But here I am now, and I hope to be able to keep up until the end of the read-along . . . which is coming up quite soon now! Only seven more days after today. Then, I plan to host a celebration to wrap everything up. What would all of you say to a facebook chat party, the evening of January 9th? Would that be fun?
In the meanwhile, let's dive into today's chapter . . .
The chandeliers: This chapter, I remember vividly, was incredibly difficult to write. Or rather, not to write. To begin. We’re quite late in the story now, and everything is building up to the big crisis-point and climax . . . and at the time of writing, my deadlines were looming ever nearer. My deadline to finish the book. My deadline to get wedding invitations in the mail. My deadline to pick bridesmaids dresses (which I didn’t end up doing . . . there simply was no time! I almost skipped bridesmaids entirely, but ended up having my “sister,” Erin stand up on my side, and Rohan’s sister, Rochelle, stand up on his. And I told both of them to simply pick dresses in pretty colors and show up on the day of! LOL. They picked soft yellow and spring green, and both looked very beautiful . . . thus my load was lightened). Anyway, yes, my deadline to pack up most of my belongings and move them, and the kitties (three at the time), to Rohan’s house. My deadline to pack up the rest of my belongings and move myself from North Carolina up to Wisconsin for four weeks to finish planning the wedding.
All of these deadlines loomed. And I was on Part Four, Chapter 8. And I simply could not make my brain function! I would get up in the mornings, down some tea, wrap myself in a dressing gown (specifically a mulberry silk thing with, of all things, cherubs printed all over it . . . don’t ask me why. It was the Veiled Rose writing outfit), and start trying to write. Trying with all my heart!
And this chapter was so memorably difficult, I still get shudders thinking about it.
The practice in modern writing is to primarily focus on the point of view of one of your main character. The theory is, the character in question is going to have the most dramatic perspective on the scene, and that’s the perspective from which you always want to write. This being Rose Red’s chapter, I kept trying to open the scene with Rose Red on her strange raft, out on the Dark Water, making her way to the shore of the Village of Dragons. But for some reason, no matter what I did, I simply could not create the right level of dramatic tension.
You see, Rose Red couldn’t see clearly what she was coming to. While there is plenty of horror in the unknown, I knew that what she could not experience was some of the most interesting and dynamic stuff . . . and I couldn’t write it from her perspective! It was so frustrating, and the scene kept opening so slowly, so dispassionately.
Thus I sing once more the praises of the omniscient narrative!
Writing in the strict third-person narrative is much easier than omniscient, and while in a rush, I tended to slip into third person along the way. But with this chapter, I finally woke up to the fact that my style is omniscient narrative. I am not limited to my heroine’s point of view. I can use her point of view . . . but I am also free to show the reader other perspectives on the same scene.
So, having scrapped the fifth or sixth version of the chapter opening (and feeling the day lengthen around me . . . another precious writing day that could not be wasted!), I opened instead with the chandeliers.
I focused small, on this one features. This curious feature. This enigmatic and rather creepy feature of the scene. Then, slowly, I expanded the view for my readers. I let them see what stood in the lights cast by the chandeliers. I let them see the dragons moving. Then I expanded further still, and let them see the dragon’s dance.
At last, I introduced Rose Red’s approach, not via her own perspective, but via the perspective of the dragons themselves. And suddenly, this struggling scene began to come together. It possessed the right level of fear and dread and elegance. I could see where Rose Red was going, even if she could not, and I could fear for her much more effectively.
Omniscient narrative is so often disparaged by today’s writers . . . but I will never, ever understand why.
A dragon with rubies in her hair: Readers of Heartless will recognize the woman dragon with the long black hair, the one who adorns herself in rubies. We were introduced to her as the infamous Bane of Corrilond, destroyer of her nation . . . a queen of ages past who was betrayed by the man she loved for a chest full of rubies. The same rubies she now wears.
A creepy and tragic character . . . and one whose story I hope to tell, sometime in the next few years! It’ll be a little while yet, but not terribly long now.
They had never seen this lake before. An interesting little tidbit about the Village of Dragons. In Heartless, there was no black lake to be found near the village. But here in Veiled Rose it appears, and the dragons are very curious, having never seen it before. The Dragon himself shapes this dark world in which they live, and so he has provided a means for Rose Red, though not a dragon herself, to access this hiding place of his fiery children.
And they obey their Father’s every command. They dance to a song that is without music, made up only of strange rhythm.
A certain yellow-eyed dragon. Another character we met in Heartless is glimpsed momentarily in Veiled Rose. The yellow-eyed dragon—once called Diarmid—played a fairly important role in book 1, serving as Una’s guide and Felix’s nemesis. He is, of course, another character with quite an interesting backstory, some of which is revealed in Moonblood.
I am delighted to say that, quite recently, even more of Diarmid’s story came to me. I was discussing various possibilities for book 8 with Rohan, and suddenly that conversation spun off on an unexpected sidetrack . . . a sidetrack with delightful possibilities! And now I have yet another novella I hope to write, possibly next year, 2015. I can’t say too much about that one just now, save that the working title idea is: Bright as Fire.
Reacting to the light: The dragons’ reactions to the light of the Asha Lantern is frightening . . . and tragic. Particularly when you recall (as more clearly explained in Dragonwitch) that Asha itself represents Hope to worlds—hope of the great lights and songs beyond the Final Water.
But the dragons have lost their hope. And they hate even the reminder of it.
Her lantern dimmed: When, in her fear, Rose Red actually takes comfort in the familiar terror of the Dragon compared to the new terror of his children, the lantern light begins to dim.
Rose Red is trusting in something she knows and understands. Something terrible, but something she believes she understands. There is, sometimes, a strange comfort in despair, when it’s a familiar despair. A strange comfort in anger, when it’s a familiar anger. A strange comfort in jealousy, anxiety, avarice . . . all the various sins of our lives that are familiar to us, as close to our beings as our own skins.
Hope is less familiar. In some ways, hope is so unnatural to our mortal perceptions that it can even be frightening. And it is unfamiliar and, therefore, more difficult to trust. Rose Red, tired already from her long and dreadful journey, is beginning to fall back on that which she knows for certain. She knows the Dragon. She knows what he can do to her. And she doesn’t fear him as much as she fears hoping that she can beat him . . . and ending up disappointed.
One of the Veiled Folk. Vahe’s Lost One: In this passage, we catch glimpses of understanding about Rose Red’s heritage and past. We even learn the name of her father (though the text doesn’t overtly refer to Vahe as her father . . . it simply calls her Vahe’s “lost one”). We learn that her people are called the Veiled Folk, though we do not yet know why or what sort of veils they wear.
But the hints are there. And, I hope, the motivation to go on and read the next book . . .
The Night of Moonblood. Ooooh, a reference to the next book as well! How fun. I’m sure a bit frustrating to readers who aren’t aware that this book is part of a series, that these are themes to be developed in a later book . . . but for a series reader, great fun!
“Is she the one you seek?” After all these years (which really mean very little to the Dragon when he’s not incarnate, but which are much longer and more frustrating when he’s wearing an incarnate form), the Dragon is still not certain if Rose Red is the “Beloved of his Enemy” whom he seeks.
But he believes she must be, due to the “protections” around her. Due to the knight set to guard her since the time of her infancy.
The knight who is even now on her way down into the Netherworld, seeking her lost charge . . .
Still searching for Daylily: Despite all the fear and dread surrounding her, Rose Red continues doggedly onward in her search for Lady Daylily. She insists that the Dragon cannot keep Daylily down here in the Netherworld, claiming that he tricked and poisoned her—though the Dragon himself insists that Daylily came of her own free will.
No deals! The Dragon offers a bargain to Rose Red—if she can convince Lady Daylily to return with her, then both may freely go. If not, then both must remain in the Village of Dragons with him.
But when Rose Red insists, “No deals!” the Dragon does not argue the point. Instead, he simply says, “Shall we dance?” And he sweeps Rose Red into a dark, dragon’s dance . . .
Cinderella theme continued. This story is not a retelling of Cinderella, at least not overtly. But there are many strong Cinderella themes to be found throughout. (Proving, yet again, the universal awesomeness of fairy tales, which can be reused and revised and resituated in innumerably wonderful ways!)
Here we see our humble chambermaid Rose Red transformed—temporarily—into a princess. Through magical means, she finds herself wearing a glorious ball gown and dancing at a sort of ball beneath shining chandeliers.
So much more than a friend: All the Dragon’s other transformations and enchantments cannot serve to move our intrepid heroine. The beautiful gown she wears, the dancing, the seductive words . . . none of it makes a difference.
But when Rose Red finds herself dancing with Leo—Leo in an idealized, mature form, which may or may not be an illusion—she finds her resolve faltering.
And when Leo, her childhood companion, her master and defender, tells her that she is “so much more than a friend” to him . . . suddenly Rose Red is “unveiled” more thoroughly than if the very veil on her face were snatched away.
We learn at last for certain: Rose Red is in love—impossibly, hopelessly in love—with Prince Lionheart.
And in that hopeless love, she drops the Asha Lantern.
Cliffhanger: And, of course, the chapter must end on a cliffhanger. Rose Red pulls the veil from her face . . . but we will have to wait to see what she sees!
Questions on the text:
1. The dragons’ reaction to the light of hope is tragic and frightening . . . and yet I find it strangely relatable. Sometimes I have reacted similarly to circumstances, angry at even the idea of hoping for a good outcome to something I once longed for. Have any of you ever felt this way? Can any of you relate to our frightening, pathetic dragons?
2. The Dragon claims Daylily came to the Netherworld of her own free will. Rose Red insists that it was all a trick and manipulation. Which do you think is true? Or might both be true in a way?
3. How many Cinderella themes can you pick out in Veiled Rose? As I said, it’s not a retelling of Cinderella, but there are many familiar themes to be had along the way, adding to the “fairy tale” feel of the whole. Is there a substitute for the glass slipper, lost and found? Is there a substitute for the pumpkin coach, a means of transportation created out of something humble? Is there a substitute for the prince, the ball, the evil stepsister/stepmother? The prince? The fairy godmother?
Catching up on questions from several days past! Sorry about the delay. Do feel free to keep asking your questions, and I will keep up with them to the very best of my ability.
Caitlyn wants to know: "Is the door in the cliff on top of the cliff, or is Rose Red looking down to the side?"
I picture Rose Red standing at the bottom of a tall cliff, and the door is at the cliff's base.
Caitlyn also wants to know: "Can fan art be taken pictures of real places that might resemble things in the book, or does it have to be drawn?"
Yes, you can definitely submit pictures of real places if you like! Fan art is much broader than just drawings.
Jemma wants to know: "What are the names of the black dogs?"
The Black Dogs have Etalpalli names, Yaotl, and Eztli, Which mean "war" and "blood" respectively. But I don't believe anyone but the Dragonwitch herself knew those names, and now that she's dead, they are likely long forgotten.
No one knows, not even Imraldera. Probably the Black Dog itself doesn't even know its own name . . . only the Dragonwitch knew which was which, and she never said and can no longer say.
Caitlyn also wants to know: "How do you pronounce Ay-Ibunda? Is it Ay as in a or Ay as in I?"
Ay is pronounced "I." Ibunda in pronounced with a soft "d", so that it almost comes out sounding more like "th."
And Caitlyn wants to know: "Is the Silent Lady a person? On page 315 the Sister says, "She won't help you, sweet prince, I will." Will we see her in a later novel?"
Absolutely! Her identity is first revealed in Moonblood, and she is a major character in Starflower . . . but if you haven't read either of those, I don't want to give it away! :)