The Food of Love



Photo Credit: Raphael Pinto

According to Jane Austen speaking through Mr. Darcy, it’s poetry. I believe many others, myself included, would disagree and think of a saucy retort that includes chocolate—that deep, satisfying, melt-in-your-mouth taste. Whichever side you claim, this week provides an opportunity to partake of either one, or both if you are supremely special.

Since I’m a sucker for well-crafted words, I decided to help myself to a smorgasboard of love before the main attraction later this week. And boy, were my eyes bigger than my stomach. My mother always told me not to go to people’s houses and invite myself into their refrigerator like I own the place, but your refrigerator really outdid itself and I say you, meaning people who have poetry up over at the main site. I gorged myself and the following is my first foray into that chaotic world.

But first, here’s what prompted it:

I was doing some research for my novel and realized that I was in over my head. My god and faerie were a little closer than I wanted them to be. The complicated relationship had to seem authentic, had to move people and make them stay on the edge of their seat. I didn’t want to write a romance
1. Because I am a realist and don’t claim to be a romance writer.
2. I feel like it’s been done over and over and so much that we get desensitized in literature to what love actually is. So many books have a kiss, or a guy stalking a girl for a couple of months and suddenly, she is in DEEP life-altering, sky-diving, death-defying love.  Very simplistic and dare I say, a bit much?

I needed an expert opinion. I unwittingly stumbled upon one after reading an excerpt of the book What’s Love Got To Do With It: The Emotional World of Popular Songs. Mainly I clicked on the article because I thought Tina Turner was going to make an appearance, but the excerpt was so compelling, it made me buy the book. And pounce on my laptop like a knowledge-starved cheetah in search of sustenance to immediately email the professor.
In the excerpt, Professor Thomas Scheff discusses attraction, attachment, and attunement, the magical three ingredients that make up love, with attunement being the special sauce. He also goes over the six different kinds of love (or crazy) many people think are the “happily ever after” type.

Needless to say, I was fascinated. My question to him had to do with types 2 and 5 in the grid he provides. I wanted a dark combination of them both. He kindly responded to my over-excited email and told me to vary the level of attunement. It makes sense–without attunement love isn’t really there. It’s just an echo.

And if you have no idea what attunement is, read the article. Hopefully you’ll be as fascinated as I was, or I’ll settle for intrigued.

Now guarded with this ancient truth, I sallied forth into that tumultuous and reckless oblivion. And later, I renewed my  faith in man (and woman) to adequately portray it. To feel strains of the phantom echoes reverberating in my mind, soft words running through my veins.

Thank you, for renewing that. Yes, you and your refrigerator of food. But without further ado, here are the poems that brought me back to life:

Poem: A Love Not Allowed by Uniquely Dysfunctional. Burning, the mind, and the imagery was fantastic.

Poem: You Are by Ten X’s (the x’s are spelled out ten times). This poem really combines the good and bad, the sticking through it through the tough times in a really simply but elegant way. It was fabulous.

Poem: Cocaine Sun by Vangoman. This blew me away. It’s that Candy movie kind of love, the insanely good but horribly wrong kind.

Poem: The Lack of Understanding by ErinHea. This is definitely relatable. I couldn’t get enough of the pacing in this.

Poem: The Autumn Victorian by Luciddreamer1973. Love growing older, the concept of love growing older, love in the twilight of people’s lives—I see it all there.

Poem: Self Persuasion
That last line packed a major punch and I really enjoyed this poem.

If you’re not from the main site and you want to read these fabulous poems, head on over and put the titles in the search box. And poke around a bit! These were my favorites so far, but I’m excited to explore more of them.

Treat yourself with some words or chocolate this week, but most importantly, make sure your choice is love.

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Interview: Melissa F. Olson

      

Images used with author permission.

I had the amazing pleasure to see Melissa F. Olson read from her book DEAD SPOTS and let me tell you, it is a page turner! Olson combines vampires, werewolves, witches, and the main character Scarlett is a null (and you’ll have to read the book to find out the implications of that), to give a fresh and fast paced read. I had a chance to catch up with her afterwards to ask a few questions and below is the resulting interview.

AH: Which supernatural creature did you have the most fun writing in Dead Spots and why?

MO: In this book I had a good time with the vampires. Villains are always fun to write, and I certainly had fun writing Ariadne, who’s like the slutty Goth version of Miss Havershim from Great Expectations. But more evil. I also really enjoy writing Scarlett’s vampire roommate Molly, because she’s so charming and fun, like the witty best friend in a romantic comedy, and then she’ll say or do something that reminds you she’s a bloodsucking fiend.

AH: Your book titles are very straightforward, especially with Trail of Dead as you explain on your website. Is there a specific reason you’ve chosen to title your works in this way and do you think it will change in the future?

MO: Usually I think titles are incredibly difficult to come up with, but both Dead Spots and Trail of Dead just kind of came naturally with the story circumstances: Dead Spots is that novel’s title because Scarlett is a dead space in the supernatural world, and because she stumbles into this clearing of corpses, and, to get a little bit artsy, because she’s pretty much dead inside after the things that happened in her past. I felt really lucky to come up with Dead Spots, and then realized I could piggyback onto a lot of those ideas with Trail of Dead, although I won’t go into detail because it might spoil the end of the first book.

In the future, I’d like to get away from the “dead” motif in my titles, though, because Charlaine Harris is already the queen of that particular list of puns. Maybe I’ll do a new set of puns with the color scarlet. There could be a book where she gets an anonymous death threat through the mail called Scarlett’s Letter, and one where she gets hit by a car called Smear of Scarlett. In yet another sequel she could team up with Justin Bieber to fight crime, and it could be called Scarlett (Bieber) Fever. And so on.

AH: What have been the easiest and hardest parts about being a published author?

MO: The hardest part is probably balancing my family life and my writing, especially before I really had an agent or publisher. At that time, every minute I took to write kind of felt like a minute I was taking away from my family, and there was no guarantee I would ever find any success with it. It felt like ditching the people who needed me so I could go gambling.

In that sense, I’m not sure there’s been an “easiest” part of being a published author; it’s more like a sense of relief, a loosening of pressure. Now that I’ve been published my writing has a new validation to it: I’m not taking time away from my family to play a giant slot machine, I’m taking time away to work at a job that I happen to love.

AH:  If you could visit any country in the world to take a writing vacation, where would you go?

MO: Great question. I’d want to go with somewhere with gorgeous weather (for me, that’s about 70 degrees and no humidity) and lots of beautiful scenery but no specific landmarks or tourist attractions, because then I’d want to go sightseeing instead of working. Maybe somewhere near the mountains in Nepal, or the cliffs in Ireland.

AH: Your adorable dog Max makes a cameo in Dead Spots. What is your opinion on talking animals and can we expect to hear some form of dog speak from Max?

MO: Ah, talking animals. I happen to love when dogs get a voice on paper, if it’s done right. I own the book version of Texts From Dog, and I’ve probably read through it fifty times. There’s a novel called Turning in Circles Before Lying Down about a woman who can suddenly hear her dog’s thoughts, and he’s hysterical (though he makes me glad Max is neutered; that dog can’t stop talking about sex). Harry Dresden’s spookily perceptive dog Mouse is one of the great characters in Jim Butcher’s series, and we get to actually hear what he has to say in one novel. I also like Kevin Hearne’s series about an immortal Druid who has a mind-link with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, but I do get awfully skeptical about Oberon’s college-level vocabulary and diverse interests in history and culture. That’s pushing the suspension of disbelief a bit too far for me.

I doubt I’ll ever write Max’s actual voice, unless I found a clever, magically-believable way to insert it, the way Butcher does. But I love putting him in the books, because I think Max is one-of-a-kind. He deserves to be immortalized, and until they perfect pet-cloning, this is the best I can do.

AH: You mentioned that there might be another book after Trail of Dead. What’s next for you after this series?

I hope to keep writing Scarlett books for as long as I find her interesting, and not a moment longer. I have a few different projects to work on during or after that series, though, and they’re all non-supernatural: I’ve been kicking around an idea about the relationship between two sisters for about a year, and my master’s thesis could be expanded to be book-length as soon as I get a chance. At some point I’d like to rewrite the first book I wrote, which is still unpublished, and I’ve also had a screenplay that’s missing an ending sitting on my desk for about four years; it’d be nice to finish that up. I hate having unfinished projects, so ideally I’d like to get all four of those things done before I start thinking about a new idea. Knowing me, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get sidetracked. It does tend to happen.

Melissa F. Olson is the author of DEAD SPOTS and the upcoming sequel TRAIL OF DEAD. For more information, please visit her website www.melissafolson.com