Books, Recountings

recountings: kissing little john

I had a serious post planned for today. But then I finished reading Scarlet and thought: let’s do a recounting. So this is me, recounting my thoughts on a YA re-telling. The subject matter? One of my all time favourite heroes. Let’s plunge in …

*** spoilers abound, opinions are my own (IT IS I AND NOT THE VOICES), read at your own risk etc etc ***

scarletScarlet

by A. C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet is a girl. Now, far be it from me to disparage any creative re-telling of a well-known story. Will Scarlet being a girl with guts (metaphorical and literal ones) is an interesting and intriguing take on the tale of Robin Hood.

And yes, this is a Robin Hood re-telling. And … it was okay.

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Scarlet is the first book in a trilogy and I’m rather certain that I won’t be reading any further. Why? Because … I have a few problems with this book.

Lip Smushin’ With Little John

There is a love triangle between Little John, Rob and Scar. That doesn’t sound too awful, does it? (Love triangles are as painful as a paper cut, but they can sometimes, occasionally, very rarely be bearable)  Let me translate: that’s LITTLE JOHN, ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARIAN.

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I know. I know. I suppose I could write many lengthy paragraphs dedicated to the sheer awful, heinousness of the very idea of Little John being a love interest of Maid Marian’s, but I shan’t. And perhaps I overreacted a little (cough) but by golly, I grew up with Robin Hood as my childhood hero and future husband. Some things just shouldn’t be done. This is one of them.

Gisbourne’s Motivating Motivation

He wishes to heap extreme unhappiness upon Scarlet’s head. Why? Because she wouldn’t marry him. What does he do? Scours the country for her in a bright red haze of a lunatic’s vengeance.

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Dude. There’s a point where you have to give it a rest, and move on. There’s more to life than a young teenager who literally fled her home to avoid you. Take a hint. Think of your mental health. And your dignity.

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Rob. Dude. Get Over Yourself

Gaughen went with a more Brooding Robin Hood. He walks about as though Atlas thought: ‘to heck with this! lemme find a mortal to plonk the world on his shoulders. OHH LOOK A BLOKE WEARING GREEN!’

It’s a personal preference of mine but I like a more light-hearted, cheerful Robin Hood. Sure, there can be sadness and Moods of The Serious Kind – and there often is – but Robin Hood is not Batman; he laughs more than once a year.

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And, more importantly, Robin Hood would never say this to Marian (and I suppose, in a way, he did in this book BUT STILL!):

‘Hurting you is the best way I know to punish myself’

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I refuse to accept this as a valid reason for verbal annihilation

Your logic, my dear, is so beyond illogical that illogical logic laughs in your general direction and makes several biting remarks regarding your intelligence. In what world is that phrase acceptable? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I would suggest returning to the classroom and learning about a) Human Decency, b) Emotional Intelligence and c) Communicating With Humans 101.

In Short …

Scarlet wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my cup of tea or my kind of Robin Hood. It had traces of the legend I love so dearly and a heroine who had wicked ninja skills, but alas, it didn’t quite hit bullseye.

Image result for robin hood doctor who gifs

scarlet can be found on: goodreads // amazon

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Books, Life, On Writing

Tag. I’m it.

I’ve been tagged* – thrice tagged – and therefore it has been decided by the Grand Post Master of This Blog (that would be me) to choose three questions from each tag and answer them in a satisfactory manner.

Because ‘thrice’ is my word this week.

*a large thank you to those who did so. Cake and goodness and sunshine is yours for the taking.

Behind the Scenes

[tagged by Annie Hawthorne over at Curious Wren]

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?writingatnight

Yes. White chocolate. But if I have a bar of this delectable stuff? The bar is soon gone. Less of a snack, more of a flash.

(And that sounded better in my head.)

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

Night. I’m struggling at the moment though. Treasure your writing time, my friends. It is precious.

What do you do to get into the mood to write?

By reciting the Greek alphabet. Backwards. Haha, no. Probably motivation – I have goals and I really want to achieve them. Also, guilt tripping. It works wonders. Most of the time that is – sometimes it’s easier to crash with a book and/or the internet.

Liebster Award

[nominated by Faith at justwaytooboss]

What did dream occupation did you have as a child?

When asked, I would say I wanted to be a nurse. Occasionally, I was going to marry a bloke called Obadiah and have lots of twins and triplets. (It was the quickest way to world domination.) But most times, I was going to save the world and be super nonchalant and humble about it.

So far: a) isn’t for me, b) Oh-‘this is a bad idea’-iah and c) I saved a bee once.

If you decided to learn another language, what language would you choose?

Oh to be fluent in Japanese. Or all the languages. I CHOOSE ALL THE LANGUAGES!

If a new planet was discovered and you got to name it, what name would you choose?

Nigel.

Infinity Dreams Award

[nominated by Eowyn at inklingspress]

Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

Team Cap alllll the way.

If you’re old enough to vote, who are you voting for and why?

I’m old (decrepit in fact) and am English … which means no voting in America. However, when I do vote in this sunny isle, it is for the lesser of two weevils.

“In the service, one must always choose the lesser of two weevils.”

What are three of your favourite movies?

The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (‘Come sing low, come sing hiiiiggghhh!’), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Bucky!), Singing in the Rain (‘Moses supposes his toes’ are roses’) …. etc, etc … the list goes on.

Alas! This post, however, does not.

BUT FIRST! In the spirit of all true tags, here are three questions for you, dear reader:

// A spring walk or a summer’s day? //

// A stubbed toe or paper cut? //

// Spiders or moths? //

Tag. You’re it.

Characters, On Writing

The Tale of a Story Told (Part Two)

Click here for Part One. In which Ness takes a past tale and tells its story.

My favouritest Robin Hood

Now, whenever I pick up the threads of this story, I time-travel – two years forwards, two years backwards. Spoiled and less spoiled.

The story still isn’t finished, in fact, it isn’t all that long. But ‘They Call Me Marian’ gradually moves forwards – like a glacier. Or a snail. Or anything terribly slow, really – and I am enjoying it.

If you read it you can see my growth as a writer. You can see when I decided to utilize the magnificent things known as ‘Paragraphs’ (it really was quite the discovery for me).

You can see that my grammar has somewhat improved. (The key word being somewhat).

True, the story has changed with the character. It even had a story spiral off from it (in this tale the sheriff was the hero, Robin the rogue and Sir Guy of Gisbourn had a rough exterior but a heart of gruff softness).

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Whilst I continue to write and edit various projects, I sometimes drift back to a word document which has waited patiently for my input; for new words; for the story to continue in the telling.

Who knows – one day it may be published. One very, very distant day.

But for now, Maid Marian has just been shockingly kidnapped and two years ago, Allan a’Dale is singing a singularly uncomplimentary song with the subject matter of a certain maid.

Favourite Quotes (in no chronological order):

“A most insincere apology with less meaning than a traitor’s promise.” He smiled, charm dripping off him along with the raindrops.

—-

“It, well,” I would rather be locked in a field with an angry bull. Ten angry balls. With a hundred jousting knights galloping towards me, their lances lowered. “I needed to …”

—-

“Marian,” he said, savouring it, “a most beautiful name.” He looked me up and down – took in my faded dress, patched apron, and wet hair plastered to my crown. “It is too bad that the bearer of the name does not live up to its promise.”

—-

Lines which I (perhaps) have a facial seizure when reading:

I related to her my whole history in my childish way inserting unconscious pathos as my lonely, motherless heart cried out for love.

… Sir Guy’s smooth voice replied, “Ah, well, I am gratified that I have finally caught this barbaric half breed Saxon fox…”

Sir Tomas was, according to Lady Anne, handsome and good looking, but in my private opinion his spirit – ugh! It was small, mean and cold AND he has a huge wart on his nose.

Characters, On Writing

The Tale of a Story Told (Part One)

In which Ness takes a past tale and tells its story.

Feel up to a story of improvement and facial seizures? Grab a cup of tea (or a beverage of your choice) and settle in as I tell you the tale of a young girl who had no idea that a single paragraph shouldn’t cover an entire A4 sheet of paper …

Oh Robin!

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was seized by a desire to write a story based around my childhood hero – Robin Hood.

So I began one.

It was appalling.

The main character was, well, she was – and here I must put it quite frankly – a bit of a brat; a pallid shadow of the Maid Marian of Legend. Of course I didn’t intend to write her as such – I was writing a story and accidentally conjured up a proud and arrogant girl with my words.

These things do happen, you know.

The plot itself was rather, well, it had wonderful coincidences. Robin Hood – whose eyes were perpetually twinkling – was easily rescued from the dungeon. It was a strong alcoholic liquid that helped him, you see; administered to the guards, constantly diluted yet always very potent, it was originally owned by our heroine. Why she possessed such a liquid in the first place, I never explained.

Another marvelous coincidence was when poor Little John was imprisoned in the dungeon. He was soon to die. Hanging, I believe. But no fear! Lady Mary Adeney was informed by her beloved maid that there was a secret tunnel:

“It leads to the dungeon, the deepest one at that, no one knows of this tunnel for Sir Guy killed the original owner off it…..and with him, the secret tunnel.”

[How one kills off a secret tunnel is not explained].

By amazing chance, Little John is rescued. By even more amazing chance, Little John – the biggest, tallest and strongest ironically named outlaw about – fits through the tunnel opening. Which is two foot wide.

Lady Mary Adeney – after a showdown with the Sheriff (the dialogue of which contained a perfect storm of exclamation marks) – decided to become a commoner, shunning both the life of a noblewoman and living with the outlaws in Sherwood Forest.

“Minstrel’s songs and heroic tales were one thing, but how could I know what his band were like?”

[Quite right, m’dear. They might be heavy metal or – even worse! – a folk band]

A quick Bible verse was inserted as she released her horse (Bravebrow was his name, if you are wondering) and left her companions in a not at all melodramatic way.  Off to the Fletcher’s in Nottingham she was going, with a new name …

[Drum roll please]

Maid Marian!

… and then the plot dribbled off like water in a cracked jug. Like my spirit when faced with a pile of procrastinated work. Like my strength when accosted with a much too long walk in England’s countryside. (Did you know, I once accidentally stepped on a dead sheep? It was rather an experience). Like- well, I’m sure you understand.

In my story folder that story stayed – gathering metaphorical dust between ‘A Father Tells’ (a father telling a story about his smuggler days. It won me a price for the most gore. I was eight) and ‘Mountain Air’ (in which the heroine was awesome, witty and in no way shape or form resembled me. Cough).

But then I returned to it. I blame Robin Hood and my love for his tales.

Lady Mary was obviously spoiled. Hmm … how to rescue her? A light bulb dawned in my fogged brain. It consisted of two words: character development.

What if she … grew? I could keep the beginning of her story and skip forward two years and show how her character grew.

What an excellent idea!

Yes.

Well, the thing is … I overdid it.

She was suddenly perfect. She was mature. She was delicate and sweet. She could show remorse with the best of ‘em. She could swoon like a pro, cry (but delicately) and was an all-round paragon of maddening perfection.

It was going off to Bristol to be a maid, you see. That was the making of her; the Forming of the Paragon. (Note to self: go to Bristol as a maid, will come back perfect. Probably).

Again the story trailed off, gathering dust particles as I turned away to different tales, different projects.

But then I came back, I still loved Robin Hood and this story I had worked on. I didn’t much like it but it was mine and I had worked on it on and off for more than a couple of years.

Another light bulb – instead of skipping two years I could actually write the transition from spoiled to perfection more, well, human. I gave myself permission to write (on purpose, this time) a thoroughly unlikable character.

Everyone should give themselves permission to write thoroughly unlikable main characters at one time or another.

This Tale of a Tale continues later, in Part Two. Naturally.