In Which the Hamilfangirls Set Sail

As you may recall, I’m back in Germany. And as you may recall from further back (e.g. here and here), that means walks through field and forest with my BFF and fellow author, Tirzah Duncan. Our first walk of May was particularly delightful.

So much so, that we decided to go back with more guns. And ships.

…That is to say, with little paper boats and a boatload of shameless “Hamilton: An American Musical” references.

(Yes, I’ve totally infected Tirzah with my Hamilton obsession. No, I’m not sorry. Yes again, if you see a phrase in this post in bold, it’s because I’m singing/rapping it in my head.)

We folded and taped up two boats apiece – mine, named for Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette; Tirzah’s, for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Mind you, neither of us were experienced shipwrights, so watching our little vessels face the fearsome glory of a trickling stream proved exciting as watching the afterbirth of a nation. …more or less.

“What’s your name, boat?” “The USS Hamilton. I am United States Ship Hamilton. And there’s a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait. Just you wait…”
“What’s your name, boat?” “The USS Hamilton. I am United States Ship Hamilton. And there’s a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait. Just you wait…”

Tirzah: [watching the USS Hamilton struggle downstream] You wanna pull yourself together?

Me: [laughs, untangles boat from underwater grasses] There you go, little guy. Non-stop.

*

Me: Lafayette, you’re backwards already! Turn around, bro! Forward! Chaaarge!

Tirzah: [when the boat inexplicably waffles between going with the current and against it] Everyone attack! Retreat! Attack! Retreat!

Me: What are you doing?! Okay, there you go. …No, what are you doing? Are these the men with which I am to defend America? Wow. Maybe something about that keel messed it up after all. So much for the Lancelot of the revolutionary set.

Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fighting frigate!
Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fighting frigate!

Me: Last ride. Redeem yourself! Freedom for America, freedom for France! You’re doin’ better this time. …And that’s as far as she goes. Thanks, Lafayette. We’ll be with you when you do.

Waiting ashore, the Burr offer[s the Hamilton] some free advice.
Waiting ashore, the Burr offer[s the Hamilton] some free advice.
As for any among you wondering which of Tirzah’s creations was the more seaworthy – Jefferson or Burr? – well… [Jefferson] won in a landslide. I guess the poor Burr boat will be barred from the [harbor] where it happens a while longer yet. ;D

Scarlet’s Swan Song

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to a very special Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment. Now…” Allyn turns to Will, eyes narrowed. “Why is today’s skit ‘a very special ’ one?”

“Because,” says Will, “today marks the 1-year anniversary of Danielle’s Wilderhark Tales debut, ‘The Swan Prince’!”

Allyn glances at the calendar. “Ah, so it is! Mercy, how recent and long ago that launch date seems. How are we marking the occasion?”

“I was thinking…” Will spreads his hands before him. “‘Swan Prince: The Musical’!”

Allyn’s expression slackens. “Wait, what?”

***Disclaimer: The following song number is the product of Will Scarlet and is in no way affiliated with Allyn-a-Dale, Gant-o’-the-Lute, or any credentialed minstrel to speak of. All character entities featured are intellectual property of Danielle E. Shipley, author of “The Swan Prince (Book One of the Wilderhark Tales)”, and are performing of their own volition.***

<<<>>>

Book Banner, Swan Prince

[The curtain rises, along with a lively overture from the orchestra, on a backdrop depicting the foliage of Wilderhark Forest. Villem Deere stands stage left, Sula stage right, a pair of prop trees between and a bit behind them. ]

Villem: My knowledge base is a showcase of information diversity.

Aced every last final at my doctor university.

Yet there’s one thing I do not, and simply must, know:

What’s with that Sula girl, yo?

[Sula wrinkles her nose, because for no reason beyond a Will Scarlet script would Villem ever say “yo”, but regardless, she sings on her cue, her gaze following Sigmund as he enters the stage and crosses to disappear behind a tree.]

Sula: Neither spring-loaded steel nor that Doctor Deere can break me.

I’ll keep the whole world at arm’s length for everybody’s safety.

But that Sigmund boy’s drawn me since my first entranced stare.

To ignore him’s more than I can bear.

[Now she rolls her eyes, because bear puns? Really? Meantime, the music swells fuller, intensifying in tone, while a swan’s shadow glides over the backdrop.]

Swan Prince Cover, E-book

Villem: Wondering…

Sula: Wandering…

Both: By moonlight.

Villem: What answers…

Sula: What freedom…

Both: Will come with the sunrise?

Obsession, distraction, and grudging attraction in Wilderhark.

When will what’s in the dark come to light?

[The lights on Villem and Sula darken, while a new spotlight shines center stage between the trees, rippling silver like moonlight on water. From his huddled position in the light’s center, Sigmund draws gracefully up to his feet, spreading vast sleeves designed to look like gray-feathered wings. The music slows and quiets to little more than a plaintive oboe.]

Sigmund: Once upon a time, my life looked sublime.

A prince among worse, ‘til a curse brought me low.

Bound now to a lake and this Sula girl’s fate,

Will my tale end in rapture or woe?

[Music builds again for the return of the chorus. Villem, Sula, and Sigmund sing in three-part harmony, as the stage’s lighting shifts moment by moment from night-dim to a glow like the dawn.]

All: Wondering, wandering, by moonlight.

What changes, what choices, will come with the sunrise?

A search for what’s hiding and lost deep inside of great Wilderhark.

When will what’s wrong be made right?

When what’s in the dark comes to liiight!

[Triumphant orchestral finish.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kim Matura,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘university finals’ and ‘sublime’. Thanks also to the main cast from ‘The Swan Prince’ for being such good sports about this. I’d no idea you all had such tuneful voices!”

“And the song?” Will prompts.

“…Could have been worse,” Allyn says grudgingly. “Far better, but also worse.”

“Thank you very much. If you enjoyed yourselves, dear audience,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! And if you haven’t yet, consider celebrating the original Wilderhark Tale’s first full year out in the world by purchasing a copy today – through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace…whatever floats your boat – or recommending it to a friend. Until next week: Will and Allyn out!”

“Tailor”

Okay, you were promised-slash-warned that this guy would keep coming up (and he had to know that I couldn’t go long without dedicating a piece to him), so nobody should be surprised right now.

            One of my earliest memories with this word is from Tevye’s dream sequence in the musical film “Fiddler on the Roof”. (Haven’t seen this? You’re missing out. I get no kicks whatsoever from the depressing plight of mistreated Russian Jews, and I still highly recommend this musical, at least Part One. It’s like the law of musicals or something, have you noticed? – everything goes downhill after Intermission.) I’ll resist the temptation to go off on a tangent about all the fun lyrics throughout the show and hone in on the relevant bit where Tevye sings, “You must have heard wrong, Grandma – there’s no tailor.

            Thanks to “FotR”, I knew that a tailor was someone who sews clothes. As far as Childhood Me was concerned, that and the funny line in the song was all I needed to know on the subject. But a couple years ago, my perception of this word underwent some major overwriting, and that is thanks entirely to Edgwyn Wyle.

            As it happens, my “Wilderhark Tales” series was not originally intended to be a series at all. It started out as a single book – just one little fairytale, meant to stand alone. Then, a little while after its completion, I decided to write a sequel. That’s where Edgwyn came in, and that’s why there was a third book hot on Book Two’s heels: I wanted more of the tailor, and I wanted more of him yesterday.

            How come I love him so much? That’s a question I’d be glad to discuss for hours on end – (gushing about favorite characters: It’s like the Great Authorial Pastime) – and one which breeds some important follow-up questions for me to keep in mind: “How to keep it brief?”, “how to steer clear of all kinds of spoilers?” and “how to avoid embarrassing him too much?” Well, I’ll just stick to the basics. (And if/when that embarrasses him, tough. I’ve told him he’s too bloody modest.)

            Firstly, I love him because he is kind – “kind” in every sense of the adjective; warm-hearted, charitable, forbearing, the whole shebang. You’re not gonna find a nicer guy than him; a tie, maybe, but he’ll never be out-niced! Niceness by itself, however, can be frightfully dull. No one wants to put up with some saint sans personality. Happily, Edgwyn has personality going for him, too. He’s a goofball and a tease, with a recurrent laugh somewhat reminiscent of a villain’s in its rascally abandon. (Not quite “Muah-ha-ha-ha!”, but well on its way, sometimes.)

            Then there are the glimpses of intuitive emotional wisdom. (My friends and I call him The Heart-Smart One.) And his adorably sweet reactions to… well, most things. His sincerity, his selflessness, his strength… And I happen to think he’s pretty darn handsome, too (three words: Big and green-eyed), but that’s subjective and partially beside the point.

            All that, and he’s a brilliant tailor! So yeah, Edg, that’s why you just need to resign yourself to being talked about. A lot. …Especially once your series gets published, and everybody else loves you, too, muah-ha-ha-ha.

            In the mean-Wyle, I’ve had my gush, and now I’m all ears: Any other writers out there just itching to introduce me to the character they love above all others? Comment away! Edgwyn and I would be pleased to meet them!