This is our last day together, my courageous squeetusers! Thanks for spending July with me and Ani. I'm happy that I actually enjoyed rereading this book and didn't find myself wincing or wishing for another chance to revise. Starting next week it's going to be lots of Austenland movie posts for the next month or so.
I think Selia is my favorite villain. I just get her, and she does such interesting things. She's so exquisitely dangerous without ever picking up a weapon. And she's such a perfect foil for Ani--so confident, decisive, and wild under her carefully controlled exterior. She scares me.
Listening behind the throne
This was inspired by the tale. The princess took an oath to tell no one, so the king asks her to crawl into an over and tell her tale there. He listens through a pipe and learns the truth. In the book, it made more sense for Geric to take more action than his father.
The forest workers join the fray
Okay, so when I read this part, and how they shouted "for the yellow lady! for the princess!" I teared up. I tear up often while writing emotional scenes. If I don't, I know I haven't done a good enough job yet.
This broke my heart. He really did love her so much. I'm more interested in my own story when I can care about and understand the villains too. He mattered to me.
As an example of how much I lean on revision, I thought I'd show you the ending from my first draft. In that version, the Forest folk didn't make it inside the estate. Wilder=Geric (who pretended to be a kitchen worker, not a guard at first), Pela=Enna.
She crossed the room slowly, carefully looking forward, avoiding the scenes of carnage that lay at her feet and made her eyes itch and the room tip unpleasantly. Already estate workers were rolling up the blood-spotted carpets. Ani followed them out of room, feeling rolled up and blood-spotted herself. No one stopped her.
She went directly to the gate, slipped outside its iron restraints, slumped to the ground and told the anxious companions all that happened, her trembling fingers touching her lips as though feeling the words of her mouth, testing their realness, keeping back the ones she did not want to feel.
“Then, Ani,” said Pela, her voice timid and sad, “all is well.”
Ani lay her head in Pela’s lap and wept with such strength that her face felt made of salt melting away and her sobs shook deep bones.
Kit crouched down and looked at her wet face with unabashed concern. “What is wrong, goose girl?”
“I don’t know.” Ani shook her head against Pela’s leg. “It’s all over and here I am. Where do I belong?”
At dusk, they were found by a white-haired house-mistress sitting on the ground outside the wall, a too-small and silent siege party.
“Look at this lot, and the night coming on.” She picked out Ani from among them and bobbed a curtsy in her direction. “Forgive us, my lady, but you were forgotten.”
“Yes,” said Ani, “the ones who would not forget me are dead, now. But it’s my fault; I should be more demanding now that I’m a princess again. Bring me food! Bring me wine! Dress us in silks and bed us in feathers!”
The woman looked at her in alarm and Ani smiled and shook her head. “A jest,” she said, “though, in truth, I wouldn’t mind a bed.”
They were each escorted to one and forgotten once again until morning declared its brightest in Ani’s blinding east window. She sat in a much too comfortable chair with her back to the light, letting its heat dry her just washed hair and sipping from an endless pitcher of juice. She was just thinking about skulking down the corridor in search of the others when her door was rapped and opened by a prim little man in shiny boots ready to take her to a conference with the king.
[blank space -- probably intended to fill it with a scene of Ani confronting the king]
She sat on the step beside Wilder and stared at her hands, as he was doing, as if they held all the answers.
“Thank you,” she said at last, “for stepping in, to save me.”
“No need. You were taking care of yourself.” He looked up at her and the clarity of his dark eyes struck her heart with a sensation of a wound touched. “Did you help me out there, in the middle of the fight?”
Ani hesitated, and nodded.
“That part will have to be told in the telling, for the sake of my honor, and yours. Thank you.”
He took her hand and touched it, this time without hesitation, but with wonder, running his fingers over the creases, merging his fingers with hers. She leaned her head against his shoulder with an ease and familiarity that surprised her, and she could not help grinning.
“You have a story I want to hear, goose girl.”
“And you have things to tell me, kitchen-man.”
He laughed. “This is a tale we will tell all our lives and our children will remember, that at our first meeting I took you for a lady, and you me for a dish-washer.”
“And anyone who sees you ride a horse won’t wonder…” He stopped her mouth, and his blush, with a kiss.
So brief and unsatisfying!
Jessica asks, "Ani changed so much over the course of the story - when you first started did you have a clear idea of who she was and what her character development would be? Or did she keep changing with each draft, finally emerging between the words?" I feel like characters are what they say and do, and that can only emerge through writing, so they change as the story changes for sure.
Thank you all for your thoughtful questions and comments. Thank you for giving my stories a place to call home. Smooches.