Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time in a Bottle

By Kelli

This is a post from the road, so to speak--though I'm not traveling over the desert, I'm traveling over a lot of bridges in the Bay Area, and tonight I have an event at Book Passage, one of our fabulous indies. So please forgive my (un)usual brevity! :)

What era would I write about, given the chance?

Easy. Like Syd on Tuesday, I'm writing about the era I most resonate with: the 40s. I've always felt at home there ... so City of Dragons is, in many ways, a celebration and a homecoming of the time I feel most comfortable in. Plus, it allows me to visit other decades that also draw me (in flashbacks): the teens, the 20s, and of course the 30s.

My first book and series is set in Roman Britain, and I enjoy that period immensely--plus, it puts my graduate degree to good use. But there's something about the 40s that speaks to my soul.

I'd love to continue writing Miranda all the way through the Cold War. Curiously, I start to feel out-of-touch with history right around the time I come into it ... I was born in '64, and the late '60s hold no allure. I don't get sentimental over the bell-bottoms and Donny Osmond posters of my childhood in the 70s (and TV shows like Shields and Yarnell--yikes!) ... loved the 80s (I was young and in college and finally--no dry look hair and boffo mustaches, Cyndi Lauper made clothes eclectic and fun again and Joan Collins was around to bring back shoulder pads. Plus, the music was excellent. Yup, I did love the 80s ... but still wouldn't want to write about them.)

On the other hand, I do want to write a few contemporary tales--albeit in places without a lot of ultra modern conveniences, like Humboldt County, where I grew up. There's a Redwood Country noir thriller in me, waiting to germinate ... just needs time and a bit of bourbon, the necessary ingredients for story growth. ;)

Back when I was writing screenplays, nearly all of them were contemporary. One was, I suppose, urban fantasy, though to me it was just an old-fashioned romantic drama with comic highlights and a time-travel theme. Too long for the elevator pitch, though, so I guess urban fantasy fits. The other was a romantic comedy; and the first was a chick flick drama. So maybe, for me, it's easier to write in today's world when I don't explore crime--perhaps--and I'm just playing self-psycho-analyst here--writing crime fiction in the past is an attempt to, well ... keep it there.

On the other hand, the past has always beckoned ... three out of four of the screenplays dealt with the past in some fashion, some more prominently than others. So it's always been there for me, rumbling through, the Oz of my imagination.

The Elizabethan era is one of my favorites ... but so far no plans to write a crime story, though the murder of Christopher Marlowe is always fair fodder. :)

So for now, I've got first century Roman Britain--and plans for Humboldt County. And most of all, the early 40s and late 30s with Miranda. I'm keeping my time in a bottle ... of Old Taylor bourbon. ;)


Terry said...

So many of the great noir stories were written and filmed in the 40's, it's the perfect time for crime and, of course, bourbon. But then any time is right for bourbon:)

Meredith Cole said...

Sounds like you've got lots of intriguing stories on the back burner, Kelli. Keep those books coming, that's all we ask...

Sophie Littlefield said...

Oh I surely am anticipating that thriller, Kelli. Hang in there with the travels - I know it's not easy, but you've kept a great attitude throughout!

Joshua Corin said...

So really what you're saying is that you love the 30s and the 40s...

30s CE - 40s CE
1930s CE - 1940s CE

There *is* something attractive about the early-to-mid then, the century has established its identity and everything is really in full swing (or jazz or big band).

Shane Gericke said...

The '40s were such a dramatic, romantic period in our history. The great cataclysm of world war and atomic bombs and vast population migrations made everything infinitely more dear, including life itself. No wonder you like that period, Kel--things seemed to matter more then. It wasn't necessarily better--I don't pine for the good old days, cause for many folks they weren't very good--but life was so deeply felt emotionally then. Maybe because we had fewer entertainment distractions to numb us from reality?

Kelli Stanley said...

Ah, Terry ... a woman after my own heart. :)

It's the bourbon hour!!!



Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks a million, Meredith!! :) Writing may seem like a solitary profession, but really--it's nothing without readers. They make it happen, they make it live. So as long as someone is willing to publish me, I plan to keep at it. :)


Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you sweet Soph!!

I'm kind of wobbly on my feet--looking forward to getting some sleep tonight. Sleep is SO good for keeping things in perspective!!


Kelli Stanley said...

LOL ... not sure if I'm crazy about the 30s and 40s minus the 1000 ... NOX is set in 83 (see--told you I like the 80s!!) ;)

You're so right, Josh--the first couple of decades in a century seem to be tentative and hesitant ... like baby's first footsteps. :)


Kelli Stanley said...

I don't know if there were fewer distractions, Shane--just fewer types, maybe. I think one of the big differences, though, was in how social people were.

I was just talking about this last night at Book Passage ... that Miranda's generation was used to actually *doing* things together, used to be crowded on buses and in apartments (not suburbs), used to listening to the same music, used to tiny little tables in clubs and dancing all night between them, used to playing card games and going out and being with people and (gasp) talking.

The whole contemporary "personalized entertainment" idea isolates people ... not a good thing. So three cheers for social networking, the 21st century equivalent of a bridge party! :)


PK the Bookeemonster said...

My favorite type of crime fiction is historical mysteries and I read many many eras. If I were to write, however, I feel most strongly drawn to the Tudors -- mostly Henry VIII and Elizabeth. I like Greek history but haven't really encountered a good strong series set there ... Romans, yes, Greeks, no. I also very much like the American Revolutionary War/Founding Fathers but rare good books there, too.
I'm NOT drawn to the American Civil War ... yawn. The 1960s, yes I wanted to be a flower child when I was in high school in the 80s but I'm not really drawn to much beyond the 1930s.
People's tastes are so much their own and thank goodness there's something for just about everyone.