Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Interview With the Eleven-Year-Old

I do my writing, as I often like to say, in partnership with my inner eleven-year-old. She's the one who contributes the innocence, bravery, curiosity, optimism, and giddy cluelessness, while all I have to do is back her up with a little true-life experience, a twist of syntactical sophistication.

Or so I like to say. In fact, I've said it so often that I was beginning to wonder if it were true.

I take some reassurance, though, from some of the posts on this august blog -- because it seems that many of us began to develop our erotic imaginations during that time spent on the cusp of girlhood and adolescence -- reading, dreaming, giggling, and wondering about The Big Adventure to... er, Come.

Would it really be as fantastic as everybody seemed to think it was? Would it feel a little like we sometimes felt when we and our girlfriends cooed over this or that really cute movie star? Or would it be more like the weirder, scarier scenarios that we (or at least I) only thought about alone in bed at night?

And would it really lead to a happy ever after?

I'm still touched by my memories of all that. When I read romance I'll even tolerate a touch of TSTL in the service of this eager bravado -- I mean, werent we all too stupid to live, before we began... living? (I've found, btw, that my friends who don't typically read romance are much more tolerant of this than big romance readers. Which would suggest that romance readers are smarter about these things -- or perhaps a tad more defensive... but that'll have to be another post.)

In any case, I'm glad to report that I recently got back in touch with my inner eleven-year old, by spending some time with an actual flesh-and-blood one during my recent east coast visit.

Call her Muse. I'd come to sleep on the fold-out futon in her room.

"You and I both have Kate Spade glasses," she observed -- which seemed a good enough way check in before launching into a heated round of speculation about what's going to happen in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (now that Muse's little brother has become such a good reader, they're a two-Harry Potter family; I guess their mom has to wait until the kids are asleep to get a chance to read it).

Muse agreed with me that Snape is really on the good side (I wrote about this last year on my own web page if you want to check it out). And yes, we found that we were also on the same page about how probably one of the Weasleys will die in the show-down with Lord Voldemort (we both think it might be poor, deluded, conformist Percy).

But what about the entirely admirable werewolf Remus Lupin? Muse and one of her girlfriends think he'll also get the axe, because it'll be in keeping with the myth of Romulus and Remus, where Remus dies.

Oh sure, I quickly replied. (Did Remus die in the Roman myth? Well now I know, anyway).

But now that Muse is of the age where she notices things like Kate Spade glasses, Harry Potter isn't really her favorite book anymore. Well, in some ways it still is, but these days it almost doesn't count, perhaps because it's been around for so much of her life and has become sort of like part of the family.

And Muse is starting to think about what's cool and exotic and a little further from home.

About a book about a vampire family, to be exact. I hasten to add that it's a good vampire family, with a gorgeous, moody, teenage son named Edward. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, is told by a human teenage girl named Bella who's in love with Edward (who, of course, is actually a lot older than a teenager -- oh, and who's also in love with Bella).

No doubt I've been living in some middle-aged romance-writer cave, but I'd never heard of Twilight, which Muse has read so many times that its (imo fabulous) front cover has fallen off. So the first thing I saw was the table of contents, with Muse's note that "vampires rock." Which was invitation enough for me to gulp down all 400 pages of Twilight during the weekend I spent with Muse and her family (luckily, Muse was busy with New Moon, the next book in the series).

And I'm here to tell you that Stephenie Meyer's vampires most definitely rock. Especially Edward, who for most of the 400 pages barely touches Bella -- so bravely, moodily, heroically concerned is he that he might lose control of his deep and dangerous, wonderful and mysterious and powerful vampire instincts and hurt the human girl he loves.

It's an astonishing performance -- beautifully paced and sweetly sexy in a way that I thought made total sense for a bright, alert reader on the edge of adolescence. And it's swooningly, overwhelmingly romantic, suffused with thrilled fearful anticipation, in a way I'm going to have to think some more about.

Because even though I write explicit stuff about grown up people, I know that I and my characters alike need to keep in touch with that brave yearning young self we all carry around with us.

So thank you Muse, for letting me touch base. And the rest of you out there might want to treat your inner eleven-year-olds to Twilight and its sequels.


janegeorge said...

My high-school age son's girlfriend was reading Twilight when she was here. I was intrigued and will now read it. My daughter turns eleven in July. Perhaps it will make a good gift. :-)

I confess to having been in love with Severus Snape from book one. Tall dark and tortured? I'm there. Greasy hair and hook-nose not a problem! My, er, affliction was only worsened by casting Alan Rickman as Snape.

In book six, Snape kills Dumbledore because that's what Dumbledore wanted him to do, for a whole bunch of reasons. And he was STILL trying to teach thick-headed Harry until the very end!

Rowling says she uses archetypes, but I think her idea of archetypes is more in line with what I call Hollywood Justice. Hollywood Justice would say Snape must die to atone for ever having aligned himself with Voldemort at all. I was convinced Rowling would kill him off in the final book until I read that she gave a character a reprieve. So we'll see.

Interesting thought about Percy Weasley. Hollywood Justice at work again? ;-j

Needless to say, I have a Trust Snape bumper sticker on my vehicle.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Ooh, I want one of those bumper stickers, Jane. But for me the pathos of the Snape story is that he was clearly in love with Lily Evans Potter, Harry's mother. That pensieve scene at the end of Book 5 breaks my heart -- he probably still hates James Potter (and is reminded of this every time he looks at Harry), but he never thought Voldemort would kill Lily. So he's promised Dumbledore to do everything he needs to do in atonement.

Interesting about "Hollywood justice," btw -- my husband's masters thesis in film school a zillion years ago was about narrative and justice.