Ten Fictional Crushes

cap on yellow

Some time back, I discussed some historical crushes, and I have previously discussed my ten fictional best friends. Why not share my ten fictional crushes? Since this weeks’ Top Ten Tuesday is a “pick your own” topic, this weeks seems like the perfect time. Don’t necessarily view these in a particular order.

  1. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. If you have read the [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] series, I don’t need to say any more. You know exactly what I’m talking about. My husband is a redhead, and let’s just say my crush on Jamie may have contributed to my interest in red-headed men.
  2. Severus Snape. OK, I admit this one is weird. He’s mean. He’s given to pettiness. That comment he makes about Hermione’s teeth in [amazon_link id=”0439139600″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire[/amazon_link] is pretty much unforgivable. I just really love his characterization. When I discovered in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link] that he had carried a torch for Lily Evans Potter for most of his life, I was sold. In fact, my favorite chapter in the whole book series is “The Prince’s Tale” in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link]. Plus, Alan Rickman.
  3. Faramir. Yeah, Aragorn was never my cup of tea, but Faramir is a really cool guy, and I was glad when Eowyn woke up to that fact and ditched her awkward crush on Aragorn for true love with Faramir. He’s noble and brave. Pippin thought so highly of him that he named his son after him, you know.
  4. Father Ralph de Briccasart. Just like Meggie. Sigh. Richard Chamberlain in that miniseries probably contributes as much to my Father Ralph crush as Alan Rickman’s portrayal does to my Snape crush.
  5. Rhett Butler. So bad. So smooth. And yet so in love with Scarlett (for whatever reason!). Honestly, Margaret Mitchell had to have been thinking about Clark Gable when she wrote the novel because he’s just perfect for the part. I remember when I read the book the first time, even though I hadn’t seen the movie, I knew Clark Gable played the role in it, and I thought even then that she had to have been thinking about Gable. I have to say, that first time, I pictured Scarlett as a redhead, even though she’s described as having dark hair, but now Vivian Leigh just is Scarlett.
  6. Captain Frederick Wentworth. Come on. You’ve read that letter, haven’t you? If you have, you need no further explanation. Plus, he’s a keeper. Even though he was rejected, he was still in love with Anne, and he gave her a second chance. I can’t imagine they were anything but perfectly happy together.
  7. Louis de Pointe du Lac. Lestat was a bit stuck on himself for my taste, and favorite book in the Vampire Chronicles has always been [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link].
  8. Speaking of which, Edward Cullen. Yeah, I know. This one is really wrong. I don’t like this about myself, but there it is.
  9. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Naturally. I actually have a mug at work labeled Mrs. Darcy. I had a travel mug with the same label, but it broke, and a friend bought me a new Mrs. Darcy mug for Christmas. That is a good friend.
  10. This last is a bit of a cheat, but Nate from the book I’m currently writing, which is as yet untitled. I see him as a sort of amalgamation of Jeff Buckley and Jack White. He’s kind of dreamy. He is based on the Irish hero Naoise from the Legend of Deirdre.

photo credit: Darwin Bell



If you’ve never read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, you’ve also not likely read The Outlandish Companion, which was published following the fourth book in the series, The Drums of Autumn. It mostly serves as an encyclopedia and catch-all reference for the series, but Diana Gabaldon does discuss writing quite a bit, and one of my favorite parts of the book discusses characterization. I’ve never run across a better description of characters than Gabaldon’s. She classifies characters into three groups: onions, hard nuts, and mushrooms.

Onions are your main characters that must be built layer by layer and have depth. They’re purposeful and planned. Hard nuts are characters that need to exist for the sake of the plot, but are hard to write. They don’t cooperate. Their personalities are difficult to capture. They’re tough. Mushrooms are my favorites. They’re these characters that just pop into the story. They can threaten to take over if you’re not careful. Most of the time, they’re minor characters. The idea that fully formed characters could just walk into a story without the author knowing who they are or having planned for them was absolutely ludicrous to me—until I started writing.

I’ve written two novels and am working on a third for NaNoWriMo. In my first novel, A Question of Honor, these mushrooms walked into my story a few chapters in. They were traveling minstrels. One of them was a pretty important person, but he was hiding. They were totally awesome people, and I loved them. In my second novel, Quicksand, which hasn’t been published, my mushrooms were the first cousin and his son of my protagonist’s father. Up until today, I didn’t have any mushrooms in my current book, which remains without title for the moment. One showed up today. Her name is Laura, and I love her. I don’t know what role she’ll play later, but she just showed up, and I’ll be interested to see what she does.

I was wondering if you could think of any mushrooms in books you’ve read. If I had to guess, I’d say that Marion and Count Fosco from The Woman in White were mushrooms. I would also guess that Stephen Black from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was a mushroom. Shug Avery in The Color Purple seems to have a tinge of the mushroom about her, too. Though J.R.R. Tolkien doesn’t use the term mushroom to describe him, his character Aragorn seems to have a similar background: In a letter to W.H. Auden, Tolkien confessed that “Strider sitting in a corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than Frodo [did]” (Tolkien Online, The Return of the Shadow). Tolkien observed of his writing that

One writes such a story not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, nor by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind: out of all that has been seen or thought or read, that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps. (“How the Tale Grew in the Telling: The Unexpected Sprouting of The Lord of the Rings“)

Sort of like mushrooms.

photo credit: Matt Brittaine

Reading Update: November 7, 2010

Today was productive. Because of Daylight Saving Time ending, I woke up before 9:00 AM. On a Sunday. I was awake all by myself. I did some work on my instructional technology portfolio. I played around fruitlessly trying to manipulate an image to use as my placeholder “bookcover” for NaNoWriMo. I cooked French onion soup and fixed a Greek salad for supper. I read a little bit of my last issue of Newsweek. And I wrote about 2,000 words of my NaNo novel. You can keep up with my running total in the sidebar to the left (unless you’re in an RSS reader, in which case you can see it if you click over to the site). I have managed to meet or exceed my word count each day, but today’s writing was the hardest. I didn’t think it would be, but my main character went on her first real date with the guy she’s interested in, and they were wrong footed and awkward around each other. I didn’t realize they were going to be so difficult. Still the story is coming together. I am halfway interested in printing it at work tomorrow to see where I am, but I also don’t want to lose momentum.

I’m still reading The Haunting of Hill House. For a slim book, it sure is taking me a long time to finish. Probably because I’m also writing this month. I re-read the story of “The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu,” also known as “Deirdre of the Sorrows” in Early Irish Myths and Sagas yesterday. I downloaded that book on my Kindle because I don’t know where my paperback copy of the book is. Other than that, I haven’t read much this week.

The day has felt off all day because of the time change. I keep looking at the clock thinking it must be later than it is. When are we going to quit changing the time? Doesn’t make sense in our modern times to worry about extending daylight during the spring and summer. Does it? Or am I missing something?

photo credit: karina y

Writing Again

I told myself I shouldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year because I have last year’s novel sitting on my computer, still unedited and indeed even unread (by me, anyway—Steve has read some of it). Last year’s novel was a really personal book. It was a mutt—a conflation of several stories in my own family’s history combined with a little bit of Shakespeare. I want to return to it, but in some ways, writing it took a lot out of me, and I can’t tell if I’m afraid it’s bad or if I’m afraid it’s good or what. I know I need to look at it, though.

I really enjoyed NaNoWriMo last year. I enjoyed participating. I enjoyed reading other people’s forum posts and keeping up with my writing buddies’ progress. I enjoyed reading the #nanowrimo tweets of my friends, too. I have a few Twitter friends participating this year. Writing can feel kind of lonely, and it’s fun to do it as a community.

The story I’m writing this year is interesting to me. I took a course in Celtic literature in college. We spent about half the quarter—UGA used to be on a quarter system rather than a semester system—studying ancient Irish mythology, and then we switched to Welsh mythology. The stories are wonderful, and in my estimation, every bit as good as their more popular mythic cousins from Ancient Greece and Rome. We read stories from all four cycles: the Mythological Cycle, the Historical Cycle, the Ulster Cycle, and the Fenian Cycle. My favorites were from the Ulster Cycle—stories of Cú Chulainn. We read Thomas Kinsella’s translation of the Taín Bó Cúailnge, which Kinsella titled simply The Tain. We also read stories collected in Early Irish Myths and Sagas, and I remember having to go to the library to read stories from a book our professor had on reserve in the library. I can’t recall anymore what that book was, but she had tried to order it for us to purchase in the bookstore, but the order never came through.

Other writers have found inspiration in these ancient myths. Morgan Llywelyn, for instance, has written several books about them. One idea I had was a straight historical fiction-type retelling of the story of Deirdre of the Sorrows, which is one of the most popular of the Ulster Cycle stories. However, it’s a pretty sad tale. It ends in the deaths of the lovers, and I didn’t really want a sad ending this time round. I don’t have anything against them, but the end of Deirdre is pretty bleak and sad, and I just wasn’t feeling all that dark this month, I guess. I also wanted a little bit of spookiness in the story. I think that’s the influence of the R.I.P. Challenge. I didn’t know if I wanted ghosts or some other kind of supernatural element, but I settled on that creepy sense of déjà vu that some folks attribute to prophecy and others say is due to reincarnation. I will state here that I don’t believe in reincarnation, but it makes a pretty fun literary device. I do think some strange things can be passed down the generations, maybe some kind of residual memory that serves as a connection to people. I think it’s why we respond to certain types of art more than others. I think we tend to like the kinds of things our family has always liked. I know that sounds weird, and maybe I’m not explaining it well. Anyway, Ireland has an amazing, rich mythological past that is begging to be adapted into speculative fiction.

So, my Deirdre Evans is a teenager living in modern day Londonderry, Massachusetts (which I don’t think exists), the grandchild of immigrants from Northern Ireland who came to America because of the Troubles. She is a junior at Ulster High School, and is being a little aggressively pursued by big man on campus and football player Connor, but she meets and falls in love with a boy name Nate, who goes to Alba High School and is a guitarist and singer for his band the Sons of Uselessness. I admit it is a little bit of a silly premise, but I’m having fun with it. As the book progresses, Deirdre comes to realize that she is reliving the tragic events of the story of Deirdre of the Sorrows, and this time, she needs to try to make sure it doesn’t end so tragically for everyone involved. Obviously, the trouble is that it’s so crazy on the surface that she’ll have a hard time convincing others that she’s right.

Anyway, the weird thing is how easily it’s coming out. I don’t know whether to just be happy about that or if I should be worried it’s really bad. The idea came to me in the eleventh hour. Literally. I was at a conference for Georgia independent school teachers in Atlanta, sitting in a session on using speculative fiction, when I came up with it. It was right about 2:00 P.M. or so on the day NaNoWriMo started that I finally had an idea I thought I could use. We’re on day 6, and I have managed to meet my word count each day—one day it took me an hour! I wrote some 1500 to 1600 words in an hour! I’ll start to second guess myself. For instance, my character Deirdre will look up something on Wikipedia or check out Facebook, and I’ll tell myself maybe I shouldn’t put that in there, but the fact is that I teach teenagers, and these are two extremely popular websites with them. So what if it dates the novel? Is that bad? Aren’t a lot of classics we read now really tied to the times in which they were written, but still somehow speak to us years later? Anyway, I became convinced that references to these types of websites would be interesting to teenagers. And I also decided that if I were to pursue publication, and my publishers didn’t agree, it could be edited pretty easily. Right now, what I need to focus on is telling the story I want to tell. Maybe it’s just something you get better at the longer you write. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have trouble later, so if it’s flowing now, I should just be happy about it and try to get ahead as much as I can to make up for down days. One thing I know it isn’t is classic literature. It is, however, a pretty decent story that I think would appeal to YA audiences.

photo credit: Flabber DeGasky