eyE[before]Olivia Stocum

First off, allow me to apologise for my unexpected hiatus from eyE. I hadn’t planned it, but as the old adage goes, ‘life is what happens when you’re making other plans’. In between my aforementioned ‘life’ and trying to get BaCwS finished I’ve been a bit short on time, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to have an awful lot more time in the near future either. But nonetheless, I shall endeavour to continue posting when I’m able.

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Now, on to more important matters. As a reward for your patience, I was recently afforded the opportunity to interview the brilliant Olivia Stocum. Olivia is a historical romance author whose debut novel, ‘Dawning’, comes out in just a few days on July 17th. Many of you may know Olivia from her awesome blog, of which I am a big fan, titled ‘The Claymore and Surcoat’. Many more of you will get to know Olivia, through her fantastically impassioned portrayal of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the rolling Scottish countryside in the 16th century.

A lover, dreamer, archer and artist; the auspicious Olivia Stocum.


What first made you want to become a writer?

“When I was a kid my dad told me I had to start living in the real world, because my uncanny ability to fade into La La Land would get me nowhere in life. I saw this as a challenge. Once he said that, there was no going back. I HAD to turn my overactive imagination into something useful. Judging by how proud he is of me now, I have to wonder if he was using reverse psychology.”

As a writer of historical romance, how much research do you usually put into your story’s background? How do you find the balance between fact and interpersonal fiction?

“Sometimes history can get in the way of the story. When this happens, I think it’s better to tell an engaging story. To some degree you have to create your own reality when you write about a time and place 400 years ago anyway. There’s no way to know every tiny detail of your characters’ daily lives without having to fill in some blanks. Consistency is the key. Decide what’s right for your world and stick with it! Also, make sure you don’t make any obvious changes to the setting or history buffs everywhere will fall into a dead faint.”

As someone who has declared themselves an adamantly independent author, what do you think the advantages and disadvantages of the independent marketplace are for newcomers?

“The indie market evens the playing field. Now, anyone with an imagination and a willingness to work their arse off can make a go of it. No more emptying the bank account to hop a plane to some writers’ conference where you will have to lick shoes all week in hopes someone with a pie chart and a list of acceptable plotlines will confirm that you are, in fact, a novelist. The downside is that the market is flooding with writers who probably should have taken a few more workshops, or joined a critique group, before publishing.”

What do you think are some of the most commonly mistaken or misleading ‘rules’ you’ve been told about writing? What lessons have you learned from your own experiences?

“Oh wow. I’ve struggled with this a lot. At one point I allowed stringent contest judges (to) critique my work to a stagnant death. Sure, I had a clean manuscript, but it lacked the ability to elicit an emotional response in the reader. Take a look at some of the greatest writers throughout history. Guess what? They broke rules. Lots of them. But like many things, you have to know the rules before you can break them. I would tell any newbie out there to study the rules, but keep in mind that they’re really more like suggestions.”

If you could visit any place, at any time period in history, but could only do so trapped in the body of a marmoset, where and when would it be?

“A marmoset is some kind of monkey right? Let me see… little monkeys make me think of Indiana Jones because there was a little monkey in ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’, which makes me think of Egypt, which reminds me of my belly dancing days… wait, what was the question?

“Oh yes, trapped in the body of a marmoset. Well, if I went to historic Scotland, I’d probably end up rotting in a cage because they wouldn’t understand me. (Not their fault, mind you). So I would stick with the Middle East, India, or Africa. I’d be the favourite pet of some young lady who dressed me up cute and carried me around with her all day long. Yes, I could do that, look cute, and have no responsibilities beyond that.”


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Once again, Olivia’s debut novel, ‘Dawning’, is officially released in paperback on July 17th, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon here. (EDIT: Olivia has corrected me, it will also be available on Kindle as of the 17th! :)) Also, make sure you check out Olivia’s blog, ‘The Claymore and the Surcoat for regular updates on her work. Thanks again, for your time, Olivia!

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5 Easy Steps to Channeling the Force

I’m sure we all know by now, but Star Wars – Episode 7 is coming.star-wars-iv-a-new-hope-nei1b

For those of you who have been squatting under rocks, chomping on maggots like Timon and Pumba, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas a few months back and have set to work breathing fresh life into The Saga.

I’m a pretty big Star Wars fan. Though I was not old enough to see the original trilogy in cinemas, I’ve spent my fair share of time watching poor quality VHS recordings of New Hope whilst making Luke and Han action figures duel to the death with Skeletor. And, like most Star Wars fans, I left ‘Revenge of the Sith’ feeling a little violated.

The wound Lucas has gouged into the Jedi mythology will not be an easy one to heal, of that there is no doubt. And so, philanthropist that I am, I shall list the ways to ensure a successful return to a galaxy far, far away.

Gosh, I’m a good human being.

  1. Cast Returns – there’s a lot of talk about getting the cast from the original trilogy back in, and I’m all about it. Good sequels always hinge on maintaining the link between installments. Replacing or writing around characters has proved to leave gaping holes of dissatisfaction and remorse in the mass consciousness – it don’t work guys, don’t try it! They may be able to get away with missing one, maybe two, of the main actors from the original trilogy, but they really need to get as many of them back as possible for this thing to be a success. Besides, who doesn’t want to see Luke and Leia’s matching trailers in a Tattooine caravan park at the ripe old age of 60? I know I do.
  2. Bigger Isn’t Always Better – a classic big-budget mistake is thinking that if you have cash you should put it to use. There is a culture of one-upsmanship prevalent in action movies these days, and it grows tiresome. Think about the prequel trilogy. The prequels were meant to set the scene for the awesome three movies that followed them. If we see nothing but colossal CG droid fight scenes, expensive and extravagantly budgeted sets, and entirely unnecessary fight scenes between core characters (cough-Emperor-and-Yoda-cough), what’s left to follow? I think the fact that the original trilogy shines so much more so than the polished turd of the prequels tells us that bigger and better are not synonymous. Also, well-made puppets will always look better than the best CG. ‘Nuff said.
  3. Story, Story, Story – this may be the writer in me, but I can’t stress the importance of a good story in film. A good, well-planned story is absolutely key to making it work, especially when you’re making a trilogy (and I’m certain Episodes 8 and 9 will follow all too soon). While it’s true that audiences these days are a bit more sophisticated in what they expect than they were in the 70s and 80s, I think that everyone will be happy with something that matches the tone of the original movies in a well-thought out way. Remember the last rule; bigger isn’t always better. Keep it simple to start with, gently remind us why love this franchise, and lay the foundation for an epic story arc in the last two movies.
  4. Grit – I must confess, the Disney label on this scares me a little. The original trilogy were infamous for some really gritty scenes, like the death of Obi-Wan, Han and Greedo’s shoot-out, Luke losing a hand… Don’t fluff this out too much, Disney. The temptation will be there though, since Star Wars has a ‘cross-generational’ appeal (because fans of the trilogy are now parents who want to share the experience with their kids) and movies that gross the highest tend to be ones that all age brackets want to see. Keeping it light and fluffy ensures a high-grossing movie at the potential cost of artistic integrity. I hate being able to observe decisions that have obviously been made based on production-end meddling, but there it is. Of course, Disney’s influence doesn’t scare me quite as much as my last point…
  5. J.J. Abrahams – is slated to direct Episode 7, and words can’t express how overrated I think this guy is. Now, I’m sure a lot of people will leap to defend him, so lets look at this logically – what has J.J. Abrahams ever done for me? Alias? I enjoyed the first season or two, before it flopped. Lost? Another show that flopped due to lack of planning. Cloverfield? Super 8? Not terrible movies… Not great movies either. Truthfully, the only 2 movies on J.J.’s IMDb profile that I don’t mind are Regarding Henry, which he produced in ’91, and the new Star Trek movie (and even that didn’t have a great plot). Am I missing something? Why do people think this guy’s so great? He’s a modern day Spielberg, sure… But Spielberg’s big-budget, grandiose style have become par for the course in modern cinema. You might as well say Abrahams is a modern day Karl Marx in Communist Russia. But I digress… By the same token, J.J.’s mediocrity hasn’t gone too far against him, so I’ll hold out hope. But in all honesty, I’d rather see Joss Whedon behind this project.

Disney for the win.

Here’s hoping for cybernetic Ewoks.

(image credit to nei1b)

eyE[am]Hannah – Time Dilation

Very excited today to hand y’all over to a close friend of mine; one Miss Hannah Leigh Yarbrough. Hannah is an exceptionally talented musician, writer, poet, astronomer,  historian and philosopher (among many other things) who continues to impress me with her broad and intimate knowledge of causal reality and all its mysteries. She has graciously agreed to share her musings with you guys in true eyE[before]E style, following on from my ‘Welcome to Atlantis‘ post last week. I, for one, hope this post isn’t her last.

It is my pleasure to give you the quixotic mind of the querulous Hannah Leigh Yarbrough.


Time Dilation: Ancient Crystalised Thoughthannah

By Hannah Leigh Yarbrough

In reading Ryan’s eloquent posts of late, delving curiously into the lovemaking of science and the metaphysical, my own thoughts swim with potential underwater causality. Come, let us splash for a moment inside the flaming gaze of the Vitruvian Eye.

There’s a Hindu tale of ancients from 700 BCE of King Kakudmi of Kusasthali (an underwater kingdom) and his daughter Revati. King Kakudmi, a mystic, took his daughter dimension travelling to see the Creator, Lord Brahma. After visiting with Lord Brahma regarding a suitor for his beloved Revati, the Creator laughed and explained that time worked differently between planes of existence. The suitors King Kakudmi asked of were now dead. 

In the mere moments they’d been in Brahma-loka, many years already passed upon Earth and under the Sea. This is the first recorded tale of time travel that we know of.

In another Japanese legend from around 720 CE, Urashima Tarō speaks of a fisherman, who travels to an undersea Dragon Palace. He stays 3 days and finds his village 300 years into the future when he returns.

Let me, if you will, enter my metaphysical-making-love-to-science thoughts. Neutrinos and tachyonic particles – both travel faster than the speed of light. What, if inside us, traces of such cosmic particles exist?

In Puerto Rico today, there are three Bioluminescent Bays, which glow indigo blue, filled with prehistoric one-cell organisms, half-plant and half-animal. What if all of us were also bioluminescent when stimulated by particular photonics crystals (which are three dimensional)? Do such key crystals lie beneath the seas, waiting to fuel our travel between dimensions? I must wonder, if our bodies aren’t part-cosmic, part earth, part-water, part-past, part-future?

Time, the starkest illusion.

Atlantis, where art thou?

king-kakudmi

(Image credit to Matho Mathis)


Hannah can be looked up on Twitter. I highly recommend dropping her a line, if only to listen to her e’er enchanting thought processes and her eloquent command of forgotten tongues.

Gratias, Hannah. 😉