Hamilton: One Last Time

I had intended for this to go up in the waning days of last year but found myself wanting to spend my vacation away from my computer rather than in front of it. So here we are, with some final thoughts on the other side of the new year.

A final post, one last time, on Hamilton: An American Musical.

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This piece will mark my sixth and final blog post on my unabashed love for this genius historical musical. I swear.

In a lot of ways, this year has been the year of Hamilton for me. On some level it allowed some respite from the real world, while opening the floodgates on an already complex conversation about art, diversity, and our American past.

In 2016 I have been privileged to see the show on Broadway and like so many others devoured the Hamilton Mixtape, finished the Hamilton: The Revolution (henceforth the Hamiltome, the book about the making of the musical – with annotations!), and watched Hamilton’s America – the incredible PBS documentary that put the musical in its historical context. Continue reading “Hamilton: One Last Time”

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Building Character: Writing The Heart of the River

“In every story that you read / A heroine or hero fills a need.”

At the end of January I finally hit publish on a children’s book three years in the making

The Heart of the River tells the story of a young explorer who searches for wonder at the heart of the River Idira. Along the way she encounters a fearsome dragon and uncovers her own ability for courage and kindness.

But this isn’t about my accomplishment, as excited as I am to share the news. Rather it’s a conversation on process, about how I wanted to create a world that was inclusive, but also a world where the main character would be the embodiment of all the writing and reading I had done over the past five years on what made a strong female character.5_ARYA_Light_Ray

In my acknowledgements I talk of how this story started as a tingle in my fingers and romanticized how it poured out of me with a life of its own.

But that’s a lie. Sort of.

Read the rest of the post on FANgirl.com.

A Twinge of Loss. The Aftermath of the Star Wars Expanded Universe

This post originally appeared on FANgirl.

Han shot first. A toy in a prime television viewing spot at a friends house.
Han shot first. A toy in a prime television viewing spot at a friends house.

In eighth grade science class my friend Tracy slid me a folded piece of notebook paper. Scrawled across the top were the words “Star Wars Expanded Universe and Ratings” or something like that. On this paper she had painstakingly written out the name of each of the books marking each in turn with a series of stars. One for Children of the Jedi. Five for The Last Command. A blueprint for a newly inducted fan.

Soon I found myself devouring each book as it came along. Wanting to stay current, and let’s be honest, to know everything. In 1995, the internet was in its infancy, and my sphere of conversation on this topic was limited. But, boy, did I read.

I read regularly until the end of the New Jedi Order. Then things took a turn towards darkness. bugs, strange adventures, twisted Solo children. So I moved on, returning occasionally for a book by Timothy Zahn and to read about Mara’s demise firsthand. I felt like I owed it to her to read about her death, to pay my last respects.

Despite all this the internet kept me informed and it was enough. A single toe in a larger pond.

Enter Disney.

Let’s get this out of the way: I am hopeful. Cautiously optimistic. Filled with anticipation. Even thrilled now that we have three films in three years.

Seriously all — ROGUE ONE. Even if it isn’t linked to Michael Stackpole/Aaron Allston, the idea alone… Whew.

Then there was a notice about the new books, including a blurb about Star Wars: Aftermath, and there it was: an unexpected twinge next to my heart, a sudden moment of loss.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER ENDOR? FIND OUT IN STAR WARS: AFTERMATH Continue reading “A Twinge of Loss. The Aftermath of the Star Wars Expanded Universe”

Finding What We Need: Native American Heroines and the Creation of Historical Myths

This post originally appeared on the FANgirl blog.

The Corps of Discovery in Kansas City, MO, which features Sacagawea
The Corps of Discovery in Kansas City, MO, which features Sacagawea | Credit: Kristina Downs

On FANgirl we talk a lot about heroines – who they are, what makes them strong, how they represent and influence the culture we live in. Often these discussions involve looking at the process of myth-making and storytelling; stereotypes and archetypes – and how they reflect real world needs and ideas. These ideas specifically are rooted in our historical narrative.

For a long time the history we learned was told from a singular perspective: the white male, the victors, the overseers, the husbands. Since the 1960s historians have worked to fill that gap looking at the same history from additional viewpoints including African-American, immigrants, Native-Americans, and women. While we have some primary sources written by members of this specific groups, sometimes our understanding of these lives come from folklore: stories, myths, music, and literature.

Folklore gives us a sense of iconic figures and representations that reflect the age in which they were written. These historical mythologies are transitional and ever shifting from decade to decade, just as our heroes and heroines in science fiction have changed based on where we were in time.

About a month ago I sat down with a friend of mine, Kristina Downs, to talk about her dissertation on Native American heroines. We’ve known each other for about ten years through a mutual love of Shakespeare and science fiction at the College of William and Mary, but it was only recently through a random post on Facebook that I realized she was in the process of getting her Ph.D. in folklore. Continue reading “Finding What We Need: Native American Heroines and the Creation of Historical Myths”