Friday, June 28, 2013

Anime Space Opera!

You hear writers talk a lot about "filling the well". I think it's a really important part of the creative process, remembering to lose yourself in other people's stories sometimes and not just your own. I have to admit, some of my best filling-of-the-well comes from anime, and in the past couple of years it has been all about the space opera around here.

My first true exposure to anime space opera was Legend of Galactic Heroes. We got this series AGES ago (thank goodness because it's very hard to find now) and we got super sucked into watching it. It shows two very different (but in my mind, equally lovable) military figures. One is a beautiful, ambitious Germanic blonde dude, Reinhard (anime loves those) and the other is brilliant-strategist-but-humble-everyman Yang Wen-Li. They are rivals, but both sympathetic. There are also a zillion other characters. Character development and intrigue up the wazoo, lots of space battles...

Except, we never FINISHED watching it because we started getting intimidated by knowing the ending would be gloriously tragic and have us holding each other and sobbing. So this summer we decided to start again, and finish this time. I've got the tissues ready!!

So then we watched Gundam. Lots of Gundam. The original Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Double Zeta, Gundam Seed, Gundam 00, and Unicorn. My favorites were definitely the first two series. Classics! The formula is not too far off from Legend of Galactic Heroes: everyman versus beautiful blonde dude, complicated politics, and space battles. But Gundam has more female characters, including mecha seems so strange to me that in Japanese 80s cartoons women actually got to fly around in robots, even, whereas in the States we pretty much got pink princesses. Gundam is also a little less heavy...although, yes, people still die and I still cried. 

Now we're watching the new remake of Space Battleship Yamato. It's still coming out, but OMG, so good. I never saw the original or the old US version Starblazers, but the new one, at least, is a little more focused on the entire crew than the previously mentioned shows and there is more of a sense or urgency because they have to save Earth, and as the Starblazers theme song so clunkily suggested, "If we don't in just one year, Mother Earth will disappear." (Makes "Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight" sound downright elegant.)

The thing I love about all these shows is how multifaceted they are, and how they have plenty to appeal to both genders. It isn't just about having strong female characters (of which some of these stories are better than others), but about telling a story in a way that combines action, intrigue, drama, romance, humor, little tiny quiet moments and big heavy ones, complicated and lovable characters... Boy, I'd be a happy girl if I could capture all of that in one story.

In the meantime, it's good material for filling the well, and if you're an anime or space opera fan (I really can't say sci-fi...despite space and some telepathy, these are really stories about politics and war, with occasionally some uncomfortable parallels to real life!) I highly recommend any of them!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dark Metropolis update!

It's been a while. Oh, how I meant to blog more often, but all I've had to talk about lately is my garden. And I'm aware that my garden would be very boring to anyone who isn't also learning to garden, because if you don't garden at all, you wouldn't care about my attempts, and if you're GOOD at gardening, well, you also wouldn't care about my attempts, because they are blundering and amateurish.

But whatever. I don't want to talk about the garden too much anyway. The thing I like about it is how it is a place where communication happens without words. Plants grow and thrive and die and get eaten by mean old ants and flower and set fruit, silent but alive. I love to just stare at them and marvel how things can change in a day.

However, I have also been hard at work and guess what? This book is actually happening! I mean, I knew it was, but a part of me never believes until we get to things like line edits and cover comps. And we're HERE! So here is the latest:

--The title has changed back to Dark Metropolis! I kinda like it because it matches so well with the cover comp.

--Which you CANNOT SEE, because it's just a comp. But, oh my, I love it. I love it SOOOO much. It somehow looks exactly like I imagined and also so much cooler than I imagined. I can't wait to show everyone the final version.

--And yes, I just finished line edits, paired with some minor-to-moderate bigger picture edits. This book has had the most intense edits I've ever done and it's occasionally been kind of an ego blow, but now that it's done I'm extremely impressed by the work that was done. The book is SOOOO much better. I am not as diehard over the absolute necessity of editors as some people in this self-pub vs. trad pub age, because I have read some unsold manuscripts every bit as good as most published books, but...oh boy. Editors can also work some serious magic. Although it certainly didn't feel much like magic at the time, more like hard work and a lot of "what am I doooing?" "why did I write that in the FIRST PLACE?" and "why can I not get this scene right, ever?"

I really hope all this means the book is my best work, but...I am never able to tell. At all.

I've found myself creeping back, step by step, into the internet world a bit. For a while there just wasn't much to talk about, because I moved and it felt terribly monumental and I've been like someone falling in love, only my romance is with the farmland and the Blue Ridge Mountains and Owinda (that's the name the original residents of my newly purchased home gave it, in the 19th century--I don't know why), and everyone knows falling in love is boring to everyone except the people involved. But I am also very close to having a real, new, book-shaped thing again.