Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tea in the Time of Cholera

Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of HistoryI admit to being fascinated with the subject of how commodities, such as tea and spices, end up in my kitchen half a world away from the places where they were grown. On my bookshelf is a book called Nathaniel’s Nutmeg that I found fascinating. As the title suggests, is a book about nutmeg, specifically the spice from the Dutch possession of the island of Run that involves global intrigue between the Dutch and British empires.

Being a tea drinker, I will read just about any article or book about that subject. I wasn’t always a tea drinker. When I lived on the East Coast, I put away ten cups of coffee a day easily. My mother was a Maxwell House lady, “Good to the Last Drop,” and so was I. I know people are probably shuddering at the idea of instant coffee, but I loved it. But then I moved to Texas, the land of iced tea, and things started to change. Realizing that I was consuming an awful lot of caffeine, I switched to Sanka. (Do I hear more groans from the audience?) I hated it. Little did I know that when I quit on decaffeinated coffee that I had drunk my last cup of coffee and that was more than thirty years ago.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Andrew Davies Talks About the Art of Screenwriting

Here are tips from Andrew Davies on how to adapt literary classics for TV as it appeared in The Telegraph. Andrew was the screenwriter for the 1995 Pride and Prejudice as well as Middlemarch and Little Dorrit, among a host of others:

1. Read the book, or better still, listen to an unabridged recording, and immerse yourself in the characters, the language, the emotions the book calls up in you. You’ll note the high points that simply ask to be dramatised, and also problems that will need addressing.

2. Ask yourself: why this book, and why now? It may simply be that the book (Pride and Prejudice, for example) deals with themes of perennial interest: love, sex, money, class, generational conflict, and so on. But sometimes a particular note will reverberate across decades and even centuries... (South Riding is set in the Thirties, in a recession, with lots of parallels to the situation we are in today.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Ghost Map - A Review - London in the Time of Cholera

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
It’s the summer of 1854, and London is seized by a violent outbreak of cholera that no one knows how to stop. As the epidemic spreads, a maverick physician and a local curate are spurred to action, working to solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time. In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a thrilling account of the most intense cholera outbreak to strike Victorian London and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in. Back Jacket of The Ghost Map

Victoria and Albert
 When most of us think of the mid-Victorian Era, we think of Victoria sitting on her throne with her consort, Prince Albert, by her side. Crinolines and low necklines were all the fashion for the women, and facial hair and trousers were the rage for the men. England's elite were dancing the waltz in huge ballrooms under crystal chandeliers lit by candlelight. But in Broad Street in Soho, people were not waltzing, but, instead, were dropping dead in alarming numbers, and no one knew what was killing them.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jane Austen Centre in Bath

I received very good news this morning. Two of my novels, as reviewed by Laurel Ann of Austenprose, Searching for Pemberley and The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, were included in the on-line magazine for the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Laurel Ann and I became acquainted when she reviewed my first effort in penning a novel, my self-published Pemberley Remembered, the predecessor to a much edited Searching for Pemberley. Her critiques of my work, as well as that of other Austen-inspired writers, have been very helpful in making me a better writer. Here is a brief bio of Laurel Ann:

Searching for PemberleyA life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of and the forthcoming short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It to be released by Ballantine Books on 11 October, 2011. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives near Seattle, Washington where it rains a lot.

Lots of good things are happening to me out there in Austen World, and this is certainly one of them! Thanks to Laurel Ann and all my readers.