Blog back?

IMG_1508Well, hello there. It’s been a long time since I said that the blog was closing and would move to another site. And then…nothing. I did try to find another blog site. Then I kind of got discouraged and gave up. I give up too easily with my blog. Either I don’t write enough or, in this case, I don’t spend enough time and energy to find another blog platform. So, after a while I decided to come back and see how things are standing with WordPress. After all, there is a reason why I chose this platform in the first place and at one point I did really like it. Imagine my surprise at seeing some changes. The mobile site is *gasp* actually user friendly again. I have a clean screen for my blog post itself and I can navigate to another screen for the tags, categories etc. Can I actually use it again? Maybe; I will definitely give it a shot. (I am learning how to use colons and semicolons after helping my ten year old son with his homework. Having kids is useful!) So we’ll see how things go. I will write some more posts and hope that WordPress doesn’t screw anything else up. Hopefully I still have some readers left… (Come back, please!)

Stay tuned (or watch this space).


Blog closing

As you may have noticed, I have not blogged in a while. When I posted my Christmas story I was shocked to see WordPress changed unrecognisably. I find it completely unusable, with all its bells and whistles and floating menus at the side which do not work, not to mention the terrible mobile site with a menu taking up 90% of the screen. Which probably doesn’t mean anything to you if you are just reading my blog and don’t have a WordPress site yourself, but take my word for it that I find it impossible to enjoy blogging anymore using WordPress. This does not explain why I haven’t blogged for a long time – that’s down to other factors – but the changes WordPress has made do not inspire me to continue blogging. So it is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the end of this blogging site. I will open up another site somewhere else, but I am still in the process of figuring out where.

Another issue I have to work out is the matter of my name. When I started blogging (and writing in earnest) I thought I would come up with a pen name. I did not want to use my own name as it is quite unpronounceable for English speakers (I constantly have to spell my name and correct the pronunciation, not something I would like to do if I make it big as a writer – haha), so I came up with a derivation of my maiden name. A couple of weeks ago, another blogger, Jenny Trout, posted a blog post about her experience with another writer having the same name as her. I had never considered all the ramifications of two authors having similar names, but after reading this post I did a search for Christina Lawrence. And while there are no authors called Christina Lawrence, there is an author duo called Christina Lauren, which is very similar. So I will need to come up with something different. I still have to work out what though.

Once I have worked out the issues of a new blog platform and a new name, I will let you all know where you can find me. Hopefully somewhere where I will blog a bit more than I have so far.

Until then…Happy New Year! May 2016 be full of wonderful books to read and write!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Hope you all have a wonderful time with friends and family. Below is a Christmas story I wrote for my Sunday school class this Christmas.

The First Christmas

It was dark. It was cold. Out in the field a fire was burning. Shepherds were huddling around it, trying to stay warm, their sheep sleeping nearby. Yaved and Asher had been allowed to come with their fathers their day, and they huddled together by the fire as well. It had been a boring day. They had expected all kinds of excitement – fighting off wolves and lions who would try to steal their sheep – but none of that had happened. Their fathers had been relieved at finally having a quiet day, but Yaved and Asher were annoyed.

“Being a shepherd is no fun,” Asher complained to his friend. “I thought it would be so exciting.”

“I know,” Yaved agreed. “We didn’t get to fight anything and did you see how people looked at us? As if they hated us.”

Asher sighed. “It would be so much better to be a Roman soldier,” he said. “Everyone is afraid of you and you get to ride around in chariots. Youssef saw them in Jerusalem and he said they have four horsepower chariots now.”

“Four horsepower?” Yaved whistled. “Those would be so fast! I wish I had one of those.”

“Well, as a shepherd we would never be able to afford one of those,” Asher grumped.

“Being a shepherd is the worst,” Yaved agreed.

They huddled even closer to the fire. Their faces were glowing with heat, but their backs were still cold. The other shepherds were talking amongst themselves and paying no attention to the boys. Asher threw sticks in the fire and stifled a yawn. Despite the lack of excitement in the day, he was getting tired. There had been a lot of walking. But he did not want to go to sleep before his friend. Yaved still looked very much awake, as he was trying to listen in on the other shepherds.

The shepherds were talking about the Saviour. Yaved had heard them talking about the Saviour many times before and it was almost getting boring. But at the same time there was something comforting about hearing the familiar stories and he was too tired to talk anymore.

Asher nudged him. “Do you really think the Saviour will come any time soon?”

Yaved looked at his friend and shrugged. “They have been talking about it for as long as I can remember, and the prophesy is hundreds of years old. I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.”

“It would be cool though,” Asher said. “He will come to save us. Everything will be different.”

Yaved snorted. “We don’t even go to temple and when was the last time you went to the synagogue? If the Saviour comes, I am sure he will come to the Pharisees and the priests. He is going to be King, he will hardly want to have anything to do with lowly shepherds.”

Asher was quiet, but he felt stung by his friend’s words. The worst part was that he knew Yaved was right.

“Don’t speak like that.”

Yaved looked up. His father looked at him sternly.

“The Saviour will come for everyone, not just the rich and famous. Wasn’t David a shepherd boy? And did not God make David king over Israel?”

Yaved coloured and Asher stared at the ground. Yaved’s father was right: King David had been a simple shepherd boy before he was made king, but it still felt incredible that the Saviour would also come for the shepherds. Yaved had always thought King David must have been a special shepherd boy. He had probably been much cleaner and had gone to temple and the synagogue all the time. He could not possibly have been like them: dirty and despised.

Suddenly the sky brightened. It looked like the sun had come up in the middle of the night and when Yaved peered up, he gasped. An apparition appeared in the sky, an angel. Around the fire, his father and the other shepherds scrambled to their feet, their staffs and slingshots in hand. Asher covered his head with his arms and whimpered. He felt sure they were all about to die.

Then the angel spoke: “Don’t be afraid. I am bringing you some good news. It will be a joy to all the people. Today your Saviour was born in David’s town. He is your Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding box.”

The light grew even brighter and Yaved saw that the whole sky was filled with angels. All the men were standing now, and Asher had joined Yaved and his father. The angels sung. It was a sound unlike anything Yaved had ever heard,, It was glorious and triumphant. It took him a while to make out the words, but this is what the angels were singing:

“Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people who please God.”

Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, the angels were gone. It was dark once more and Asher blinked to adjust his eyes to the sudden darkness. Yaved pulled his hand excitedly.

“Let’s go and find the baby!”

The shepherds shook themselves as if waking up. “Where do we go?” asked one of them.

“To Bethlehem,” said Asher’s father. “David’s town is Bethlehem.”

“We can’t just rush off and leave the sheep,” said one of the other shepherds.

“Sure we can,” said Asher. “The angel said we should go looking for the Saviour, so surely God will look after the sheep for us.”

Asher’s father riffled his hair, something he usually found very annoying. But tonight he was too excited to care.

“The boy is right,” said Asher’s father. “We should trust God to look after the sheep.”

It was hard to find the way in the dark. Asher’s father and Yaved’s father led with two torches and some of the other men carried torches as well, but it was still quite dark. They finally made it to Bethlehem. Asher’s father knocked on the first inn they came to. The innkeeper did not look happy when he opened the door, much less so when he saw a group of shepherds on his doorstep. He sent them away, saying he did not have people staying in the stable.

The next few inns were the same, but finally a grumpy innkeeper pointed them to the stable in the back of the courtyard. Asher’s heart was pounding in his throat as they approached the stable door. Yaved’s father knocked respectfully and after a few minutes the door was opened by a young man. He looked surprised to see the shepherds.

“We have come to see them baby,” Yaved shouted excitedly. “Can we see him?”

Yaved’s father laid a hand on Yaved’s shoulder. “The boy is very excited,” he told the man. “We have heard news of the Saviour being born in a stable, is this the right place?”

The man’s face broke open in a big smile and he thrust out his hand. “I am Joseph,” he said. “Please come in. This is Mary and there in the feeding box is Jesus, the Saviour.”

The shepherds entered the stable. They were quiet now, and even Yaved felt in saw of what he was about to witness. The stable was shabby and Mary was lying on some blankets in the hay. She smiled shyly at the men crowding in the stable. Joseph lifted the baby out of the feeding box and handed him to Asher’s father. Asher peeked at the baby’s face. It looked like an ordinary baby. There was nothing special about him. And yet, God Himself had told them through the angel that this was his Son, the Saviour of all mankind.

As if reading his mind, Asher’s father turned to him and said: “We are all born the same, as little babies. Who we grow up to be is up to God.”

Yaved looked around the stable. It was not the sort of place he had expected the Saviour to be born on and he felt very much put in his place. It seemed that God did not care about riches and important people. Yaved looked at Joseph and Mary who looked like two ordinary, poor people. Nothing flashy or important about them either. And God had chosen them, the despised shepherds, to be the first to hear the news of the birth of the Saviour. He felt warm with happiness at the realisation.

Finally the baby was passed back to his mother and the shepherds left the stable. It was getting light out, they had stayed a long time. Once they were out of the stable it seemed like the spell broke and everyone started talking at once.

“Can you believe we saw the Saviour?” Asher asked Yaved.

“I know! It’s so cool. And he is so normal, you wouldn’t even know he is so important.”

Every time the shepherds saw other people out in the streets, they stopped to tell them the exciting news. At first, people were not willing to believe a bunch of dirty shepherds, even accused them of talking rubbish. But after the shepherds had told them the whole story, people would thank them and rush off. Yaved glowed with pride. They were the messengers of God, and people finally took them seriously.

When they came back to the field, all the sheep were still there, quietly eating grass and being generally unimpressed with what had happened that night. The shepherds gathered their things and started moving the sheep to the next field.

“Still think being a shepherd is boring, Yaved?” his father teased.

Yaved blushed. “Not so much anymore, dad.”


The Angel’s Game read-along: Act Two, Chapters 15-17

On the way home from the bookshop, Martín stops in at a stationery shop and buys a set of nibs, an ivory pen and an ink pot for Isabella. But when he comes home, he finds the corridor dark and Isabella in the room all the way at the end, the room he had locked. He tries to tell her to leave the room, but she calls him in, showing him some letters and photographs she found in the drawers. Apparently the house used to belong to a man Diego Marlasca. Isabella then asks,

‘Don’t you think it’s odd?’
‘That his initials are the same as yours: D.M.’
‘It’s just a coincidence; tens of thousands of people in the town have the same initials.’

Martín may think he’s fooling Isabella, but he is not fooling me here. He does think it’s odd.

It gets even more odd. Among the pictures, Isabella has found a picture of an actress who was famous when Martín was a boy. She is posing in the house, so she must have been at least acquainted with Diego Marlasca. When Isabella puts the pictures away, one falls out. When Martín picks it up, he recognises a face in the crowd of people in the picture – Andreas Corelli. This disturbs him very much, and he roughly tells Isabella to pack everything away and for her to call a charity to pick up all the things the next day.

Following that incident, Martín goes up to his study. There is no mention of him giving his gift to Isabella, so maybe he forgot that in the consternation. As Martín sits at his desk, he realises he better make a start on Corelli’s book.

I asked myself if this was what the boss had seen in me, a mercenary mind with no qualms about hatching a narcotic story fir for sending small children to sleep, or for convincing some poor hopeless devil to murder his neighbour in exchange for the eternal gratitude of some god who subscribed to the rule of the gun.

Martín doesn’t really have any inspiration, but he practises what he preached to Isabella earlier and he sits down and starts cranking out words.

I find it interesting that Martín now refers to Corelli as ‘the boss’. It’s almost as if he wants to distance himself from Corelli, making Corelli less personal.

When Martín meets up with Corelli, Corelli is very much taken with the approach Martín has taken. Martín has started with a warrior messiah. When Corelli asks why, Martín launches into a rambling explanation about how males peak earlier than females.

‘A young man is the perfect soldier. He has great potential for aggression and a limited critical capacity – or none at all – with which to analyse it and judge how to channel it. Throughout history, societies have found ways of using this store of aggression, turning their adolescents into soldiers, cannon fodder with which to conquer their neighbours or defend themselves against their aggressors. Something told me that our protagonist was an envoy from heaven, but an envoy who, in the first flush of youth, took arms and liberated truth with blows of iron.’

Corelli seems impressed and asks a few more questions, for example how women fit into the whole narrative. Martín is quite dismissive about that.

‘The main pillar of every organised religion, with a few exceptions, is the subjugation, repression, even the annulment of women in the group. Woman must accept the role of an ethereal, passive and maternal presence, never of authority or independence, or she will have to take the consequences.’

I really had hoped Martín would do something radical, such as give women a place of power in his made up religion, but who was I kidding?

Corelli approves of the manuscript so far and of the direction Martín wants to take. He tells Martín he will need to be out of town and they then part ways. Martín muses for a bit, hoping that Corelli has taken the bait and swallowed the story Martín had spun for him. Martín has decided he needs time to figure out how deep in trouble he really is.

RIP Terry Pratchett

The news is hardy “new” anymore and a lot of people have written articles and blog posts expressing it much better than I ever could, but I still want to add my voice to the (hundreds of) thousands who are grieving the loss of Terry Pratchett. The man was brilliant with a fantastic mind that was capable of creating so many satirical stories. It is a tragedy that he was first robbed of his brilliant mind, and then of his life – far before his time. I still cannot believe he is really gone.

I have read almost all of his books and love almost all of them. The Night Watch series and the books about Tiffany Aching rank among my favourites, closely followed by the witches books. Rincewind can get on my nerves at times, but there is some very good satire to be found in those books. They are all amazing, really. I love Terry Pratchett for his satire and the way he perfectly captures all that is wrong in our society. But I also love him for creating strong, independent women like the witches and Tiffany Aching.

My first exposure to Terry Pratchett was at a book reading evening at a friend’s house. We all brought our favourite books and read short passages to the assembled crowd. I believe I brought a P.G. Wodehouse book. My friend Joe decided to read the first chapter of Guards! Guards! Joe is a very funny man and his reading was superb. I was hooked after the first page and by the end of the chapter, I was howling with laughter. The very next day I bought the book and I have never looked back. As I mentioned just now, I am a big P.G. Wodehouse fan and I have to say that Terry Pratchett ranks as high as Wodehouse in my books.

I know this post is inadequate to express my gratitude to Terry Pratchett for letting me into the Discworld and my sadness at the end of the adventure. However, I do believe that Terry Pratchett will never really die, his books will live on forever and we will always treasure them – and him.

Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett.

The Angel’s Game read-along: Act Two, Chapter 13 and 14

All right, another two chapters. I feel like I am slowly drowning in this book, but I will persevere. At least it is good to see that there were actual reasons why I didn’t really like the book the first time I read it. I know lots of people praise it to high heaven, but I just can’t get over how much I dislike Martín and I don’t think that was the author’s intention.

Onwards. Martín is moaning and complaining about having a woman in the house. A seventeen year old girl really who keeps annoying him with her chatter. He doesn’t harbour kind thoughts towards her, from wanting to strangle her to deciding he needs to find her a boyfriend. And just right there my estimation of Martín takes another plunge. I don’t care what the rituals around finding a suitable partner were around that time, but I find it very presumptuous of Martín to think that 1) Isabella needs a boyfriend, and 2) that it is up to Martín to “find her one”.

So he not-so-subtly asks her why she does not have a boyfriend. She counters by saying that she likes older men, men like Martín. And she asks him if he likes younger girls. Martín gets uncomfortable by this and tells her that is the end of the argument and she should go and write. So it was all right for him to question her lack of partner, but when she turns the tables and makes it about him, he suddenly wants to stop the conversation? How convenient.

Isabella says she doesn’t have any inspiration to write. That might be why she is cleaning the house like a madwoman, always bothering Martín. I was just wondering why she wasn’t doing what she was there for. Martín gives her a little pep talk in inspiration.

‘Inspiration comes when you stick your elbows on the table, your bottom on the chair and you start sweating. Choose a theme, an idea, and squeeze your brain until it hurts. That’s called inspiration.’

I consider myself called to order by this as well.

Isabella tells Martín she wants to write about him and she then asks about his own progression on his book. Martín tells her that he is still at the research stage. Martín tells her he is still trying to get to ‘the heart of the subject, to its emotional truth’. Isabella asks him what emotional truth is.

‘It’s sincerity within fiction.’
‘So, does one have to be an honest, good person to write fiction?’
‘No. One has to be skilled. Emotional truth is not a moral quality, it’s a technique.’
‘You sound like a scientist,’ protested Isabella.
‘Literature, at least good literature, is science tempered with the blood of art. Like architecture or music.’
‘I thought it was something that sprang from the artist, just like that, all of a sudden.’
‘The only things that spring all of a sudden are unwanted body hair and warts.’

Nice passage, and I think there is a lot of truth in what Martín tells Isabella.

Isabella brings the conversation around to Corelli again and she once again asks Martín what he is writing. He finally gives in and tells her he is writing a fable, a legend. Isabella asks him if he is writing it because of the money, but Martín says he is writing it because he has to, he owes Corelli.

Eventually Martín sends her away to go and write. Isabella hesitates, then tells him she likes being his assistant.

The girl was staring at me as if her life depended on a kind word. I yielded to temptation. Good words are a vain benevolence that demand no sacrifice and are more appreciated than real acts of kindness.

dicaprio cheers 2

So Martín says some empty, meaningless kind words, and Isabella leaves his room mollified. I guess Isabella is a real teenager – one time moody, the next almost manically cheerful, then sulky, then snarky – but it is really getting on my nerves and I can see why Martín doesn’t really like her. He feels sorry for her, but he doesn’t like her.

The next chapter opens with Martín going to a bookshop to get a Bible. He goes to Gustavo Barceló’s bookshop and we are somehow supposed to know or remember who this person is. Now, admit I am terrible with names in books, but the only bookseller I remember is Sempere. Maybe a one sentence (re-) introduction would not have been amiss.

Barceló is happy to see Martín and comments on his appearance.

‘Next to you, Valentino looks like someone just back from the salt mines.’

So did Martín become more good-looking as part of his deal with Corelli?

The bookseller is surprised to hear Martín wants a Bible, but calls for his assistant.

‘Dalmau, our friend Martín here needs a Bible that is legible, not decorative. I’m thinking of Torres Amat, 1825. What do you think?’
One of the peculiarities of Barceló’s bookshop was that books were spoken about as if they were exquisite wines, catalogues by bouquet, aroma, consistency and vintage.

Sounds like my kind of bookshop!

While Damau is digging up a suitable Bible for Martín, Barceló tells Martín that he was recently in Paris and made some enquiries about Corelli’s publishing company, Éditions de la Lumière. Apparently Sempere has asked him to. He has found out that the publishing company was established in 1881 and closed down in 1914, apparently because of a fire. Corelli retired to the country, was bit by a viper and died.

Of course Martín cannot believe this information. He has seen Corelli not that long ago, so how can he be dead? Of course he does not tell Barceló any of that.

Barceló had been talking to an old enemy of Corelli’s who was mad at Corelli for stealing one of his authors, Lambert.

‘Lambert was a terminal opium addict and had accumulated enough debts to pave Due de Rivoli from end to end. Coligny suspected that Corelli had offered Lambert an astronomical sum and that the poor man, who was dying, had accepted it because he wanted to leave his children well provided for.’

Sounds like a familiar situation.

Barceló goes on to tell Martín that the book Corelli asked Lambert to write for him was a religious text. Lambert had a fit of madness and set fire to the manuscript, himself and the offices of the publishing company.

‘A lot of people thought the opium had frazzled his brains, but Coligny suspected that it was Corelli who had pushed him towards suicide.’

Barceló is discounting Coligny’s story, especially since Coligny had warned Barceló to stay away from Corelli, even though he also told Barceló that Corelli was dead, but Martín is not so confident that it was just the ravings of a madman.

As I walked away from the shop a cold anxiety began to invade me and I had the feeling that the streets and my destiny were set on nothing but quicksand.

The Angel’s Game read-along: Act Two, Chapters 11 and 12

Martín leaves his house as he is annoyed about Isabella cleaning his house. He wants to research religions, so he goes to the library to do so. He is planning to immerse himself in the texts –

anything rather than think about Cristina, Don Pedro and their life as a married couple.

Maybe it’s because I read this book so slowly at the moment, but Martín’s feelings for Cristina feel very inconsistent. It is almost as if the two plots of the book – his love for Cristina and his dealings with Corelli – are two separate stories, one not having anything to do with the other. And two different Martín’s experiencing them.

Martín asks Isabella to help him with his research by finding catechisms and school books and writing summaries of them. Isabella asks him whether this is for the book he is writing for Corelli and Martín tries to cut her short. Isabella remarks – rather snarkily –

‘I get the feeling it’s not a book that will have much commercial scope.’

I thought Isabella wanted to be a writer herself, I am surprised she cares much about the commerciality of a book. Martín apparently thinks so too, as he says,

‘In commercial art – and all art that is worthy of the name is commercial sooner or later – stupidity is almost always in the eye of the beholder.’
‘Are you calling me stupid?’
‘I am calling you to order. Do as I say.’

If you have been following the read-alongs, you know I don’t usually agree with Martín, but in this instance, I do. I find Isabella increasingly more annoying. She is probably a typical teenager – full of herself and very presumptuous.

Martín goes back to the library and he builds a connection with the librarian there, Eulalia. He discusses with Eulalia that the texts he has been reading are exceedingly boring and that most religions are very similar. Eulalia confesses to Martín she is trying to write a book, along the lines of Ignatius B. Samson. Martín does not give away that he is Ignatius B. Samson, but Eulalia already knows.

The chat a bit about religion and Eulalia makes a remark that indicates she was raised by nuns. Marín asks,

‘Is it true what they say, that girls from convent schools are the ones who harbour the darkest and most unmentionable desires?’
‘I bet you’d love to find out.’
‘You can put all chips on “yes”.’

Has Cristina been forgotten so soon, or is Martín just perpetually horny and it doesn’t matter to him who is willing to sleep with him?

Later, Eulalia remarks,

‘A shame I didn’t meet you when I was a school girl with dark desires.’
‘You’re cruel, Eulalia.’
The librarian laughed heartily, looking me in the eyes.
‘Tell me, Ignatius B., who has broken your heart and left you so angry?’

I wonder why Eulalia concluded that he broke his heart and that he is angry. Nothing in the exchange above – which read as quite flirty from both sides – indicated that Martín is angry or bitter or suffering from a broken heart.

A little later, Martín is done at the library and says goodbye to Eulalia.

At dinner, Martín is distracted and Isabella keeps bothering him with questions.

‘Why are you so sad? Is it because of that woman?’
I went on stirring my soup. Isabella didn’t take her eyes off me.
‘Her name is Cristina,’ I said, eventually. ‘And I am not sad. I’m pleased for her because she’s married my best friend and she’s going to be very happy.’
‘And I’m the Queen of Sheba.’
‘You’re a busybody, that’s what you are.’
‘I prefer you like this, when you’re in a foul mood, because you tell the truth.’
‘Then let’s see how you like this: clear off to your room and leave me in peace.’

Isabella leaves the table, cleans up her plate and goes to her room to sulk and cry. What did she expect? Martín is already not happy to have her there, and she somehow feels it’s her right to probe into his deepest feelings and tease him when he tries to shut her out. I don’t blame Martín for telling her to go to her room, she should mind her own business.

After that delightful interlude, Martín goes to his study – which has been immaculately cleaned by Isabella – and finds a summons from Corelli. He has to meet Corelli on the top of the main tower of the cable railway on Saturday.

Martín is afraid of heights, so the trip to the tower and the cable railway is not his favourite trip. Corelli asks him what he has been up to, and Martín tells him about the boring research he has been doing. Corelli commends him and then suggests that Martín leaves the theologists alone and go straight to the sources. He recommends Martín to read the Bible.

Martín confesses that he doesn’t really know anything.

‘Follow that path and you will find the footsteps of the great philosopher. And along the way read the Bible from start to finish. It’s one of the greatest stories ever told. Don’t make the mistake of confusing the word of God with the missal industry that lives off it.’
The longer I spent in the company of the publisher, the less I understood him.
‘I’m quite lost. We were talking about legends and fables and now you’re telling me that I must think of the Bible as the word of God?’
A shadow of impatience and irritation clouded his eyes.
‘I’m speaking figuratively. God isn’t a charlatan. The word is human currency.’

That does not make it any more clear, but it is interesting that Corelli talks about God as if he knows Him. Martín is none the wiser about what Corelli thinks, but he is slightly distracted by the cable car swaying. He doesn’t quite feel safe and Corelli teases him about it.

Martín tells Corelli his findings – that the religious texts didn’t teach him much apart from that most religions are similar. Corelli asks Martín,

‘Tell me, are you interested in fables?’
‘When I was small, for about two months I wanted to be Aesop.’
‘We all give up great expectations along the way.’
‘What did you want to be as a child, Señor Corelli?’
He leered like a jackal, wiping the smile off my face.

Devil meme

Corelli then tells Martín that fables are better at conveying a religion, as humans learn better through fables and stories than through lessons. He instructs Martín to now concentrate on fables – Brothers Grimm, Greek mythology and Celtic legends. He orders Martín to take three weeks and then come up with the beginning of a story for him.

‘I want you to make me believe.’
‘I thought we were professionals and couldn’t commit the sin of believing in anything.’
Corelli smiled, baring his teeth.
‘One can only convert a sinner, never a saint.’

Very interesting indeed, Corelli is getting more and more mysterious.

Genres – or: Who am I kidding?

Well, February was a very bad month for me writing-wise. In fact, I didn’t write anything at all, except for my blog and even that was painful. I did do a lot of crocheting though, I finished a baby blanket and started a giant granny square afghan, so I have not been completely devoid of creativity this month.

However, I think I have found the problem with my book. I was just stuck, the story was getting boring and if the writer is bored, the reader is going to be extremely bored. I didn’t know how to fix it and I lost faith in my story. Now, if this were November and I was in the middle of NaNoWriMo, I would have just kept writing at all costs, but since I didn’t have that deadline looming, I just didn’t write at all. Not the best decision, but there we are.

Anyhow, I think I am just trying to be too artistic and literary with my book. I wanted to write realistic fiction and I think I was just kidding myself. I am really not that good a writer. I clearly can’t write a whole novel based on character development alone, I felt like my main character was just getting too whiny and annoying. Not good! I think things would improve a whole lot more if my characters actually fell in love and we can go from there. There is always this prejudice against chick lit, but I think that is exactly what my story is. I was just too snobby to recognise it and in the process, I almost killed my story (and my will to continue with it).

So I apologise if I have gone down in your estimation by confessing that I will probably write a chick lit book, although if you’re the type of person who turns their nose up at chick lit, then boo to you. I have already decided that I am not going to be a published writer – I just don’t have the time to try and get my story published, let alone publish and market it myself –  so I am going to write for myself. Maybe I will at some point share it with someone, but as long as I only write it for myself, I will take more risks with it and go with where it wants to go regardless of whether that is the “respected” path.

So, to use a Seinfeld quote: “I’m back, Jerry, I’m back!”

The Angel’s Game read-along: Act Two, Chapters 9 and 10

Martín is driven home from Corelli’s place by a man in an ancient Rolls Royce. Very appropriate as the symbol of a Rolls Royce is an angel. As Martín leaves the car and walks to his home, he contemplates his situation.

I asked myself what I had done, and, choosing not to seek an answer, I set off towards my house feeling as if the whole world was a prison from which there was no escape.

So reality seems to finally be catching up with our hero. The euphoria of the money and his renewed health has worn off and Martín realises just how much trouble he could be in. But he chooses not to examine the situation too closely.

He comes home and opens the windows of his study, as it is a very hot night. Looking out over the city, he notices a girl sleeping on a doorstep in an alley. It’s Isabella. He also notices two men advancing on her. Martín does not really want to have anything to do with Isabella – or with the whole situation really – but even he realises that if he doesn’t do anything, the men will assault Isabella. So he goes downstairs and scares them off with a metal bar. He is willing to use the bar on the men and the one man immediately backs off. The other is still trying to scare Martín off with a knife, but when he realises Martín is not afraid to use the metal bar, he also backs off.

Martín takes Isabella to his house, makes her a bath and something to eat and puts her in bed. The following morning he goes to see her parents. Isabella had told Martín that her father wanted to kill Martín, so Martín goes in with a bit of an attitude, but it is soon apparent that the poor father is very worried about Isabella. Apparently Isabella had run away from home, as she felt that her parents didn’t understand her. It does not paint a very nice picture of Isabella at all, as her parents clearly love her and are worried for her.

Isabella’s mom is particularly worried. She tells Martín,

‘Only last night, just round the corner from here, two labourers on their way home were given a terrible beating. Imagine! It seems they were battered with an iron pole, smashed to bits like dogs. One of them might not survive, and it looks like the other one will be crippled for life.’

Now, why do I feel a chill down my spine?

Martín promises Isabella’s parents that he will keep Isabella safe and give her a place to live in his big house. He is determined to drive her away by being very cynical and strict and when he gets back to his house, he immediately lays down the law with her.

‘You can stay here under the following conditions: one, that you go and spend some time in the shop every day, to say hello to your parents and tell them you’re well; and two, that you obey me and follow the rules of this house.’

When Isabella questions what the rules of the house are, Martín simply says ‘Whatever I damn well please.’

Isabella hugs him and goes off to tidy Martín’s study.

I can’t figure Martín out, he clearly doesn’t want to have anything to do with Isabella, but he does promise her parents he will keep her safe and will look after her. We know from the previous chapters (we’re now almost halfway in the book) that Martín is not particularly altruistic, so why he takes Isabella on is a mystery. He does say he is determined to drive her away, so that is more in character for him. We’ll see how that all evolves.