“… I have besides a personal dislike to ‘Poets,’ and the little acquaintance I have with them would by no means induce me to divulge my secrets.”
–Colin Ames-Beaumont, in a letter to John Polidori, January 1816.**
I found THE MONSTERS: MARY SHELLY AND THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN in Fred Meyer’s today, while purchasing a carrot cake (yum) and trying to find dumb little party hats (I couldn’t, much to the disappointment of my daughter) and bought it on the spot (or rather at the do-it-yourself checkout, which I love) despite its being hardcover.
It’s a narrative non-fiction account of the events of that summer in 1816, and Mary’s life afterward (and also suggests the events of that night put a curse on them, explaining the early deaths of Polidori, Shelley and Byron; I say something else happened to them, although a curse is somewhat involved). I skimmed through the first chapter in the aisle, and it looked pretty good, so I grabbed it.
I’ve been reading a ton of Byron/Shelley stuff online (it amazes me how many of their works and journals/letters are available through Project Gutenburg (sp?), though my favourite so far has been Trelawny’s account of the last days of Byron and Shelley.
The research has primarily been for a subplot within DEMON MOON, but I’ve been opening alternate chapters with excerpts from letters written to Polidori, then Shelley, then Byron. So reading the letters has been helpful, though I’m certain I’ll never have Colin write “cock-a-whoop.”
But, back to this book — it supposedly uses letters, journals, all that good stuff — and puts everything into a nice, narrative form. One of the difficulties of my research has been taking all of the disparate sources and putting everything together in a manageable form in my head (I abhor timelines, particularly those of my own creation); I hope that they’ve done it a bit better than I have thus far.
But even more valuable? The nice bibliography at the back. The narrative is great, but having a nice listing of the source material is still better.
And the cake was good, by the way, but for the walnuts they put in it (why do they do that? AGH!).
Down With Nuts!
Oh! Er…I was going to ask:
What do you think of information about a world being conveyed by fake letters/Doyen Scrolls at the opening of chapters, anyway?
I did it in “Falling for Anthony”, might do it in DEMON ANGEL revisions, but definitely will in DEMON MOON (Colin’s letters one chapter, Savi’s e-mails the next).
Who else does it? Megan had those wonderful bits in A SINGULAR LADY, Emma Holly had the history in THE DEMON’S DAUGHTER, and of course there are Lady Whistledown’s columns in the early Bridgerton books.
Does it work? Or is it annoying/disrupt the flow of the story?
**Is it plagiarism, an inside joke or an Easter Egg if I use this? From Byron’s letter to the editor of THE VAMPYRE’s publisher: “If the book is clever, it would be base to deprive the real writer, whoever he may be, of the honors, and if stupid, I desire the responsibility of nobody’s dullness but my own … I have besides a personal dislike to ‘Vampires,’ and the little acquaintance I have with them would by no means induce me to divulge their secrets.” (1819)
I think it’s funny if I use this, and it works really well with the subplot, and I really do mean it as a wink–but after the Kaavya thing, can we be too careful? I’ll of course have all research and disclaimers on my website, anticipating such things, but still…hmm. Will have to ask my editor on the legalities, when I actually finish it and send it her way.