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Five Things Meme (Again)!

Once again, it's Five Things! These are from rushthatspeaks, who asked me:

1. Where does your LJ/DW username come from?
I've been into tabletop RPG since 1976, when I went to college and discovered D&D. In the mid 1980s, I was playing in a science fiction campaign that borrowed races and worlds from a plethora of different sources. I decide to play a Mahe, a member of the non-human primate race from C.J. Cherryh's "Chanur" series. To make a character name, I put together a list of all the Mahe names (characters, ships, planets, whatever) I could find in the books, broke them into syllables, and combined things until I found a name I liked (I used to do this sort of thing all the time - it was for me what doing crossword puzzles is for my husband). The rest is history. The footnote to the story is that when I got on LJ, sanada told me that chomiji means "very short" in Japanese. >facepalm<

2. What story of yours have you enjoyed writing the most?
Hmmm ... I feel most relaxed and have the most fun with the short vignettes that seem to come almost of themselves. The one that I remember being the most enjoyable from early days was "Priorities, Male," which is basically just one long joke, but it came out so easily and made me laugh. Most recently, I think that "A Change Would Do You Good" felt right from the very start, even though smilla had to "ground" my action a bit (which often happens), and that was nice, too. Overall, the piece that enthralled me the most was "Down from the Red Hills" ... which worries me now because I wonder if I'll ever have such an all-encompassing writing experience again (it's the longest thing I've ever written).

3. What obscure thing you love do you wish were more widely known?
The novel National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. No one ever reads it but young girls who are obsessed with horses, and that's not really what it's about. It's about family, dreams and ambitions, living life well, and the nature of fame and notoriety. This review in the Guardian covers a lot of what I feel about the story. I also have to say that it contains some of the first writing that made me conscious of the idea that language could be beautiful. In this scene, Velvet has just tried riding the Piebald, who would eventually carry her in the Grand National, and she is returning home on Sir Pericles, one of the horses that she inherited recently under strange circumstances (the Hullocks are the distinctive hills in the area):

... As she approached the village she was outlined against the sunset, on the brow of a Hullock. Stirrups short, angled knee and leg etched on the side of the saddle; childish, skeleton hands waving with the ebb and flow of the horse's mouth on the reins; hands that seemed knotted and tied like a bunch of flowers with streamers going from them, swinging together, knuckle to knuckle, thumb to thumb, while she sat erect above them, her face held on the wand of her body. The straw hair floated and stared above the wide-open eyes.

Sir Pericles walked like Velvet sat. His soft mouth held the snaffle as a retriever carries a bird. Yet he arched his neck as though his bit were a bit of thorns, and his long, almond, Chinese eyes looked both backward and forward at once. He seemed to be watching from either end of the agate stuff that was his window, watching Velvet's leg, watching the horizon before him. The oxygen in the evening air intoxicated him. In the eye of little Sir Pericles something soft and immortal shone.

4. If offered a free and all-expenses-paid hippopotamus as a pet, would you take it?

Oh, no no no! You see, it wouldn't be fair to keep the hippo by itself, so I'd need to get at least one other hippo to keep it company. And then the hippos would need a proper hippo environment. And then I know nothing about keeping them, so I'd have to hire someone who did, and then that person would need a backup in case se got sick. And by the time all this is done, I should just go enjoy the hippos at the zoo and have whoever was offering to pay for my hippo contribute the money to that, instead.

5. What's your favorite smell?
The outdoors in our area in May after a rain, when there is both the fresh watery smell of the rain and the soft scents of the flowers that are blooming - honeysuckle (cloying by itself, but great when mixed), for example, and linden. I wish I could find a perfume that smelled like that. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's "Amsterdam" comes close, but it wears off in no time.

This entry is also posted at Dreamwidth. Comment at either location, as you prefer.



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
*laughs* I've often wondered if "chomiji" means something specific in Japanese. Now I know!
Jun. 25th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)

I think she also said that in the Okinawan dialect, it could be "water butterfly"!

Jun. 24th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC)
National Velvet is one of my favorite books, precisely because of the prose. I especially love the opening sequence.
Jun. 25th, 2012 11:58 am (UTC)

So much of the prose is so beautiful that it more or less overwhelmed my consciousness of it at first. I think the passage that first came to my attention in my early teens was the one where Velvet is mooching around (along with Meredith at first) down by the seashore after the gymkhana is over: There are pleasures earlier than love. A May tree, a cat's back will evoke them. Earlier than love, nearer heaven. One day, I simply fell in love myself with those words.

Jun. 24th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
I always wondered about your name, as well!

What fandom is your "Red Hills" story from? I love a good long story, and I don't recognize that title - I'm fairly sure I haven't read it.
Jun. 24th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
That's a 58 story. Go read it, it's a wonderful story.
Jun. 24th, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, that's great! Thanks, I will definitely do just that!
Jun. 25th, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)

Awww, thanks!

Jun. 25th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC)

Strictly speaking, it's an 85 story ... if you sort my works list on AO3 by word count, it should come right to the top. I wrote it a couple of years ago for smilla.

(Deleted comment)
Jun. 25th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)


Jun. 24th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
Ah, I always thought you chose "chomiji" because of Fruit's Basket, but now that I've done a google search, I realize the character's name was Momiji, haha.

Jun. 25th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)

Ah ha ha, yeah, this guy (in the icon). His name means "autumn colors" - most particularly, the spectacle of red maple leaves in the autumn. All the Furuba zodiac characters have names based on the time of year associated with their zodiac sign ... for example, Ayame's is from aya - iris.

Jun. 25th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
Ha, that makes at least two of 'em who overlap with the month-floral suits of hanafuda cards...
Jun. 25th, 2012 05:29 am (UTC)

I also love National Velvet.
Jun. 25th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)

Eeee, I'm tickled that you and rachelmanija both feel that way about this book! Not enough of the people who should read it do - it gets foisted on 11- and 12-year-olds who aren't sophisticated enough to get through the language and for whom the story moves too slowly. I was thrilled to find that Smiley piece - there are so few scholarly treatments of it online.

Jun. 25th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
Count me in with those who dismissed National Velvet as a horse book, alas! Did you watch the movie, and is that any good?
Jun. 26th, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)

Errr, I've seen bits of the movie, but what I saw was so wrong.

Velvet has "short, pale hair, large, protruding teeth, a sweet smile, and a mouth full of metal" (she has a dental retainer in an attempt to correct the teeth). She's also terribly skinny. In the movie, she's played by the sleekly beautiful brunette Elizabeth Taylor. Her three sisters - distinctive personalities in the book - are smerged into one. The Piebald, boldly marked, smallish (15+ hands - the limit to be considered a pony is 14.2), and with a chunky, non-thoroughbred build, is replaced by a huge chestnut horse with a typical hunter build. And so on.

I wonder whether the movie included the scene where the four-year-old little brother is collecting his spit. The scene where he falls on the stairs while carrying his spit bottle would have been especially cinematic.

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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