Tag Archives: Doctor Who

450 Years Old!

23 Apr

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What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us.

 

Today is William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday!

To celebrate, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of 5 copies of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. Why 5?

Cause I can’t afford to give away 450 of them.

*Instant Rimshot.*

So if you would like to enter to win you can do so here.

And if you already have a copy (THANK YOU!) then you can still enter to win and give it to someone else as a gift.

And here’s a behind the scenes look at my favorite Doctor doing my favorite scene from Hamlet. If this video could shoot out candy bars my life would be perfect.

 

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London Liverpool LONG Recap

18 Apr

Oy, mates.

So I’m back from my recent trip to London and Liverpool which was amazing. In fact, I dare say it will be a tough trip to beat. I just love London. My mother keeps insisting that I move there so she can have a reason to come visit me. We’ll just pretend that my mother didn’t tell me to move to the other side of the ocean (Just kidding, Dish. I love you!).

So first off – LONDON.

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Trafalgar Square

This was our second trip to this fantastic city. I loved it the first time but this time, I really got to know it. Like walk around without a map sort of know it. And if any of you have been to London with it’s bazillions little no name streets (come on London, that’s why we build grids in NYC and use numbers. Easy Squeazy Lemon Peazy).

So here’s some places we went:

St. Martin in the Fields

That’s St. Martin in the Fields. I’m a big classical music fan and back at home on WQXR I occasionally get to hear performances done in St. Martin in the Fields and I finally got to go to one! They’ve been hosting these FREE concerts for 75 years (did I mention they were free, cause they are. Though they’ve got a donation box, and honestly, what’s wrong with you? Donate a little). They did a variety of pieces by Handel including a stunning soloist  and a trumpeter who placed a Baroque trumpet (no spit valve so watch the floor!).

Hey wanna know something cool I learned about the lions in Trafalgar Square – the sculptor who made them had never seen a lion so he modeled the feet after his dog instead.

 

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And of course we say this:

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And we went here:

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Where we saw this:

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and he did this:

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And I did this:

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And we also went here:

Charles Dickens House and Museum

Charles Dickens House and Museum

 

where we saw this:

Charles Dicken's writing desk

Charles Dicken’s writing desk

I know it’s kind of blurry cause you couldn’t have the flash on but that is Charles Dicken’s writing desk. He wrote Oliver Twist in this room, on that desk. Seriously *MindBlown*

And we went here:

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But only “real” explorers get to go inside. Whatever that means.

But they did have this:

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Which was cool but nearly as cool as this:

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

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And in case you didn’t know how much I love Robert Falcon Scott, proof.

We also went to lots of writers homes and musicians homes but I’m saving that for a new blog that I’m creating for fellow travelers. But I will say we did see the rooftop where Elton John wrote Your Song, some Rolling Stones homes, David Bowie’s apt and where he took the picture for Ziggy Stardust.

Okay that one I’ll show you

It was here:

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And now it’s this:

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But you remember it like this:

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Where were we?

Oh yes, museums! All the museums in London are free which is such a fantastic way to promote and foster the arts (I’m looking at you, NYC).

It was like ART OVERLOAD but here are some highlights:

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

'The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

‘The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

 

We also went to the Handel house (it was a very Handel themed trip apparently)

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which happened to be right next door to this:

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The Handel house was great, and one of the best things about it is that on the ground floor they have a small rehearsal area that musicians can book and we were lucky enough to be there when people were practicing which really brought the whole thing to life.

We also did a Jack the Ripper walking tour of the East End, which was cool because the first time we went to London we didn’t get past the Tower Bridge and I really wanted to go to WhiteChapel.

You can still find the actual spot where Jack the Ripper killed his victims on the street:

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It’s even creepier if you picture 1888 gaslight London

Also, the East End has some fantastic graffiti:

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And no trip to London would be complete with a walk over the Tower Bridge

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To Southwark to see the Globe

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have some pie at Manzees

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Seriously, this stuff is amazing. Look every pub in London sells meat pies. And all the meat pies are good. I mean, how could it not be good. It’s a pie….full of meat…..with mashed potatoes on the side. But what happens at Manzee is MAGICAL. It’s worth the visit down Tower Bridge Road.

And finally, because you all know how obsessed I am with Doctor Who we walked all the way across London to find this:

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Look at it! A TARDIS just sitting outside the Earl’s Court Tube Station.

I died.

Seriously. DIED.

Can you see how happy I am? Cause I’m so happy. Happy and dead.

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And then there’s still LIVERPOOL. You know what’s great about Liverpool? Everyone sounds like George Harrison. Seriously!

We saw the Cavern Club, which to be honest was sort of a disappointment.

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It’s not the original – that was torn down even though the bloody Beatles played something like 250 shows there. So they built this one a little down the way from where it was. Jay does a better job of explaining what it was like so I’ll let him talk for a change.

But they do have this outside which was pretty cool

 

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We stopped off at a couple of John and Stu Sutcliff’s favorite pubs

First Ye Cracke (insert snickering here)

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See, proof

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

 

And also The Phil

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mmmmm ciders!

 

And of course we went to Mendips, John’s childhood home.

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To see John and Paul’s place you have to buy tickets for the National Trust tour. That’s the only way you can get inside and honestly, being inside is the whole point. Standing in John Lennon’s tiny (so tiny) bedroom was surreal. I thought about him, with his feet up on the wall, coming up with the words to Hello Little Girl. As he told Yoko when he took her by, “There it is Yoko. That’s where I did all my dreaming.”

In the back was were the trees that overlooked Strawberry Fields….”No one I think is in my tree….”

The guide told great stories about Mimi, a stern but good woman who raised John from the age of 5.

Afterwards we went back on the bus and headed down to 20 Forthlin Road, Paul McCartney’s home

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It was an council house – which is a form of public housing built for working class families. They were rented not owned. Mimi, John’s aunt, didn’t think much of people who lived in council houses, but she liked Paul because he spoke ‘proper English’ and didn’t sound like a Scouser (Liverpool accent – basically what George sounds like).  Their carpets were sewn together from scraps of other carpets, one big patchwork and the walls were lined in mismatched wall paper. The walls are also covered in pictures that Mike, Paul’s older brother took of ‘Our Kid’ (his nickname of Paul).

This is Paul and Mike with his mother Mary who died when the boys were young. In fact after John lost his mother, Julia, in a car accident he bonded with Paul as they were both now motherless. Paul wrote Let it Be for his mother.

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And one of my other favorites ones, of Paul climbing the drainpipe outside. He used to do that as a kid when his father locked him out for missing dinner.

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And here he is with John…working out I Saw Her Standing There in his living room, where they would practice when they cut school.

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I stood right next to that fireplace.

Crazy.

Okay I’m getting carried away and there’s still a lot to cover.

We also found George and Ringo’s place during an epic trip through the suburbs of Liverpool that I wrote about here and that I’ll go into more depth about on the new travel blog I’m going to keep.

But here’s George’s place.

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This one is special for me. Not just cause it’s George and I adore him (if I’m FORCED to pick a favorite, it’s George) and not just cause the people who live there don’t like people coming around to take pictures but because this is the first house we found after being told it was IMPOSSIBLE. We were told by shop clerks and tour guides not to bother. Take a taxi tour, they said. Get on the Magical Mystery Bus. As soon as they told me I couldn’t find it was the moment I knew I would. I’m stubborn like that. With our day bus pass in hand we found our way all over Liverpool.

To Penny Lane:

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To Strawberry Fields:

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To the churchyard where the QuarryMen played their first show

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Which if you look closely has this:

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This particular gem was shown to us by a small Chinese couple that spoke broken English. As soon as we walked in the graveyard they beckoned us over and pointed it out and then he mimicked John Lennon playing his guitar.

Then across the street to the place where John and Paul met.

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Where they hung this:

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Pete Shotton: “Hey Paul, John wants to know if you want to join the group.” Paul: “Okay” *rides off on his bike*

 

And then to Julia’s house, where for a small precious period of time, John had her back in his life. Not as a mother but as a friend. Julia taught John to play the guitar. John referenced Julia in quite a few songs, but most famously in Julia, which also has references to Yoko Ono. (Ono in Japanese means child of the sea)

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And then finally to the Dingle, where Ringo was born

It was a craphole then and it’s a craphole now. Such a craphole that I made us leave early when I thought I heard voices behind the shuttered and boarded up windows and feared being robbed by squatters. I’m such an idiot.

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And then of course there was Stu Sutcliffe.

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Stu was the Fifth Beatle, a best friend of John’s, an amazing painter and unfortunately a pretty crappy bass player.

Stu left the band to study painting, his true passion, in Germany with his girlfriend Astrid Kirchner. Astrid not only took some of the most iconic pictures of the Beatles, but she was the reason they got their Beatle haircut. Tragically Stu died at the age of 21 from what is believed to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

When he and John were in art school together, they lived on Gambier Terrace, in this loft.

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Stu is buried in Liverpool and finding his grave was one of the few things we didn’t get to.

But we did go into the Walker Art Gallery and found his art. I can’t help but think Stu would have appreciated us picking his art over his old bones.

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Hamburg 2

It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

I think he would have been an incredible force in the art world.

 

So I think that’s about it. I had the best time with this guy:

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Everyone should be so lucky to have a traveling buddy like this.

So Cheers!

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And Goodbye England!

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Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

P.S…..Trish the Dish and Big Ron (ie. Mom and Dad) the backpacks were AMAZING. I never knew I could carry that much crap on my back. You’re the bestest.

 

 

Doctor, Doctor, Doctor

5 Aug

Hi.

So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on here because I’ve been mired in revisions on my current WIP but I wanted to come out of my dank dark cave to share a few things.

There have been some new reviews of Lizzy popping up online. I posted them here but here’s a link to the newest from Pen and Muse.

P&M is a really great resource for writers and I was so excited when they agreed to take my piece on rejection which as I said when I gave it to them, was the most honest thing I’ve ever written about the submission experience for me. As for Lizzy they said some really great things like this:

Another thing I really liked about this novel is that Lizzy is a strong female protagonist. There’s nothing worse than opening a novel and starting to read it, only to find that the main female character is dependent on a male for happiness, or afraid to take action, etc. But this isn’t the case with Lizzy!

Also I have a new poem, Pick-pocketed by the Alchemist up at Electric Windmill Press so many thanks to Brian, the editor.

And in other more interesting non-Ally related news, we have a new Doctor!

Yes, in case you weren’t sure, I am THAT much of a nerd. As so eloquently described by the folks on twitter:

While I’m very excited about Peter, I’m still sad about Matt but have vowed to NOT repeat the theatrics from the David to Matt transition.

I vow to keep the tissue usage to a rational amount. 20 sheets max.

But before we move on, we’ve got a little time left with Matt – the sure-to-be-amazing 50th anniversary show and a Christmas special – and I just wanted to share this brilliant moment from his run, the moment in which I looked at Matt and didn’t say, I miss David.

The moment when I said, “Okay. That’s my Doctor.”

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

13 Jun

The title is an Einstein quote.

Put on your smarty glasses kids. We’re gonna talk about Research.

Suzzallo library of the University of Washington, Seattle WA

The reading room of the Suzzallo library of the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, was built in 1926 and has a Gothic interieur. Photography by Cap’n Surly Flickr.com

One of my favorite parts about writing a book is doing the research. When I was writing Lizzy I spent hours looking up mythological creatures and Shakespeare in the library. I used books like Barthe’s and the Encyclopedia of Imaginary Places and books on how keys were invented and books about Elizabethan England and it was tons of fun.

So for my new book, Palimpsest (which I’ve talked about a little here and here and here ) I present my currently reading or recently read research list:

There’s probably a few that I’m missing….

And I’ve also branched out into podcasts on topics that I want to include like time travel, and memory, how the universe came into existence and the multiverse and doppelgangers and how our brains are wired and… and… and…

You know, easy stuff.

So I discovered RadioLab which is my new obsession. They define themselves as a show about curiosity and that is without a doubt the simplest way to put it. Here a few of my favorites. All the descriptions are from the Radiolab website. I embedded what I could for your listening pleasure.

Memory and Forgetting  

This hour of Radiolab, a look behind the curtain of how memories are made…and forgotten. Remembering is an unstable and profoundly unreliable process–it’s easy come, easy go as we learn how true memories can be obliterated, and false ones added. And Oliver Sacks joins us to tell the story of an amnesiac whose love for his wife and music transcend his 7-second memory

Memory and Forgetting includes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat, Adding Memory and Clive which are parsed out below.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat

What is a memory? Science writer Jonah Lehrer tells us is it’s a physical thing in the brain… not some ephemeral flash. It’s a concrete thing made of matter. And NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD.

(This podcast was what lead me to read Jonah Lehrer’s book, Proust was a Neuroscientist)

Clive

The story of a man who’s lost everything. Clive Wearing has what Oliver Sacks calls “the most severe case of amnesia ever documented.” Clive’s wife, Deborah Wearing, tells us the story along with Oliver Sacks. And they try to understand why, amidst so much forgetting, Clive remembers two things: Music and Love.

(This podcast is what lead me to read her book listed above, Forever Today)

Adding Memory

We start this section off with a question from writer Andrei Codrescu“where do computers get their extra memory from?” And then we take it literally. Can you add memories?Dr. Elizabeth Loftus says yes. She’s a psychologist in the department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California at Irvine, and her research shows that you can implant memories—wholly false memories—pretty easily into the brains of humans. Her work challenges the reliability of eye-witness testimony, and is so controversial that she once had to call the bomb squad. Then, producer Neda Pourangbrings us the story of finding a lost memory. Painter Joe Andoe incessantly paints huge canvasses of seemingly random images: horses, pastures, and – more recently – a girl with a particular about-to-say-something look on her face. He didn’t realize until recently that he’d been painting a day from his past, a fragment of an afternoon 30 years earlier.

The (Mutli) Universe(s)

Robert and Brian Greene discuss what’s beyond the horizon of our universe, what you might wear in infinite universes with finite pairs of designer shoes, and why the Universe and swiss cheese have more in common than you think.

Have you wondered if there is another you out there? Somewhere? Sitting in the same chair, reading the same blog post, wearing the same clothes and thinking the same thoughts? Well, Brian Greene says there must be one. Or two. Or lots and lots and lots and lots and… Why? You ask, well listen to Greene’s argument in this week’s podcast.

We are still furiously working on Season 5, so while you wait we bring you today’s podcast of a conversation between Robert Krulwich and Brian Greene, physics and mathematics professor and director of the Institute of Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics at Columbia University. The interview is part of a series called ‘Giants of Science‘ hosted by venerable New York institution, the 92nd St Y.

(Brian Greene wrote Elegant Universe from the list above)

And of course never underestimate the power of Wine + Doctor Who = Mind Blown when it comes to ideas. Big ball of wibbley wobbley timey wimey….stuff.

Research is one of my favorite parts because it’s when my books and my desk get covered in post-it notes and ideas are popping up like little delicious bubbles all over the place and I drive my poor husband crazy talking about it. The hard part is mashing it all together. That’s the point when I start to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m not clever enough to pull this off!

Interview at Dab of Darkness

4 Apr

Lizzie_Final

Hi folks. I’m over at Dab of Darkness talking about  poetry and fiction and goats and why I’m obsessed with Robert Falcon Scott and this:

Paper Heart which was published by Jersey Devil Press, was a story I was very proud of mainly because I had adopted a completely different writing style for that one and that was no easy feat. It was rejected numerous times before it found a home – most people were hung up on the notion that a person would be born with Ectopia cordis(a heart on the outside of the body) and that it would be made of paper. Also, the boy with no tear ducts seemed to baffle people. That’s why I’m thankful for places like Jersey Devil Press. They let me send them all my really weird stuff. And they were kind enough to nominate me for a Pushcart – which while I realize TONS of people get nominated for and it doesn’t really mean anything – but it meant something to me that the editors at Jersey Devil picked my story out of all the other fantastic stories they had published.

You hear that JDP? You guys rock.

Many thanks to Susan at Dab of Darkness for the interview. And how do we say thanks? With candy!

Starburst

Also completely unrelated I fell for the Doctor Who Fan facebook page April Fool’s Day joke where they said Matt was leaving (Me: oh sadness) and that David Tennant was coming back (Me: ohmygodohmygodohmygod) and I gotta say, shame on you Doctor Who Fan page. It’s not nice to toy with a woman like that.

Interview over at Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd

5 Feb

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I’m over at Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd talking about Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. 

 If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. I would be a dinosaur.

That’s a true story. And since I know you’re dying to know, I would be a pterodactyl. Because the only thing cooler than being a dinosaur is being one that can fly.

So many thanks to Emily at Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd for letting me blather on like a fool. And when people do nice things like let us blather on like fools, we say thanks. With candy!

Oh and also – there’s still time to sign up to win a free print/ebook copy of Lizzy at I Am A Reader Not a Writer!

Starburst

The Scream and an Interview

13 Nov

The pastel version of The Scream (1895), by Edvard Munch.

I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

I went to the Museum of Modern Art this weekend. It was the first time I got out of Brooklyn since Hurricane Sandy. Speaking of there are still a lot of people who need your help. The Brooklyn Public Library has some great info on their website about who needs what. Go here. So it was nice to be back in Manhattan and always nice to go to the MoMA. We went specifically to see the Scream which is visiting the MoMA until April 2013. There are four screams, the rest are all in Oslo and since the likelihood of me getting to Norway anytime soon is slim, this was a great second. That’s one of my favorite things about living in New York City. Often, things come to you.

The MoMA set up a fantastic display, the Scream front and center and his other work covering the walls of one of the gallery rooms. Including this, entitled Angst:

and this one, entitled The Sick Child of his sister as she lay dying of tuberculosis:

I’m going to preface much of what I say here with the following – I’m not an Art Historian but I have a deep love of visual art. That said, as I stood gazing at the Scream, the way the head seems like it will float away if the hands let go, the symmetry of the swirling landscape matching the sway of the body – which is all in contrast to the straight hard lines that create the bridge behind him, I was most struck by the eyes. They look just past the viewers gaze, just over your shoulder as if whatever horror he sees is just behind you. It’s a striking painting and I feel fortunate to have seen it. Again, a benefit of living in NYC.

Now that said, I couldn’t help but notice that so many other patrons at the museum that day just snapped a picture of it, and then as if the real thing weren’t right in front of them in all it’s pastel technicolor glory, they instead looked at it on their phone.

Is that the point we have reached? That the digital version is just a good as the real thing?

In other news, I have an interview over at My Pathway to Books with the lovely Tess where I talk about inspiration:

What is your inspiration?

Everything really. Books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, television shows, my obsession with Doctor Who, conversations I overheard on the subway, people I’ve known, who I used to be, who I am, who I hope I’ll be, the city I live in, the small town I grew up in, the friends I had and have, the seasons, the way a storm blows through the trees kicking up the pale green underside of the leaves, the stories I told as a child, the books I read under the covers with the flashlight, the wardrobe, my travels, the imaginary land I had when I was a kid, my cat, my husband, mythology, summer days, chess games, winter nights, history, magic….everything really.
And she also asks me which characters are based on me and which ones are based on people I know. And I answer honestly. Read it here.
And for Tess….my Starburst of Thanks!
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