CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper/Fiction writer, poet, photographer, & painter. CRC Blog is an INCLUSIVE & NON-PROFIT BLOG acknowledging ALL voices –ALL political views, ALL philosophies, ALL religions, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Judaism, Agnostic, Atheist, etc. ALL Individuals LGBTQ & individuals from everywhere in the world. She has a B.S. in Criminal Justice & completed her workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing. She lives in St. Louis.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Marly Youman’s Charis in the World of Wonders is #151 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION
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****Marly Youman’s Charis in the World of Wonders is #151 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt. All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTIONlinks are at the end of this piece
Fiction genre? Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long?
Historical, I suppose, though you could say that it contains a good deal of adventure and a romance and a smattering of comedy. People often describe my books as beautifully written, though literary now appears to be a bad word that tends to mean boring for many people. Luckily, readers don’t seem to be finding Charis in the World of Wonders to be the least bit boring…
Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? It’s fresh from Ignatius Press; the mid-pandemic pub date was March 26th. Ignatius heard about Charis in the World of Wondersthrough the grapevine during the time when I was revising. Editor Vivian Dudro wrote to ask whether they could take a look at the manuscript.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction?Dates, dates: I’m numbers-challenged, perhaps… But I know when I started dreaming about the 1690’s. I live in a strange little Yankee village, awash in opera and baseball and museums and even literary history via James Fenimore Cooper and his clan.
Behind the Fenimore Museum is a stone and grass amphitheater that slopes down toward Otsego Lake (Cooper called it Glimmerglass.)
The Glimmerglobe theater troupe stages plays there, and it’s lovely to watch a performance as the eagles fly above the treetops and the stars and moon appear.
Back in the summer of 2016, Glimmerglobe put on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. My eldest son was Marshal Herrick of Salem, my husband played Goodman Putnam, and my daughter silkscreened T-shirts for the production. I expect that pondering the 1690’s started right there, by starlight.
Later on that year, my husband and I spent time on the Massachusetts coast and visited the Andover of the book (now North Andover.) I remember taking notes, standing in the burying ground where poet Anne Bradstreet is buried, so I must have been on my way to dreaming up a story.
So it must have been written and revised in parts of 2017-2018. Editor Vivian Dudro wrote me, I believe, in July of 2018, when I was nearly done with revision.
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? I have a writing room but often ramble where it’s warmer—my bedroom, my kitchen. I write all over the house. That’s the wonder of laptops. But I am fond of my little writing room. From the window, I can catch a glimpse of Otsego Lake with Kingfisher Tower standing on Point Judith but looking as if it floats on the waves.
What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day?
I tend to write on my laptop because pen and paper is a bit slow for me. Then I print out the day’s pages and scribble my changes in pen or pencil. Drink? Water or tea, most likely. No alcohol when writing! And I seldom listen to music when I write.
I confess to being horribly obsessive once I’m launched on a story. I’ll write any time of day that’s free, and I have written books in the small hours of the night when that was my only time available. My first draft comes quickly.
What is the summary of this specific fiction work? “When I swung over that windowsill, everything changed for me. We are meant to go in and out of doors in civilized style, but my mother bade me climb into woodsy wildness and a darkness flushed with crimson light and torches…”
Clambering into the branches of a tree, a young woman flees flaming arrows and massacre. She will need to struggle for survival: to scour the wilderness for shelter, to strive and seek for a new family and a setting where she can belong. Her unmarked way is costly, heroic, hard.
For Charis, the world outside the window of home is a maze of hazards. And even if she survives the wilds, it is no small, simple matter to discover and nest among her own kind—the godly, those called Puritans by others. She may be tugged by her desires for companionship, may even stumble into a sharp, intense love for a man, and may be made to try the strength of female heroism in ways no longer familiar to women in our century.
Streams of darkness run through the seventeenth-century villages of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Occult fears have a way of creeping into the mind. And what young woman can be safe from the dangers of wilderness when its shadowy thickets spring up so easily in the soil of human hearts?
Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? I don’t want to share the most intense passages because nobody loves spoilers. So I’ll share a little passage close to the start of the book.
Charis has lost a great deal—how much, I will leave it to a reader to find out—and is alone in the forest.
Please include just one excerpt and include page numbers as reference. This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
How strangely a human voice clangs on our ears in the deep forest when no one seems near! And yet the word was only my own, eagerly ringing out.
Our Lincolnshire Black—so my father called the gelding because he was a sturdy horse with the white stockings of the old breed, though he might not have been English at all—was standing in a deep pool below the lacy white frills where a stream tumbled over ledges, and never did I find water with its fine meanders and laughing over stones to be as beautiful as at that moment. He lifted his head and surveyed me and knew me.
I smiled for the pleasure of gazing at him and for the hour that turned more golden than before, the beams of sun growing intense and gilding Hortus with its rays.
“Hortus. Hortus, come to me,” I called softly.
He dipped his head to the water and drank before moving down the stream, his head rocking. I reveled in the sight of something saved from the mayhem of the day past. His legs splashed in the water. I could see right through the current to the pebbles underneath, and the jocund sunlight struck sparks from the water. As if in a mirror-glass, I glimpsed another world of gay-colored agates and purest clarity and playful stars.
Bending low, I crept under a trunk and scrambled over a wedge of stone to gain the brink.
“Hortus, Hortus.” I found myself again in tears and reached for his neck. The anvil of his head nudged against me, and he blew air shudderingly from his nostrils.
“I must have sensed that you were something good for me and not some wild beast,” I told him.
His lips mumbled at the stream. When he caressed me with the side of his head, I reached for the unfamiliar reins.
“Who put this on you?”
The simple bridle was not leather but a fine basket weave of some unfamiliar sort, the brow- and nose-bands dyed with red ochre.
“And where did you toss the horseman?”
I swept a hand over his side, noticing a streak of yellow earth on his haunches.
“Hortus, what an adventure you must have had,” I said. “Did someone ride you bareback into the woods? And where is he?”
I whirled and stared behind me. The gloom of the trees beyond the glade did not answer, and Hortus kept the secret of his brief captivity among the warriors. Turning back, I seized the reins and bent his head to mine.
“Wait here for me. Stay. Stay.”
He snorted at me as I stepped slantwise, keeping my eyes on him. I climbed from the stream, hauling myself up by a root, and hurried to where I had dropped the sling and sealskin. Once or twice I felt affrighted that my way had vanished, but I looked over my shoulder at the spot too often to be truly lost.
“Hortus!” The sound of his name was all that connected us, once he was no longer in sight.
One worry often gives way to the next; having a fear that he would be gone on my return, I grasped my few worldly possessions in my arms and did not stop to arrange them.
In the clearing where the higgledy-piggledy trees were jackstraws for giants’ play, Hortus lifted his head and glanced at me, asking, I guessed, why I called his name so often.
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you as a writer to write? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? I suspect a writer’s emotional life while making a story should remain a mystery. After all, it is somewhat of a riddle to herself.
What emotion there may be in this scene comes from the dramatic contrast with what has just gone before, and from the narrator’s sudden knowledge that something has been salvaged from a day of terror and loss.
There are many scenes more intense than this one in the book because Charis’s lively, adventurous life includes massacre, abrupt romance, betrayal, childbirth, and perilous escapes. Like many born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, this unfortunate young woman didn’t ask for adventure, but she found it. And she bore up well under the weight.
Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. This is a second draft page with a few minor deletions and additions. I’ve been told that my drafts are on the clean side, though I don’t really know if that’s true.
Other works you have published?
p = collection of poems
lp = longpoem
n = novel
y = Southern fantasy for younger readers
The Book of the Red King
(Montreal, CA: Phoenicia Publishing, 2019) p
Maze of Blood
(Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2014) n
(Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2014) n
(Montreal, CA: Phoenicia Publishing, 2012) lp
The Foliate Head
(Hornsea, UK: Stanza Press, 2012) p
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
(Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2012) n
The Throne of Psyche
(Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2011) p
(Hornsea, UK: P. S. Publishing,2009) n
(New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005) y
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Poetry Series, 2003) p
The Curse of the Raven Mocker
(New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003) y
The Wolf Pit
(New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001) n
(New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996) n
(Boston: David R. Godine, 1995) n
Anything you would like to add? Like many of my books, Charis in the World of Wondershas a cover and interior art made with the stellar artistry ofClive Hicks-Jenkinsof Wales.
I have been the happy recipient of his illuminations, which have adorned many of my books. Charishas chapter division pages, each with an image from Clive’s clever, skillful hand.
I am grateful that an artist of his calibre wants to collaborate with me, and to make my books more beautiful. Here is a sample of the images from Charis in the World of Wonders:
If you go tomy page for the novel, you can find out more about Clive and see what he has to say about the book.
Biography of Marly Youmans: I’m a native of the Carolinas, a wife, a mother of three adult children, and a writer of poetry and fiction. And I’m a 21-year resident of Cooperstown, New York, where I’m involved in lots of volunteer activities (that’s the inevitable in a small village!)
Among other things, I run a rather artsy program through Christ Church, the church where novelist James Fenimore Cooper was warden. He turned it into a Gothic bandbox after visiting Europe and finding that his wilderness home could be more inclined toward beauty. And I’m on the board of an interesting center forcontemplative prayer in the Catskills,Mons Nubifer Sanctus. One of my favorite recent (early March) activities was hanging out with artists and thinkers atFujimura Institute (Pasadena), one of the many brain children of the remarkable Makoto Fujimura, painter and writer and a shepherd of culture.