I think I used to know fairy tale retellings existed, but I’d never read any of them. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with fairy tales—at the same time, they are so stupid and illogical and yet lovely and super cool—so, I’d never really been interested in reading a retelling (I’d tried Ella Enchanted, but didn’t like it). And then I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
My goodness, wasn’t it amazing? I loved it. And that just sparked a love for retellings. Since then, I’ve read Scarlet, Heartless, Fairest (by Gail Carson Levine, not Marissa Meyer), and Barefoot on the Wind. All of them have been really good. So, yeah, I have a newfound love for retellings, and that inspired me to write a Beauty and the Beast/Phantom of the Opera retelling, and a Les Mis retelling too.
I think you already know the extent of my love for musicals, as I’ve spoken about it quite extensively on here already! I never liked musicals before, since I tended to equate them with The Lion King and Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Not that there is anything wrong with those stories. It just never appealed to me. However, Cats managed to appeal to my love of dance and my endless admiration for people who can dance better than I ever will be able to, and then it went from there. I started listening to The Phantom of the Opera, after years of forgetting its existence, and then my mum suggested I might like Les Miserables. After that, it was Newsies, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Dear Evan Hanson and Anastasia.
I’ve actually always loved dancing. I’ve been Highland dancing since I was six, and I’ve always adored it. However, last year, I had several injuries which meant I had to take the whole year off, and I wasn’t able to start back again until February this year. Taking a break rekindled my love of dancing and I’m super passionate about it again. I’m going to share a pic or two with you, because of my love of all things Tartan and Gaelic.
4. Deaf Culture and Sign Language
In March this year I started a book called Black & White. Within the first chapter I had struck my main character, Conlan, with lightning and deafened him. It occurred to me as I wrote the scene when he woke up in hospital, deaf, that I didn’t really know anything about deaf people. So I started researching! I even started learning Auslan—Australian sign language—and I found a real love and interest in it. I’ve actually changed the beginning of my book, so that instead of a melodramatic deafening, Conlan has always been deaf. Anyway, this is a hugely interesting subject which I’ve really loved researching.
Salut, ca va? (I’m now fluent in French :P)
I’m incurably obsessed with France now. Ever since listening to The Phantom of the Opera for the first time in several years, I’ve been obsessed with all things France. Les Miserables (book, musical and movie) cemented that love and since then I’ve been devouring anything that has anything to do with France—including Scarlet (Marissa Meyer), the majority of which takes place in a futuristic France. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo), The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baronness Orczy), which doesn’t entirely take place in France, but is about the aftermath of the French Revolution. And Kids Like Us (Hilary Reyl), which I only finished today. I liked Reyl’s modern view of France, rather than the dystopian France of Meyer’s book, or the ancient France of Hugo. Oh, and there’s also Anastasia the musical, which sets its second act in Paris.
I definitely have to write a novel set in Paris now.
6. Writing Female Characters
It might strike you as odd that, despite being a girl myself, I hardly ever write female characters. Sometimes, this is just because the kind of things I like writing would appeal to more boys than girls, so I automatically create a male character. Sometimes it’s because the setting calls for it (you can’t write a WW1 novel about a gunner on the frontlines, without the gunner being male). However, this year I’ve been delving into writing more female characters. I added a female lead to a novel that had been previously all male. And for my NaNo novel—Stars Fill Infinity—I had two female leads, who were sisters.
It was so nice to write a story from the point of view of two girls. I didn’t have to think about how a man might react in a situation, what he would say or how he would cope. I just wrote about girls from the perspective of being a girl myself. And I fell in love with it. So, I’ll be writing more novels from the POV of women from now on. Not that I’ll give up on my samurai stories or war stories, which I feel should be more masculine, just saying.
I’ve never disliked spiders, but this year my mum has become obsessed with spiders. And eventually, you learn to live with it, and decide that some spiders are pretty cool, and some of them are even kind of cute.
7.5 I wanted to add another point, but I’d already made the header, and I couldn’t be bothered to go back and change it. Another thing I’ve loved learning about this year is photography. My mum bought a nice camera and I’ve enjoyed taking photos with it. All the pictures you see in my posts were either taken by myself, my mother or my brother.
What new things have you tried and loved this year? Can you speak French? Do you know what the proper way to answer ‘ca va?’ is? Do you like spiders?