I’m guest blogging at Canadian Lesfic!

Today over at the Canadian Lesfic site, I’m blogging about writing local, the how and why I like to set some of my stories in the Great White North of Canada.

http://canadianlesfic.com/writing-local-by-alyssa-linn-palmer/

When I first started writing fiction seriously, I hardly even considered setting a book in Calgary. Why Calgary when there were so many more fascinating places? Calgary felt dull; it had the wear of the familiar, the everyday. It was the place where I’d grown up, gone to school, and worked. But yet, for this story, nowhere else seemed to work nearly as well. As much as I love the cosmopolitan feel of a city like Paris, or San Francisco, or New York, this story felt like it needed to be home.

Chapter 1 of my upcoming novel, The London Game

It’s been awhile since the last Le Chat Rouge book, and I thought I’d give you just a taste of what’s coming up soon!

The London Game, Chapter 1

The train glided smoothly away from the platform, sailing past graffiti-covered brickwork and out of Paris. If he didn’t think about it, Marc knew he could pretend it was just another business trip, but with Sera at his side, her fingers clutching his, her lips a thin line, and her eyes brimming with tears she didn’t want to admit to, it was impossible. He lifted her hand, pressing a kiss to the back, and she turned to look at him.

“Think of it as an adventure,” he said, his voice low. “Paris is only a train ride away.”

“I know.” Sera’s chin trembled. “It seems so final.”

“Are you regretting this? Us?”

Continue reading

Article: Franglais row (BBC)

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From the BBC’s website:

“The French parliament is debating a new road map for French universities, which includes the proposal of allowing courses to be taught in English. For some, this amounts to a betrayal of the national language and, more specifically, of a particular way at looking at the world – for others it’s just accepting the inevitable. …

“According to the left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation, 790 higher education courses in France are already taught in English, and like Fioraso it sees nothing wrong with the idea.

Its all-English front page on Tuesday featured the words “Let’s do it” in bold capital letters.

Liberation represents a growing fringe of the French population – young, urban, trendy, the kind which, in the last 20 years, has adopted franglais in their daily life.

For them, the work of the Academie Francaise – which offers grammatical advice and alternatives to new foreign words – now feels irrelevant and obsolete. They like nothing more than adding English sounding suffixes to French words, or combining English words into new terms such as “fooding” (made out of “food” and “feeling”).

The result is a fantasy English that exists nowhere else; this, many think in France, is an inverted snobbery. “Why speak French well when you can speak English badly?” asks with irony the literary critic Bernard Pivot.”

I would hope that France does keep up some of its language snobbery–every language has different ways of viewing the world (the article likens it to a particular ‘vision’ of life). However, I did notice on this trip, as compared to my earlier trip in 2003, that many more French people spoke fairly good English, and were more willing to use it. English does seem to be the language of the world (particularly in business), but I think there is a place for others.

Check out the Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event!

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It’s that time! The most excellent KT Grant is hosting her second annual Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event! Check out at her blog: http://kbgbabbles.blogspot.com/

I’m one of the guest posts in the event, and today (Jan 9th) I’ll be talking about some of the great lesbian fiction I’ve read in the last year. Check out my post here.

FELT TIPS cover reveal!

Waiting to see the official cover of the hot office-supply themed erotica anthology (edited by Tiffany Reisz)? Wait no more! And on 12-12-12, buy the anthology and help us help kids get school supplies, and down-on-their-luck parents the work clothes they need. It’s a one-handed read for a good cause, so how can you go wrong? ;)

Felt Tips Cover

And check out the Table of Contents to see all the great writers taking part!

Talk like a gangster!

I’ve been watching an old gangster film, the 1939 Warner Bros. picture “King of the Underworld”, with Humphrey Bogart and Kay Francis. What always catches my notice in these films (aside from the occasionally TSTL gangsters) is the language they use.

“All right, doc, don’t get sore.”
“Hey, fella, don’t tell ‘em that a dame tripped me up.”
“Maybe he’s got a gat!”
“Nice gams!”
“Say… whaddya mean?”
“You’d better scram!”

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AlCaponemugshotCPD.jpg)

Of course, the movie gangsters (or rather, their writers, mostly) stole from the real gangsters. In his article on Huffington Post, Jeffrey Gusfield notes that the actor Edward G. Robinson sat at the back of the courtroom during part of Al Capone’s tax evasion trial and took notes.

Some of the phrases they used are still heard today, but most have gone by the wayside. Or, if they are used, it’s purposefully, to seem old. Phrases like “it’s the bee’s knees” or “the cat’s pajamas”  originated in the 1920s (though I’m pretty sure a gangster wouldn’t be caught dead saying such silly things!) When’s the last time you heard someone called a “Mrs. Grundy”? Probably never, except maybe in an Archie comic book. (Mrs. Grundy = a priggish, prudish, person.) Of course, don’t call a gangster that–he’s liable to take you for a ride if you do.

It’s pretty tempting to write my gangsters this way, and to use lots of the 1920s and 1930s slang, but a few choice phrases can go a long way. However, I know I’m going to have to work in a “You ain’t sore, are ya?” into the dialogue somewhere. It’s just too classic not to use!

Check out some more 1920s slang here, and below is a clip from the film ‘The Roaring Twenties’, starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.

‘What did we suppress in order to become what we are?’

I just finished watching the film Caché (Hidden), directed by Michael Haneke, and starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil. I’d seen it once before, during a film festival, and I came out of the theatre completely baffled by what I had seen. Thus, I decided to watch it once again and attempt to further understand the film.

In summary, Georges and his wife Anne receive a series of videotapes, each of which contains a long film exposure of the outside of their house. Later videotapes are wrapped in what appears to be child’s drawings. Over the course of the film, the footage on the tapes becomes more personal and Georges realizes who may be sending the tapes. Discovering the identity of the sender evokes old and guilty memories for Georges.

In an interview provided in the DVD’s special features, Michael Haneke states that the film was meant to discuss and evoke the French and Algerian conflict in the 60s, particularly the deaths of 200 Algerian protesters in the Seine, but to portray this conflict and guilt on a personal level, and to show what sort of things can be swept under the carpet. He compares the ability of a nation to forget or hide tragic things with that of a family or couple able to continue on with domestic life as usual, even though difficult or strange things are occurring. Hence his question: ‘What did we suppress in order to become what we are?’

That question resonated with me. As Haneke points out, Georges as a six year old has acted in a way that is considered normal, his protection of his own status and place in his home, as younger children are not as cognizant of the needs of others. Yet this action by young Georges has lifelong implications for the Algerian boy his parents were caring for. It makes me wonder, what has each person suppressed in their life, things they have done that they are ashamed of, that might crop up later?

As a writer, it intrigues me, and it would be an incredible basis for a story, or an intense back-story for a character. The wounds a person bears have an impact on how they act, and how they live, even years later. For myself as a writer, one of the hardest parts of writing is coming up with that back-story, that wound, and making it such that it colours the actions of the character, intertwining with every part of their being. Haneke’s question is going to become part of my plotting, I’m sure of it.

Are there films that you’ve seen which influence your writing?

A teaser…

A little snippet for you from my WIP…

Chicago, 1925

     “Just a prostitute,” the young beat cop said, taking in the drowned woman’s attire. The remnants of a thin, dark dress clung to her waterlogged form, making her skin paler still in the light from the patrol car’s headlights.

Detective Lang lit a cigarette and stepped closer, staring down at the body. The girl’s throat was mottled with bruises and her head sat at an awkward angle. The beat cop began to shift the body onto the sheet laying nearby on the bank, so that they could shift the body up the slope to where the morgue van waited. The girl’s head turned toward him, and though her face was puffy and her eyes closed, he recognized her.

She should have been dancing the night away at The Orpheus. Just last week, she had been, but now she was dead.

“Hurry it up, Jones,” he snapped to the beat cop. He paced back to his sedan and left them to deal with the corpse. How had she ended up in the river, so obviously murdered? She’d been on top of the world, popular and successful, and beautiful.

He stubbed out his cigarette and lit another. Important people would have to be told, and he didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news.

That’s all for now!