Hello, bloggies. I am Ann Tracy Marr, guest blogger for Kayleigh Malcolm. Although I write Regency romance, my newest book is non-fiction, Dear Cancer. I kept a diary and researched the medical ABC’s while I wrestled with triple negative breast cancer a couple of years ago. You may not be interested in Dear Cancer (if you or someone you know just got diagnosed with breast cancer you might be!), but click over to my website and glance at my Regencies. You may find something you like.
Two Truths and a Lie. Like Susan Roebuck, I love this game. You tell me, which is the lie?
1. My imagination places ghosts in my houses. The first house I lived in after marrying was still inhabited by an old woman. A bitter alcoholic, she alienated her friends and family and lived like a hermit in the bungalow, not appearing in public for weeks on end. She couldn’t be bothered to say “Hello,” to neighbors. She wanted to be left alone. The final time she made an appearance, it was involuntary; police and ambulance personnel don’t let you say, “Go away.” She died in the hallway, the stairs behind her, two small bedrooms to the right with the bathroom smashed between, and the dining room to the left. Her decaying body was found crumpled, just a smidge away from the telephone. How did I know she was there? She came to me in a dream, wearing a ratty pink chenille housecoat, her gray hair springing up from loosely rolled curlers. “Get out of my house,” she ordered. “It’s my house now,” I replied and rolled over.
Late at night, walking down the stairs, I had to pass through an invisible wall of fog. Always, it was on the third and fourth steps from the bottom of the stairs, with the old-fashioned telephone niche straight ahead. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t difficult to walk through, but I could feel it and didn’t like it. It didn’t give me goosebumps and it didn’t scare me. I couldn’t see anything and couldn’t prove it wasn’t my imagination, but I didn’t have to like it.
2. I love to imagine what would happen if myths came true. What would life be like if King Arthur and Merlin were history, not just a series of romantic stories? Think of it. Way back, sometime before Richard the Lionheart, Arthur was king of at least part of England. He set up the Round Table and as time went on, that concept became the accepted way to rule a country. No Parliament in Britain, no Congress in America. We would be governed by Round Tables. Knights would rule because they proved they were wise, strong, and ethical by completing quests, not because they were good campaigners or garnered the most advertising money. Maybe a favorite quest would be setting up a really effective charity or devising a compassionate way to deal with feral cats.
Arthur’s history needn’t change the world so much that we don’t recognize it – after all, we don’t pay much attention to Richard the Lion-hearted, so why would we care about the Round Table? – but Merlin was Arthur’s advisor and Merlin had magic. So, if Arthur’s myth can come true, magic would be real. There might still be magic today. Not Penn and Teller’s type, but real magic. I might have a magician living next door. “How cool that would be,” I think, and my imagination revs up.
Since I write about the English Regency, I can create a Regency where King Arthur and Merlin once existed. Their influence would continue. The concept of chivalry would have a life of its own; the world could enjoy a kinder and gentler way of life. I’d populate my romances with magicians and magic, knights and quests.
What would it be like? Would Prinny and Beau Brummel exist? Almack’s? Country house parties for the ton? Why not? Men would have access to more creative swear words than “bloody hell.” They could say, “bloody crystal cave.” Women could call on the Lady of the Lake for protection. Alongside the Foreign Office, a government agency would regulate magic. Balance history and myth and invent an alternate reality. It would add a fillip of excitement to a sometimes tired genre. My imagination sparkles.
3. My imagination is so active that sometimes I dream instead of paying attention to reality. I often do this when I am trying to work out a scene for a book. For example, I was plotting the scene in Keeper of the Grail where the hero and heroine are at a rout held by Lord and Lady Brinston. It was a complicated party: most of the people who figured in the story were in attendance, many things had to happen to fit together all those little sub-plots I had going, and I wanted it to be amusing.
Hungry, but with no desire to assemble a meal, I took myself to the local diner to eat lunch. It was a lovely day, so I sat at a table on the sidewalk, ordered a burger, and began to dream. In my imagination, I was walking around Lord and Lady Brinston’s London townhouse, having my toes stepped on by the elite of the Regency ton, when two men asked if they could sit at my table. I glanced around; there were a lot of people at the diner and all the tables were full. I smiled, agreed the men were welcome to share my space, and in my mind, handed Sir Sloane Johnston a plate of hors d'oeuvres. Dimly, I heard the two men discussing possible restaurants for dinner; they tossed back and forth the names of the best places in Detroit. Pricy places. Ah, well, I couldn’t make a recommendation. I went back to the Brinston’s party.
That was how I blithely ate lunch with Clint Eastwood. He was in Detroit filming Gran Torino. The scene where he goes into a hardware store was filmed across the street from the diner where I ate lunch. It was that day, that hour, and the diner was full to the brim with gawkers and Hollywood types, so Clint ate lunch at my table. Maybe he appreciated the fact that I ignored his fame. Sadly, no paparazzi snapped a picture to prove my story.
To learn more about this author, visit her website at www.atmarr.com. You’ll find all her books there.
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Regina Andrews (I'm hanging out at Regina's Blog this week)