To Agree to Disagree? That is the Question

Once upon a scroll on Twitter, I came across the following question:

“What’s one thing you and your main character would vehemently disagree on?”

Now, obviously, I’ve got several dozen main characters to choose from. And contemplating overt self-insert characters like Annabelle Iole Gray from the “Inspired” novels and Moon’s Melody from “The Queen’s Lady” (part of “Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea” – newly released!) won’t get me very far, given our major overlap in nature. But surely, I thought, I could pick out a few Deshipley MCs with ideas quite contrary to mine.

And so I have. Let the conflict of opinions begin! (Featuring many an Avengers-related illustration, because ‘tis called for.)

<<<>>>

Edgwyn Wyle (MC in “The Stone Kingdom”, “The Seventh Spell”) = Edgwyn and I have actually had a longstanding disagreement demonstrating a fundamental and perhaps irreconcilable difference in worldview. His opinion: It is perfectly okay to slurp one’s soup.

Maybe it’s just as well I never got the chance to marry him.

Avengers Gif_I Don't Like It

Gant-o’-the-Lute (MC in “The Song Caster”, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, “The Story’s End”) = As a virtuoso wandering bard and admittedly something of a superman, Lute believes himself to be the ideal toward which we lesser beings ought in futility to strive – including the author with supposed power of the pen over him. This attitude has caused any number of bitter clashes between us.

Avengers meme_Civil War

Shots were fired. Tears were shed. It’s all in the past now, but only because I guess we’ve mutually decided it’s not a debate worth reopening. Ever.

Mach Jenius (MC in “Out of My Head”) = Quoth our boy Mach:

“I am a brainstorm. And the number one rule of brainstorming? There is no such thing as a bad idea.”

Replied his rival muse:

“That rule,” Luc said through clenched teeth, “is a lie.”

And I’ve gotta side with Luc on this one. This reality I’ve written words in the hundred-thousands to escape is run (quite badly) on bad ideas. Sometimes I’ve dreamt up and thrown out as many as six impossibly bad ideas before breakfast. I understand where Mach is coming from: We often need to shuffle through a few bad ideas before the good ones make an appearance; that’s just the creative process. But to claim that all ideas are equally meritorious in their own way… No, darling Jenius, no.

Avengers Gif_No, Try Again

Abishan (main supporting cast member in “Inspired”, “Out of My Head”) = Not surprisingly, the jungle cat god thinks cats are the best animal. And I mean, I’m practically a cat myself, but dogs, foxes, and krakens are where it’s at, dude.

Avengers Gif_Black Panther Side-eye
Abishan @ me

Liliavaine (MC in “The Surrogate Sea”) = To watch this princess carry on, one would get the impression that it’s better to recklessly go after what you want than to be well-behaved and responsible and maybe not get people killed. Honestly, it’s not even so much that I disagree with that. I’m just too much of a socially anxious, people-pleasing good girl to run away in the night and become the Sea. Bigger disappointment me, really.

Avengers Gif_Black Widow Shrug

Raeve (MC in “A Morrow More”) = This short story heroine (first published in the “One More Day” anthology, re-pubbed in the 2nd edition of “Inspired” when both the 1st edition and the antho went out of print) seems to hold fast the belief that life is inherently worth living, by virtue of it being life. And I’m over here frequently wondering whether death mightn’t actually be the more attractive option. But to each their own.

Arthur Pendragon (MC in “The Once and Future Camelot” … coming sometime this year, if all goes to plan!) = This reanimated king of legend seems to hold fast the belief that people are valuable and worthy of love, by virtue of being people. Oh, sweet Arthur. Too good for this world – too pure. I can only wish to share your heart.

Avengers Gif_I Can't

Johnny Crow (MC in “Deathsong of the Deep”) = This exchange had me shaking my head even as I wrote it:

Molly’s eyes tightened at the corners. “You meant the sort of ridding in which a life is ended before it’s half begun?”

Crow shrugged the shoulder which wasn’t bearing a portion of his weight. “It’s an option.”

“It’s a violation.”

“Violation? Of what?”

“Of a person’s right to life.”

“Right?” Crow’s head tipped to a quizzical angle. “Living isn’t a right. It’s a privilege. If we live, it’s because we’ve been minimally fortunate, not because we /deserve/ to. If living were about deserving, nobody would live long.”

Yeah-yeah-yeah, I know I’ve just been saying that both life and people are bad ideas. And that last line of Crow’s… grr, he’s not wrong. I’m just… very much opposed to the idea that it’s only okay to kill humans who haven’t yet been born to become the humans who’ve actually done things arguably worthy of a death penalty (as opposed to having literally done nothing but exist somewhere they weren’t wanted). That is targeting the entirely wrong demographic, to my view. But this post isn’t about me trying to untangle all my feelings re: life and death, so let’s find another note on which to end.

Avengers Gif_Hulk Punch

Will Scarlet (MC in the “Outlaws of Avalon” series) = Red is the best color, full stop. Enough of anything is never enough. If something scares you, flirt with it. Why plan ahead when you can fly through life by the seat of your hose?

Avengers Gif_Tony Eye-roll

No and no and no.

Also, no.

<<<>>>

How about you, fellow writers? Any big players in your body of work with whom you’ll never see eye to eye? And for you readers, an opposite question: Which characters have you encountered whose notions made you go, “YES. My thoughts EXACTLY”? Discuss in the comments!

Advertisements

A Melody o’ the Moon (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Her introductory paragraph in ‘The Queen’s Lady’ describes her thus:

Quite commonly dark, with eyes like shadows and smiles like a wicked secret. Her hair moved about her head like a rain-laden cloud, vast and black, and some thought it a match for her disposition, which was prone to be as erratic and louring as a flash-and-thunder storm. Still, her heart, for all its grimmer points, was true. In the tongue of her people, her name meant Moon’s Melody.

“Welcome, Moon’s Melody!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – would you say you or Annabelle Gray bear the more flagrant resemblance to Danielle?”

Melody glowers. “Who is Danielle?”

“Who—” Will startles. “You don’t know our author?? Sorry, I just assumed— That is, most everyone else of hers who stops by her blog has been in some sort of communication with her, so… wait, how did you even get on this show, then??”

“I was invited,” Melody snaps – defensiveness in her tone, anxiety in her fingers’ tight grip on her chair’s armrests. “The Azurite Grenadier said someone wished to speak with me about my ongoing ordeal, so I let him lead me hence. Am I unwanted here, as well?”

Queen's Lady 02

“No, no,” Will hastens to assure her. “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

Wrong. I’m supposed to be far, far from here – on my island, with my Joy.”

“Your joy?”

“Morning Joy,” says Melody, voice softened by warmth and woe. “My dearest friend in all the world – which I can all the better say now that I’ve seen a bit more of it than just the Isles. Such a very big world,” she sighs. “And so much wrong with it.”

“So I’ve many a time heard Robin Hood lament. Now, word is you’ve been banished from Berulduir’s royal city. Berulduir…” Will cranes around to look at Allyn. “Why does that name sound familiar?”

“Flashback,” Allyn calls out. The stage lights dim, a screen pulls down, and up plays a projection of a scene snipped from “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”:

“Here, Will, I’ll do it,” Allyn volunteered. “My name is Benedeck, and—”

“That’s not a name,” Will said tightly.

“Certainly it is. My parents had a double-wedding with a king named Benedeck. Anyway, I’m Benedeck, my wife’s name is Berta, we live in Berulduir—”

“You live /where/??”

“Berulduir. The kingdom on the northern shore of the Peasecod Sea.”

“Never heard of the place.”

“And I’ve never heard of Aberdeen!” said an exasperated Allyn. “Are you going to let me play, or aren’t you?”

“Ha, yes,” Will chuckles as the stage returns to normal. “Official Outsider road trip game. Classic.” Addressing Melody, he asks, “Do you and your three grenadier friends play any games like that while on the road of exile?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Garnet Grenadier wished to,” Melody says dubiously. “He’s a bit of an over-energetic sort; always trying to brighten up the mood. Carries himself rather like you, actually. Looks and sounds a lot like you, too.” She glances past Will toward Allyn. “And the Azurite Grenadier looks and sounds something like you.”

“No surprise there,” says Will, grinning. “Your tale’s autobiographical for our author, Melody. You’re basically her, Garnet and Azurite are repping for me and Allyn, and… hmm, the readers still haven’t properly met the man behind the Iolite Grenadier, for all his importance to Danielle’s head.”

Melody frowns. “So this Danielle suffered what I do? And you two were royal guards?”

“Nothing to do with royalty, no,” says Will. “Not in my case, anyway. We were just the friends there to help prop up her courage when–”

“Some despicable foreign king turned her out?” Melody finishes darkly.

“Pfft. Not a king,” Allyn sniffs. “Just some nobody man who happened to be in a position of power.”

“And what of her Joy?” Melody demands, eyes brimming with tears. “What of mine?”

“Her Joy’s doing just fine,” Will promises gently. “She made it out of her own bad spot all right. As for you and yours, it’s  a fairy tale, love. Happy ever after isn’t guaranteed, but is highly probable. Now onto the ending question anyone could predict: Tell me, Melody, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He beams brightly. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Melody wrinkles her nose. “I don’t kiss men.”

“Women?”

“No.”

“Drat. That doesn’t leave much room for kissing at all.”

“True,” says Melody. “Also true: If, as you say, the whole of my story is essentially a retelling of Danielle’s own experience, it’s bound to contain her secrets. Secret pain, secret fear, secret ways of surviving her nightmare so her friend won’t be without her.”

“Excellent point, well made,” Will concedes. “Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Queen’s Lady’ from ‘Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (e-book only) for just 99 cents!Beyond Her Infinity

Once upon a time, you knew tales of Wilderhark’s Great Land.

But what of the Isles to the Far East?

In “Beyond Her Infinity”, Wilderhark Tales author Danielle E. Shipley spins two short stories with leading roles from the fairytale world’s minority culture.

“The Queen’s Lady” – Three gallant royal guardsmen learn just how far one Islander will go for the sake of her friend: Into a strange land. Into a cruel exile. Even into the hands of a darkly dangerous power.

“To Walk the Storm” – With his country falling to ruin, a king sends his heirs in search of foreign aid. But the favor of the Isles’ supernatural patron is not so easily won.

Tales of loyalty. Tales of passion. Most of all, tales of true love.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Moon’s Melody! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Beyond Her Infinity

“How’s life, Deshipley? :D”

Um. Yeah. About that…

The Bad News

So, the other week, I was in a car accident. Not convenient, not fun (not the sort of thing that tends to happen to me on the road, thank God), and… alarmingly, not an isolated enough incident, because then I was in another car accident. Like, a week-and-a-half later.

Zero car wrecks for some 15 years of driving, then two of them in less than two weeks?? I. Was. (Am.) SHOOK. Physically fine … but SHOOK. As in, eating is hard, sleeping is harder, and getting on the road for work and errands requires an excessive amount of courage.

Plus, I’ve been stressed out to the max about how much $$$ all this nonsense is gonna cost – especially in light of the fact that I’ve got an upcoming picture book to pay for – “The Princess and the Moon”! – and for whatever combination of reasons, I haven’t yet been able to gain traction on the GoFundMe campaign to help produce it.

(Full series of pics on display here)

Psychologically, this has been one of the most painful bouts of anxiety I’ve been through in my adult history – second only, perhaps, to the nightmare that was The End of Germany. But hey, on a related note…

The Good News

Once upon a time, an author was temporarily stuck in a traumatizing situation. To help herself process and cope, she started writing a story – a fairytale version of what she was going through, in hope that she could thereby find her way to a happy ending.

And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

And that happy ending was a long time coming – (there are ways in which I’m only just starting to recover from that Nocturne of the Soul) – and it was a while ere I was able to look at and finish that fairy tale begun before the darkest part of the night.

But that fairy tale is now not only finished, it’s going to be published alongside another short story in an e-book only (for now) little artwork I’ve titled:

Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea

Beyond Her Infinity

Once upon a time, you knew tales of Wilderhark’s Great Land.

But what of the Isles to the Far East?

In “Beyond Her Infinity”, Wilderhark Tales author Danielle E. Shipley spins two short stories with leading roles from the fairytale world’s minority culture.

“The Queen’s Lady” – Three gallant royal guardsmen learn just how far one Islander will go for the sake of her friend: Into a strange land. Into a cruel exile. Even into the hands of a darkly dangerous power.

“To Walk the Storm” – With his country falling to ruin, a king sends his heirs in search of foreign aid. But the favor of the Isles’ supernatural patron is not so easily won.

Tales of loyalty. Tales of passion. Most of all, tales of true love.

When is the e-book releasing? Next week! (Though it’s available for pre-order right now! Just 99 cents!)

Why so soon? Because there’s no time like the present!

Why the title “Beyond Her Infinity”? Two reasons.

For one, Her Infinity is (I discovered while writing “To Walk the Storm”) the Far Eastern Islanders’ name for the Great Sea. For the other, there’s just something about pairing that name with ‘beyond’ that sounds like some She is living past her limits – or, at the least, where she thought her limits lay – which is very much in the spirit of the fairytale I first spoke of, “The Queen’s Lady”.

That years-ago Germany incident and these recent car crashes have in common a particular effect on my core confidence. They forced into my face the fact that I am not invincible. I am not invulnerable. I am not, in fact, anything like infinite. And my poor brain’s reaction to being so harshly confronted with finitude is to fill with fear and self-doubt and self-blame and depression. It makes hope feel too heavy to carry, and stretches the world into a place too big and cruel for one small She to survive.

And yet, survive I do.

Nevertheless, She Persisted

The silence surrounding my GoFundMe – and, frankly, just about anything I try to put out into the world, lately – is a similar drag on my confidence. But you know me, dearies. I don’t know how to give up.

So next week, I’m releasing “Beyond Her Infinity” – which, speaking of my picture book, features a special guest appearance from the Wilderhark Tales’ moon himself! And I’m making myself carry the hope, no matter how heavy, that it will in some way contribute to the promotion and funding of “The Princess and the Moon”.

You, too, are very much invited to contribute, with your shares and dollars and word of mouth. It’s not that I can’t do this on my own. I can do just about anything I’ve determined I must. But I and the Fairytale Me in “The Queen’s Lady” know that while going it alone is doable, getting through with friends to lean upon can make an infinite difference. ❤

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: The ‘What If?’ Game’s Still Afoot

stt book club logo

Hello, everyone! Lady Marion Hood, here, presiding over the second half of last week’s meeting of the Stranger-Than-True Book Club. With me are Princess Laraspur from The Wilderhark Tales; Uri and Lucianíel from the “Inspired” novels; and Nicky from “So Super Dead”. And the little ‘What If?’ game we’re playing – in which we imagine what it would do to our author Danielle’s books if we swapped our roles around within them – continues now.

Marion: Starting with you, this time, Luc! What if you’d been given my role in The Outlaws of Avalon?

StT Book Club - Luc to Marion

Luc: Interesting. Though I’d far rather be Robin Hood’s muse than his wife… or would I be his husband?

Uri: Be a shame to lose the only woman in the original Merry Men.

Luc: A valid point. For the good of the story’s representation, then, let us assume I am female. And also of mixed African and Anglo-Norman descent?

Nicky: Be shame to lose the only half-black character in the series.

Luc: Very well. Now, both Marion and I are oriented toward the nurturing and protection of our families, so that root trait would not change. I don’t know that everyone would feel so warmly inclined toward me, however; she is, in canon, the more universally liked.

M: Overt friendliness helps.

Lar: Oh, dear, I’ve had an uneasy thought. Somewhat based as you are, Luc, upon Gant-o’-the-Lute, what would be your dynamic with Allyn?

U: The Dynamic of Allyn-a-Dale. There’s a readymade title for Book 4, if Danielle ever decides to reopen the series.

Luc: Given Allyn’s sensibilities where his late father is concerned, he might find my manner attractive and repellent in similar measure. At any rate, he would be far less comfortable in my presence – as would Will Scarlet, if ‘comfortable’ was ever the word for his relationship with you, Marion.

M: Not for a long while, no.

Luc: I don’t think the rest of the story would be much changed. Unless… Come to think of it, I wonder whether Merlin could get away with keeping his thoughts from me. He’s the one in charge of Avalon Faire – the one who conceived of it and saw the design carried out – putting him in something like an authorial role. And it’s deep in my nature to partner closely with the masterminds of worlds.

M: I daresay that partnership would have been something to see! Now, onto the next round. Nicky, suppose you’d been assigned the role of Laraspur?

StT Book Club - Nicky to Lar

N: A fairytale princess, huh? That’s so super different! My childhood would’ve been perfect – goofing around with my brother, Edgwyn Wyle for my father, a total absence of war among the Great Land kingdoms, and nobody expects me to have superpowers! Yeah, I might sometimes feel like my sisters are prettier than me – especially if I look like me, not Laraspur, because c’mon, girl, you’re actually gorgeous – but if that’s the only sense of inferiority I’ve got to wrestle with, that’s worlds better than what I’ve got in my for-real story.

Lar: Would the kings of Welken fall in love with you as they did me, do you think?

N: I… uh… hope so? And hope not? I don’t… that is, no one’s ever…

U: Kid, relax. Even if you were a physiologically genderless princess, there’s no reason you couldn’t have love. My world’s angels are all asexual and aromantic, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have committed partnerships.

N: You do? Annabelle wrote that?

U: Annabelle writes what Annabelle gets around to writing. We don’t always wait for her to know about something before we live it.

N: Oh! Well, that’s a comfort. Thank you. So, yeah, I guess the kings can still fall in love with me. I don’t know for sure whether I’d fall for either of them back, but I’d definitely want to talk to them!

Lar: That’s… not at all the same. …Nor is it necessarily any less compelling a story!

M: Bless your Wyle heart, Laraspur. And now, last of all: Suppose I were given Uri’s spot?

StT Book Club - Marion to Uri

U: Hoo-boy. Speaking of not at all the same…

M: What do you think would be so different?

U: That right there. You’re a moderator. You hang out just a little bit to the side, making sure everyone in the group gets their fair time on the floor. Y’know how they say everyone’s the hero of their own story?

N: Yeah, I used that saying somewhere in my book’s narration.

U: Well, it doesn’t apply to Marion. In her own story, she would volunteer to take on a supporting role, because she’s not the least bit centered on herself. She’s all about Robin and Will and Little John and Allyn. And if she were me, she’d be all about Luc and Abishan and Wilbur and Yves. You can put a skateboard under it, but it’s still not me.

M: Meaning I’d lose if this game were about who would make the Uri-est Uri. But since it’s not, I think your story and I would get along just fine. It’s not as if you’re never seen caring for your friends, or I’m never heard giving witty commentary. I can still be the Fire of God; I’d simply burn more like a hearth fire and less like a plague sent down on Sodom and Gomorrah.

N: Who would make the Uri-est Uri? Apart from herself, of course.

Luc: A combination of certain characters in #CamelotWIP comes swiftly to mind.

M: But that’s a book better discussed closer to its publication, which won’t be until later this year. For now, I’d like to thank you all for taking part in this literary exercise. And thank you, readers of the blog, for following along. Do you ever like to imagine a fictional character living a completely different life? Tell me about your favorite story swap ideas in the comments! Until next time, everyone. Farewell!

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: I Would or Wouldn’t Do That, If I Were You

Hello, everyone! Lady Marion Hood, here, with another meeting of the newly formed Stranger-Than-True Book Club – in which a representative few of author Danielle E. Shipley’s characters come together to discuss some book-related topic or another. Last time, that meant Danielle’s latest novel, “Deathsong of the Deep”. This time, who knows?!

Ha, well, fortunately, I happen to know. But first, let’s have a warm welcome for our membership, currently comprised of: Princess Laraspur from The Wilderhark Tales; Uri and Lucianíel from the “Inspired” novels; Nicky from “So Super Dead”; and yours truly, from The Outlaws of Avalon.

stt book club logo

Nicky: So, what’s on the day’s agenda, Marion? Danielle doesn’t have a new book’s release date coming up, does she?

Marion: Nothing pinned down for sure on the calendar, just now, no. Although she did recently announce preliminary plans for her first picture book – based on the novella starring you, Laraspur, so three cheers for that!

Laraspur: Thank you! It’s going to be an absolutely adorable book, once finished. My father and I, in particular, can’t wait to enjoy it together. ^o^

Uri: But is that what we’re actually talking about today, or…?

M: Oh, not at all. Today we’re playing a game.

U: A… game.

N: Fun! I assume. What’s the game?

M: ‘Tis a game of ‘What If?’.

Luc: Always an excellent beginning.

M: Right? Specifically: What if each of us had been given the role of another club member in his, her, or himmer story?

Lar: Oh, my! That would be… inevitably different.

U: And potentially disastrous.

N: Or awesome!

M: Or all the above! Let’s find out. You first, Laraspur. Suppose yours was the role of Lucianíel. How would that play out?

StT Book Club - Lar to Luc

Lar: Hmm! Well, that’s bound to depend upon a number of factors. How much of myself do I get to keep?

M: Just your name and personality. The rest is all Luc: Elemental of light, professional muse, and father – well, mother – to a diverse assortment of fictional folk. And I suppose you may somewhat look like yourself, as far as parameters allow.

N: So you glow!

Lar: Come Wilderhark 6, I’m known to do that anyway. But if I’m in Luc’s role, that means it’s out with my true love and in with his – the late author Jean St. John.

U: And just like that, you’re Danielle’s first canonical lesbian couple. Makes it arguably problematic that one wife gets killed off in chapter one.

Luc: Jean’s not actually my wife…

U: Let me pretend you’re not living in sin, please ‘n’ thanks.

Lar: I don’t think I could handle the grief of losing her as well as Luc did! Though I do hope I’d retain his presence of mind in saving our children from the collapse of their imaginary worlds. As for dealing with a new author… Honestly, I expect I would get along with Annabelle better than you did at first, Luc. You started out a bit standoffish, you know.

Luc: I was amiability itself! She just spent too much time goofing off to appreciate it.

Lar: So why not goof off with her, the sooner to establish yourself as her friend?

Luc: Friends don’t let friends misuse their time.

M: I think we’re starting to get the picture as to the difference Laraspur’s presence in Luc’s role would make. Let’s move on to the next round. Uri, suppose you traded out your role for Nicky’s. What then?

StT Book Club - Uri to Nicky

U: Ok. Well, we’re both sixteen, so no change there. S/he has no sex characteristics or gender, but that’s fine, since I haven’t been using mine anyway. Went ‘til now thinking I’m the only one on the moon without superpowers, but surprise, it turns out me and my cell phone can talk to ghosts. And I want to join a youth group looking for bad guys to fight on Earth because… why?

Luc: You tell us. What would your motivation be?

U: I dunno. I guess I am kind of made to battle evil. Just… a cell phone is not a weapon.

N: It’s not about the phone, it’s about the talking.

U: I’d rather kill things with fire.

N: Brenna would not like to hear you say that.

U: Brenna would get over it when I burned Thackeray Kyle to ash.

N: YOU CAN’T DO THAT!!!

M: You really can’t, Uri. It would wreck the plot.

Luc: Can a character-driven plot be wrecked by its headstrong players, or only rerouted?

U: Things would definitely get rerouted if I were Xtra-Medium. Oh, that’s another change, right there. I would not choose ‘Xtra-Medium’ as my superhero name. I’d be Hell’s Angel.

Lar: Uri, much of the purpose of Nicky’s role is demonstrating that a healthful dialogue can be just as powerful as physical force. I know you were created for war, but I also know you’re capable of talking constructively with friends in need. We’ve seen it in-story. So maybe lean a little harder into that side of you, all right?

U: *sigh* Fine. Nicky, I’m sorry I said I’d burn your crush, okay? You can stop looking ready to cry.

N: *sniffle* I just really don’t think your personality is what the dead in my novel need. You are way too much like… like if Brenna and Thackeray had a baby.

U: There are so many reasons that would never happen, but I think you are otherwise weirdly right.

M: And once again, this discussion looks set to run far longer than any single Ever On Word blog post ought.

Lar: Meaning we take a break here, and resume things next week?

M: Right you are, Lar! Thank you – and you, Uri – for taking your turns today. Next time, we’ll see what could happen if Luc, Nicky, and I were given different positions in Danielle’s published works. I hope to see you then, blog readers! Stay tuned! Leave comments! And farewell!

WHAMO! Sometimes I Can Still Hear Her Bells…

WHAMO LogoHello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. And it’s time for another edition of “WHAMO!” (which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier).

Today’s pick owes itself to two things.

First: The fact that, up until about a month ago, Tirzah had not yet seen this Disney Renaissance classic in full – (tragedy!) – so Danielle and I totally nabbed it from the library to rectify the situation, to the betterment of all.

Second: I don’t know if you’ve heard, but a certain gorgeous French landmark that’s approximately as old as Robin Hood suffered some considerable fire damage, about a week-and-a-half back. Both Tirzah and Danielle were hit hard by the news, having visited the iconic cathedral for the first (and, so far, only) time just a few years before, and loved it, if not as deeply as a Parisian, then the unique way only their soft little author hearts can.

So, here’s looking at you, Our Lady, with a film animated in your honor:

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

Hunchback of Notre Dame poster

The IMDb-official description:

A deformed bell-ringer must assert his independence from a vicious government minister in order to help his friend, a gypsy dancer.

From Disney; directed by Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise; starring Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Tony Jay.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

“ALAJSLKDJF, THIS OPENING NUMBER! There is no – see: NONE – other opening song number on the same level as ‘The Bells of Notre Dame’! Not in Disney, anyway. ‘Deliver Us’ from Dreamworks’ ‘The Prince of Egypt’, sure. Oh, and the ‘Wicked’ musical’s ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’. …Wait… *looks it up* OH MY BARD, Stephen Schwarz was the lyricist behind all three! Genius will out! Hats off to you, sir!”

“So, what, he’s planning to drown a baby in a public drinking well? Like that won’t affect the water quality, at all?”

“Ironic how Frollo claims to be so into God but his horse looks like the actual devil.”

Hit that note and gimme life, Clopin!”

“I dunno how it was in 1996, but I’ve gotten the gist that ‘gypsy’ is considered an offensive term, these days, so we’re gonna have to come up with something else to call the people group this movie is basically centered around. How ‘bout… the Miracle Court? Yeah, we’ll be going with that.”

“I haven’t yet thought to rank the quality of Disney’s ‘I want’ songs, but ‘Out There’ is definitely a top contender. And not just because it’s a huge release after feeling the need to tear off my own skin to get away from Frollo singing to stay in the tower. (Yeah, hi, I spent decades locked up in an immortal Renaissance Faire by an inflexible geezer and I get TRIGGERED.)”

“Question: If Quasimodo’s mom was a— pardon, was one of the Miracle Court… why is he white? Like, not just kind of white. Red-headed white. Did that poor woman die trying to save a baby she adopted when some white family who thought he was too ugly to love kicked him to the Parisian curb?? Does her heroism go even deeper than the script chose to pursue???”

“Bold animating choice to give Esmeralda smaller pupils and dem mega green irises, vs. the huge ‘n’ dewy pupils seen in the average Disney Princess and, say, Quasimodo. Big pupils hold big dreams and a measure of naïveté. Our girl Esmeralda knows too much of the world for that.”

“Can we all agree that Clopin is an actual Faerie or trickster god or some such not-quite-human entity? Because he’s barely trying to blend in, here.”

“All that talk from Frollo about how the outside world would reject Quasi’s face, but the first ones at the Feast of Fools to throw rotten fruit at him were Frollo’s own troublemaking guards. Just. Go figure.”

“Interesting how Esmeralda is the only one in Notre Dame today trying to have a selfless heart-to-heart with God. Tell me again, Frollo, why we have such a vendetta against the Miracle Court? What’s that? – because you’re just using religion as an excuse to feel powerful and superior to your fellow man? Somebody hand me the world’s heaviest Bible; I’ve got a poser to smack down.”

“Obviously, if ever I decide to force my friends to join me in staging a production of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, I’m playing Phoebus. That goes without saying. And Allyn’s too flawless to pass for Quasimodo, but that’s what makeup’s for. As for Clopin, have said it before and will say it again: Gant-o’-the-Lute, all day.”

Frollo: “Then tell me, Maria,

Why I see her dancing there,

Why her smold’ring eyes still scorch my soul…”

Will Scarlet: “Because she’s an 11.”

“So, either Frollo legitimately believes that Esmeralda is a wicked, heathen sorceress, or he knows full well she’s just a woman trying to exist in spite of prejudice and patriarchy… and regardless, he’s over here like, ‘She makes me feel things. I must own her or kill her’?!!!!?!??!? Even he knows that’s messed up! And if he really wanted to play the righteous card, now would be the time to pray hard for resistance to temptation. Or, y’know, burn down the homes of the village folk. That works just as well.”

“I have not yet had anything to say about the wacky gargoyle trio, and I still don’t.”

“And now for the Miracle Court’s theme song! In which Clopin’s Fey/trickster/what-have-you status is on fuller display than ever.”

“Frollo did us the bamboozle! The Court of Miracles is compromised! Notre Dame is on fire, but more in a wrathful Te-Kā from ‘Moana’ way, less like the incident in real-life Paris, the other week!”

“Never a more satisfying Disney Villain Death-Fall in the history of ever. Good riddance to hell’s rubbish.”

‘Three cheers for the guy at whom we threw rotten produce, the other day! He saved the pretty girl and stuck it to The Man! Our fickle crowd love is his!’ That’s how you sound, townsfolk. But whatever. Quasi’s happy, we’re happy. Play us out with that sweetly chilling and triumphant ‘Bells of Notre Dame’ reprise.”

More Coherently Summarized:

Though not a particular favorite of Danielle’s childhood – (because it’s a total adult movie masquerading as a kids’ cartoon, yo) – she would in retrospect be the first to tell you that HoND is a masterpiece among masterpieces. The music, top tier. The animation, superb. The message, ever timely. It gets dark, it goes deep, and while Danielle tends to cringe when religion gets vilified, that’s not actually what this movie does. The bad guy isn’t the church itself, it’s the kind of people who would use it to further their own selfish, loveless ends. There are Frollos in the world, alas (and canonically, Robin Hood would rob them blind with a merry ‘ha-ha’). There are also Archdeacon characters who sometimes stand up against evil, though one could argue that they should be fighting harder. And there are Phoebuses who rebel when the orders they’re given cross moral lines, and Esmeraldas who seek to show God’s love despite how little they’ve been shown. For all I know, there are even talking gargoyles. It’s a world of impossibilities, out there.

Where are the POC?

#MiracleCourt. I don’t have the first idea how to grade the movie’s representation of any kind of Romany culture. But they were there, they were integral to the story, and between the two named Miracle Court characters (Clopin and Esmeralda), we got quite the range in personality. Lord only knows what a live-action remake would look like, in this day and age. (Please tell me they’ll nix the word ‘gypsy’…) But since live-action remakes (*cough* or CGI-action remakes, “The Lion King” *cough*) are all the rage at Disney, right now, I guess we’ll find out in – *checks online* – 2021.

Bonus Photo Gallery!

Just a little throwback to the Notre Dame my author once knew in person. Rebuild as you’re able, Paris.

<<<>>>

And that’s today’s review! How about you guys? Which is your favorite Disney ‘I want’ song? (Don’t even try to tell me there’s a better opening song; I won’t stand for it.) Where were you when you heard of the recent Notre Dame fire? On a scale of 1 (super skeptical) to 10 (crazy excited), how are you feeling about a live-action HoND remake? Discuss in the comments below!

‘Til next time, babes ~

In Which an Old Tale Shall Shine Like New

Once upon a time, an author wrote of a smile in the dark.

Taking her father’s great hand in her tiny fingers, Laraspur led him to her bed and urgently bade him lay his head on her pillow. […] “Now look!” she said, pointing toward her bedroom window. “Do you see it, Papa? The scary smiling thing? What is it?”

“That?” Edgwyn aimed his gaze as directed and had to quiet a laugh. “Dear heart, that’s only the moon!”

‘Twas but the beginning of a novella-length tale of a large-hearted girl and her quest for the sky, and inspired a number of related art projects from the author – including various drawings, a pretty little song and, one day very recently, an idea for a picture book.

Princess and the Moon, fan art triptych

Mind you, as far as the picture book the author envisioned, her own illustration skills left much to be desired. Thus did she turn to an old Renaissance Faire friend whose fine drawings had paired with other of the author’s works before, inviting her to collaborate on a new masterpiece.

Sun's Rival Cover, full spread udpateAnd that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

That inspirational novella was the fifth of the Wilderhark Tales, “The Sun’s Rival”.

That friend was artist and illustrator Hannah Vale.

And the picture book in the works as we speak is to be called “The Princess and the Moon”.

This is my first-ever effort to make an honest-to-goodness, for-real-and-for-sale picture book (though Hannah has some experience in the area), and I am VERY MUCH EXCITED!

Behold, the back-cover book description:

When a young girl is startled awake by a singular light in the sky, her father spins her a tale made of sunbeams and stardust – the tale of a remarkable princess and the two opposite hearts that loved her. Adapted from “The Sun’s Rival”, Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales novellas by author Danielle E. Shipley, and illustrated by artist Hannah Vale (“The Tale of the Two Royal Sisters”), “The Princess and the Moon” is sure to charm readers young and old, both by day and by night.

Promo Sketch, w text 02

Behold also, the GoFundMe I’ve started to help cover the project’s expenses. (Because quality illustrations cost quantity cash, amigos!)

– Donors of any amount will receive a special thank-you illustration by Hannah Vale.

– Donors of $10 or more will receive one (1) copy of the finished picture book, to have and to hold, to read and to cherish.

– Donors of $30 or more will receive a copy of the book autographed by yours truly.

– Donors of $50 or more will receive book + autograph + a limited edition “The Princess and the Moon” promotional bookmark.

– Donors of $100 or more will receive book + autograph + bookmark + an “I See You” sticker from my Society6 shop (because see you, I do!).

So donate and follow along on the GoFundMe to stay updated on what your dollars are helping to bring into the world! Spread the word to all your picture-book-lovingest friends! And I, for one, shall strive not to bust from anticipation before I’m able to read “The Princess and the Moon” to my beloved baby nephew. ^o^

Excited to see the heart of “The Sun’s Rival” in an all-new format? Have any favorite childhood story book memories to share? Think any other bits from Deshipley canon would make a worthy picture book? Tell all in the comments!