The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Kat Micari on her as-yet untitled novella

I’ve been tagged to take part in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, a way of connecting writers together and driving their readers to new material and new writers.  I was tagged by my amazing writer friend Peter Tarkulich.  You can read his answers here.

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

My novella currently is without a title, but hopefully inspiration will strike on the next pass of edits!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote a short story over a decade ago, and the main character stuck with me for a long time.  I also really enjoyed playing with the writing style.  After percolating in my brain for a long time, I realized the character needed a chance to grow more.

What genre does your book fall under?

It is an urban fantasy, and while I didn’t set out to do so, falls nicely into the YA genre.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Complete unknowns for the leads, although I’d love to see Cillian Murphy as Kristoph (the villain), and maybe I would have Christopher Plummer for the Controller and Kathy Bates for the Birdwoman.  I’ve never really given it much thought before.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I really haven’t perfected the elevator pitch yet, but here goes: “A disenchanted young model living alone in the city finds herself drawn into a strange reality where magical beings battle for humanity’s future.”

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will be self-publishing this and an illustrated poetry collection at the same time (soon!).  I’m not ruling out ever working with an agency, but at the moment, I am trying the self-pub route. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Longer than it should have!  Seriously, it took about a year.  I’ve been working under massive time constraints, which is why I went with a novella-length story rather than continue plugging away at my novel.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really don’t like to compare books.  It makes me feel nervous and superstitious.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I started out wanting to write the story of a young woman’s internal journey into finding personal strength and depth of character.  She does find inner strength, but the outcome isn’t quite what she expects it to be.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

All of my magical creatures hide themselves in our modern day world, some in very unique ways.  There is one chapter in particular where I chuckled out loud writing parts of it.

And now I’m supposed to continue the hop, but I again don’t like to call anyone out.  If anyone wants to pick up the mantle of the survey, please do so, and I’ll edit this blog to include a link to your site!

Book Review: Margaret Atwood’s “The Robber Bride”

I finished Margaret Atwood’s “The Robber Bride” this past weekend, and I’m left with conflicting feelings on the book.   I had read and enjoyed “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Cat’s Eye” in high school, so I was looking forward to this book.  (Warning: some spoilers ahead.)

The good from a structural standpoint: Atwood is a master at balancing prose and poetry.  She has a wonderful ability with phrasing.  You can take a single sentence or paragraph out of context and allow the words to roll around your mind for a while.   I was engaged enough by the story to not be brought out by her style, but I enjoyed the rhythm and cleverness of it all the same.

The bad structurally: I felt like she confined herself too strictly to a self-imposed cadence.  Maybe she was influenced by the fairy tale structure she pulled her source material from (“The Robber Bridegroom”) or maybe she just did it as an exercise in self-restraint, but at times the flow of the story seemed hindered.  I also did not enjoy the ending of the book.  I felt it dragged on.  I see what Atwood was going for, but I’m not sure it served the rest of the story or her characters well.

The good from a character and plot standpoint: The story was engaging.  I found myself sucked into the downward spiral of the characters despite my slight disgust.

The bad from a character and plot standpoint: I did not feel connected with any of the characters in this book.  The men were all manchildren, simpering and whiny and ridiculous.  The three main female characters clung to their men in a ridiculous way, all while trying to come to terms with their own selves, and the villain Zenia had no redeeming qualities but rather was a stock character.  This was probably what Atwood was going for, as again she was pulling from fairy tales, but it made for a rather two-dimensional character.  Also, I feel like Atwood at this point in her life felt disgust for the entire human race.  She writes from a feminist lens but simultaneously was mocking feminism through her characters.

And here is my utterly personal emotional response.  I read literature occasionally because I like to challenge my mind, and I feel that it is healthy to be uncomfortable by what you read/view occasionally.  But I hate that each of the main characters had such horrible childhoods.  I hate reading about children being abused sexually and beaten.  I’m someone who cries when I read a news article about babies and children and animals that die tragically or are hideously scarred (physically or emotionally) by an adult’s hand.  It’s unnatural.  But it happens.  So reading books like this help me to acknowledge the dark side of humanity, the side that I would love to see us as a species rise above but I’m not sure we ever will.  So while this bothered me, it was like choking down medicine that I know needs to be taken occasionally.

But I am also bothered by feminist authors who don’t bother to make any redeeming men in their stories because I know several good men personally and feel like dismissing that potential is a bad road to travel down (and I feel the same way when male authors marginalize women – if you can’t write for the opposite sex, then stick to only writing about your own!).   Characters need to be more than paper dolls, and when you have one gender well-fleshed and the other flat, it takes away from the effect of the book.

I enjoyed this book in some ways, but I will probably never read it again.  When I want challenging, poetic, feminist literature and poetry, I will continue to turn to Deena Metzger’s body of work instead.

Anyway, final thoughts – this is a well-crafted novel and worth the read, but overall I’m left feeling less than satisfied.