Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Last Geek To Comment on The Hobbit 2 Has Her Say (With Thoughts On What Writers Can Learn From PJ’s Mistakes)

(Note: Contains very minor spoilers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
OK, I’m not going to bother with a full review, since I’m sure by now everyone who wants to has either seen it or read other reviews. It took me a while to steel myself to go see it. I was pretty disappointed in the first movie, but liked the actors and the few actual Tolkienish bits. I went into the second movie with lowered expectations, and overall enjoyed it.

The dragon was wicked-cool. Well-rendered, impressive, and Benedict Cumberbatch did a fantastic job with the voice. Martin Freeman is still the best person they could have gotten to play Bilbo, Ian McKellen continues to be awesome, and Richard Armitage once again rose above the material. The bits with Gandalf battling the Necromancer made my inner-teenage-fantasy-geek very happy. We’re not going to talk about what PJ did to Radagast because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, least of all my own.

I enjoyed Tauriel as a character too much to resent her non-cannon intrusion, especially as I’ve long since given up hope of PJ’s movies bearing more than a passing resemblance to the books. (What do you know? PJ can have a strong female character without finding some way to undercut her! Maybe he’s capable of learning and growth!)

Ditto the elf-dwarf romantic tension, which I had heard rumor of, was prepared to dislike intensely, and actually found quite sweet. I thought there was a nice, subtly complex triangle set-up there with Legolas. Tauriel is attracted to Legolas but knows she can’t have him. Being a smart girl, she accepts the things she cannot change and is open to moving on with someone (very) different. Legolas doesn’t like her enough that he’s prepared to defy daddy to be with her, but he likes that she likes him, and doesn’t like it when she shows signs of interest in someone else. (Of course it helps that Kili is as cute as a box full of puppies with a couple of kittens on the side.)

The whole digression into Laketown politics made me feel like I had wandered into another movie, but it wasn’t a *bad* movie.

The CGI-enhanced unrealistic elven acrobatics once again set my teeth on edge. The action sequences were still waay too long (I really wished I knew in advance exactly how many minutes I had, so I could get up and stretch my legs and maybe get a snack.) Which leads me to my take-away for writers.

Most (not all) of the action sequences were kinda cool, especially the ones under the Lonely Mountain with the dragon and all the gold sliding around like desert sands. If there had been half as many of them, and they had been half as long, this would have been a darned good movie, especially if PJ also tightened his narrative structure and put the Laketown politics stuff in another movie where it belonged.

Writers, this is why we need to ‘kill our darlings.’ Yes, that passage is beautifully written, and so is that one and the other, but when you put them all together, it’s too much and the reader starts wondering what’s for lunch. I’m talking to myself as much as anyone here. The next time I want to resist an editor’s suggestion to cut that gorgeously written passage for the greater narrative good, I will remember sitting in a movie theater, checking my watch and thinking about whether I wanted Chinese or a hamburger. (For the record, I usually bowed to the editor’s greater experience anyway, but I now feel bad about all the things I muttered under my breath while cutting the text.)

The Allure of the Dark Hero

My new blog is up at Here Be Magic (group blog for speculative-fiction writers from Carina Press).

A while back, I wrote about attractive villains, now I’m blogging about dark heroes. We’re not going to analyze too closely what this says about me, ‘kay?

Shawna Reppert Interviews Shawna Thomas– An Interview With a Fellow Carina Press Author


Q. Tell us a bit about your protagonist and her world.

A. After her father and her mother died, her grandfather raised Ilythra on a deserted island, teaching her everything he knew about the ancient art of Shi’ia. On her 18th birthday, he gave her a stone and a task: Find the other stonebearers and reunite the stones. But I guess that tells you more about her mission than anything else. That is one of the problems. Ilythra is headstrong and impulsive but also dedicated. As time progresses, she begins to lose the distinction between who she is and what she is to do. She is just coming into her own during Journey of Wisdom, the third book in the Triune Stones series. Anatar as an ancient world in stasis. The once mighty race of Siobani have become a legend and nothing has changed in the century since they disappeared. Nothing for the better. The keeper of one of the stones uses the power for his own benefit and even the land groans under the burden.

Q. Your first novel was a stand-alone, and now you’re on the third book of a series. Did you know you would be writing a series when you wrote the first book in this world?

A. Yes. This series started as one book—the first one I ever wrote—and grew to a very long book. I knew it was going to be either three or four when I pitched the concept to Carina. The first two were roughed drafted, the last two were only ideas. I honestly think this could have gone to five books. So much was cut out!

Q. Your covers show us a swashbuckling female protagonist. An interesting choice— and one I approve of! Can you tell me why you decided on this protagonist?

A. It’s more accurate to say she decided on me. Many years ago I had a dream about a woman named Ilythra. I thought it an odd name but continued my day-to-day life, but she wouldn’t leave me alone. I finally decided to write down her story. It turned into a 100-page short story. I wasn’t satisfied so I decided to fill in the blanks…. LOL. There are still some blanks I’d like to fill in.

Q. In your bio, you said that you were inspired to write because you didn’t like the ending of Gone With the Wind and decided to write your own. I have to ask— how did your version end?

A. With Rhett and Scarlett together of course. I just couldn’t believe that love wouldn’t conquer all. You can’t tell as much in the movie, but the book… *big sigh* They were two very damaged people who loved each other very much. I am a hopeless romantic. Love wins. Period.

Q. I’d have thought Gone With the Wind would have led you to historical romance. How did you end up writing paranormal and fantasy romance?

A, I cut my reading teeth on epic fantasy. It’s in my blood I guess. I honestly didn’t start out to write in any genre, I just started writing and this is what came out. I also tried my hand at romance under a pen name. I’m kind of a “tell the story” writer… then you can tell me what genre it is.

Q. You had three books out in a year. Do you really write that fast, or did you have a couple books done before the first book came out?

A. NO! LOL. In that year, I gave birth to a baby who doesn’t sleep. No really, even as a newborn she’d sleep ten minutes of every sixty. Around the clock. My husband went back to school and I had just signed a four-book contract. I honestly wrote every single word sleep-deprived. LOL I’m writing these words sleep deprived. Gotta stay consistent. But the first two were just in need of a really good edit. It’s the last two that gave me stress… and that I’m most proud of.

Q. Your bio says you have seven kids! How do you manage to balance writing time with the rest of your life?

A. Honestly? I don’t. I used to write during naptime and after the kids were in bed. I’ve trained the baby to sleep for 30 minutes to an hour, but it’s not quite long enough and by the end of the day, if I have any time, I try to spend it with my husband as he’s busy with work and school/homework almost all day. I hired a babysitter to finish the last two books. So right now I’m on hiatus. I write the occasional short story just because I need to.

Q. What is one assumption people make about you that is wrong?

A. I’m a very quiet person so people think I’m standoffish or unfriendly. That’s not the case, and it’s very frustrating. Thank God for people who know me well enough to see beyond that. So if you see me at a conference or something, I’d love to talk to you. Really. Also, I’m nearsighted and if I’m not wearing my glasses, you’re blurry. I’m not ignoring you.

Q. What is your favorite fairytale/myth/legend and why?

A. I love fairies. I’m not sure that’s my favorite. My favorite is probably the one I’m reading at any given time. When I was a little girl, we lived in Washington State surrounded by forests. I used to pretend there were fairies in the woods that would disappear when you looked at them. I tell my kids that the fairies collect dewdrops, which turn to diamonds in a fairy’s hand. I love watching my kids observing every dewdrop carefully and with wonder. And I think ultimately, maybe that’s why I write fantasy. If I could inspire even one person to wonder, to look around creation and see the delicate beauty and complexity, to see beyond his or her day-to-day life and be lost in possibilities and awe? That’s worth all the sleep-deprived nights.