Author has written 23 stories for Lloyd Alexander, Harry Potter, and Les Misérables.
An English professor at a midwestern university, I introduce students to other people's metaphors. It has been an absolute blast coming up with some of my own. While I love the scholarly writing I usually do, it's exhilarating to tap into other creative energies.
As you can guess from my fics, I am a big-time, long-time (thirty-five years and counting) fan of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain chronicles, which consist of The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King. (There are also two picture books and a story collection.) If you have not yet read these magnificent books, I highly recommend them. It is rare to find writing so luminous with wisdom and beauty. Coming from me, that's a real endorsement. Whatever else I've done with my life, I have read a lot of books.
As you can also tell from my Prydain fics (not to mention my pen name), my favorite character in the series is Adaon, son of the chief bard Taliesin. (If you'd like to read more about what Adaon means to me, take a peek at the author's note to my first fic "The Measure of Our Hearts.") In imagining a backstory for Adaon, I also wanted to flesh out the character of Arianllyn, his betrothed, whom we hear about in The Black Cauldron but, alas, never meet. As I explored the history of these two young people, I found myself thinking back to the older generation, so some of my Prydain fics imagine a backstory for Taliesin and the wife I invented for him, the female bard Cerys. By the way, I was fortunate enough to correspond with Alexander before his death in 2007, and, when I asked whether Adaon's mother could have been a bard too, he assured me this would be in keeping both with the role of women in ancient Celtic culture and his own conception of Prydain. Indeed, my attempts to make the women in my fics as wise and heroic as their menfolk is very much influenced by, and a tribute to, the groundbreaking representation of strong-minded heroines in Alexander's books.
I'd like to encourage those of you who are Prydain fans to drop by the forum CompanionWanderer and I started several years back, "Bards of Prydain," open not only to those who write Prydain fanfiction but anyone who wants to get into a good conversation about the books and characters. We have also started drabble challenges. Please join us!
In addition to writing about Prydain, I have also written Harry Potter fics, mainly, though not exclusively, focusing on that most complex of characters, Severus Snape. As with my Prydain fics, I tend to stick to canon and not write AU stories. Though I'm happy to imagine missing scenes, alternate points of view, and backstory, I leave chronology, events, and relationships pretty much as they are in Rowling's splendidly imagined universe.
Just so you know, too, in my writing I try to avoid character bashing. One of Rowling's most brilliant achievements is to complicate even her villains--and, perhaps more marvelously yet, her heroes. "The world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters,'" Sirius Black says, a sentiment that recalls Lloyd Alexander's line in The Black Cauldron that "in most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom." Never, perhaps, have these insights been so richly--and exasperatingly!--illustrated as in the figure of Snape, but they are true of others in the Potter books as well, including Dumbledore. Because, in fact, Rowling did such an amazing job of complicating Dumbledore's character in Deathly Hallows, I've developed something of an allergy to the reductive Dumbledore-demonization that one finds in some Snape fics. I also get extremely tetchy when people attack Lily for breaking off her friendship with Snape when he does the magic-world equivalent of going Nazi. Again, I point this out just so you know where I'm coming from.
Having recently discovered the musical and movie versions of a book I have loved for years, Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, I have written one drabble for that fandom, and hope to write more. As I see it, there is much that connects the Prydain chronicles, the Harry Potter books, and Les Miserables, especially a theme that is well conveyed in the following quotes from all three sources:
"There is much to be known," said Adaon, "and above all much to be loved, be it the turn of the seasons or the shape of a river pebble. Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts."
Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron
"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Take my hand
I'll lead you to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting . . .
And remember, the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.
Screenplay of Les Miserables (2012), adapted from the musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg
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