History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

27 January 2010

Star Trek, Lost, and Characters that Fascinate

My book,Vienna Waltz, is due February 1st. So since I'm currently in the throes of going through the book through for the last time, layering in more texture, double-checking research facts, making sure my timeline is consistent, and a zillion other things that always seem to be part of the last week of working on a book, I went through old posts on my own blog to see if I could find something to post today. I came across a post I wrote last May on series and characters that fascinate. Which seems particularly apropos, because one of the series I talk about is Lost. When I first wrote this post, the season finale had just aired. Now, the final season is about to premiere (Tuesday, February 2nd, a treat for me after I turn my book in :-).

My musing on series started when my friend Penny Williamson and I spent the afternoon of my birthday last May at a matinee of the Star Trek movie. We both loved it. It manages to simultaneously be fresh and innovative and yet true to the original. The actors do a fabulous job of capturing the characters we know so well, in mannerism and vocal patterns (and the way the writers wrote their dialogue). You can really believe these characters will grow into the characters from the original tv series. And yet the new actors never seem to be mimicking, they make the characters their own. Since I love to move back and forth in time in my own writing and examine my characters at different points in their history, I particularly enjoyed the prequel aspect (the prequel and alternate universe were very timely since I was then in the early stages of writing Vienna Waltz, which is both a prequel and something of an alternate universe take on my own series).

Penny and I both love to talk about favorite series. When we first became friends, we spent endless lunches analyzing and speculating over Dorothy Dunnett’s books (this was in the years when the House of Niccolò series was still being written and published). More recently, we could be found picking apart Alias over lattes in our favorite café. Waiting for Star Trek to start, we were discussing the season finale of Lost. Penny and I’ve been discussing Lost a lot lately. In fact, we talked about it for the entire five hour plus drive from the San Francisco Bay Area to Ashland, Oregon, on our spring trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Lost fascinates and baffles both of us. Usually we can come up with a theory about where we think a story arc is headed (wrong perhaps to varying degrees but at least a theory that works with the information at hand). With Lost, every time we think we have something figured out, the next episode pulls the rug out from under us.

Part of the delight of speculating over a series of course is trying to unravel the plot. When I was a teenager, my mom and I had numerous discussions about Star Wars in the years between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I still remember the moment when, thinking about Arthurian mythology, I said “oh, I know, Luke and Leia are brother and sister.” Of course, I was thrilled to be proved right when we saw Return of the Jedi (the day it opened, my mom stood in line and got tickets and then picked me up at school). But mostly, I was relieved to see the characters I cared about get the happy ending I so wanted them to have. Thinking about Star Trek and Lost, I realized how much of the allure of an ongoing series is the characters. Characters you care about and root for. Characters who seem to have a rich inner life off the screen/page. Characters you want to learn more about. Characters whose fates seem very real and a matter of great concern (I confess to having tears in my eyes at one point in the Star Trek movie, and the Lost season finale definitely left me choked up).

I returned to the world of another favorite series last spring when I read Laurie King's The Language of Bees. It was a delight to step back into Russell & Holmes’s world. When I finished the book, I didn’t want to leave that world (partly because of the questions left to be answered in the next installment, but mostly because I wanted to spend more time with these characters). For quite a while afterwards I reread earlier books in the series, unable to move on to something new.

I'm currently immersed in yet another beloved series, reading Lauren's Betrayal of the Blood Lily. Having this book to read while I'm finishing up my own book is both a delight and very dangerous. It's great to have a treat for breaks from revisions, but I'm have to firmly resist the temptation to dive into the world of the Pink Carnation characters and not come up for air until I've finished the book. When I saw Lauren in New York last fall, one of the very fun things about our conversations was talking about our respective series and asking what was next for various characters. It's almost like talking about mutual friends. In a way it's more intimate, because we know so many details about the characters.

What makes you bond with the characters in a particular series? Have you seen the Star Trek movie? Do you watch Lost? If so, do you have the faintest idea of where the show is headed? :-).

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Maria K. said...

Much to my embarrassment, I have not seen the Star Trek movie yet. It's going on the Netflix queue. Embarrassment - because I am a trekkie. Not a convention-going trekkie, mind you, but the kind that can quote "The Wrath of Khan". :-)

I think I get tired by shows that have too many twists and turns. I love it in a movie, which is why I adore Agatha Christie-based productions. But in a show that runs year after year it just wears me out. I used to love "Heroes" - especially season one: my favorite part - the discovery and the making of a hero. But after two seasons, I fell out of love with it - the plot coiled onto itself like a giant anaconda in search of its own tail, and Sylar was still alive after being killed once and stripped of his abilities once.

So, when I go in search of fascinating plots and characters, I go to the tried-and-true - the books. Like yours, and Tasha's and Deanna's. And that is working out quite well so far.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Tracy, I have a confession: I have never watched "Lost," or "Alias," or "Star Trek," and only saw the very first of the "Star Wars" movies. I'm not much of a TV watcher (my only guilty TV pleasure is "Project Runway") and I've never been much for stories set in the future.

However, I always get "lost" in the wonderful plots and compelling characters of your novels and Lauren's (and can't wait to get my copy of "...Blood Lily" on Monday at Lady Jane's Salon!

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Tinky said...

Dear Tracy and Colleagues:

You and your wonderful blog have been awarded the Kreativ Blogger Award, congratulations! Please come to my blog, http://www.ourgrandmotherskitchens.com, to accept this award.

Here is what the Kreativ Blogger Award asks you to do. If you can't do all of it, don't worry; the award is still yours!

1. Copy the creative blogger logo from my blog onto a post in your blog.

2. Link to me in that post.

3. Mention seven things about you and/or your blog that might be of interest.

4. Mention (and link to) seven other blogs you like.

I had fun doing this; I hope you do, too!

And I love series fiction, too, Tracy; growing with characters helps us grow.


6:46 AM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

Yes, I have seen the new STAR TREK movie and loved it. It made me remember why I fell in love with the characters originally and yet found new aspects of their characters.

I think that's one reason why I stop reading series, when the characters don't show me anything new. (Not plot, personality.)

We were discussing DOCTOR WHO yesterday at work. None of us could figure out how The Doctor could go through all those radically different incarnations and still be - The Doctor.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Maria, I think you'll like the Star Trek movie! Let me know. I like series/stories that are complicated, but twists for the sake of twists that don't seem to be grounded in character or that simply seem to be like a reset button frustrated me. I was very unhappy with Alias in the last season because I thought it over simplified what had been fascinating, layered characters. A friend and I recently watched the first and last episodes of the first season while he was visiting, and we were so impressed by how well the fit together. We agreed it was sad where the show ended. I'm holding my breath that the resolution of Lost is more satisfying.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Leslie, I was definitely thinking about series of books as well as TV shows and movies. I'm thrilled that my series and Lauren's are ones you can get lost in!

10:54 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Tinky, thanks so much for the kind words and the award!

10:54 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Diane, so glad you loved the Star Trek movie too. I thought it was fabulous. It definitely did find new aspects of the characters while staying true to the original, not an easy thing to do.

Re; your comments about Doctor Who - do you mean The Doctor seems like entirely different people because he's played by different actors? Or that somehow he does remain The Doctor, and you're not sure how the writers and actors manage that?

10:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love a good series! Books or Films or Television, I'm in!!! But sometimes I fall out of love . . .

I had trouble with LOST because it often seemed to me that the writers didn't know where they were going with it (which turned out to be true according to various interviews with them I've seen recently). Like what the heck was up with the polar bear? They still hadn't explained that when I gave up on the show.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

I've had trouble with Lost at various points too, Kalen. Sometimes it seemed to me not so much that they didn't know where they were going as that they were stalling for time and the show would bog down. But I loved the most recent season. And I've been really impressed with how many seemingly insignificant details from early seasons they've come back explained. If the ending remotely holds together, it'll be brilliant. If not, I'll be very frustrated I've wasted my time :-). But that doesn't take away the fun of speculating over it!

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Valerie L. said...

I have seen neither the new Star Trek movie nor Lost, but I can empathize with identifying with characters. The part of your post that struck me the most was when you talked about you and your mother having wonderful conversations about the Star Wars characters and going to the movies together. My son and I have had numerous and lengthy discussions aobut the myriad and complex characters of George R R Martin's fantasy series Song of Ice & Fire. After each book came out we would sit for hours and discuss what we'd just read and hypothesize about what paths these characters would take in the future. It is an experience that bonded us and one we can't wait to repeat when the next book appears (soon, please).

11:03 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Valerie, how wonderful you and your son can share the George RR Martin books. My mom and I always talked about books we read. In addition to speculating over the Star Wars movies, we spent hours speculating over Dorothy Dunnett's earlier books, Len Deighton's Bernard Samson books, and a host of others. And our whole family, including my dad, spent a lot of time analyzing Twin Peaks when it was on. It's so wonderful to share books and other stories, and it's definitely a bonding experience! It's so hard to wait in between books in a series, and yet speculating about what will happen next is so much fun!

11:12 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Kennedy Western University Online