[LMB] (chat) Krentz/Quick/Castle
Lois McMaster Bujold
lbujold at myinfmail.com
Tue Sep 25 21:01:38 BST 2007
[LMB] (chat) Krentz/Quick/Castle
sekhmet sekhmet42 at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 25 19:11:02 BST 2007
--- Lois McMaster Bujold <lbujold at myinfmail.com>
> Her first futuristic, _Amaryllis_, from 1996, had
> wince-worthy moments
Ah, you mean the way she tried to make everything
exotic by littering the scene with hyphenated words?
Pets are cat-dogs, people eat pear-apples, etc.
*** Yep. A really bad case of "call a rabbit a smeerp", there.
Not that I don't understand the need to shorthand -- when you're trying
to fit in a romance plot *and* a suspense plot *and* SFnal
world-building, the page can get rather crowded. (Normally, in SF, it's
the romance plot that gets shortchanged.) Which is possibly why my
first attempt ran 217,000 words long. But the compression needs not to
be done with a tin ear.
>2002's _After Dark_ -- the world-building here was
Yes, although still Seattle in space, with an abusive
overuse of the suffix/prefix "rez".
*** Not so much "Seattle in Space", here, I thought, as an amusing
SF-nal pastiche of the sort of Egyptology-adventure tales that have
undergone intermittent popularity from "The Mummy" to Amelia Peabody.
Agree on "rez", although at least it was more functional this time. Her
world-building is good in sections in this one, but often doesn't quite
reach to the edge of the page, as it were.
That said, I will still be circling back for more. It's easy to see
what she's doing wrong; harder to see what she's doing right, but
whatever it is, it's sold 25 million books, so I'd rather like to figure
it out. It's certainly working for me. Partly the tone, I think, which
in spite of the suspense plots is usually comic.
I get a giggle out of the running gags and commentary in the Quick books
about 19th. C. popular "horrid" novels. Iirc _Wait Until Midnight_ had
the best take on that subject. The heroine is the sort of writer who,
like Dickens in the style of the times, sends in a chapter a week to be
published in a newspaper (which rather blocks revision.) The hero is
taken aback to discover she's based her latest villain on him, and,
despite his scorn for the genre, finds himself buying installments to
anxiously follow the fate of "his" character...
After Dark, After
Glow and Ghost Hunter are keeping the earlier books
company on my romance shelf. The characters are a
little more complex: some have divided loyalties, most
are smart and capable, and men and women annoy and
exasperate each other, but they're not inherently
jerks. I admit I skip the sex scenes, but I do in most
*** I, on the other hand, have taken to reading them with great
interest, not all of it meta. When deciding when a sex scene "belongs"
in a book, it's a bit like asking when does a dinner scene "belong"?
The answer there is more obviously, "When some important change to the
plot or characters happens during it." A character may eat a hundred
routine dinners off stage, but you will need to show the one where he
has a melt-down argument with his boss and gets fired, for example. The
predilection for showing the first-time sex scene, therefore, is that it
always marks this huge change in the relationship between the two
characters, after which nothing else can be the same, so those tend to
be nearly mandatory. Ditto the time when they finally "get it right"
emotionally and physically, if there were problems before.
I do wonder about how the writers feel after book x and sex scene 3x, as
they have to keep finding new ways of showing much the same thing.
Early work may betray sightly more youthful enthusiasm. It seems to me
Krentz's recent writing style has become pared down and more efficient
compared to her stuff that dates from the early 90's a little like the
way Pratchett's style has become leaner compared to his earlier work.
But that may just be the effect of comparing an historical with a
It's also interesting to compare Quick with Julia Quinn. The latter has
an 8-book Regency series with one romance for each of the 8 siblings in
a large family; each emotional plot is entirely distinct from all the
others, even though the books share background, setting, and many
characters. The two writers have almost inversions of approach.
> one can see [Krentz] trying out her ideas in several
> variations over several books, as if each were a
first draft for the
Yes, with her it's not what she's writing, because
it's almost the same each time, it's how well she got
it to work this time. Nonetheless, of the 20 or so
non-Heyer romances on my shelves, I think 8 or 9 are
by Krentz or Castle.
*** I actually see why.
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