Chickens and stories

This is where ideas come from:

You mention on Twitter that you don’t know how you started following the local Hereford Breeders society but that you find it soothing. A friend asks for recommendations for chicken fancier accounts.

The search is unsuccessful, but when you sit down to warm up for some other projects with some watercolour painting, you have chickens on the brain.

Fancy chickens.

Fury Road but with chickens

 

You are taken by the idea of Fury-Road-but-with-chickens. But also you were thinking about eighteenth century dresses, because of Tremontaine, so you give a fancy lady a chicken.

Lady with hen

But you aren’t sure you got the jacket quite right, although you want those sleeves, so you get into bodice construction and bowls of eggs because those are also hard to paint pleasingly. Since this is clearly a Cinderella-type, she gets a fancy dress too. You are quite pleased with these Daniel Smith colours and also with that shoe.

Cinderella with chickens

It seems likely Reynolds would have painted her godmother at some point, so another dress happens. Your dad was watching Pride and Prejudice in the next room so a bit of Catherine de Bourgh gets in there.

Godmother

She’s a little too straightforward, and also accidentally stepping on her hem, although that is an effect you might go for deliberately another time. You like her skirts, however.

You are now enamoured of two half-seen fabric designs, and decide to sketch them out in more detail. A costumer friend would like to make one of the dresses, so these plans may coincide. You have the beginnings of a chickenful fairytale idea, and also that first dress just about captures the feeling of a story idea you had last night when you started transplanting the bits you like of Supergirl into assorted historical contexts. This is now half-outlined and has about 1000 words of test-scenes.

An author friend points out that the first lady should be wearing clogs, which leads to a discussion about pretend chicken farmers, and although you meant to refer to Le Petit Trianon, somehow you are led astray into talking about “fake cheep girls” and everyone agrees you should stop talking for the day.

Books and Movies – March 2015

Cinderella

Books

  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent: A historical novel about Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman executed in Iceland. Such a small, slow, bleak, beautiful book and history. Also some interesting Anne of Green Gables parallels, which is not at all to say that if you like Anne you should read this (you should read it, just not for any similarity!). I’m curious, however, to know if anyone else thought this.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab: (One of several I grabbed from Tor based on the cover) The structure of the beginning of this novelreminded me of Diana Wynne Jones. It didn’t unfold or particularly explain, just… started, and then went on, so the whole book felt on the cusp of Telling You What The Plot Is And Tipping Into The Middle. This gave it a sustained, off-balance momentum which I always find both puzzling and enjoyable (it’s something that’s usually discouraged but high on my wish list). Schwab also starts with the point of view of someone not of our world looking at our world (or something like it) and just assumes the divided state of the worlds is normal. This is something else DWJ trained me to like.
  • Thus Was Adonis Murdered – Sarah Caudwell: The first and, as I read them out of order, the last. Alas. Such a delightful balance of classic mystery/comedy, and unexpected, understated messing-with-stereotypes.
  • Am I Black Enough for You – Dr Anita Heiss: Part memoir, part musing on identity (and how others perceive it, particularly the Aboriginal identity of an academic city girl), part story of the growth of an academic and author. Both this and Palmer’s book (below) had some interesting intersections on the themes of (a) speaking up and (b) listening.
  • The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer: I really enjoyed this, and have recommended it to people for very different reasons: as an account of controversy (whichever side of several you fall on), as an artistic memoir, as biography, as a bohemian fantasy, as a crash-course in creative business, to read as a novel, for some unexpected Sayers parallels in the themes of growing up and negotiating adult relationships.
  • Gobbolino, the Witch’s Cat – Ursula Moray Williams: A classic. I may have cried at the end.

Movies

  • Cinderella: Just nice, in the nicest way. Terri Windling pointed out this review by Grace Nuth, “Have courage and be kind”, which points out the charming kindness and politeness. It sounds like a small thing, but as KHR Smith pointed out, we didn’t realise until we came out of the cinema that we’d been missing it.

The little gouache Cinderella painting above is available as a print on RedBubble.