Precise Vocabulary and Passion

By  Karen Wills

I just finished Helen Macdonald’s edgy, tender, and thought-provoking book, H is for Hawk. It’s about her love for her father, her grief over his death, and her lifelong passion for falconry and training hawks. One goshawk named Mabel helped the writer through her worst pain.

As I grew up, I developed passions for certain activities. My passions had their own vocabularies, far too precise to be jargon. As I remember, I think the vocabulary became a part of my love for both language and ballet. For example, in ballet there are five positions. In each, the arms and feet are placed in only one way. A pas de deux is always a dance for two, and so on. pas de deux  In class, we were taught the vocabulary of ballet and expected to remember the words and put them into precise movement. Otherwise the beauty we aspired to would just turn uncertain and clumsy. The language of ballet was all language and movement. Most people only recognized the dance.

Macdonald had a passion for falconry even as a child. Here is part of the reason for her passion.

“Young birds are eyasses, older birds passagers, adult-trapped birds haggards. Half-trained hawks fly on a long line called a creance. Hawks don’t wipe their beaks, they freak. When they defecate they mute. When they shake themselves they rouse.”  She adds, “I wanted to master this world that no one knew, to be an expert in its perfect, secret language.”

There’s a dark side to working with raptors that means it could never be my passion, but I fully understand the attraction of words so perfect in sound and meaning that they become irresistible.

I’m grateful this Thanksgiving for many things, especially for words and that putting them down on paper is the longest lasting passion of my life.

Writing has allowed me to feel like a passage, but never a haggard. goshawk flightI hope your passions come with words that feel like magic.

 

Advertisements

Confessions of a Historical Fiction Fanatic

By Janice McCaffrey

Lately I’ve been thinking about the ramifications of reading historical fiction. Does it smother history under make believe? Or does it inspire readers to reach outside of their comfort zones.

For me historical fiction often whet’s my appetite for facts. That curiosity leads me to research and of course to Google. Over the years I’ve collected eclectic facts from around the world.

But last year a seemingly innocent choice took over my life.

I watched an international historical fiction TV series, Magnificent Century(Netflix.com). And now my family and friends roll their eyes if I so much as mention the word “Turkey.” Even during this holiday season.

I can’t help it!

I fell in love with Sultan Süleyman I   suleyman

. . . of course the actor who portrayed him, Halit Ergenç didn’t hurt.

Süleyman was the Ottoman Empire’s longest reigning Sultan (1520-1566). He set fair taxes and protected ethnic and religious minorities. He updated the Empire’s code of law and instituted free education for boys. He’s responsible for the Empire’s unique artistic legacy. He wrote poetry, was an accomplished goldsmith, and led the world in architecture building mosques and public buildings. In Jerusalem he restored the Dome of the Rock and the city walls (still the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls) and renovated the Kaaba in Mecca.

And what a romantic! During the same era Henry VIII was arguing with the Pope about a divorce, Süleyman changed the law so he could not only marry his favorite concubine, Hurrem, but also live with her. He even bent the mores of the day inviting her to council meetings and taking her advice on matters of state. She was an important diplomat especially between the Ottoman Empire and her native Poland.

Fascinated with the Ottoman Empire and Halit I’ve gone on to an array of historical and contemporary movies, TV shows and books, both fiction and non-fiction. I highly recommend The Butterfly’s Dream (Netflix) a touching story based on two lesser-known Turkish poets, Rüştü Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu.

Over the past several months I’ve experimented with traditional Turkish recipes and learned lyrics to a few of their popular songs. And, yes, I’m working on the language (thanks Free Turkish Lessons Online or I should say soğul (pronounced sowl).

I guess the answers to my original questions can be both yes and no. It depends on the person doing the reading.

This personal admission of my fanaticism is just one example of historical fiction’s ability to promote a readers’ expansion of knowledge. I’m thankful for authors who give us the facts blended with imagination.

And I wish all of you a very Şükran Günü kutlu olsun (Happy Thanksgiving)

 

October Book News

harvest moonHarvest Moon

2017 the Harvest Moon will occur October 5th.

********

Lise McClendon here… from the far southwest tip of Montana. Not the end of the world but you can see it from here! I’m still letting people know about my new women’s fiction/suspense novel set in France, the fifth in the Bennett Sisters Mysteries. It’s called The Frenchman, a title so bland it’s been used a million times. Hence, here is the link: THE FRENCHMAN. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the novels, start with Blackbird Fly.

October brings an anthology of riffs on conspiracy theories that roiled through the Obama years, edited by the talented Gary Phillips. I have a short story in The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, set in a fictional Montana town called Forked Tongue. It is, needless to say, about Russian trolls and fake news (maybe not so fictional… 🙄) Walter Mosley is the big name in here but there are lots of fascinating takes on aliens, ninjas, and Michelle. Something for everyone, for sure. And, yes, Obama is blue on the cover!

From the publisher: “In an era where the outlandish and fantastic has permeated our media 24/7, where mind-bending conspiracy theories shape our views, THE OBAMA INHERITANCE writers riff on the numerous fictions spun about the 44th president of the U.S. Although Obama himself does not appear in most of these stories, contributors spin deliberately outlandish and fantastic twists on many of the dozens of screwball, bizarro conspiracy theories floated about the president during his years in office and turn them on their heads.”

It’s available for pre-order now. It goes live in ebook and paperback on October 10, and will be in Montana bookstores (or by special order.) Have a lovely, leafy autumn 🍂🍃🍁

Leslie Budewitz: Congratulations, Lise!

Christine Carbo and I just returned from the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, where we were part of a conversation about the contemporary mystery set in the west. In mid October, we’ll both be attending Bouchercon, the annual world mystery convention, being held this year in Toronto! And I’ll be leaving the board of Sisters in Crime, the international writers’ organization focused on the recognition, advancement, and professional development of women crime writers. It’s been an honor to serve — writing is a solo activity, but every opportunity I’ve had, and many of the joys, have come to me because of a group.

Wishing you the pleasures and joys of this sweet season!