This is a long overlooked British silent film, directed by Anthony Asquith in the early days of his career. I’m posting my review of it here because the cottage reminds me of Orlan’s at the end of the novel–one large room below, and a partial loft above. The story is not at all similar.
A man breaks out of Dartmoor prison and runs across the darkened moors to the title cottage, where a woman is putting her baby to bed in the loft. He breaks in just before she comes downstairs. When she sees him, she is naturally alarmed… but they call each other by their first names.
Most of the rest of the movie is a flashback to when the escaped prisoner was a barber and the woman a manicurist at a posh hotel barber’s shop; he is smitten with her in a shy-but-slightly-creepy way and believes she returns his affections due to a misunderstanding about some flowers he sent her. When she falls in love with one of their regular customers, he goes into full-blown jealous stalker mode and follows the couple on a date to the movies (They’re in a silent movie, but they’re going to see a talky).
The scene in the theater is one of the movie’s high points: we never see what the audience is watching, but we observe all their reactions. I guessed that the short before the main feature was a Harrold Lloyd comedy from the way a boy in the audience reacts to Lloydish-looking man in glasses sitting near him. At one point, the scene features enough quick cuts to keep the shortest of modern attention spans happy. And while nearly everyone else is the theater is enthralled by the movie–and the manicurist and her boyfriend are cuddling up during the suspenseful parts–Stalker-guy is seated in the row immediately behind them and never takes his eyes off them.
The next day, the boyfriend comes into the barber shop for his usual shave and manicure. While the couple flirts as she works on his nails, guess who is holding a straight razor near his throat? This scene is a forerunner the sort of suspense work we’ll later see from Alfred Hitchcock. And since the man holding the razor escaped from prison at the beginning of the movie, the tension of the moment increases only toward dread.
The movie is worth seeing just for these two sequences alone.
A traveling troupe of actors performs their own interpretation of a very old and highly symbolic play
After dinner, Redmantyl brought Orlan downstairs. “You’re going to see a play tonight, Little One,” he said.
A stage had been set on the courtyard above the Plaza. Torches blazed on the walls and huge squares of black canvas hung across the southern side. There were few props—painted chairs, a baptismal font, an odd pile of lumber and canvas with a platform at the top, and a large, sheet-draped object at one corner—but Orlan looked around, wondering, as his father took him across. They sat on the Plaza just below the steps. All the servants, the off-duty guards, and the more prominent citizens of Lyges sat behind them, on benches and cushions. Orlan saw none of the thespians who had been rushing about all day.
“It’ll be starting soon?” He looked up at his father.
“At any moment,” Redmantyl answered softly. “Hush.” And as Orlan began to squirm with impatience, a young maid in plain dress—Anyse—walked out from the Bottom Hall and curtsied pertly.
“Our noble patron, Lord Redmantyl, his household, and welcome guests from Lyges,” her voice rang out clearly. “We the members of Redmantyl’s most kindly sustained thespian troupe thank you all for your favor and bid you attend the tale we perform tonight. `Tis a sad but worthy story of a man of pride and temper and of his grievous sins. With no more apology nor delay, we humbly present our tale of times long passed and people long dead, of Oedipus, the tragic King.” She bobbed again and exited.
Continue reading “Another excerpt from The Wizard’s Son”
Maiden in Light, the sequel to The Wizard’s Son, is now available. See http://www.minl.wapshottpress.com/2011/05/01/maiden-in-light-is-now-on-sale/ for details.
It began as a literary short-hand. When I wrote my first draft of this book’s opening scene many years ago, both Orlan and Redmantyl had ordinary skin and hair color. But that immediately presented me with a problem: A wizard might be able to recognize his previously unseen child at first meeting, but how would the little boy know that this was his father? And how would anyone else know? DNA testing doesn’t exist in a medieval-type world, and it seemed unlikely that a man could show up and simply claim custody of a child without providing some undeniable proof of his right to do so. There needed to be some way to make the true relationship between the wizard and little boy plain right away to both readers and the characters in the story without bogging the plot down.
After playing with some ideas about birthmarks or distinctive patterns to the eyes, I decided to give them a sort of ultra-albino coloring, with very pale skin and silvery-fair hair.The wizard Redmantyl, his son, and other relatives are not true albinos, however; their eyes are pale blue or gray instead of pink. This appearance made them easily recognizable as members of the same family, and marked them as something rare and remarkable even among the magicians of their world.
Although this series is only at its very beginning, there may also eventually be an explanation for the odd appearance of my main characters later on.
Orlan’s first night at his father’s castle:
That night, Orlan was put to bed in a small chamber near his father’s apartment. He woke later in strange darkness. Nothing was as it ought to be. The bed was too large and when he reached out he found nothing but cold sheets around him. He was used to sleeping at someone’s side. Where was Ellan? Where was Mama? Tonight, for the first time, he was alone. “Mama?”
With a sudden throb of renewed grief, he realized that his mother was gone. She was not here; he had left her at Lammouthe, a hundred miles away, and he would never see her again. Vividly, he saw her face again, eyes shut, blonde curls limp on the pillow, lips faintly blue.
Dead. His mother was dead.
Continue reading “Excerpts from “The Wizard’s Son””
Since I’ve been posting excerpts from the upcoming sequel at http://www.minl.wapshottpress.com, it seemed like a good time to start posting a few excerpts here as well.
To begin at the very beginning…
The little boy looked up in amazement as hooves clattered on the loose cobbles of the alley and a man in brilliant red rode into the yard. He had never seen such a colorful being before, wrapped from hood to polished heels in a crimson cloak and most wondrous scarlet mantle. A gold talisman glittered upon his brow in the early-morning sunlight. All about the little yard, common folk in home-dyed garb of brown and butternut were out to lift their storefronts and throw rubbish to the gutters, but the boy had forgotten them. He was transfixed by this stranger, who seemed larger to him than all of this small, dirty patch of Lammouthe.
Lammouthe was made up of narrow, tangled streets, mud-daubed buildings around little stone yards, a busy marketplace and a busier port. The boy had never been out of this maze, but at times he would venture to the docks to gape at the tall ships, the mariners who spoke in odd tongues, and the great, greenish-gray ocean, and wonder what was beyond: where did the ships and sea-folk sail to? He heard the names of faraway lands—Persia, Napoli, Arabia, Cathay—and he tried to imagine what they were like, but his imagination would not take him out of the only place he knew. He thought all the world must be like Lammouthe: an endless town by the endless sea.
But as he stared up at this stranger—so tall and handsome, radiant with light and strength—the boy began to believe that there might be other things than brown-garbed shopkeepers and the ever-present stink of fish, things more strange than foreign mariners, more beautiful than the ocean, more wonderful than the tallest ships. Surely this red-robed man must be from the most marvelous place in the world!
Continue reading “Excerpts from “The Wizard’s Son””
The sequel to The Wizard’s Son is expected out in May 2011.
From the back-cover blurb:
“From the top of the gate, Alys smiled down. There was no evidence of evil, yet Laurel felt it. That absence of living energy concealed something grotesque. She shuddered when she met those night eyes, repulsed as she might be by a dead mouse accidentally trod underfoot or a cold, scaly water-thing brushing against her body in a stream. Her nerves thrilled with danger. She’d seen this girl before, watching and smiling secretly. She’d sensed this presence months ago, though she hadn’t understood until now what it was. This was why she had come to New York…”
To see the cover and read the rest of the blurb, go to the sister Web site: http://www.minl.wapshottpress.com.
How long did it take to write the book?
“About two years initially, then a few more months for rewrites. The story was originally all in chronological order, but in an effort to shorten it and get to the focus of the plot more quickly, I moved a lot of scenes involving Orlan’s childhood to later sections of the story and made them flashbacks.”
September 1, 2010: Kathryn L. Ramage interview on the Indie Spotlight.
“What inspired you to write this book?
“I began working on this novel in grad school, when I was taking courses in Old English and medieval lit. In my first versions of the story, I used a lot of proper names and other words that were a sort of amalgamation of Old or Middle English and medieval French, as if the two countries and their languages had never become separate; the Norman Empire contains both. A lot of that has been edited out since to make the story easier to read, although I’ve tried to keep just a little taste of it in some of the names.”
August 30, 2010: Interview with Kathryn L. Ramage on SellingBooks.com.