Tuesday, 3 July 2018

WAYWARD SISTERS: or what went wrong with Supernatural spin-off - in my opinion

I don’t know why I feel so compelled to write about WAYWARD SISTERS after all this time. I guess because even now it’s still bugging the hell out of me for a number of reasons. So here are my thoughts on why I think it went wrong and missed its chance to become a good show I personally would have loved to watch. I remember getting quite excited when I heard about the plans for a female-headlined SUPERNATURAL spin-off. I thought it was a really good idea. I also thought, back then, that it would center around Jody and Donna – two very different but enjoyable characters, who make a very good team, who have some hunting experience, and who, I believed, were the most likely candidates for a show of their own, hunting monsters and saving people – like Sam and Dean or Bobby and Rufus – while bringing their own unique ways in the process. I was so looking forward to that.
However, what it turned out to be was 95% of unnecessary family drama (I’m sorry but haven’t we seen it all before?) and only 5% of fighting actual supernatural monsters – and even that part was so insipid that I’m not at all surprised that the show wasn’t picked. It simply failed to deliver what it was supposed to deliver as a SUPERNATURAL spin-off. If you have to ask – no, it was not supposed to deliver an episode heavily based on maudlin family drama, revolving around same old issues that have been plaguing the original show since the very beginning, and that have been resolved to a certain extent and with varying degrees of success in the course of its long run. So that was the first big problem that I had with WAYWARD SISTERS: too much drama and very little actual plot.
The second problem for me was that the creators chose one of the most controversial and problematic recurring characters to make their lead and pin their meager I-have-to-save-Sam-and-Dean plot on. I can’t help feeling that the writers painted themselves into a corner with Claire’s character, because every time there appears to be a slim chance of her further development and improvement, they snatch it away and push her back into a troubled-teenager-with-messed-up-past box – bizarrely, they also chose to make that tangled web of parental issues, frustration, insecurity, arrogance and devil-may-care attitude the central plotline of the pilot, which took a lot of screen time and utterly failed to bring anything remotely new or original to the show.
The third problem for me was the unnecessary overpopulation of old and new characters who had virtually nothing to do other than watch Claire and Jody butt heads, and, from time to time, when the occasion required, run around, pointing guns and shooting when in sight of otherworldly creatures. Unfortunately, such characters as Donna and Alex became little more than a background noise, supporting characters at best, pushed aside for the sake of the newcomers. But did we really need another psychic or a dream-walker-slash-messed-up-kid thrown into the mix? Personally, I think it would have made for a much more solid story if the writers concentrated their efforts on the smaller number of characters that we have already come to know and love and invest in and provided them with meaning and substance rather than extreme cardio workout. After all, the quantity of the characters doesn’t make for the quality of the story.
I also find it ironic that on SUPERNATURAL it has been stressed again and again that hunting life is not the kind of life that you choose or encourage anyone to take up. I mean, there has always been so much talk about Sam’s chance at going to college and having a normal life or Mary’s wish to live a normal life with her husband and kids. And here we have a bright young girl (Patience) with a bright future ahead of her and instead of leaving her be to have that future she is pushed into hunting life because of her abilities – that, when you think about it, could be just as easily used for good in some other way. Does it make any sense at all? How come she doesn’t deserve a chance at normal? How did hunting suddenly become a job that you actually encourage young girls to take up rather than an obscure and dangerous lifestyle that people are forced into because of loss, revenge and other supernaturally-effected circumstances?
Finally, the last but not the least of my problems with the pilot was that ridiculous “rescue mission” that constituted the rest of the plot. I don’t think that the notion of Sam and Dean being rescued by women (or teenage girls, in this case) is ridiculous. It was the writing that made it so. By choosing to provide comic effect for entertainment’s sake when introducing the boys – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought that Sam and Dean couldn’t look less like two people in need of saving – the writers failed to represent their situation as truly dangerous and convince the audience that they were in dire straits to justify that contrived plot of theirs; and by choosing to disregard their extensive experience, skills and abilities, including excellent intuition and sense of direction, they did their characters a great disservice by suggesting that they wouldn’t be able to find a way out on their own.
If you need to manipulate characters and their capabilities by degrading them in order to fit your plot, then maybe you’re just not good at your job. Incidentally, it reflected poorly on the rescue party as well, at least in my eyes, because you can’t make someone look strong by deliberately weakening someone else and then, adding insult to injury, condescendingly make it miraculously easy for the girls to find and rescue the boys. I guess if your purpose is to push through the show that you seem to be more interested in than the current one you’re working on, then that’s how you would go about it… Unfortunately, that’s the impression that I got. And what made the whole thing even more unconvincing was the fact that Sam and Dean had spent over a day in that place without either finding their way back or being attacked by anyone or anything, making it look to all intents and purposes as though it was a picnic gone wrong – and it wasn’t until Claire and Kaia were finally on their way to save them that Sam and Dean ended up in any danger at all. 
Yet that wasn’t even the most ridiculous part. I guess the prize goes to that one-person ambush that had the two of them down in less than a minute, bound and ready to be served for dinner. I have to ask: is it some kind of game that these writers play, where they decide whether to increase or decrease the capabilities of the characters, depending on the circumstances that they put them in? In the end, I would have preferred to have the pilot without the boys in it, rather than have them being written in solely for comic relief and treated as a plot device to showcase that girls can also be heroes. I wanted to see a well-written story that would not employ tricks and gimmicks to achieve its end. I wanted to see an engaging story that would not use overblown and overused drama and would give each character a fair chance to show themselves. I wanted to see a compelling story about kick-ass women who hunt and kill monsters, who use their wits, skills, expertise and resources to solve a challenging case before them, and who save someone actually in need of saving. 


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Just checking in... in case anyone cares...

I feel really sorry for my poor blog for neglecting it but as I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who ever comes here I don’t think it matters one way or another. The good thing is that unlike last time when I went radio silent I have actually been writing quite a lot. However, I’ve been concentrating on my Ukrainian projects for the most part and on my other blog that I co-pilot with a fellow writer, where I’ve been posting my on-going Ukrainian fantasy project for the last three months. I’m still hoping to find that hole in the Ukrainian book market’s impenetrable wall to slither through somehow. I haven’t had any luck so far. I even submitted my fairy-tale to a contest back in March… and nothing – another big fat failure. I also submitted it to another contest just yesterday. I’m hopeful. I have to be. I just need a win, you know? I mean, just one freaking win after all these years of constant writing and no results. Anyway, I’m writing. I have lots of ideas and that’s what’s important. Unfortunately, utter lack of feedback or publication is a huge downer and sometimes it’s just too much. I have no luck at getting readers or finding an agent, or getting published, or winning a contest or even doing publicity on different social networking sites and I have no writing friends or contacts who would help me with the promotion stuff and all that just stinks of complete and utter failure. On the plus side, I found an illustrator who has already created these two charming portraits. So feast your eyes upon lovely Ethelinda of Grimwood and her temperamental daughter Nermina the Woman-Snake!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Book Review: THROUGH THE LAST DOOR by J.A. Jaken

It's been a while since I wrote one of these but I honestly don’t remember the last time I read a book that not only hooked my interest but kept me interested till the very end; that brought me so many varied emotions and so much sincere pleasure. From the moment I started reading THROUGH THE LAST DOOR I had an impression of a masterfully crafted book, steeped in history, tradition, myth and lore of that incredible fantasy world the author has created. I felt like every word and every sentence was cherished and honed to perfection, creating a deliciously rich narrative, full of vivid descriptions, endearing characters, intriguing relationships and steadfast friendships. I liked the fact that the author didn’t throw us right into action but gave us time to acquaint ourselves with the world and the characters around us – gave us an opportunity to invest in their goals and well-being before jumping into the fray – so that when one of them perished half-way through the book the shock and the blow were severe and real indeed. I actually cried. I could not believe that such an amazing character was gone for good and so soon too! I really want to thank the author for gradually easing us into the story and for creating such an amazing set of characters: Kaori, Hunter, Yura, Ben, Haku, Ishaya, Malo, others… brave and strong, honest and loyal, intelligent and wise, fierce and gentle, funny and grave, insecure and full of doubts... I thought that the book took a somewhat different route as compared to other fantasy stories so that the events unfolding on its pages took me completely by surprise. I also enjoyed the romance, which, just like the rest of the story, wasn’t rushed. It was sweet and tender and precious and heartwarming. I knew before long that this was the book that I would come back to again and again. I like books that make me feel like coming back home to family and friends and I think that THROUGH THE LAST DOOR is one such book. I have downloaded it for free but I have already bought the second book in the series and I can’t wait to return to Kazure. However, I am strongly tempted to reread the first book again :) I am that much in love with it!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Новый блог и новый проект - фэнтези сага на украинском языке

В начале этого года у меня возник вопрос: писать или не писать? А с ним и другой вопрос: вести или не вести литературный блог? Эти вопросы породили целый пост, в результате которого ответ, несмотря ни на что, был однозначным. Писать! И блогу тоже быть! Ну что ж, как говорится, сказано - сделано. Мой новый блог называется "Под сенью волшебного леса" или "Під дахом чарівного лісу", так как блог будет на русском и украинском языках. Вести я его буду совместно с Анной Шевченко. На этом блоге я буду публиковать свой новый проект Хроніки Високогірного Королівства. Некогда этот проект был англоязычным и назывался "Альмендра". Однако в "Хроніках" описываются события, которые произошли задолго до рождения Альмендры. Надеюсь кого-то эта новость заинтересует. 

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Писать или не писать – вот в чем вопрос.

Вот уже несколько лет подряд, особенно в начале года, я собираюсь вернуться к ведению своего заброшенного писательского блога, понимая, к моему большому сожалению, что растеряла всех своих онлайн знакомых за то долгое время, что ничего не писала. Да и время блогов, мне кажется, тоже осталось в прошлом; они утратили свою актуальность, а главное потерялись на фоне огромного количества соцсетей, где больше не нужно что-то выдумывать или особо напрягаться, поражая всех своим талантом сочинителя или глубиной мысли. Теперь не до этого. Просто поделитесь забавным видео, умилительной картинкой или коротенькой публикацией о том, что съели сегодня на завтрак или увидели из окна машины. Готово. А в ответ на чей-то пост можно просто отделаться лайком или смайликом. Зачем напрягаться? Кажется, на большее нас уже не хватает. Ну, в лучшем случае, можно поделиться ссылкой. И уж совсем, в крайнем случае, если пишите о чем-то наболевшем или на злобу дня, кто-то может и комментарий оставить. Вау. 

И тем не менее, если вы пишете и всегда писали, то знаете, что желание писать не зависит от моды на блоги или соцсети или даже на чтение как на общую тенденцию, и что, как-бы всё вокруг не менялось, вас все равно будет тянуть поделиться своими художественно оформленными мыслями, наблюдениями, впечатлениями, сочинениями и, в конечном итоге, готовыми произведениями. Вопрос заключается только в одном – будет ли кто-то читать то, что вы пишете под влиянием то ли музы, то ли переизбытка фантазии, то ли желания что-то доказать? В конце концов, ведь есть так много известных писателей, которых то и дело переиздают из года в год все кому не лень. Кто будет тратить время и читать то, что пишете вы – писатель-невидимка? В этом месте у меня на лице появляется ироничная улыбка, и я качаю головой. Как ни странно, но даже отсутствие читателей не влияет на желание что-нибудь сочинить или написать. Так что хотите – читайте, хотите – нет, а писать я все равно буду. Как говорится, и смешно и плакать хочется. 

Большую часть своей «писательской жизни» я писала на английском языке, а потом решила «вернуться к истокам» что ли, и написать что-то на украинском, попробовать найти свое местечко на украинском книжном рынке. Губу раскатала… Такое впечатление, что тут уже все друг друга знают, а тем, кого не знают – хода нет. Да и состояние нашего книжного рынка с точки зрения писателя оставляет желать лучшего. Литературные агенты – это какие-то мифические существа, о которых все слышали, но никто наверняка не знает, где они обитают и чем, собственно, занимаются. Издательства есть и не мало, но они в основном занимаются переизданием классики, известных имен, или же просто печатают «своих». Иногда встречаются и те, которые рассматривают рукописи от «чужих», но только не совсем понятно, какую ответственность и какие обязательства они на себя берут как издательство, напечатав вашу книгу. А если вы всё должны делать сами, то толку от такого издательства? 

В общем, все очень плохо. 

Но даже это не может остановить того, кто пишет, и кто, по определению, не может без этого жить. Как бы драматично это не звучало для людей не пишущих, те, кто пишут, точно знают, о чем я говорю. А ведь написано уже не мало, как на английском, так и на украинском. И, как у любого творческого человека, существует огромная потребность поделиться плодами своего воображения, своих многолетних стараний, и, в некоторых случаях, страданий, а также результатами своих творческих экспериментов с другими. Так что блогу быть – ведь идеи и желание его вести есть. А там, кто знает, может и читатели появятся. Так что –

 Продолжение следует…

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

It's the end of November - another year is swiftly coming to an end - I can almost hear the sleigh bells ring and smell the enticing scent of firs and pines - and I am once again taking stock of what I have accomplished so far. Hm! Not much, I'm afraid. I have once again failed to find an agent or a publisher, win a writing competition and publish any of my books. I have, however, completed two major writing projects (a fairy-tale and a regency) and even wrote a 57K fanfic in under two months. I am between projects at the moment (a fantasy and a fairy-tale) and I am gravitating towards one or another depending on my mood. I might be posting one of them here on my blog throughout the months of December and January but I am still deliberating on that point.  That's it. My starry writing career is but a vapour and the longer I linger in the writing limbo the more I become convinced that I shall never be published.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

In a surprising turn of events I completed my latest Regency on the last day of summer. It was not my intention to do so - I had no clear deadline in mind - and I was rather shocked to discover how much I'd written in the course of summer. I was just writing. It was difficult at first. I resumed my work on it some time in March. The progress was slow. Then summer came and I had a lot more free time. I started writing more without realizing it and when my heroine arrived in London I understood that the end was nigh. I'm still in shock that I have actually done it - after so many years of carrying it around - and that my book stands at around 120K now. I know that revision will take its toll, but still - !