I’ve always loved reading. Since I started writing it seems I read even more—the printed word is in my sight every spare hour I have—and oh, how marvelous some of those words are. Words, phrases and sentences I wish I had written —wish I could write!
When I think of the consummate writer I think of Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol. I can practically quote the entire book, page by page, I’ve read it so many times in so many various editions and seen every movie adaptation.
One of my favourite lines is when Scrooge is addressing Marlowe’s ghost —"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"
More of gravy than of grave…how marvelous, and Dickens description of Scrooge at the beginning of the story is so spot on, and at the same time so eloquent—
External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.
Had I been describing him it would have been more like— He’s a rotten old miser with bad breath. Hasn’t quite the same ring to it, has it?
Some years ago a talented friend of mine wrote a musical version of Cyrano de Bergerac. I hadn’t read the book so off I went to the library to catch up. Remember those days? Libraries instead of the internet. After reading the first few pages I was hooked on Rostand’s powerful prose. Here’s an example….I had to look this up in my copy to get the exact words and almost couldn’t put it down again!
“And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb 'to love.' A kiss is a message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee's brief visit to a flower, secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever.'”
That last bit —the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover’s lip—I mean, jeez why can’t I dream up stuff like this? Well, I’ve always got my vampires and their sometimes archaic way of speaking to play with I suppose. But I’m certainly not going to hold up an example to compare with Cyrano’s ‘What is a kiss?’ Not that silly.
Other than the classics I love mysteries. Lisabet wrote about Janet Evanovich. I like her too, along with Sue Grafton and P.D. James. I first caught up with Baroness James—fancy that!—when she wrote Death Comes to Pemberley. I really admire the way she took on what is almost a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and gave the characters new life. Darcy becomes more human, Wickham an even bigger arse and there’s this lovely line from Darcy’s nasty auntie—
“I have never approved of protracted dying. It is an affectation in the aristocracy; in the lower classes it is merely an excuse for avoiding work.”
Somewhere I read this, from Isabelle Allende, of all people—“In erotica you use a feather, in pornography you use the whole chicken.” Love that, and I like to think that I use a featherlike touch when I write gay erotica. The raunch might be there, but there’s also the kiss that rises from the heart and whispers "Forever."