The Lovely R's selections:
Why? I don’t know, it's just very intense and reciprocal between them; their remorselessness, and at the same time their intimacy and Helaine's ability to deal with him. Edward is showing her why everyone fears him, and she loves him for it, which is mad but true.
Opening scene with William ‘at this moment I would have to say no’.
Because it’s sexy. He’s lying in a bunch of girls and he’s a dirty boy. Guys hate guys like him. Ha ha ha. The bastard.
Japanese garden losing knickers scene.
Sexy. Also- finally. We all feel the relief.
Running from the alujha.
Terrifying, and I also like the fatalistic moment when S imagines herself dead and dissolved by the forest- that is very evocative. But then the pure adrenaline of being cornered and just fleeing. You’re running too. These werewolves are genuinely frightening to me, saurian and grotesque and unknowable.
When Josephine tries to acquire Lilian in the hotel.
The otherness of the sensory elements, the drifting disconnected perception and atmospheric charge are really good. You feel as though you’re suddenly in treacle. When Lilian experiences the pain of attempting to break through the fugue plane, you feel it.
Rana talking about going into the sea and the bit preceding it in Iran when Edward forces her do it.
I may have said this before, but some of my favourite pieces have been the ones I’ve spat out with very little revision, and these two scenes really do it for me in that respect. The historic connections, Kala'amātya's igneous hatred, Rana’s overdue ruin, the fatal beach; I love them all. And then Rana droning madly about going under into the darkness of the abyss. Is it satisfying as a writer to kick the shit out a character you can’t stand the sight of? Fuck yes.
Helaine's possession scene.
Another almost automatic-writing incident that I wrote out in about half and hour, tweaked maybe three words and there it was. I wanted to stomp all over the fey, coy, porny-yet-neutered aspects that plague so many accounts of witchcraft and its fundamental references to feminine power. Helaine is dragged by this monstrous thing she can barely contain, but her ambition, equally monstrous, and obsessive need for powerful knowledge is always paramount, and something female characters seem rarely credited with. Helaine features heavily in the second book as more of Kala'amātya's dealings with both her and Lilian are detailed. To me there is something both awesome and horrific about her.
Susan and William meet for the first time.
I find it difficult to initially engage two characters who will be so significant to each other; it’s like arc welding or making custard in that if you don’t get it right the first time, it won’t ever stick. But I am happy with this fateful meeting. It always makes me smile.
Their love scene under the votive tree.
W is such a slut and he makes it easy for me but sex scenes were fraught initially. People are always going to assume you cull shit from your own experience and that can be inhibiting, but then you just get over it and write sex as it comes to you, just like everything else. It's hard to know which character's perspective should take precedence sometimes and that can make or break a passage, but if in doubt, I go for the female gaze simply because it is so underrepresented. I often find my own sex scenes sexy, further proof, if it were needed, that writers are implacable arseholes.
Susan’s delicious dinner with Gideon.
(R agrees that this is awesome. It always makes us hungry.) I love Gideon's uncomfortable blend of nasty rawness and civility. I also love pondering the superhuman amount of self control it must take to deal honourably with the girl who’s fucking the ex you’re still hard for. And I love his description of the death of the collective human conscience. Like most good things, it came to me comprehensively after I had been thinking about ancient art, which coalesced these granular little notions about the deal with nature we’ve tried so hard to void. It was a late addition to the scene and that might be slightly obvious once you know, but it is one of the most important things I wanted to articulate.
Kala'amātya in feudal Japan.
The loneliness of difference. How it feels when none of your shapes coincide with those of the people around you, no matter what. The low point to which William refers at the end of this scene, leading his brother to fall so hard for Helaine. William: “You know, when you finally strike some sort of empathy and you get sucked into one another's hideous shit and things just spiral horribly downward in an endless smoking tailspin...?” Susan: “Not really, no.”
Their relationship is dealt with in the next book. But imma sneak another favourite bit in here- Kala'amātya's return to Helaine's house after his first mercenary foray since their entanglement. Gross and tender, just like the real thing.
Enjoy the book, enjoy your week. Transmission resumes monday.