Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cards and Characters

This has not been a very good week -- I lost my keys and wallet somewhere in Brooklyn, I've had a touch of post-Harry depression, and work is neverending, even though it's August. So: no posts. However, I had a great dinner at Sorrel on Thursday and an excellent coffee with author Francisco Stork yesterday, and I saw "The Simpsons Movie," so things are looking up.

  • I just accepted an invitation to speak at the New Jersey SCBWI conference June 6-7, 2008, in Princeton. I have no idea what I will be talking about as yet, so suggestions are welcome.
  • But I'll be speaking about character and possibly voice on November 10 at the Missouri SCBWI conference in St. Louis. My working question for this is "What makes a great character?" which leads me to my question for you all: When I say "a great character," who springs to mind for you? My immediate answers are Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin; Severus Snape; Elizabeth Bennet; Rose Casson; Harriet Welsch; Rupert Campbell-Black; Lyra Belacqua (in The Golden Compass); Anne Shirley (in Anne of Green Gables) . . . Your nominations?
  • On this same topic, from Living the Romantic Comedy: A great post on authentic characters.
  • I will also be speaking at my church -- giving a lay sermon, actually -- at the service on August 26, talking about the Word and the word. I'm really looking forward to thinking about this and writing this.
  • Here's an interview with Philip Pullman on something of those same topics (via Educating Alice).
  • And also on Educating Alice, an interesting discussion of race in HP.
  • I keep remembering random things stuck in my wallet: my video-rental card; a photo of my family; a gift card to UNIQLO; a Maneki Neko card from Katy, which I carried for good luck; a partially filled Subway sandwich card; the key to a file cabinet at work . . . All these things still out there in the world, waiting patiently in someone else's bag or at the bottom of a grate or trash can, much of it meaningless without me.
  • But I've been forced to realize or remember how dependent I am upon electronic networks: no credit cards, no driver's license (and you need a credit card to order a new one online), only a temporary ATM card to keep me afloat (and I'm enormously grateful for that). We are all identity-theft movies waiting to happen.
  • Tomorrow is the New York City Half-Marathon, so if you're out and about in Manhattan very early tomorrow morning, wave hello as I run by!
  • And this leads me to my favorite Internet application this year: The Google Maps pedometer, which tells you the distance and even possibly the calories burned of any route you map out. It's terrific.
  • Anyone seen "Becoming Jane" yet? I want to both gag AND hiss every time I pass a poster.
  • Finally, from the Onion, the last word in Harry Potter spoilers.


  1. Great character nominations:
    Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
    Millicent Min
    Jane Eyre / Mr. Rochester
    Kinsey Millhone (alphabet mysteries by Sue Grafton)
    Adam Dalgliesh

    on losing wallets (sort of) - my purse was stolen a gazillion years ago, and the one thing I remember being in it were the ticket stubs from a Beatles' concert...I still wish I had them back.

  2. Miles Vorkosigan, from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vor series.

    I agree with all your choices, but I really am in love with Stephen Maturin.

  3. Maturin's my #1 as well, but here are a few more favorite characters (one boy, one girl, one djinni):

    1. Eugenides (The Thief, etc.)
    2. Harry Crewe (The Blue Sword)
    3. Bartimaeus (The Bartimaeus Trilogy)

  4. I'm sorry you lost your wallet and keys. No fun. But how exciting--the NYC half marathon tomorrow!

  5. For the younger set, my vote would be for Clementine, though Kevin Henke's Lilly runs a close second.

    And after you speak at your church, I'd love for you to share your notes with us. I've just been reading some of Madeleine L'Engle's and Katherine Paterson's thoughts on the Word and the word and have been working through my own thoughts on it as well. It would be interesting to see what thoughts come to the surface for you.

  6. Sorry to hear about your wallet and keys. I had my purse stolen and learned not to ever put pictures of my kids again. My son on the other hand misplaced his wallet three times and recovered it three times. Fingers crossed that you recover both.

    Wands off to Harry. My 17 year old son hushed the entire household for the past three days so he could read it. He is not an avid reader but the Potter books have been a godsend. We will miss them too.

  7. The Clock Family (The Borrowers by Mary Norton)
    Sally (Mine for Keeps by Jean Little)

    These are just a couple of them.

  8. David, from the Bible. Characters (and he's real, too!) don't get any better than that.

    And I have a newfound respect for Harry Potter in terms of a character. In the other books, he felt like more of a vehicle. But in DH I saw him breathe and I was so very impressed with him and his decisions. Well done, Harry.

    The Word and the word has captured my mind for some time now. At Bible study on Wednesday, we were talking about Ephesians 6, and how the word of the Lord is our sword. How the Bible is Jesus is the Word is the Sword. Isn't that just a story waiting to happen?

  9. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffanys)

    Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

    Oskar Schell (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

  10. Here's to anybody trying to be an identity thief of Cheryl Klein: There is one and only one Cheryl Klein, and only she can do it properly!

    Aunt Carol

  11. Great Characters:
    Honor Harrington (David Weber)
    Miles Vorkosigan and his mother (Lois McMaster Bujold)
    Kethry (Tamora Pierce)
    Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin (Orson Scott Card)
    Menolly, Piers and Robinton (Anne MacCaffrey)

  12. Very sorry about the wallet -- I've had that happen too many times (but have also had the joy of the items returned many times too, even after some time, so hold out hope!).

    It was a beautiful morning -- hope you had a wonderful run.

    I've been immersed in books for younger readers lately, so great characters that immediately come to mind are Ramona Quimby, Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington Bear, the 'little girl' in Abiyoyo Returns, Swimmy, Ella Elephant...then Meg Murry, Janie and Tea Cake, Orual...and from the Bible the Queen of Sheba, Moses, and Peter. As usual, I could go on...

  13. I saw Becoming Jane last week, and the only reason I went was because it was free. As my friend Cindy said, "Suicide, thy name is Becoming Jane." It was an amalgamation of all her characters, under the guise of saying these people in her life were her inspiration--not that they had any kind of historical reference for that kind of thing.

    *Possible spoilers*

    I came away completely depressed. There just didn't seem to be any heart in the story. They give you this supposedly great love story, where Jane spurns the rich guy (who I thought was a pretty nice guy, though perhaps a bit geeky) and you don't even get a good payoff. It just kind of... ends.

  14. Great characters: I second the votes for Millicent Min, Meg Murry, Master Robinton and Menolly, and Ramona Quimby.

    I'd add Hermione Granger, Holling Hoodhood from "The Wednesday Wars," Cedar B. Hartley, Harriet D. Vane, Misty Berkowitz from "Happy All the Time" by Laurie Colwin, Francie Nolan from "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn," Annie McGairy Brown from "Joy In the Morning," and Vicky and Rob Austin and Emily Gregory from "The Young Unicorns" and other L'Engle books.

  15. ooh, can you discuss more than one? Lyra B from Golden Compass is awesome. I'd even throw in Lydia Bennett because she's so modern in so-called terms. The lead character in the Book Thief is another one.