Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Tidings

There are two days every year (well four if you count Boxing Day and New Year's Day) which count in my family as family days.
Chatting to one of my friends last night, who's recently got engaged, I considered the partner conundrum. Obviously you spend time with your respective families when the relationship starts out, but how do you split your time when you're a little more long term, or even married?
More pressing, however, how do you introduce a partner to the entire clan when you know that they're going to be swallowed up in a wave of Italian and Irish exclamations?!
Either way, I love family time - even if they drive me bonkers the rest of the time.
Happy Easter!!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Poetry Corner

I don't usually post any poetry, but I quite like this one. It was inspired after reading a novel where the heroine learns to love again after her first love. (The book's called Deeper, by Megan Hart, for those who are interested.)

It's been many years since I gave a
about someone other than
It surprised me;
the beating of my
The last thing I
expected was to feel
blood in my veins -
not bile.
I close my eyes
and the darkness dances.
No stifling.
And it's been
far too long since I was

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sleepy ramblings

I write this tucked up in bed, bundled up in a million layers.

This evening's blog was supposed to be a daring exposé of the horrific exclamationitis epidemic, but I'm just too tired. I'm too tired to even watch last night's Masterchef. (By the way, Masterchef finale party? Yes, I'm looking at you. :-P)

So yes. Just too tired. Instead, some thoughts:
- I would eat a whole bowl of brussel sprouts if it meant I got to meet the lovechild of Mr Knightley and Cathy Earnshaw.
- Persuasion is severely underrated.
- A true friend'll let you try out your recipes on them like some kind of food-tasting guinea pig.
- Big bosomed doesn't mean boring bras.
- Good literature reveals more to us about ourselves, than it ever can about its own historical context.
- Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Why I read erotica

Erotica is any artistic work that deals substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing subject matter. All forms of art may depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, film, music or literature. Erotica has high-art aspirations, differentiating it from commercial pornography.  (Wikipedia Entry for Erotica)
The first time I came across erotica (or at least something that wasn't badly written fanfiction smut) I think I must have been about 15.  I'd been looking up book lists of 'books you should read before you die' and came across Anaïs Nin's name.  The experience was all a little bemusing - I found myself intrigued by the situations laid bare, but was never really prompted to go in for what is so often referred to as 'one-handed reading'.

These days, when people mention that they saw someone reading Fifty Shades on the train, there's always that slight undertone of scandal, as if the person in question were about to openly pleasure themselves on the 08:12 from Clapham Junction.

They hardly look as if they're about to explode...
And I admit to being slightly bemused by this point of view.  I've read erotica on the train.  In fact, I used to read it on the train to work every day (back in January when I'd first discovered Tiffany Reisz's marvellous Original Sinners series).  At no point did I feel that compulsion.  Yes, I might have been a little on edge when I got to the sex scenes and someone was standing beside me - thank God for the electronic ink on my kindle - but I was reading them because the characters were well-drawn out and had depth.  Reisz's sex scenes can be a little extreme and to be honest, sometimes I'm more interested in what's happening next than how they're going to do each other.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not trying to make out that erotica is something other than what it is - I've had my fair share of more intense reading sessions - but really good erotica grabs us because of the writing.  It appeals to our basest fantasies, whilst utilising all the different aspects of literary realism and there is no other type of writing that encourages us to empathise with its characters quite as strongly.

I have no qualms about what I read, and nor am I ashamed of it.  Perhaps try some for yourself first...  ;)

Monday, 25 March 2013

The result of spontaneity...

Apologies, dear reader, if today’s post seems a little more discombobulated than usual, but I – in a fit of spontaneity – asked Facebook for words to include. The ones I got back, though golden in their lucidity, were pretty voluminous.

Today was the first day of my new job. I was pretty excited to start actually, despite the fact that I’d previously thought that the best thing in the world would be to never have to work again. This is not true. I like working, and though I would love to work on my novel and blog all day, it’s simply not feasible when living at home as you end up being given a list of housework an odd jobs to do that take all day to complete. Short of ingratiating myself in my mother’s good graces with chocolate and tickets to Il Divo, there’s nothing for it but to work.

Having just left a school so that I could focus on my writing, it seemed bizarre to be returning to another – albeit in a different role. Now, I’d be lying if it were the mellifluous sound of students arguing, giving tit for tat, in the playground that made me smile; but smile I did.

My new colleagues are utterly lovely, the kids are not pernicious in the slightest and I was flabbergasted to note that I wasn’t actually strung out with exhaustion by the end of the day! My lunch break was filled with soup and cheese (and when I say cheese, I mean a Mills & Boon novel), and I returned home to my mum’s variation of Chicken Stroganoff, which was delicious despite the lack of saffron.

 And on returning to the voluptuous bosoms of my novel this evening, I’ve decided that all in all, this has been a most satisfactory day.

Oh yes.

Jo and Bruce? Historicisation and crevice are words that even I struggle to shoehorn into a post. Sorry!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

"Oh no no no! I 'ave been burnt by you before!"

For the last couple of weeks, I've been stuck on the development of the main female character in my novel.  Why is it that she seems so stuck?  How can I get her to develop?  Why is it that she seems to be distrusting her instincts and emotions?

Today, however, I had a breakthrough!

All of Sara's issues arise from the fact that her previous relationship didn't work, that she was betrayed in it.  That's why even though I've really romantic and sweet things planned for later on, I couldn't quite work out how she'd react to them.  Her experience of past relationships is having an adverse affect on her current one.  She's going to need reassurance from Jack as their relationship progresses - sex is key, but it's not everything.

I think every girl needs reassurance sometimes and as strong and manly as we like our man, it's so important to be able to communicate and talk about our feelings with each other.

So relieved to finally have got rid of that block!  :D

Friday, 22 March 2013

How Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' is a Rewriting of 'Romeo and Juliet' - a perfect example of transplantational appropriation

When it comes to academia, my specialism lies within adaptation and appropriation theory - I like looking at how people take plays, novels and poetry and integrate them into popular culture mediums.
The first thing you need to know is that transtextuality is a fancy word for the links between different texts.  Gerard Genette argues that a text is linked to every other text the author has read, whether the influence of that text is obvious or not.  There are five main subsections of transtextuality:

  • intertextuality (quoting from another text, or making direct reference to it)
  • the paratext (that which literally binds the text - ie. the cover, chapters etc)
  • metatextuality (where references to other texts are there to critique or comment on them)
  • architextuality (a layer of reference that is implied by the reader)
  • hypertextuality (any relationship uniting text B to an earlier text A)

Hypertextuality lends itself most easily to theories of rewriting.  Transplantational rewritings, however, are significantly similar to the metatextual subsection of transtextuality, differing in one main way.  Whereas metatextuality provides a commentary or a criticism of the original text, transplantation merely uses its legacy and position within the popular culture of its setting to support an argument or develop the narrative.  Romeo and Juliet’s legacy lies in the longevity of the two lovers; Romeo and Juliet are the ultimate couple, despite their deaths, and references to their love are part of our everyday vernacular.[1]  As a result, transplantational appropriations of the lovers and their story reoccur within popular culture through such a large variety of artistic media.

            Taylor Swift’s 2008 hit single ‘Love Story’ is one such appropriation.  The song compares the singer and her lover to Romeo and Juliet, both by referring to the lovers by name and by making references to the balcony scene and the Capulet ball:
I close my eyes and the flashback starts,
I'm standing there, on a balcony in summer air.
See the lights, see the party, the ball gowns,
See you make your way through the crowd
And say hello.[2]

However, Swift is obviously not appropriating the plot of the hypotext, as her lovers are reunited at the end of the song with a marriage proposal and a happy ending.  Jim Malec argues that her referencing tells us less about Shakespeare’s play and is instead used to develop Swift’s own narrative:
Swift utilizes metaphor and symbolism–coupled with our common knowledge of the play–to dramatize the narrator’s own ‘love story.’ That the lyric ultimately resolves into a made-for-Disney cliché doesn’t undermine the fact that, to the narrator, the complications and difficulties surrounding her affair are just as grave as Juliet’s … This is the foundation of Swift’s lyric–that any ‘love story’ is rife with complications, peaks and valleys, extreme joy and unbearable heartache. And by comparing the song’s characters to Shakespeare’s, she’s simply alluding to the idea that all love stories are fundamentally the same, regardless of their origin or outcome.[3]

[1] With a ‘Romeo’ referring to a womaniser and ‘star-crossed’ referring to a forbidden love.
[2] Taylor Swift, ‘Love Story’, Fearless (Big Machine Records, 2008).
[3] Jim Malec, ‘Taylor Swift – Love Story’, 16/09/08 (

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Halcyon Thursday: Shakespeare Special

It seems only right that I should write a Shakespeare related blogpost once in a while.  Those who have had the misfortune of bumping into me post-Kiernan Ryan Shakespeare seminar will know that I would go on and on about whatever lightbulb moment I had had.  The thing I love about Shakespeare, and that I always endeavoured to put across whenever teaching Shakespeare, is that the plays reveal more to us about ourselves and the world around us than they do about anything else.

For example:  when watching A Midsummer Night's Dream we fixate on the fact that Titania has fallen in love with a guy who has an ass's head, when what we should actually be focusing on is the fact that we are watching a queen getting it on with a weaver - a mere craftsman.  Biting social satire from the very best.

However my particular specialism lies within Shakespeare's afterlives - what it is that we do with his plays now: in film, on tv, in songs, online, within social media...the lot.

Now, what does this have to do with Chick Lit?

I could give you a vast list of any number of romantic novels that use plotpoints from Shakespeare (Leonie Osborne's Romancing the Bard website has extensive analysis - particularly of Georgette Heyer, Regency and Harlequin romances) but that'd defeat the object of this blog.

I want you to think of anything that makes reference to Shakespeare - whether that's Such Tweet Sorrow or Gnomeo and Juliet and let me know.  Because we all reference him everyday - Romeo and Juliet or no.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Did DreamPhone (or the lack thereof) change my love life?

Unlike the gap between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (commonly referred to as the Three Year Summer) my brief hiatus has not been anyway near as fruitful.  I have spent the last couple of days doing so much housework that I truly believe I could set up my own business and still have more free time for myself.  I cannot wait to start my new job and have more time for writing - as topsy-turvey as that sounds!

What else?  I've been struck more and more by how our romantic dreams as children effect the way we think as adults.

On St Patrick's Day I attended a gathering wherein we played DreamPhone, which I'd never seen before.  It is - for the unsuspecting among you - essentially Cluedo, but instead of finding a murderer you discover who has a crush on you.  (I have it on good authority *cough*Emily*cough* that Richard was the hunk most girls swooned over).

I never played this as a child however.  I wasn't allowed to read Sweet Valley High or The Babysitters' Club, and may or may not have started sneaking home trashy romance novels from the age of 11.  Now I'm not accusing my parents of depriving me of romance - I'd read all of Austen's novels by the time I'd left primary school - but it was all very age appropriate.

Now, I have my own theory about the effect of this on me.  Part of me thinks that if I'd got it all out of my system by the time I hit 16 I'd be writing a very different novel, but I love what I write.  I am a hopeless romantic, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I believe in instant connections and passion, and that a lover can be a confidante.  I want rom com moments, and curled up in front of the tv moments.

But most of all, I want to look back on my childish hopes and dreams and smile.  Because it's so important to encourage children to want love as they grow up - it's because of that, because of the love I was lucky enough to see around me, that made me know what I want for my own life.

Friday, 15 March 2013

New Job...

It's official; I have a new job!  I start in a week's time, and I'm going to be working as a school receptionist up in Chelsea.

Bizarely, however, I feel a mixture of elation and resignation about this.  I mean, I'm delighted that I have a job - I hate not having money and/or anything to do - but there was a sinking feeling when I realised quite how much this is going to cut into my writing time.

I get school holidays and evenings off, but I also know that I'm going to have to get part-time jobs during in breaks, to make sure that I can make ends meet.  And all this time, I've important things to consider, like the impact of this on my blog, on my novel and when I'm going to get to see the boyfriend (very unhelpfully he has his days off during the week.  :P).

But then I remember:  I have a job!  Plus, I'm moving in with a very dear friend of mine tomorrow; I have a great group of friends and family; a boyfriend who's beyond lovely; what essentially amounts to a copyright library of my own; and I can't seem to stop smiling.

So I'm doing okay really.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Halcyon Thursdays Guest Blog: Hard Cash Trilogy by Kate Cann

Thanks to @JoeCurtis87 for writing the first guest blog here at Exploits of a Chick Lit Aficionado.  As teenagers he lent me the entire series that he's reviewing here today, and I still adore them!
You could tell what I found important as a teenager by its place in a growing mountain of possessions that spilled from my bed to my floor. At the bottom would be my going out clothes, forever waiting for that promised land, the washing machine, only to be inevitably worn on the next fairly genteel social occasion. Above them, appropriately slim and squashed, as if they’d been compressed by the weight from above like igneous rock, were my skateboard magazines. On top of all of them were my books.

The titles in the pile changed but a lot of the authors did not. Terry Pratchett, Mervyn Peake, Brian Jacques, Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Pullman; all these names were sorry regulars in my pit of a pubescent's bedroom.

There were a few books which never changed. Some great works, actually, but the ones which really struck a chord with me as a 16-year-old was the Hard Cash trilogy by Kate Cann.

With titles like the second in the series, ‘Shacked Up: slang living together, whether you like it or not’, they perfectly encapsulated the teenage experience I thought I should  be having, while really being a bit scared of all those people out there.

The series follows Rich, an ironically-named hard up 17-year-old artist, as he chases the fittest girl at college, Portia, aka The Porsche, all the while oblivious of Bonny, the dull girl who pines after Rich as she also deals with her frightening mother.

Surprise, surprise (and if you haven’t guessed, please hang your head in shame here) Bonny isn’t dull and is actually the perfect match for good ole Nick, while Portia is unquestionably not.

However, rereading them for what must be the tenth time confirmed it: the books have lost none of their magic. The characters don’t feel younger even though I’m now eight years older than them, and I stepped back into their world as easily as if they’d left the door on the latch for me.

Cann is a smarter writer than her plotlines suggest, and the characters are so well drawn that you feel as if you’re sharing their lives with them. Even when you close the book, you’re gently surprised not to see them standing next to you.

There’s also numerous hilarious lines, a bunch of brilliant side characters and even a slightly mad series conclusion set in a cult.

I read some of Cann’s other books after the series, and was a bit disappointed. They had some good ideas and characters, but it felt much more like chick-lit (sorry Ali) and I didn’t really go for them hook, line and sinker like I did Hard Cash.

If you haven’t read this excellent series then please do, go and devour it as soon as you can (I see it’s now been remarketed with girly covers, grrr, under the catchy titles Moving Out, Moving In and Moving On – but don’t let the covers put you off if you’re not a fan: the originals can still be found online). You’ll have a blast, and even I, a bookish teenager who graduated into a bookish adult, can nod confidently and say ‘Yeah’, when someone talks about the crazy parties of their youth. I didn’t go to them, but Nick and Bonny and Portia did. It was really fun.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

In the words of ole Blue Eyes: It's one of the greatest love songs ever written, and it never even says I love you.

Something in the way she moves,
Attracts me like no other lover.
Something in the way she woos me.
I don't want to leave her now,
You know I believe and how.

Somewhere in her smile she knows,
That I don't need no other lover.
Something in her style that shows me.
I don't want to leave her now,
You know I believe and how.

You're asking me will my love grow,
I don't know, I don't know.
Stick around, and it may show,
But I don't know, I don't know.

Something in the way she knows,
And all I have to do is think of her.
Something in the things she shows me.
I don't want to leave her now.
You know I believe and how.

There's something in the lyrics of that song that is deeply touching.  But which of us doesn't want to be cherished in such a way?  Which of us doesn't long to feel that way about someone else?

Chick Lit is often accused of being cliched and of not being realistic, but the love that we hope for and indeed see around us seems unrealistic.  Romance, and how you feel when you meet the right person, doesn't quite make sense.  There's just... 'something'.

And I think that it's important for there to be novels that reflect that indefinable 'something'.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Is YouTube John Cusack's boombox?

There are many people who just don't get musicals.  I mean, in some ways they're incredibly unrealistic - who bursts into song at the drop of a hat when they're not in the shower / on their own in the house?!  But I like the way that music can speak when mere words aren't enough to express your true feelings.

I mean, who does really sing and dance in the rain?

These days, when you want to get your feelings across to someone, one of the easiest ways to do so is to point the person you're speaking to in the direction of a YouTube video.

Perhaps it's not quite as dramatic as holding a boombox below someone's window, but it still has a certain something.  The dramatic pause whilst you go to look up the video, the delight in your eyes when you listen to the lyrics and realise what it is that they're trying to say...all of these things seem to me to be as valid as John Cusack holding up a boombox.

Isn't he adorable?!

And perhaps the purists among you will shudder at the idea of technology permeating romance like that; but I think it's utterly lovely.  And it makes me smile.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Food and sensuality

There's something quite sensual about good food. I simply can't help myself...when I eat really good food (generally bacon sandwiches) I show my appreciation vocally.

This has been dubbed - to my genuine embarrassment - as a foodgasm.

But it does raise an interesting point for discussion. What is it about food that can be seen as erotic? And which of this work best within a literary context?

There's the standard eating food off a lover's body, but if I'm entirely honest, if you read this it just turns to porn...whereas I'm a fan of what I've dubbed the M&S style food scene.

In Marks and Spencer food adverts the emphasis is always on the food itself, the way it evokes erotic images and makes us think of other things.

I'd like to see a little more of this kind of use of food. When you're attracted to someone even the most mundane, everyday things become charged with sexual tension; and what better to do this with than delicious food?!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Scarlett Saturdays: Why the perfect heroine is a flawed heroine.

She had wanted him, in that first instant, wanted him as simply and unreasoningly as she wanted food to eat, horses to ride and a soft bed on which to lay herself.

When reading Gone With the Wind, and on becoming acquainted with the passions of Miss Scarlett O'Hara, I'm struck how impetuous she is.  She reacts instinctively to every situation around her - almost like a little child.

Those who turn round and say that heroines of romances are simpering idiots, devoid of the flaws that make them human, should read GWtW.  Scarlett is none of those things.  She is wild, and dangerously clever (for a woman) with enough flaws to evoke hatred in almost every other female character within the novel - and we love her for it.

Good characters echo ourselves, and in order to fully identify with their happy endings, we must first be able to see ourselves within them - and that means good as well as bad!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Salutations from a Birthday Girl

A brief but sweet post today, due to the fact that I am officially old, at the ripe age of 25 and therefore have many things to do today.

I feel prompted to reflect on my life at the moment.  My mum, by her 25th birthday, had been married 2 years and was pregnant with me.

When I did arrive (to the sound of Iron Maiden's Can I Play With Madness - thank you for that father), she managed to juggle being a mum, a career and making sure my entire family were okay.

As for me?  I've turned 25, started a blog and a novel, have got amazing family and friends, an incredibly promising romantic entanglement and am embarking on a new career.

I may not have

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Exclusive Interview with Leanna Renee Hieber

The delightful Leanna Renee Hieber is an acclaimed author, actress and playwright, her debut novel (The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker) winning no less than three awards, and the final book in her current series is being serialized Victorian-style.  I was lucky enough to get to ask her some questions about her inspirations, novels and her latest project.

CLA:  The Magic Most Foul saga - your Gothic Victorian romantic thrillers – has been critically acclaimed. How would you best summarize it?

LRH:  I'd like to think of the Magic Most Foul saga as atmospheric Gothic novels that pay homage to 19th century classics in a new and original way; full of action, adventure and romance but in this case an unlikely Damsel saves the classic Knight trope. These two then become a formidable team to be reckoned with. Beautiful gas-lit New York City is pitted against an ugly, demonic darkness. There is beautiful magic in the world; the magic of faith, love and trust. But what our heroine and hero battle is the coldest, cruelest kind of unnatural magic, powers that take advantage of victims in the worst, most foul of ways. The Magic Most Foul saga is a world of beauty and nightmare, camaraderie and struggle, shadow and uncertainty, stoicism and temptation, and ultimately battle and triumph.

CLA:  In the first of your current trilogy - Darker Still – your main character inverts the ‘damsel in distress’ concept by setting out to rescue her very own British Lord. Did you purposefully intend to invert this, and why?

LRH:  Absolutely. This was my chief mission. I love the classics, particularly The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is mirrored in Darker Still by an eerie, changing, haunted painting. But in a lot of those tales, especially Dorian Gray, the women do not have much agency. They are defined by being victims. I couldn't let Natalie be that same trope, as much as I love the traditional Gothic. Yes, she is put into harrowing situations, but she is more complex and fully realized than many 19th century heroines who were products of their time. 

One of the reasons that I have paranormal things happen to normal people is that it forces them out of the range of what they thought was possible. By giving Natalie these supernatural angles, she interacts with her limited world differently. The paranormal aspects give her a voice, literally and figuratively, she didn't have solely within the constraints of 1880 New York. 

Now I want to make sure the paranormal is never a crutch, so I still force my characters to make what peace they can with the world they're in rather than merely providing an easy out against the very real difficulties of the time period and its treatment of women. Men's roles too were just as codified and restrictive. I've gotten some criticism for the fact that in the first book Jonathon is rendered nearly entirely helpless by his circumstances. But that's the position of many women in many classic novels and I wanted to take the risk of entirely inverting that gender role. I don't keep him helpless because that doesn't make for an interesting character no matter what gender a character is or identifies as being, I wouldn't want a dynamic of utter dependency to develop no matter how the tropes were inverted.

CLA:  One of the gripping components of the saga is the romance between Natalie Stewart and Lord Denbury; what do you think makes the perfect romance?

LRH:  Thank you! The answer, I believe, is simple: mutual respect and teamwork. I cannot handle- in any genre- when the male is some vaguely abusive, entirely rude/aloof yet stalker-ish character and the female is a blank slate bending to solely to his emo whims. I cannot abide those damaging, two-dimensional kinds of characters. Vibrant characters who make a fantastic team, a perfect team, a team that could not be better in any other combination, that's magic. That's love. That's romance; amazing, unique, fascinating people who bring out the very best in each other, not the worst.

CLA:  It’s clear that you’ve been inspired a number of classics (The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Count of Monte Cristo being just two), and with a background in Victorian literature it seems like you’re emulating Dickens and Wilkie Collins in your move into serialization. What was it that made you decide to serialize the final novel in the Magic Most Foul saga?

LRH: It's true, I make no effort to hide my homage. I want to be a "gateway drug to 19th century classics" because I think they're beautiful, rich, wonderful and lush, brilliant and timeless. The 19th century Gothics and paranormal/fantastical stories and novels were my earliest loves. I fell in love with Poe as a teen and he defined my world, my art, my sense of what I love about the Gothic: the strangely beautiful. (Hence the title of my first series, the Strangely Beautiful saga - which will reissue in 2014). I've always wanted to serialize as its something all my idols did in various magazines, Dickens' "Household Words" among them and considering my next full length novel, THE ETERNA FILES (2014 Tor / Macmillan) isn't scheduled until 2014, this is such a great way to extend my presence in newly released fiction until then. Especially considering I've crossover characters from all my series that will appear in ETERNA, so readers will get a chance to meet a few of them along the way. Everything I write, whether its Adult or Young Adult is PG-13 in content and my full-length series books are all Gaslamp Fantasy in genre, so the dovetailing of these parallel worlds works very well and readers seem to like the familiar faces.

CLA:  What made you choose to publish the serializations of The Double Life of Incorporate Things online? Was the idea ‘steampunk-y’ in its origin?

LRH:  It's the easiest way to do it. I have hired an editorial and production staff, but blogging the segments is a lot easier than serializing directly into print. Blogging still mirrors the setup of the serializations of old, followers will subscribe to the blog just as one might have subscribed to a paper, we're just using what technology and platforms are easily available to any author. The fact that it is indeed kind of Steampunk-y is an awesome benefit.

CLA:  Described on your website as ‘channeling Narcissa Malfoy’, what makes you identify with the haughty mother of Potter’s arch-nemesis?

LRH:  Oh, get ready for a long-winded spiel. :) Harry Potter has been a huge part of my inspiration and social life for years. Reading the books, I knew instantly that Slytherin House, of which I am a proud member, got a bad rap and its members would realistically be far more complex than the series ever made them out to be. Ambitious, intelligent, resourceful and looking out for your own is not some one-way path to evil. The House deserved to be far more nuanced and comprehensive. I am fascinated by the line between light and dark, and the reality of life's greyscale. This dynamic factors constantly in my work, but I know the boundaries, as does any sane Slytherin.

I am a Goth girl, always dressed in Neo-Victorian black clothes, so my style just naturally suits an elegant Malfoy. I don't go after recreating the film costumes as I'd have costumed her differently, I just channel her. ("Ah, you're book Narcissa, I've heard at events). I find her utterly compelling; a woman who bravely stares down one of the most powerful forces of all time and does what it takes, risking everything for her love and her family. In the end her vanity and fine Manor do not mean anything without her family. Her haughty airs are a carefully preened and artful defense, and much is hidden within them.

It's the unexpected heroines who save the world by small moments of staggering bravery that are my favourite characters in all of literature. Narcissa is that kind of character and I knew from the start there was more to her than met the eye. I love playing her in RP and at conventions and events. I left my background in professional theatre to pursue my writing and so "channeling" Narcissa scratches the old theatre itch. This is facilitated by two of my dearest friends who can similarly channel an incredible Lucius and Snape, respectively. The LePages have been active in HP fandom for years and we've truly become family. Their partnership allows me to channel Lady Malfoy in a way that perfectly suits my style. I'm coordinating the literary track at the upcoming Misti-Con Harry Potter convention ( ) and I'll also be playing a principle role as Deputy Kellion in the upcoming wizarding web-series Auror's Tale : and you can see some of our cosplay antics and my in-character ramblings on my Tumblr: - So as you see, I am unashamed to let my green and silver geek flag fly very, very high.

CLA:  Has the current boom in well-written fantasy and supernatural novels for young adults impacted on your writing, and if so, how?

LRH:  I'm just glad there's a big genre and a big readership out there. I must confess I don't read as much as I'd like to due to research texts and the stringent deadlines of my many jobs and projects. But any widening genre that creates lifelong readers helps all authors as a whole.

CLA:  You’ve been quoted as saying ‘big words are sexy’ – what is your favourite big word?

LRH:  I say that specifically to teens so they won't try to dumb down a delectable, engaging vocabulary just to placate the bullying sorts of kids who think intelligence isn't "cool". That perception comes merely out of insecurity. To be well-spoken is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. 

I can't pick one favourite big word, that's not fair. So a few favourites are: elucidate, luminosity, eviscerate, incorporeal and transubstantiation.

CLA:  Anything else that you’d like to add?

I'm very excited that my story "Charged" is included in QUEEN VICTORIA'S BOOK OF SPELLS: Tales of Gaslamp Fantasy, (3/19/13 from Tor/Macmillan), so I hope you'll all check out that amazing anthology and then come join me every Tuesday at for the next installment of THE DOUBLE LIFE OF INCORPORATE THINGS, which will tide us over weekly until THE ETERNA FILES, in 2014 and also the re-issuing of the Strangely Beautiful saga. There are crossover characters from all my series into The Eterna Files, and I'm having an amazing time, so come meet some of them along the way. I tweet often at and FB at and I hope you and your audience has a blessed and beautiful day! I thank all of you for your time and interest in my work. 

And on a personal note, I'd advise you all to head over to Leanna's blog asap and get stuck in.  A lovely individual with a delicious writing style, you should definitely check her work out.  The rest of the Magic Most Foul saga can be found at Amazon or in eBook format.