Friday, December 19, 2008


Allow me to say this before beginning . . .


Aphelion Webzine published a short doll story that I sent them, "Niloufar's Friends," about a father who tries to keep his daughter innocent. It's up now, with a one sentence description.

In general, that story shows how much tamer I've become because I've been thinking about life and death in literature. It's like marriage and love; if you use it too much, then you devalue it. And if Niloufar had killed her treacherous friend, she would have had to climb up from a deeper pit of morality. (Ironically, I then read a Joanne Harris book over the summer where Anouk Rocher gave ringworm to three bullies; I swear I did not copy it!)

It's somewhat autobiographical, because I did have an EasyBake oven before I tried to use it to make clay pots and a friend did tell me the exact same words about feeling sorry for me. (That was last spring, actually.) I was upset the whole day after that.

The idea came from an AlienSkin magazine contest about evil dolls and toys. I wrote another story with evil toys, but I knew it would be too long to meet the typical word count. "Niloufar" was cut because the dolls in it actually weren't evil, just misguided.

I'm surprised they labeled it as fantasy, and not dark fantasy, because it is dark; horror may have been too extreme. It is also probably inaccurate regarding Iranians, as I based the culture in that book from the lovely stories Reading Lolita in Tehran and Persepolis. In other words, a lot of Persians are going to send angry emails.

I'll deal with it though. The whole point of me writing about people that are not Indian, white or American is to diversify myself and become a better author.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Missing the point

Normally I only post about myself, but I really want to criticize the movie Chocolat, primarily because I love the book so much.
For the record, I started writing A La Mode BEFORE I read Chocolat by Joanne Harris, and I've tried my best not to let the novel influence the comic strip. I checked out the movie from the library a few months ago and I have to say this- it SUCKED.
Not because of Johnny Depp, mind you, although he becomes a Mary Stu in the film- in general the screenwriter, producers and directors were too afraid. They weren't willing to tackle genuine racism, evil priests, or death, which the book dealt with.
In one stupid feat they made Father Reynaud into the mayor Comte de Reynaud, who likes to maintain a conservative order within his town. Alfred Molina does a good job, but still, the new priest is meh and not really a character in the movie.
The second thing that the movie did was make the conflict between Vianne and Reynaud open rather than subtle. Reynaud always remains civil to Vianne, never announcing his intention to shut her down or to ruin her festival. Vianne just tries to be herself, even if it means shaking up Reynaud's pseudo-perfect world. Vianne's acceptance of the gypsies seems to be open defiance of Reynaud rather than her own personal feelings, having been a traveler herself. Reynaud in response to this defiance cracks down on the gypsies. In the book Reynaud genuinely fears the gypsies (having had a racist priest as a mentor and having set fire to a gypsy boat when he was fifteen) and short of violence uproots many of them from the town's river banks.
The directors then decide to simplify Josephine's growth and development. The movie here seems to get off on the right foot, with Josephine stealing some pralines from Vianne's shop and then returning to pay for it. However, they then mess it up by having Josephine leave her husband early. In the book, the gypsies arrive before Josephine decides to leave her abusive husband Paul-Marie, and she wanted to serve them. Paul-Marie has hit her many times before and only when he sets fire to one of their boats does she decide to leave. Even then, she isn't that strong. Her inner strength accumulates over time as Vianne supports her. In the movie, she suddenly receives all of this inner power.
The fourth thing the movie does (and for the worse) is not deal with Armande's decision to die. Death was a huge theme in the book, especially since Vianne's mother dealt with death as well and a man named Guillame loses his dog to cancer. All of this (with the exception of a small reference to Armande's diabetes and her death) goes out the window. The mere fact that Vianne and her daughter Anouk attend Armande's funeral (in the book Armande leaves a note telling them not to) infuriates me because it shows that some producers are afraid to be accused of promoting suicide. They also take out the whole thing of Armande having ESP, being able to see Pantoufle (Anouk's imaginary friend, a rabbit in the book and a kangaroo in the movie), and knowing Reynaud's dark secret of setting fire to the gypsy's boat as a teenager.
The fifth thing that the movie does (although it's not as bad as the lack of discussion about death) is make Vianne's sojourns sound very important, and then allow her to toss them out the window in one mere scene. Vianne struggles a lot with deciding whether or not to move, and she eventually does, as shown in The Lollipop Shoes.
If the movie had kept the theme of death, then maybe I would be more lenient, but they took a lush book on mature themes and turned it into a Hollywood production.

It's a few days

The Graveyard Book is almost out! Go, Neil!
Sometimes I get really jealous of my favorite authors. I got not one, but TWO rejections this past month, one for the story "Outside My Window" and for the novella "Cutting the Cord".
"Cutting the Cord" (which is undergoing a title change and was submitted as "Her Demands") was supposed to be rejected. I'm going to submit to the intended magazine, Renard's Menagerie, as soon as I revise it one more time.
"Outside my Window" infuriated me more because when I submitted it, the editors of New Moon Magazine said, "What a chilling story!" And that was two years ago. Now, granted, the story doesn't have a moral like the other New Moon stories, and it's not that upbeat. But still, what story did they choose over mine?

...I guess I'll submit the story to another magazine after one more revision, but I AM going to keep submitting to New Moon. If I have to brave a religious man like Judge Claude Frollo, I will!
That is, assuming that I don't have to climb on Parisian rooftops.
At least they enjoyed the story.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Holy Cow

Before I talk about my post, I want to give my theory for the origin of the phrase "Holy cow".
You see, in Hinduism (which until seven years ago was my family's religion), the cow is a sacred animal. To kill a cow is sin. To insult a cow, even by accident, will result in having no children. (Not kidding; this happened to a king and his wife.) So, much in the same way that "Oh my God" is the common expression for surprise, "Holy cow" became the less than cool equivalent of "Oh my God" when Hindu worshippers immigrated to the West and started speaking English.
Don't look so innocent, Apu. You know who I'm talking about.

Now I return from my digression.
...I won a Silver Key in the regional Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards! And I also won first place in the local youth fair for the short story "Persona Sin Corpus"
This is how I feel right now. I thought the story wasn't good, just like Quasimodo thought he was ugly, and look what happened!
Call me Quasi for short.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Writer is mightier than All Others, Except Maybe Paper Shortage

The strike as we all know it is over. The negotiations have been made, the sword has been exchanged for the pen.

But what I'm really interested in is what happened last Tuesday at 7:15 PM.
...I saw Shannon Hale! She wrote the wonderful; Bayern books, Newberry Honor Princess Academy, and the hilarious Austenland. And she recognized my name from the comments that I've posted on her blog (It's a small world when you've got the Internet) and gave me a big hug. And I won a charm bracelet for remembering that she owns a plastic pet pig.

In other news, Neil Gaiman finished The Graveyard Book, which is supposed to be The Jungle Book set in a graveyard. I hope that he manages to surpass Rudyard Kipling in terms of racism. I'm going to read The Jungle Book anyway because it's been weeks since I read a classic, and I liked the Disney movie. And I probably should give Kipling another chance because I like Margaret Mitchell, who owns racism about African Americans. And seriously, who can resist the Disney version of Mowgli?
Definitely not me.

I also recently read The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, the one banned in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I only found it disturbing that high school juniors were drinking and that relationships at this age could be so volatile. And the story ended too happily. If anything, I'd complain about it being one of the reasons to NOT get involved in a relationship while in high school. But ban it? It makes as much sense as banning high school relationships.
Honestly, book banners should meet Neil Gaiman's little friend:A cute dog will win anyone's hearts and erase the evil in their hearts that wants to eliminate free speech. Unless, of course, they're terrified of dogs like my little brother.