Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Past and Present - A Guest Post by Cathryn Leigh

Today has been a very special day here at the Leaning Tower of Plot. For starters, this little corner of the internet has welcomed its 30th (and 31st!) follower! Welcome to the fold all, and I hope you enjoy your time in this little bastion of madness.

In other news, it has also been a very special day for one of my bestest buddies, the lovely Cathryn Leigh from over at Elorithryn's Diary. Today, she finally published the final chapter to Phoenix Triumphant, the last of the Vervellian Phoenix trilogy! And, as her prime squealing fan (seriously, I'm really quite terrifying when I squee, ask any of the readers!) I though today would be a good day to lend her the reins to this little pony and let her bask in her glory.

So, without further ado, here's Cayla on books from her past that still have influence on her present:

When I offered to do a blog post exchange (or at least that’s what it ended up being) I asked Charley for some direction on what I should write. She wanted to know what my favorite books from childhood were and how they influenced my writing.?Childhood was a long time ago, or so it feels, despite my ability to become a giggling and squealing teen at a moment’s notice. *grin* that’s just me not growing old, sadly my body still ages and occasionally memory goes with it. Anyway, back to favorite authors from child hood. I’m going to extend it into my teen years and early adult hood, as well, otherwise I’ll be skipping the most important one. So, in chronological order:

•   C. S. Lewis – All seven Narnia books
My Narnia books were so well read they were falling apart by the time I was ten, didn’t know he wrote Sci-Fi too until recently. Oh how I wanted to find a portal to another world. Since that wasn’t likely to happen I started writing about one.

•   Laura Ingles Wilder – All nine books
Forget the “Little House on the Prairie” show, I had all eight of her books, before I found out they were a biography of her life (and her husband’s). I had to read them all over again after that, plus procuring one published after her death in its raw form*. I also bought a biography on her life.?* “First Four Years” reads completely differently from the other novels. It was my first glimpse into what editing can mean.

•   J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy
I can’t remember when these books were first read to me, but I was fascinated by the maps. I absolutely loved having maps to look at to see where the heroes had come from and gone, which probably started the love affair I have now with map making.

•   Anne McCaffrey – everything, or at least nearly everything
I started with her Harper Hall trilogy and quickly moved to the Dragon riders of Pern trilogy. She’s bolded because she had the biggest influence on me. What I like best is how Anne McCaffrey melded fantasy – dragons that bond to riders – with science fiction – the humans are colonists who have gone low tech by choice. There is no magic on Pern, other than some of the mental abilities of the Dragons, which turn out to be a combination of something the humans bred in to them and the survival tactic of the indigenous animal they were bred from.I too use a fantasy backed by facts approach in my writing. It creates a logical flow to follow and a need to attend to detail. Something a few people have noticed I have a knack for. (So much so, that rather than having plot holes in my first drafts I have plot mountains. *grin and chuckle* Okay, not quite, but ask Charley or Miriam if they stumbled into any large plot holes in the first draft of Phoenix Triumphant?) There are some other authors who have likely influenced me, I’ve listed them below. I’m only considering them because I don’t have to look at my book shelf to remember their names. I suspect they helped me develop my vocabulary and word usage. Probably taught me grammar without my knowledge too. Just like everything else I’ve read.

•   Marrion Zimmer Bradley – Thendara House Trilogy and a couple other Darkover novels (another fantasy meets science-fiction)

•   Mercedes Lackey – The Black Swan and as a collaborator with Anne McCaffrey (for some of her science fiction works)

•   Orson Scott Card – Ender’s books, I read them all one summer

•   Douglas Adams – Hitchhikers ‘trilogy’ (he shares my maiden name *giggles*)

•   Terry Prachett – Rincewind and a couple other books, I created the Sapient Radio as an ode to Luggage, in a crazy collaboration on Protagonize.

However I cannot deny the influence Anne McCaffrey has had on my work? She got me though a tumultuous time in my teen years. She’s the only author I’ve written fan fiction for (two stories, in fact). *grin* Not to mention, I’ve memorized a number of the songs from her books, and have been known to sing them as lullabies to my kids.?
:} Cathryn Leigh


Was anyone else squeeing as much as I was while reading that? So many of her favourite books are mine as well! What about you guys? Do you share the Tolkein and Pratchett fangirl affliction? Have any of you read a lot of Anne McCaffrey's Pern books - I have yet to get my mits on them, much to my ever-mounting horror.

Also, as a final Easter Egg of fun, clicking on the "Vervellian Phoenix" link up the top there will not only bring up Cayla's lovely stories (which you'd better read fast before she takes them in for edits!), but also proof of our madness and buddyship. Possibly both at the same time, hee hee!

- Charley R


  1. One last missing paragraph break at the End of my Anne McCaffrey schpeil (however you spell that), where the ? is "Triumphant.)?There "

    And did my comment not get posted for some obsure reason *Sigh* I thought I said something but apparently not...

    Anyway DId you fall into any large plot holes while reading Pheonix triumphant's first draft, fresh from NaNo?

    :} Cathryn / Elorithryn / Cayla
    (Did you notice youused all three of my main names?) :}

    1. Whoops! I shall get that now :)

      No, you did comment - I had to re-do the post in order to fix the formatting. Turns out Blogger doesn't like rich text format when it comes to templates, hee hee!

      No, I don't think I did - just a few chapters jiggled about in funny places in the original, but nothing wrong with the version you've posted up. Just typos and grammatical stuff really, which is very admirable for a first draft!

      Hee hee, you and your multiple names xD

    2. Why do you think I was able to write a whole blog post on names? *giggles*

      Yes I suspect that was all in the begining before I fell into the NaNo groove and was struggling to figure out where the stroy was going. hence the greyed out areas that should not have been read (but can still be fun to read).

      And what I posted on Protagonize I would consider a third draft - Draft 1 NaNo edition - draft two - removing the gey areas and doing a spell check/minor phrasing (though that happens more when I got from handwritten to computer) - draft three masaging the text to make it say what I want and checking consitency of events.

      Wonder what you'd think of my first draft of The Nueri. *grin* That I expect to be even more horrible. By the end of NaNo I started to wonder if there was any plot at all *snickers*

    3. Don't worry, that was so true for me and most of my Hakel stories ... which i reallly need to get back to. i got a good way into Vidal's story, I should probably finish it, brush it up and put it up on Protag so you can meet him at last ... and marvel at the sheer scale of his sneakery xD

  2. I have a feeling I was sort of responsible for the Sapients. I was writing that right after I finished 'The Colour Of Magic', and I think that's how the microwave got legs... O.o

    I don't know so much about plot holes as just frayed edges. Like, I could see where the carpet was going to be, but it hadn't quite been woven yet. And this reminds me, I have a book to edit-read - and a guest post to look over! Now where did I put it? Alas, I cannae remember... :(

    The Hitchhikers books are TOO AWESOME for words. I've been listening to the soundtrack to the movie today, as well. "So Long and Thanks For All The Fish" makes me far too happy.

    1. I LOVE that song too! Makes me way too happy when I listen to it xD

  3. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read the Dragons of Pern series. *hangs head* They should probably be on my to-read list, haha! However, I loved The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid. I also really loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and I'm a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, books and movies! I can't wait to see The Hobbit in theaters this December! :D

    Also, I've heard lots of good things about the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and it's on my to-read list. :)

    Great list, Cathryn!

    1. HOBBITS!!! Sorry, I think I've had Middle-Earth withdrawal symptoms after I realised there would be no new Tolkein stuff ... even after the Silmarillion, Children of Hurin and the Unfinished Tales (which I can't bring myself to read, because I would start crying that I'd never know the end, lawl!)

      You should read Hitchhiker's. It's hilarious xD