Another blog post from the abandoned draft vault! I believe I started this one, got distracted, and then some reviews came out that would make this seem like a possible response to those reviewers, so I shelved it. At this point in time, meh, this isn’t about the reviewers. It’s just what it was originally–my research and my writing choices explained. 🙂
Let’s talk about memory and amnesia and how it works. Actually, let’s discuss first misconceptions about amnesia.
1) Unlike what we see on television, many amnesiacs do not get their memories back.
2) Studies show that being told of their past, having memories recounted for them does absolutely nothing to help the amnesiac remember.
The only benefit of telling an amnesiac about their past is to help them navigate a world that hasn’t forgotten what they did and who they were before. It doesn’t really give them a place in time or a way to understand their life going forward. It only provides them with a narrative that allows them to understand other people’s experiences of them and just how, specifically, they came to be at their current place in life.
Most amnesiacs, being hungry for a sense of self, will be curious about their past but often find the actual facts of it to be upsetting, guilt-inducing, and confusing. For that reason, it is not unheard of for such details to be given to them on a “need to know” basis, especially as they first begin to cope with their new situation.
It was this understanding after doing extensive research that informed my choices with regards to Leith’s situation in The River Leith. Since Leith didn’t know what questions to ask and Zach, being the frightened bunny he is, didn’t want to tell him, the truth of their past together wasn’t immediately revealed. Thus it was fun to write scenes where Leith’s heart knew things his mind didn’t quite know yet. *happy sigh* To be honest, those are my favorite parts of the book.
I didn’t actually have to watch this video myself in order to write about Gatlinburg since I’ve been there many times over the course of my life. In fact, my folks used to take my brother and I up there as kids for little day trips on random weekends. I actually wrote about 50% of Smoky Mountain Dreams during a week’s stay in Gatlinburg in June of 2014 and went to Puckers and a few other places to make sure I got the descriptions right in the book. (By the way, there is a lingering shot of the Puckers sign at the end of this video.)
I wouldn’t say this is the best video of Gatlinburg. For one thing there is that unfortunate red truck blocking the view of a lot of it. I much prefer the video I posted earlier this month. I think it gives a better feel for the place. But I do think this gives one an idea of the landscape and the crowds and the way the traffic flows through there (and why Christopher is always taking shortcuts). It’s a busy little place akin to, say, Daytona Beach in the mountains in terms of quality of shopping experience and type of crowds. It might even be described as trashy. I’m okay with that. 🙂
So here you go! Complete with a Dolly Parton song! 😀
“Toward the end of A Most Personal Property, Henry and Martin have a conversation about what sorts of dirty stories they’ve read. Henry tells Martin about the excerpts James read him from Psychopathia Sexualis, and Martin relates the following:
“Oh, there was a book, Sir, that we all read in secret, though our teachers must have known we had it. I don’t know what it was called because the cover was missing—as were some of the pages, for that matter. It was very dirty, Sir! It was from England, I think, as some of the words were different than we use, and it was about a family who all had sex with one another, mothers and sons, aunts and nephews. I know that feeling you referred to, Sir, excited and sick. You don’t want to like it, but you do, in some deep way, and your prick responds just as it would to something you really want.”
There is an actual book I had in mind when Martin gives that description, and thanks to Project Gutenberg, you can read it, too.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the most hilarious videos I watched while looking for ways to show readers Gatlinburg in order to add to their experience of reading Smoky Mountain Dreams. Someone made a very lovely video of only the very choicest shopping centers in this tacky little town and put it up like it was a walk in Gatlinburg at night. Hahahaha! No, my sweet readers, this is a walk through one rather quaint shopping center. The rest of Gatlinburg is a hilarious, tacky, flapjack fueled mess. 😀 (That I happen to love very much.)
A decent YouTube video that accurately portrays the Gatlinburg experience. Bonus! It’s clearly filmed in November or December, the same months Smoky Mountain Dreams is set, so you can see what the characters experienced. I don’t know that you need to watch it second by second, but if you skip through it then you’ll see a lot.
“In summer 2013, I finally roused myself to take an interest in Nashville and the Mr. agreed to accompany me to visit Civil War sites in and around the city. It wasn’t so much that I was interested in the Civil War specifically, but I like history, and I like research, and that’s really what there is to be interested in around here besides the music industry. I was apprehensive when we started visiting battlefields and house museums, expecting to be presented with a lot of pro-Confederate opinions and romanticizing of the Southern cause, but that hasn’t been our experience at all. All of the surviving antebellum mansions were occupied by the armies for one side or the other at some point, and most served as hospitals, as well. The history everywhere is a combined Union/Confederate history, typically presented by people who are passionate about the facts and delighted to share their knowledge. So far, it’s always been a presentation of American history, of intimately human history, and not a politically-motivated interpretation, and I’ve definitely appreciated this.”
“I didn’t set out to create something problematic, yet somehow I ended up with a very long story divided into four books with teenage main characters who have lots of graphic sex in a historical setting featuring a non-historical version of slavery as a prominent fantasy element.Despite their ages, it’s definitely not a YA book.
Despite the detailed 1900 setting, it’s not entirely historical because, hello, there are slaves. Because there are slaves, it’s a fantasy, but it’s certainly not classical fantasy with magic or dragons. And despite the presence of slaves, it’s not a BDSM story. All of these things are marketing problems.Of course, none of this seemed like it would be an issue while I was writing the books.”
Darrah is really hopeful she can strike up a dialogue with other authors who have successfully navigated the marketing of something that is quite outside any prescribed box. If you’ve got information or advice, click on through!
“With Ganymede Quartet, I tried to make all the things that weren’t slavery in the 20th century as historically accurate as possible, and that included the language I used. Here are some words that would have come in handy but were not appropriate for the time period.”
“Remembering is an unstable and profoundly unreliable process–it’s easy come, easy go as we learn how true memories can be obliterated, and false ones added. And Oliver Sacks joins us to tell the story of an amnesiac whose love for his wife and music transcend his 7-second memory.”
I did a lot of research for The River Leith. The above Radiolab episode was some of the most interesting and memorable. The section on Clive Wearing was touching, amazing, and very depressing all at once. I absolutely recommend this episode for anyone curious about memory and amnesia.
Another helpful page was the ranch hand job description. (Did your dirty mind read that the wrong way, too? No? Just me? Typical.) Which allowed me to figure out what would be some realistic activities for Rob and hands.
The absolute most helpful part, though, was the blog associated with the page, Millenium Cowboy . Basically, it helped with forming really realistic ideas of what a day of ranch work looked like, felt like, and, most especially, what terms were used in discussing the cattle or the work itself, because ranching, like all specialties, has it’s own little language.