With Whom We Have To Do

I was tagged the other day by the blogger over at Fullness of Joy.  It is not a very in-depth tag: really more of a getting-to-know-you-better sort of tag.  I know I don't tend to want to know a lot about authors because I am aware of the disconnect between the person you see and the book you read; but I do like to know the little quirks that make people who they are.  Operating under the assumption that you, too, might like to know quirks about this particular author, I am going to join in this questionnaire.  The following will be two groups of eleven questions each: the first group will be points about myself which I feel might interest or amuse people; the second group are questions which Joy (who tagged me) wrote and wanted me to answer.  But the question I really want an answer to is: why eleven?

I thought you might like to know...

1.  I was supposed to be ginger.  Ginger runs in my mother's side of the family, and she and I do have natural red highlights in our brown hair, but all the ginger traits got inside me and shaped, not my hair colour, but my personality.  I dare say that explains a lot.

2.  If you gave me the choice between a hard-cover book and a soft one, I would choose the hard one.

3.  As a child, my imaginary friend was Oliver Cromwell.  As a child, I was very free with history, so I'm afraid my imaginary friend did not accurately represent the original; but we got on well enough all the same, he and I.

4.  I have a cup of tea every morning.  It is so much a part of my regular routine that, if my husband and I have to leave the house unusually early (for me), we plan ahead to determine at what time I have to rise in order to brew and drink my cup of tea before bolting out the door.  I don't think the caffeine does anything for me: I think it is almost wholly psychological.  Or psychotic.

5.  I was in my early to mid-teens when I wrote my debut novel The Shadow Things.

6. I keep a journal styled in letters.  It should make for interesting reading if it is published after my death.

7.  When my husband's professor asked me what I study, I informed him that I have graduated highschool and am now free to study whatever I like without paying tuition to anyone.  He was evidently quite tickled by this defiance.

8.  Two things, which go hand in hand: I discovered that I sit and gesture just like my father while having a debate, and also that, in the midst of a serious discussion, I don't get jokes.  I will recognize jokes, I will recognize that they are funny, but the hilarity will almost always bounce right off me.  Serious-serious.

9.  Perhaps I have said this before, but I am not usually consciously logical.  I am typically a subconscious thinker, and intuitive.  Which means that I may be a genius sometimes, but I never know it.

10.  I said that I see emotion as colour, but here I feel I can explain further: I don't see colour the way some people see colour triggered by a sound, or a number.  To me defiance is a feeling the colour of a hawk's eye; high freedom, the kind that breaks something in your chest, is a feeling the colour of a pale sky.   Companionable silence is the colour and softness of a panther's coat.  That's what I mean by feeling colour.

11.  I communicate by letter with my friends.

What someone else thought you might like to know...

1.  Who are your top three favourite classic fiction authors and which are your top three favourite modern fiction authors?

I had to go and look up the definition of "classic."  I'm afraid it has been somewhat misunderstood, judging from the dictionary.  If you were to assume the definition that anything "classic" is the exemplary item of its kind, then it would follow, logically, that all modern literature is rot.  For the sake of this question I'm going to go with the definition "an artist or artistic production considered a standard."  I think we can work with that.

For my three "classic" authors I must say Jane Austen, because of her wit and insight into the everyday life, who helps me see beyond my intuition to the frank faces of people; G.K. Chesterton, who takes you

up through an empty house of stars
being what heart you are
up the inhuman steeps of space
as on a staircase go in grace
carrying the firelight on your face
beyond the loneliest star

and understands that my heart is hammered of phoenix feathers, ready to burst into flame.  And for my third I think I have to say E.R. Eddison who, though I have only read one work of his, blew me away by the grandeur of his people who, bigger than life, with blood like fire, whirled through the massive plot and the little me like a maelstrom of aching memories.  Even the white feather of his book was a man I liked greatly.

I have few favourite modern authors who are still alive.  I know, I'm like the Janette Oke novel of readers...  Since she was still alive in my early years, I feel no qualms in naming Rosemary Sutcliff as foremost among my modern favourite authors.  Runners up are Diana Wynne Jones (who just recently died, and I had nothing to do with it) and Harry Blamires, though he and I differ greatly on some points.  He, at least, is yet living.

2.  Which character in John Bunyan's immortal classic Pilgrim's Progress do you identify with most?

Abigail mentioned this question when she read it and asked self-deprecatingly, "What if I identify more with the villains?"  Honestly, it has been too long since I read the work to recall the numerous cast of characters found in it.  I think I identify with many of them in parts and portions, and in various places in life.

3.  In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, we see that Sam's and Frodo's responses to Gollum-Smeagol are different.  If you were in either character's position when they had a chance of killing him, would you have done so and rid yourself of his wickedness and treachery , or would you pity him, having carried the burden of the Ring yourself, known its temptation, and shown mercy?

I have to say Tolkien was a genius here.  If I were Sam, and Sam were me, I confess I probably would have tried to do away with Gollum.  I am strongly vindictive of nature and my mental reactions are usually violent.  But all the same, when I can empathize, I can understand, and perhaps I, too, would have shown mercy to Gollum if I had been in Frodo's place.

4.  Which do you enjoy more: reading a book or watching a movie?

I think I probably enjoy reading a book more, but I don't think the comparison is entirely fair since literature and films are two different mediums of art.  The point of both (assuming it is fiction) is to tell a story, but neither approaches story-telling the same way.  I enjoy both venues.

5.  What is your favourite kind of music to sing, hear, and play, and who do you think was the greatest music composer of all time?

I enjoy singing whatever my narrow vocal range can manage and my tiny memory can retain, mostly hymns and a few snatches of Disney songs I remember from my youth; due to their eclectic nature and little space I can't reproduce the songs I like to listen to, and I can't play anything.  As for the greatest musician of all time, I would greatly love to have listened to Jesus singing the Hallel on the Passover of his death.

6.  Which two books of the Bible do you tend to read the most?

Perhaps it is by some strange subconscious quirk of my own name, which starts with a J: I read the First Epistle of John and the Book of Job most.


7.  Is there a figure in history (outside of the Bible) that you love the most?  Why?

Athanasius.  Because his stalwart figure, obscured by little learning and long ages, appears as a hero to my eyes.

8.  Is there a book or a movie that you have recently been exposed to that you felt should have been done differently?

Oh dear.  This is a dangerous question for an author.  One must give allowance for differences of situation and temper...  But I did recently read the book Fairest by contemporary author Gail Carson Levine and felt that there were several points which could have had more justice done to them.  As for films, there are a lot of scenes in which I would have had the main character look up.  No one ever looks up.

9.  What are your two favourite scenes in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia?

My father is currently reading through these books with my six-year-old niece, and on occasion I will be on hand to listen.  I confess, I can't sit through a session without crying.  Too much beauty and too many memories are tied up in those words for me to sit it out dry-eyed.  I have to give you three scenes: The Magician's Nephew, in which Digory, without hope for his mother, looks up into Aslan's eyes and finds great, horrible, shining tears there; in The Silver Chair, Aslan's discourse with Jill at the outset:

"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion.
"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer.  "I suppose I must go and look for another stream."
"There is no other stream."

And in magnificent conclusion, Aslan's benediction at the end of The Last Battle, which we all know, which is like the last trumpet-note of the most beautiful song you have ever heard, hanging on the air, leaving everything behind in shaken splendour.

10.  What are some of the books (fiction and non-fiction) or movies that have inspired and changed your life?

"I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens."  Foremostly I name the word of God, and I publicly thank his grace and the Holy Spirit (but I repeat myself) for bringing me alive to that word.  As for the rest, I could not possibly name fifteen years' worth of books.  They all had a part in my shaping.  I imbibed them, I fought them, I debated them, I embraced them: each book, each conversation, each story,  each place, each soul, has impacted my life in a way only the Last Overview of Time could show.


11.  What do you love most about the place where you live?

My people.  All places are much the same, some better, some worse, some lighter, some darker: it is one's people that make it home.

And now you know.

6 ripostes:

  1. Love it! And loved seeing another picture of you. :)

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  2. This was a delight to read, Jenny! I think you answered the questions far better than I did. At least the answers were very deeply you. I don't know if that's better or not. I tend to think it is. But I'm rambling.

    Your journal is in letters? I thought of doing that, several times, but I could never quite keep the flow. Not that my current journal is a great work of literature, anyhow, but I like to pretend it is while I am writing it.

    I adore 1 John. It is so kind and so good that it is almost hard. I don't know how else to describe it.

    ...and you look so lovely in lemon-yellow. ^.^

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  3. I love the part about the letters! Who are the letters usually to? The ones in your journal I mean.

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  4. I am so glad you joined this tag, Jenny, despite not being the thing you normally do! I really enjoyed reading your answers, which were so well thought of, and thought-provoking!

    I have to apologize about the "classic" and "modern" question... I had simply meant to say by "classic" to be authors before the mid 20th century, and "modern" to be any author after that; as it was, I should have been a bit more specific!

    I found that fact that you had Oliver Cromwell as an imaginary friend when you were little very fascinating and funny! As it is, my sister Sarah and I love the life of Oliver Cromwell, as a godly man who has been misjudged and misunderstood by critics and historians alike, for his faith and beliefs. My sister has done a LOT of historical research on his life :), and you can view some posts she's written about him on her blog, http://gemsinhistory-sarah.blogspot.com.au/

    I subconsciously think all the time, and usually it isn't very logical either (I am glad my family can't read my brain all the time, or they might think I'm a little nutty) =D... haven't thought of it before as being a "genius".

    I love the character of Athanasius very much as well. I think it has more to do then with the fact that he was the bishop of the city where I was born, Alexandria though :). He was such a stalwart man of faith and conviction, wasn't he!

    You are right that Tolkien was a genius :); my family and I have just been reading/watching the Lord of the Rings and discovering what a gem it is, and this "Gollum" question just nagged at me a lot, but I think I'd agree with you :). I've been doing a lot of comparing between Narnia/Lord of the Rings and have just been realizing I'm just comparing two brilliant stars, which is basically an impossible task!

    You look really lovely in this photo, Jenny, and the yellow top is really pretty on you <3.

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  5. In the UK, it's completely normal to have tea every morning, and for many this does their breakfast entirely. I've always had a strong brew as soon as I wake up (we're practically fed the stuff from 5 years old). I then one around half past three, one after tea (as in the meal), and one before bed. All with the teabag left in! Four cups a days sounds like so many, but when it's as chilly as it is in England, I've known people to just be pretty much constantly sipping it from a flask! Probably not the healthiest of things, but it keeps early Spring-time coughs at bay.

    Your response to jokes is an interesting trait. I'm always so terrified of embarressing people that my acknowledgement of their jest always extends to atleast a smile before continuing with the discussion.

    Cromwell! I'm guessing he didn't live up to "Old Ollie wans't jolly" in your friendship? :P

    Oh, gosh, how I envy your correlation between your home and your people!

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  6. I quite enjoyed this, and bless whoever convinced you to be tagged. ;) It was delightful to have this little glimpse into your life. And I can quite sympathize with you when it comes to being told jokes while in serious discussion. * nods sagely *

    And I must agree with your other commenters that the picture is quite lovely. ^.^

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