I love having this blog where Eric and I can take you behind the scenes for a little peek into the inspiration for our books. We must be careful, however, not to reveal too much and give out any spoilers! We don't want to ruin any of the surprises.
With that in mind, one of my favorite minor characters whom you'll meet in RISE OF ALLIES, Part I, is Constanzio, King of the Tenors! It is actually very rare that we would take inspiration directly from a real person, but when I saw this classic clip of the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, I knew we had our opera ghost.
Since the arts play such a prominent role in this book, it seemed like the perfect chance to pay a humble fictional tribute to one of the greatest musical artists of the last century. Enjoy this brief clip of the larger-than-life Pavarotti ~ or maybe, like Jake, you're just seeing a ghost!
Amazing voice aside, I love his crazy facial expressions and contagious smile. I can see why millions around the world hailed Pavarotti as the rightful owner of the title, king of the tenors! But did you know that Pavarotti was actually an elementary school teacher for two years before becoming a worldwide star? Can you imagine having him as a teacher?? Now that would be a fun day at school!
La Donna e Mobile ~ from "Rigoletto" (1851) by Guiseppi Verdi
Everybody's heard this classical song in commercials, but what does it mean? Now you know!
(Translation from www.classicalmusic.about.com)
To watch an excellent mini-biography video of Luciano Pavarotti, click here.
For example, it was considered good luck to jump over the Beltane bonfire if it was small enough. Or they would build two fires and the daredevils wanting good luck would have to run between them. In other regions, they contented themselves with simply baking a bannock cake over the "lucky" fire and that way, they could consume the good luck. Not all places celebrated the same way.
However, if there is one enduring symbol of May Day, it is the charming sight of people dancing around the May pole. Below you'll find a video from an elementary school in England where the little girls from the school demonstrate dancing around the May pole. The video is a little long but if you scroll ahead you'll enjoy, I think, seeing the parents and the rest of the community join in this merry, ancient tradition. It's really pretty adorable.
Below that, if you're wondering what the boys were doing on May Day while the girls were dancing around the May pole, it's called Morris dancing! (Nowadays, Morris dancing is for both genders, but originally it was a war- or sword-themed dance for men.) I love seeing modern people committed to ancient traditions handed down to them from centuries worth of their ancestors! Happy Beltane ~ and Enjoy! ~ G.
Morris Dancing in Victorian times... (Don't forget, May 1 is Jake's birthday! Our buddy is turning 13, as you'll see in the next installment of the Gryphon Chronicles...)
Careful walking in the forest...
From The Dark Portal, Ch. 16: Pixie Mischief
Suddenly, Jake and Dani were under siege as the pixies rained down acorns on them like cannonballs and started shooting their bows at them with splinter-sized arrows.
"Ow! Ow!" Jake and Dani said.
"Release Whortleberry! Put him down, you oversized oafs!"
More pixies joined the fray. They swung down off the branch above by bits of twine and landed on their heads and shoulders, where they proceeded to beat them and pull their hair...
On the Wee Folk of the Forest
To find out what happens next, read The Dark Portal!
Hi Guys! Gael here. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but poetry was my first love as a writer, long before I started writing fiction. I took some playwriting courses too while earning my Literature degree, but fiction was where I ultimately ended up. (All three are very, very different and take different skill sets, of course.) In any case, I no longer write poems, but I still love all kinds of poetry, and since April is National Poetry Month, I picked a few to share with my blog visitors, ones that I especially think kids will enjoy.
If poetry frightens you, here's my opinion on the matter. The trick to enjoying a poem is not to overanalyze it. Parsing a poem to try to "get the meaning out of it" is a little like dissecting a butterfly to figure out how it can fly. You kill the thing.
A poem is not a linear experience for the most part. There's a wholeness to a great poem that tickles your brain and moves your heart at the same time. Here's a great example by e.e. cummings . Feel his delight in the language! And notice how "the children" are the only ones who understand that a devoted love story is happening between the characters, "no one" and "anyone" - who could be anybody! It's universal like that. Just don't overthink it. (Reproduced here courtesy of poets.org with the original punctuation - or lack thereof!) Enjoy!
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then) they
said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Here's another great poem for kids and kids-at-heart. Again, the delight in the language - not needing words with clear definitions to express the story and emotions. Look at how much he expresses his meaning merely through the rhythm. And - Bonus! You can make up your own definition for what exactly a Bandersnatch might be. I hope I never meet one in a dark alley. ;)
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
I just came across this video clip on Youtube where Will Wheaton (Star Trek, The Guild, etc.) answers a little girl who asks a question at Comic Con about how to deal with being called a NERD. He gives a beautiful answer, but he left one out important thing.
Do you know what kids who call you a nerd in school usually end up calling you in adulthood?