Recently I’ve spent a few frustrating days catching up with TV. I rarely watch anything, but when I found out that two of my favourite books – Good Omens and American Gods – were receiving the visual treatment, I knew that within ten years I’ll sit down and watch, and that I will have a great time!
I did not have a great time.
Watching Good Omens was the most frustrating time I’ve spent in front of the TV since I had last screamed “y u so STUPID, Jason Stackhouse?!” at the screen. When Good Omens got something right, it was better than I could have ever imagined, surpassing what I would have considered to be perfection. When it wasn’t perfect, though, it was either embarrassing or… boring.
The biggest problem was God. (This is not a sentence I ever expected myself to utter.) Frances McDormand was a great choice, it’s just that she shouldn’t have been there at all. Certain parts of the book have proven to be too difficult (or impossible) to translate into a visual medium, so the series would sort of take a break for McDormand to provide a rambling explanation of why things were happening. I was reminded of my grandma, who used to watch soap operas. We’d sit in front of TV and I would discreetly fiddle with my phone, as grandma provided running commentary: “you see, this is Bill, he is a bad guy, he is very rich because he stole the money from his ex-wife, and this bitch here is his girlfriend Tabitha, she’s cheating on him with the gardener, she is not a nice woman at all, but then Bill deserves it…” I’ve always felt that if something needs to be explained, it doesn’t belong – in a book, in a museum, on TV. This is not to say that I would have known how to do it – it just didn’t work for me.
Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Marian L. Thorpe, the author of Empire’s Legacy trilogy (out now as complete omnibus version in paperback and e-book – an absolute steal at $5.99) – one of my favourite reads of the year so far.
Bjørn asked a hard and insightful question: what is my series, Empire’s Legacy, really about? At first glance, they might appear to be a simple adventure-romance trilogy, set in an early-medieval world, with people a lot like Gaels and Vikings and Saxons vying for power and land, and the memory of the Roman Empire just barely alive.
At first glance. But about half-way through the first of the trilogy, Empire’s Daughter, the character Casyn says this to my protagonist, eighteen-year-old Lena: “…we cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.”
Much of the Empire’s Legacy series looks, through its protagonist’s eyes, at the difficulty and the price of taking personal responsibility for the choices we make in life, good or bad; about shaping our responses to events – political and personal – that change our lives. This isn’t to say my characters are Panglossian, or Pollyannas. They know they don’t live in the best of all possible worlds, and that not all is sweetness and light. Life throws some horrible things at them: war, betrayal, violence, loss, rejection. It’s unfair. Some of it is imposed by forces beyond their control. Some of it is a direct result of personal choice, and some of it is a combination of those things.
Part I • Part II
…and after all this fun and games I sort of broke.
Living with an invisible chronic illness that limits your energy means that there are limits to your energy. (In)conveniently, I never remember that until the red lamp is not even blinking in a warning, but is the only part of my body and mind that remains functioning. I can’t rest in advance and I can’t just “push myself”, I know it never ends well when I try, that I must take a break. I even know the definition of insanity. I always do the same thing. I am yet to gain any benefits from that.
Surprisingly, this time was not an exception. I pushed and pushed until I reached the absolute, unbreakable limit, then broke it too. That was it for my participation in the move, as I became a near-literal deadweight. Husby took care of the rest whilst I was plopped on our new sofa, staring melancholically at the garden outside our window. But I did get an unexpected benefit. A magical one.