldn’t want to make him sad
Russell – stark mad most of the time and nothing to lose, but essentially a decent young man

So…. having been helped by a Royalist sentry, how would you feel, as a reader, if either Russell or Gray cut the sentry’s throat?

Standard
Babbitt, Gray, Het, Lucey, poetry, ponderations, Russell, silliness

A Writer’s Lot Is Not A Happy One

Today, I cannot settle to writing.

There are too many little sub-plots going on in my head. I want to write the Putney Debates, where I know Hollie is going to lose his temper with the prosing and I know Russell will be hurt and humiliated. (I want to know where that one is headed, because I think there may be friendships broken at Putney, and they are characters I like.)

I want to write Ireton’s wedding, which may be done as a standalone just for fun, because Het will attend that (well, dear, you couldn’t expect poor little Bridget to stand up on her own in front of a room full of soldiers, could you?) Where Het goes the girls will go, and where the girls go there is often trouble, of the sort customarily engendered by toddlers.

I want to carry on with the start of the as-yet untitled Marston Moor book, which starts so horribly, and is likely to continue for a good three hundred-ish pages with brawl after brawl until the Gray/Russell dynamic sorts itself out to everyone’s satisfaction. Russell is taller than Gray and considerably madder. Gray is rougher than Russell. Neither of them will back down, and both of them have their little sore points on which they cannot bear to be baited, and both of them will continue to bait each other until they’ve worked out who’s top dog. Russell’s a half-mad Puritan with a drink problem. (He drinks because it hurts, and it doesn’t stop hurting, so he doesn’t stop drinking. All too logical. She says ruefully.) Gray is an enigmatic little bugger with a chip on his shoulder who can’t stand authority and doesn’t take orders. You might wonder at this point how come Gray hasn’t yet been shot or disciplined for his rebellion and there is an answer to that…

And of course it’s such a lovely sunny day that I find myself sitting in the garden with a sprig of rosemary in my fingers, snuffing at the scent of clean linen and rosemary and fresh air. Thinking that even in the mini Ice Age of the 17th century, even in the middle of a civil war, surely Hollie must have got a bit of time off for good behaviour. Time to skulk off somewhere by himself for an hour with a pen and a bit of paper, and find himself a nice tree to lean up against and write letters home to his wife. (He has a habit of gnawing the end of his pen when he’s thinking, and as Luce has pointed out, if it causes him that much internal anguish to set pen to paper, it can’t be good for him and he ought to stop doing it.)
It won’t be the good-humoured Blossom that’s snuffing the back of his neck at this point, the velvety muzzle exploring Hollie’s collar will still be Tyburn’s. But I think for the morning, we can leave Captain Babbitt sprawling in the grass trying to edit his recent exploits so as not to scare his good lady, and sending his best love to his daughters. Luce is reading the poetry of Catullus, to the amusement of the rest of the troop.
http://io9.com/a-latin-poem-so-filthy-it-wasnt-translated-until-the-2-1589504370
(This one shuts ’em up somewhat. Um. Girly? Sorry, Luce, no offence, mate…)

And Russell? He’s doing – absolutely – nothing. And he’s enjoying it.

Standard