First Cup of Coffee – March 7, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

Ah, that’s good. That’s delicious. It is Monday March seventh if you’re on video you’ll see. It’s kind of cold gray light here. We’re just like in for snow. It’s very spring snow lots of squalls. But young guy lost snow yesterday supposed to get more today. It’s sticking in places but otherwise melting again very springy. Some of you have asked about my chimes and what is. Figure on the chimes and I realize it doesn’t show up. Well if you’re on videos even if you’re on video. So I’m going to show this to you if you can see. Yeah, it’s it’s subtle. It’s um. Was a gift. It’s from Ireland and it is a celtic dog and it sort of turned back on itself wrapped up in different celtic knots. Um and dark brown if you haven’t ever seen the visual on it. It’s um. Made of clay and so oops and now I just my church just came apart my hands. That’s why I get for messing with it out to restring it? Um, maybe I wasn’t supposed to reveal the secret nature of the chimes. Set that there. It’s um, it’s got a nice bit of potent magic for those of who are aware of such things.

Ah, all right? So um, busy weekend Saturday was crazy was funny because one gel that I was in a meeting with was ever so slightly testy and she said well. Ah, you know that she was at a conference that she said I am in my fourth meeting of the day and I wanted to say well I’m in my sixth meeting of the day I did not say that but I was. I think that’s one of those things that’s like never assume that other people are like having it so much easier than you do. Even if they are not being testing. Um I was fine. Ah. A lot of good stuff. Got done on Saturday ah sort of the upshot for the whole weekend is I’m like totally caught up on serfo stuff. Um, that was really the big thing and there was a lot to get caught up on I don’t know what happened but I got back. Inbox 0 on all of my email. um I did a lot of that yesterday I was um I sort of did a split I did not have an unpuggged day I have not been able to do that for. Well, it’s moved around because like when I was in Los Angeles I was able to unplug because I was out doing things right? So yesterday morning Sunday morning I was able to um, hang out. It was really nice because I I was not. Feeling great on Saturday I think I got overserved on Friday evening. Although so Friday evening I had drinks and dinner with my friend Megan and a couple of her friends and didn’t. Saturday morning I was just feeling really kind of rough and I was like you know maybe I drank too much wine. You know, like with the with the sixteen eight fasting that I’ve been doing wine is hitting me harder. But then I saw me get again last night because we went to see a movie That’s my big news is that we went to see. Cyrano with Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett in an actual movie theater and that was really fun. That’s the first time I’ve been in a movie theater since I was trying to decide when it was it was like.

January of 2020 and I was trying to remember what movie it was so two years since I’d been in a movie theater a little bit more and so that was really great but she mentioned she was not feeling good on Saturday morning. So maybe. Maybe the food wasn’t great. The people. It’s a local place that I’ve always really liked but the owners are selling and you know it’s like so anyway Saturday night I went to bed pretty early and slept a long time I woke up Sunday morning even earlier than I expected to. But um. Everybody was up the the cats were up and wanted fed and David was up and grumpy because the cats had been but bugging him because they were up and wanted fed and mourning is my feeding time so that banished my ideas I was gonna lie in bed and read for a while. But. Thought wow I’d get up and feed the cats. So we got up and fed the cats and then they all went back to bit all 3 of them the cats and David and I made my latte and I made a fire in the fireplace because even though it was it was really pretty when I first woke up because. 1 of the things I love about the cells. One of the many things is that when I wake up I can see out my window and I don’t think the camera’s gonna show this now. It’s just gonna look like a blur of light but I can see this view down the valley I could see the sky from the bed and there were these pink clouds. Being lit up by the Sunrise Cotton candy pink and rose gold and it was just gorgeous and so by the time I finished making my latte and feeding the cats. Ah the clouds had come in and it started snow very heavy snow. So I put a fire in the fireplace. And I sat in my favorite reading chair by the fire and I read Juliette Marillier a which transcript is going to hate. So I’ve finished book 3 of the 7 water series. Child of the prophecy and now I’m on book 4 air of 7 waters. So yeah, definitely continuing my kick on this particular author whose name I show not repeat because transcript. Um. Yeah she’s really amazing. She’s so good. It’s very interesting that she’s done this on all 3 books so far that from about 80 to 95% of the book because I’m reading on Kindle so I can see she has built up so much dread.

Of the possible terrible awful outcome of the story that I almost can’t bear it. She has her characters struggling so hard against the things that are happening and. That I am just dread is the best word I can come up with I am just full of dread that they’re not going to succeed that and even though I know even though I know that they’re going to succeed that I know this is the promise. She does kill some of her characters and that creates more of a sense of peril for me as a reader because it’s like sometimes I worry about which characters might die and some do but their happy endings as far as the protagonists. But i. It’s unreal to me how much she drags out this dread at the end and I feel like I could learn from this because I know that I think I’m too nice. Sometimes do you guys think this I mean sometimes I think my perception actually I know I know my perception of my own books is different than. Perception of the reader because it surprises me when people say that I write dark things because they don’t seem that dark to me. Um, but I feel like I resolve difficulties too easily like on. Um. Fiery crown was thinking about grabbing a copy but I won’t I have so many copies of the fiery crown you guys because pandemic because we’re gonna have this huge launch event and now um so like in the fiery crown. If you haven’t read it close your ears for like half a minute but at the end when they are doing the the rescue from the citadel um, my editor said that she thought they got in and out too easily and so I had to go back and we that in so I worry about this somewhat it. If you have your hands over your ears. You can come back I worry about this sometimes with my books because especially the self-published ones I know I’m often coming in under the wire which I hate I I want to get back to where I’m not doing that and hopefully on um, storm princess and the Raven King I will I will do this Um Meghan Snna deutsch I’m like and I know she listens sometimes made a really good suggestion that I just go ahead and set a new preorder date a new release date and just make it well out from.

When I think I can finish and I think I probably will do that? Um I’m just I need to get like into the book a little bit more because I did not I took the day off on Friday I’m still empty brained I’m hoping I’ve got the juice back today. So. Yeah I feel like I maybe need to go back and spend more time on these endings and like draw out the dread and the peril of resolving the conflict thoughts. What do you guys? think of course I might be preaching to the choir there here because the readers who think that I resolve stuff too easily um me not. Be reading my books anymore I can’t believe how long Julia here we are transcript how long Juliet Marillier is able to draw out that final conflict. Ah, and it’s I was telling Megan. About this over drinks week drinks before the movie and she was saying well it sounds stressful and I was thinking well it is kind of stressful but at the same time. It’s I don’t know it’s It’s also really satisfying in a way I don’t know we had an argument about something else and I realize I’ve lost my initial topic. Maybe I’ll think of it and went back. Oh I think I will um. Because she was saying that she was watching that she didn’t do much over the weekend you know because it was very snowy. It was really good weekend to tuck in and she did not have her son or son was with her ex and her guy Charlie was out of town. So she said she ended up doing a lot of you know. Had her fire going and lolling on the couch and binge watching stuff and she said she was watching Vikings Valhalla on Netflix and she asked me if I was watching it and I said no I don’t like the vikings show shows I said David likes them but I don’t and she said well why don’t you like them. I thought you would love that stuff and I’m like no ah brutality violence. Just I said I don’t like vikings in general because they are um, it’s said you know like they killed my ancestors I just there’s just not much about the viking viking. The viking mythology that is appealing to me David likes it I don’t I don’t like how they just go out and like ravage and brutalize people and she said but did you like game of thrones and I said yeah I did like game of thrones and she said well they’re the same thing and I was like what? Okay so.

You guys viking stuff and game of thrones. She said well didn’t you think um, like the the people in the north those north people. Um I said the the starks and she said yes the starks they were basically vikings they were running around with you know, wearing furs and stuff. Now now upon consideration now I’m wondering if she was thinking about like the wall and the wildwalkers maybe but anyway she even asked our waiter reviews because he like brought our drinks right? then and she said don’t you think that like vikings and game of thrones out. There’s a lot of crossover. And he kind of looked confused and then finally he said well maybe you know like the gray choice because they had chips and I said you know the thing about vikings. 1 of the things that defines vikings is that they go of viking they go out and they go a viking and nobody in game of thrones was going out a’viking. We got nowhere with this argument but I did think that it was a funny conversation. She was like well what do you like about game of thrones because she said I thought the same thing about that. It was all violence and dirtiness and brutality and I was like no, it’s because there was all of that political maneuvering. Right? Anyway, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme. Not but that was sort of how we were going round and round. Um and I confess I don’t really know how I got there but it was a funny conversation. so um so yeah it was I guess with ah what the books that I’m reading and so forth. Um, getting back to work today going to see the movie in the movie theater. So I want to talk about Cyrano and um I was just looking at my notes and thinking about I don’t know if I want to talk about this though I still have times for some reason this is bugging me. And I wrote it down and I was thinking about it again this morning. Um, so maybe I’m I don’t know the fact that I keep thinking about a thing comes back to me I know one thing I had didn’t mention earlier from one of the many things I did on Saturday was I got to interview Julia Quinn who turned out to be absolutely delightful. She was lovely during the interview. She spotted the Rita behind me and asked about it. It was really fun talking to her I think they’re gonna post that video I will share it when it comes up. But yeah, that was really a great.

Great thing to get to do so my thing that’s been bugging me is I was just remembering a friend that I had a long time ago and why this is coming back to my mind I don’t know but maybe because I’ve been thinking about friendships and thinking about jealousy and. Things you like sometimes people who are ostensibly our friends say things to us that come across funny and I remember saying something to her and I can’t remember exactly what it was but I was talking about. You know, like everyone’s while you have something that you love to wear. Some outfit that you love and probably this is for the girls sorry guys. Maybe you guys have this too a favorite t-shirt I’m sorry that’s that was wrong. Um, but everyone want to like you have something that you feel super cute in and that you just love. And nobody ever compliments you on it. Nobody ever says anything about it and my mom and I have talked about this It’s like it’s a funny thing and then there’s other things that people always say you look great in and so if you want to you know like have a power thing. You know, be powerful that day you wear the thing that people say. You know it’s like do where’re the thing that people say you look great in that people always compliment or do you wear the thing that makes you feel good, but an an ongoing conundrum so I had said something to my friend about this and Yll I was like oh you know. Whatever this is you know I always love this thing but nobody ever says that I look nice in it and I wonder why and she said well you know sometimes we just shine too brightly and I even wrote this down and this is like I don’t know twenty years later I’m still thinking about it sometimes we shine. Too brightly and that’s like okay so I guess I guess it’s incumbent upon me not to shine so brightly. The funny thing I don’t know why it’s been coming back to me so Cyrano. Um, want to talk about Cyrano and I’m going to talk about the ending. So if you don’t want to get spoilered on the ending tap out now. Um I enjoyed Cyrano I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett were great. They did a wonderful job acting it was beautifully filmed. Its Joe Wright.? Unfortunately, it was Joe Wright Anna Karenina, not Joe Wright Pride and Prejudice or Atonement and I do think that this is something that happens with creators is they start.

Getting enchanted with themselves and what they do and they go over the top Joe Wright cut off hauled this back a whole lot because it was like over the top in places. It was also incredibly gorgeous Megan and I were both trying to figure out where it was filmed and it turns out it was Sicily. The set was amazing. There was the trademark Joe Wright sense of like 360 degree ambiance the way he builds the world I feel like he’s unparalleled. It’s just amazing. The costumes were gorgeous. There were these wonderful. Um, you know he leaned into the fact that it’s a musical and there were these wonderful scenes where like the the guards are practicing with the swords they’re doing the fencing practice in the background but it’s like a ballet. Um, and. Various other scenes where they’re talking about love and people are kneading the dough and lifting the bread and it’s like a ballet gorgeous Roxane Haley Bennett played Roxane Roxane outfits are beautiful. They went with these amazing very Filmy Fabrics played with color these colors. Gorgeous um dialogue is scintillating Peter Dingklige I thought did an amazing job of being emotionally torn I thought almost too much at times a little over the top I thought. Roxane did not come off well in this story and now I kind of want to go back and watch other versions of Serrano I know that there’s the the Steve Martin 1 roxanne and then there’s Cyrano de Bergerac from the early 90 s with Gerard Depardieu. I do not remember who else was. In that one let’s look up and see I’m gonna go long today. Do guys care makes up for the date. So I can’t think of anything to say who played Roxanne in that one – Anne Brochet who’s Anne Brochet? you guys know who she is? Maybe she’s just not on my radar same age as me born in 66, she’s known for Cyrano de Bergerac. So maybe that’s why I’m not sure anyway and of course in. Steve Martin version Roxanne that was and Im blanking on her name. The girl who was in splash oh my gosh you guys are all shouting it at me I know what’s her name with the long blonde hair. yes yes I can’t hear you.

That that was 87? Yeah oh Darryl Hannah. Yeah, why couldn’t I think of that and I remember liking that one so now I want to rewatch those because I want to see how it ended because this one leaned much more into war. Um. I assumed it was napoleonic war although they didn’t say you guys know me I’m not great on history. Um, but it had a tragic ending. Um and in a way that I felt like was not earned. This was a not earned tragic ending. So. Here I’m very explicitly talking about how it ends at the so Cyrano and Christian who is you know her love you guys know the story right? Christians the very handsome soldier who’s inarticulate Cyrano is. Well he’s Peter Dinklage in this movie so it’s more than him just being uglyglier having a big nose. He’s actually it’s in income. Well little person right in the movie they said Midget and which I thought was interesting because it might have been more within the time because I I think now the preferred. Language is little person so it was much more even says you know a tall beautiful woman is not going to be with the midget and so they both go off to war Christian and and Cyrano and Christian. Like gets very upset when he discovers that Cyrano is in love with Roxanne and has been writing to her every day and and all of this and that Roxanne doesn’t actually love Christian she’s because he because she’s written that she’s in love with his soul and. So he like goes running screaming up and stands there and gets shot. It’s like he doesn’t even do anything noble or useful in their ah losing battle just like so that was much I did not like that. Um. Because he’s like a soldier’s son in all of this anyway. So then Serrano gets shot but he goes home and then if they do this thing three years later it’s like wait what three fucking years three years Cyrano’s back in Sicily he’s with Roxanne. He’s dying and I mean it’s like three years later and then a day you know it’s like one day even a couple hours and it shows him like all this time he’s been pining after her and he sees her every week and finally he confesses his love and she says that she loves him.

And he dies what were they doing for three fucking years I mean what is the point of this. What? why? What? Why do we have this 3 year lapse where they’re just suffering. Um I don’t understand this storytellers. Don’t tell me that they spent 3 years not talking to each other about these very important things and then just so you can produce your tragic kiddding. Um I can’t even I’m done with him and Ram. Um, so. You all have great money. Have a great week if you’ve seen sir and know if you see seranal. Let me know what you think um, you know what? and all of you who want to shine brightly go out there and shine as brightly as you want to all right I will talk to you all tomorrow. Take care bye-bye.

Characters Are Not Your Puppets

I put this photo on my podcast yesterday, but social media declined to show it, so I’m reposting! I spent time on Sunday lying in the sun and reading. The depthless blue skies were perfect for contrails, which seemed to appear from between my toes. Really lovely.

There’s been lots of talk on social media about the final season of Game of Thrones. Episode 4 aired on Sunday night (5/12/19) and there’s two episodes to go. While the battle scenes have been as epic and sweeping as promised, many people feel the show has gone off the rails. This is not the ending many of us hoped for.

Of course, all along, we were braced to lose beloved characters. The story created by George RR Martin has taught us well. Characters we love will die, sometimes suddenly, often brutally, and frequently without warning. He’s a master storyteller and he’s deliberately subverted the heroic fantasy tropes, enticing us to love and believe in a character, and then killing them suddenly. It’s so deftly done that, in retrospect, you can absolutely trace how the character’s personal flaws – hubris, naivete, etc. – lead to their untimely demise.

So, I don’t know about you, but I was braced. I had a checklist in my head of who’d be likely to do something stupid and die. I didn’t WANT to lose those characters but I accepted that it had to happen. Especially as the title of the show (which departs from the books) promises a life-and-death tournament leaving a single person on the Iron Throne. Also, as the story progressed, it became clear that the threat of the Night King and the devastating hordes from the frozen north posed a much greater problem than who got to be in charge. Former enemies became unlikely allies – in a tremendously satisfying way – to band together to face this world-killing threat.

I won’t go into details of how that aspect of the plot has failed our expectations of the dramatic progression of events. Instead I’d like to address why some of what’s going on feels so disappointing. It’s something I see happen a lot in TV and movies, especially long-running ones.

See, visual entertainment is necessarily plot driven. There’s a lot of reasons for this: visual narratives don’t allow for internal exploration of characters (which is why they sometimes resort to clumsy voice-overs); they appeal to a much wider audience that expects a faster pace of events with no “navel gazing;” and plot-driven stories are easier for a team of writers to produce. (They’re easily outlined in advance and produce clear dramatic beats.) I’d argue that this is why Romance seldom works in a visual narrative since love stories are character-driven.

Now, George RR Martin is a character-driven writer. Yes, the plot of the series (which is called A Song of Ice and Fire, which speaks much more to the Night King arc than the Iron Throne arc, just saying) has a complex set of plots and subplots, but they all arise from the character motivations. What the characters want drives the narrative. What happens in visual entertainment, when plot takes over as the primary driver of the story, is the character motivations can become subverted to serve the plot.

In other words, people suddenly stop acting like themselves and do things we don’t believe in order to advance the plot.

Sound familiar?

So, yeah, if your favorite Game of Thrones characters seem to be acting, well, out of character, it’s because they are. They’ve stopped being the complex, nuanced individuals (likable or not) that drew us into the story, and have become finger-puppet versions of themselves acting against a spectacular backdrop of dramatic plot.

Another example of this that will forever stand out in my mind is a late-season (this is a THING) episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Spike attempts to rape Buffy. It’s a clumsy scene, shocking – and was written specifically to address a rape-prevention week theme. Now, I’m all for preventing rape, education, and using story to reinforce that message. But for those of us invested in those characters, it was a total WTF moment. Spike nursed a soul-deep, unrequited love for Buffy (and we know she loved him, too), and he would NEVER have hurt her. It made zero sense. The plot made him into a paper cutout to demonstrate an issue.

As a character-driven writer, this drives me crazy. As a viewer once-invested in beloved characters that have been eviscerated into paper cutouts, I mourn. Really, I’d rather have wept over their deaths than see this happen to them. I’m not even sure I want to watch the last two episodes, frankly.

Anyway, it’s too late for the show. What’s done is done. But the takeaway for writers of all kinds is: RESPECT YOUR CHARACTERS AS PEOPLE. They are not puppets in your personal play, no matter how much you might feel like you are the god of your world. As creators and storytellers, we owe allegiance to the gift of these people entering our stories. We do them honor by listening to them.

To do otherwise fails us all.