About me Q & A #1

I have no idea how often or how regular I’m going to do this, but I’m bored to the point of whimsical right now and felt like doing this to amuse myself.

I’m going to interview myself about whatever happens to come to mind.

Future versions of this might feature favourite questions from comments, emails, Facebook, or Twitter.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan?

No.  Though I was until I got married to someone who I can’t seem to convince that humans aren’t carnivores – I didn’t grow up not eating meat so it was no hardship to give in to the fact that I was not going to win the argument against cooking steaks, chicken, pork, etc.

So you’re married?

Yes

To a man or woman?

Yes

Tea or Coffee?

Tea by preference, though if I’ve an empty stomach I have to keep it to specific herbals or just go with coffee.  Tea on an empty tummy makes me extremely sick for no reason I can understand.

You use a peculiar grammar and spelling, where are you from?

Books.  Seriously, I learned most of what I know of English from reading so much; I read a great many English authours and American authours from the days when the written languages between English and American weren’t as different, but I do read some newer American authours which causes some of the peculiarities.  Where I was formally educated really is irrelevant since I don’t actually remember a damned thing from my English lessons, and my family speaks with a rather eclectic mix of dialects and accents.

Your books seem a little mixed on the subject of feminism, but you admit that you’re a woman.  Are you a feminist or anti-feminist?

Neither.  My feelings on the matter of this stuff I think can be best stated by Ms Emma Watson in her amazing speech to the U.N.  I believe in equality.  A woman who wants to be June Cleaver and a woman who wants to be just this side of Teddy Roosevelt after male-to-female transition are both advancing the cause of feminism since the whole point comes down to having the freedom to choose, and I think that (as Ms Watson said) we too often forget the poor gents in the subject.  They have their own degrading stereotypes as well – what business is it of mine if Dennis Rodman wants to wear a dress?  I’m not going to tell him he’s any less a man for it.

Your “biography” page says you don’t speak Swahili.  Do you speak any other languages besides English?  Your books have French and Italian in them …

And I’m quite good at faking those languages with a little help from a dictionary and the Latin I studied in school.  I, sadly, no longer have any functional proficiency in Latin even though I adore the language (far too little opportunity to use and expand, the dangers of studying a dead language), but I remember enough of the core of the language to understand how to use what I look up when translating out of English and into the French and Italian used in my stories.  English is my only fluent language, though I’m conversant in American so long as the topic doesn’t stray too far.

You mention that your writing only pays your power bill, what do you do for a living?

Telephony switch engineering.  I work for an internet/cable/phone company fixing switch issues with customers’ phone features and phone services.  Before that, with the same company, I worked various permutations of technical support for either the customers themselves or the in-field technicians.  Mostly it’s a very boring job, and I’m not sure with what it pays “a living” is a strictly accurate term, but it pays the rent.

Mac or PC?

Amiga.  Sadly they’re getting more than a little dated, so I use Macs.  If I must use a PC I put Debian Linux (Testing) on it … or, by ultimate preference, DOS.  I’ve been using computers for a long time.  I’ve used a plethora of hardware, OS, software.  I’ve things I like and hate about most things, Windows and most Microsoft products are the sole exception:  I find nothing positive to say about their products that couldn’t be said about anything else like them and couldn’t have been said about those other things first … but could go on at length about all the things I hate.  The single positive thing is that MS Word does make putting different page numbering in one part of a document versus another easier than any other current word processor.

iOS or Android?

Neither, or iOS.  For a tablet I prefer iOS.  I have rather mixed feelings about smartphones.  Android, by-and-large doesn’t impress me, though I’ve nothing against it in theory, just in specific details of how it’s implemented.  Most reasoned arguments against Android generally echo my own feelings about it.

And I think that concludes for now.  I’ve run out of ideas, and probably should stop goofing off now anyway.

cheers! 🙂

Drama, angst, tragedy, and rape

Writing is a strange business. It’s the only one I can think of, besides sports, where people seem to be inclined to believe that they know how to do things better than you. Though most sports fans don’t tell the players and coaches this, so maybe writing is unique (or I just know even less about sports than I think I do). I’m not talking praise or criticism here. This isn’t about “oh, my what a wonderful plot with such deep characterisation” or whatever, nor “oh my, so many clichés one after the other I feel I must bathe thoroughly”. No, I mean “you know in Chapter 3 on the second paragraph when Bubba said …” or “You know the best thing you could do for …”

Blows my mind. If you know so much about writing, by all means go write. It really isn’t hard. And if you’re so brilliant you should take the plunge, get something out there and let us all see.

What’s this to do with the title?

Read this: http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/470626.html
It’s all right, I can wait.

There. Now. That isn’t the whole of things, but it’s a starting point.

That link deals well with the ideas that women can only grow and change through very limited events. I do not fathom this. My characters grow and change, male or female, through life and experiences. In Love or Lust Sally begins to grow, spiritually and religiously because of people she gets to know and such. Love makes Lauren stronger and helps her grow to better appreciate the important things in life and to realise that what looks to be the easy way is just a different way with different difficulties. No one gets raped, but people change and grow.

There is death in Ready or Not (oh my! Spoiler!). The death is sad, tragic, and hopelessly random and senseless. Unfortunately so are all too many untimely deaths. It changes those people it impacts.

The thing is, that angst, darkness, tragedy, rape, murder, death, self loathing, self doubt, fear, and all of these things are facts of life. Their absolute absence in a modern day setting is something that would be felt profoundly by a reader. You needn’t have them all. Harry Potter avoids some of the least chivalrous ones, as do I. And they aren’t the be all and end all of character growth. Joy, love, romance, tenderness, life, birth, hope can be as profoundly changing or more so.

“Oh, but Jaye, you have to have one of the girls raped. After all, not doing so is unrealistic! One in six women have been raped you know!”

Please, learn how statistics works and are gathered and the scope of the statistic you’re quoting. It helps. Please, I do not mean to say people aren’t raped (men can be raped too, after all, and hardly anyone seems to be fighting to do anything to help those poor fellows. Sexism, truly, works both ways folks) and I have deep sympathy for you if you are one of them. I merely point out that one in six is a broad scope, world wide average. This means it counts the sad state of some countries in Africa where nearly any woman over the age of 20 has been raped because there really are bands of men roving around looking for a poor defenseless girl to offload into. There’re some very interesting wearable contraceptives for this that involves barbs. It includes certain schools where a mickey and a lot of beer are a tradition. There are countries where the average is quite lower and areas of the world where the horrible act is quite rare. In my writing therefore, I’m not being unrealistic, just locating my stories in a different part of the bell curve.

The rape and violence, the murder and hate, all the darkness and brutality of so much modern fiction is really just as cliché as June Cleaver. A different overused trope is still an overused trope. Far too many stories that are very good feel they must insert these events to make the story more believable, or edgier, or whatever. Many a good story is ruined by this. Sadly, the converse is true. Some authors avoiding these events, even when it makes perfect contextual sense for them to be present, for fear of resorting to cheap instadrama.

Admittedly, all too often it’s not just weird, creepy, annoying fans and armchair critics or backseat writers who feel inclined to make these bizarre and tasteless recommendations. Other authors, people who should know better, are guilty of it too. I wish I knew who to blame for that, but I don’t. I’ll say my editor says it’s writer’s workshops. Which could be true, I just refuse to hold an opinion. I’ve never met with one and never plan to; they seem terribly silly to me.

Is there a real point to all this? Only as much as anything that comes down to opinion. Maybe to God there is a right or wrong answer, but aside from divine, omniscient understanding of creativity I should think that it’s safe to say no one is any more right or wrong than the next person – merely more or less capable of providing a compelling argument to sway the opinion of others into line with her own.