The Author’s Chair (flash fiction)

The Author’s Chair

“So you want to write books?” the figure asked.

“Yes.” the author replied.

“What you need is the Author’s Chair. You won’t be able to stop writing.” the figure said. A brown leather chair appeared.

“That’s what I want. How much for it?”

“Only your soul.” The author laughed upon hearing this.

“It’s of no matter. Go ahead and take it!” the author urged.

“Fine.” The figure disappeared.

The author sat down and began writing and found he couldn’t stop. He wrote many works, but died of thirst, hunger, and exhaustion from never being able to leave the Chair.

Joanne Fisher

This nasty little story was written with the prompt Author’s Chair provided by the Carrot Ranch September 23 Flash Fiction Challenge.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The New Library (flash fiction)

The New Library

“Hi I’m new to this place. I was wondering if the town has a library as I can’t seem to find it.” I asked someone in the street.

“Well the old library was bulldozed to make way for a new carpark.” They told me. They pointed to a multilevel carpark. “That’s it there.”

“Very nice.” I said. “If I was a connoisseur of car-parks I imagine I would be very pleased with that one. Did you happen to build a new library after you destroyed the old one?” They nodded.

“Yep, it’s over there.” They pointed to what looked to be a red phone booth.

“The phone booth?” I asked.

“I think it was.” They replied. I decided to check out their new “library”.

It was still cramped with only a few shelves of books remaining. I wondered if I was one of the few left who still actually read books…

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

Yes there is a serious point to this story…

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #146.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Rereading the Lord of the Rings

I was twelve years old when I first read The Lord of the Rings. Throughout most of my adolescence I reread it every year. I used to dream I was in Middle-earth walking through the dark paths of Mirkwood or staying in Rivendell and listening to songs and stories being told in the Hall of Fire.

In my adult life I’ve read it less frequently. I think the last time I read it was in 2014. For the moment I’m just reading a chapter before I go to sleep as I like taking my time and meandering through it. Middle-earth is always a good place to escape to when I’m feeling troubled or in need of a journey.

Though the films were shot in my country I’ve never really liked them that much: too many odd changes and condensing for my liking I guess. Also there have been decades of Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth inspired art, yet these days all the images seem to be ones based on the films. So much for imagination. To be honest I’ve never been a great fan of film adaptations.

Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings in 1938 when Allen and Unwin asked for a sequel to The Hobbit. As he wrote it, the story got longer and darker. He eventually finished it in the late 1940s. He first sent the manuscript to Collins, along with a version of The Silmarillion (as he felt the book couldn’t be understood without knowledge of the events of the First Age) in 1950, but it was rejected. In the end he gave The Lord of the Rings (without The Silmarillion) to Allen and Unwin, though he felt it wasn’t the sequel they had initially asked for. Many people refer to The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy, but it isn’t true technically. It was a single book that was split into three by the publishers due to a paper shortage at the time. It was eventually published during 1954-55.

At the moment the Fellowship has just set out from the safety of Rivendell and I am happily following them as they approach the Misty Mountains unaware of the troubles they will encounter. Once I finish this I’m planning to read The Silmarillion again.

Do you have any books you like to read regularly?

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Aalen’s Saga: The Hunter due out early 2021

All going well I hope to have the e-book of Aalen’s Saga ready in January/February. I’m not sure what platforms it will be available on yet, but I’ll keep you posted on where it can be found. If this project is successful, then I have further ideas for e-books, so this could be the first of many.

Currently I have a friend who is an artist doing a cover and some interior artwork for the book.

If anyone is able to provide links with step by step instructions on how to make and publish an e-book that would be greatly appreciated 🙂

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©️2020 Joanne Fisher

Artist Wanted

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I’m thinking of turning Aalen’s Saga into a small e-book. There may be some rewriting involved.

What I would like is an artist who could provide some art to go with it – I was thinking black and white line drawings. The main characters are a female elf, her wolf, and a female human.

There will be little money in this venture, as I have no money, but we could possibly come to an arrangement about sharing any profits made from this project, should there be any.

If any of this interests you feel free to contact me and we can discuss this further.

 

 

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©2020 Joanne Fisher

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu Review

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I don’t normally write reviews, but I’m in the midst of a dark depression and can’t seem to write any fiction right now. I can’t usually afford books anymore, but luckily Carmilla was only $1 on Google’s Play Books and that’s the sort of price that works for me at the moment… Be warned this review will be full of spoilers.

Carmilla is a gothic novella that was first published in 1872, around 25 years before Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was published. It has been said that Carmilla was an important influence on Stoker when he was writing Dracula, as well as Le Fanu’s other works. Carmilla, the story’s antagonist, is a vampire and has designs on the story’s narrator. You could say there is quite a strong lesbian undercurrent to this work.

The story is written as a personal memoir by the story’s main character, Louise. During the book, she and her father live in a castle on a small estate that her father has acquired in Styria (located in the south-east of Austria). Laura describes the castle as having a moat and a single drawbridge and being surrounded by forest and being miles away from any other settlement. Honestly upon reading that I just wanted to move in there immediately. I mean if that place exists, can I live there? Please? I can live with the vampire issues they seem to have.

One evening they are outside and witness a carriage accident not far from the estate. A middle-aged woman and her daughter Carmilla are in the carriage. Carmilla is unconscious and Laura’s father agrees to let Carmilla stay at their castle while her mother continues on an important errand and promises to be back in three months time for her. I immediately thought this was a convenient way to get Carmilla to stay at the castle, like it was part of a routine or scam, more about that later.

Upon Carmilla staying at the castle many young women in the surrounding area start getting sick and dying. I would have been suspicious about that from the outset, but the narrator nor her father seem to connect the dots in time.  She also forms a close relationship to Laura, who seems to be both attracted and repelled by her at the same time. Towards the end of the story, Carmilla starts turning her vampiric attention towards Laura (presumably she’s run out of other young women in the area to feed on) and you do get a sense from Laura that she is gradually getting weaker and knows she is facing death.

Upon a trip to the ruins of Karnstein, it is revealed that Carmilla is actually Mircalla, Countess of Karnstein (Carmilla being an anagram of Mircalla) and that she has done this sort of thing before, notably to a friend of Laura’s father, General Spielsdorf. He had also let Carmilla stay at his residence, though she had the name Millarca at the time (another anagram). His niece, became good friends with Millarca, and slowly died. He gives an account of his experience to Laura and her father on their way to Karnstein, and they finally notice how similar his story is to theirs regarding Carmilla. What happens at Karnstein I will leave to anyone wanting to read this work.

Overall I quite liked the writing style. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the castle and its environs, as well as Laura’s life there. I also thought how Carmilla quite deviously got into Laura’s head at times, as well as often arousing sympathy from her, was quite well done. Carmilla came off as quite a subtle predator at times. Whenever Laura was quite ill or scared Carmilla would intentionally mirror those feelings and make it seem like she herself was worse off. She put a lot of effort in trying to appear as human to Laura, though there was the occasional slip. When Carmilla was finally feeding on Laura, Laura’s sense of fatalism and claustrophobia seemed genuine and understandable. It would have been nice to have slightly more overt sexuality in this, given the subject matter, but then again what could you expect from the 1870s.

It’s a short work and can be easily be read in a day. If you like vampire stories or even stories with a tinge of lesbianism to them, then it’s well worth reading this.

 

Four and half blood-soaked fangs out of five.

 

 

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This review ©2020 Joanne Fisher

 

From The Bookshelf: My Favourite Tolkien Books

I thought I would share the treasures from my bookshelf, in particularly my favourite books I have by Tolkien. Some of these books in this article are ones I picked up relatively recently, though some I got here and there a while ago now. They are in no particular order and the date provided is the year that particular edition was published.

The Silmarillion (1977)

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This is the edition of The Silmarillion I reread or check for information. It has a nice solid feel to it and an attractive font. I paid $15 for it in a second hand bookshop a few years ago. There’s a slight tear in the front top left dust jacket. The fact I consult this book so often doesn’t help its condition either. I love Tolkien’s own illustrations that are on both the front and the back covers. They are emblems of various different characters from The Silmarillion. The front cover is Lúthien Tinúviel. I watched a video recently which suggested these types of illustrations that Tolkien did were reminiscent of mandalas.

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The back cover emblems are Fingolfin (top left), Eärendil (top right), Idril Celebrindal (centre), Elwë (bottom left), and Fëanor (bottom right).

Unfinished Tales (2000)

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Unfinished Tales first appeared in 1980, but this is the HarperCollins edition from 2000. Again the cover is Tolkien’s own illustration of the dragon Glaurung leaving Nargothrond. For some reason this book always feels a bit narrow. It has a reasonably thick paper and a good sized font. This book provided such important information for people interested in Middle-earth. It provided more fleshed out narratives both of Tuor coming to Gondolin and the story of Turin Turambar. It also included the line of Kings of Númenor, the history of Galadriel and Celeborn, and information on the Drúedain, the Istari, and the palantíri, among other things. Worth dipping in if you’re into Middle-earth lore.

The Lord of the Rings (1992)

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I’ve got three editions of the Lord of the Rings. I used to have five but I had to sell two as I needed the money at the time. This is from the centenary of Tolkien’s birth in 1992. HarperCollins commissioned Alan Lee to provide illustrations for it and I do like his vision of Middle-earth. I always have preferred to read the books in the separate volumes rather than just the one volume edition. I got volumes two and three mixed up when I took this photo. The front covers show Rivendell for The Fellowship of the Ring, Shelob and the path to Cirith Ungol for The Two Towers, and the Battle of Pelennor Fields for The Return of the King.

The Hobbit 50th Anniversary Edition (1987)

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This is the pride and joy of my book collection. I love this edition of The Hobbit. They brought back the original cover of The Hobbit which was drawn by Tolkien and they made the Sun and Smaug (on the back cover) the colour red as Tolkien originally wanted. They use a lovely thick paper and there are wonderful colour and black & white illustrations by Tolkien all through the book. There is also a new Foreword in the book written by Christopher Tolkien which includes some additional illustrations. I love reading this edition though I try to be careful when handling it. I also have two other editions of The Hobbit.

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The back cover of The Hobbit. Notice the red Smaug. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry.
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Conversation With Smaug: One of my favourite illustrations by Tolkien.

The Children of Húrin (2007)

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It was nice to have a more fleshed out and complete version of the tale of Túrin Turambar and his sister Nienor (Niniel). It includes colour and black & white illustrations by Alan Lee. It has a very sad ending. There was amusing news when it came out that some Hollywood producers wanted the film rights to this book. They obviously didn’t know the tale that well which includes incest and suicide by both the main characters. I couldn’t see them staying true to the ending of it if it was made as a Hollywood film.

The Father Christmas Letters (1976 though I suspect this is a reprint)

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The Father Christmas Letters compiles some of the letters that Tolkien wrote to his children every Christmas as Father Christmas. Along with the wonderful illustrations there are various stories of Father Christmas, Polar Bear, and the Elves as they battle against goblins, or sometimes Father Christmas having to deal with the after effects of Polar Bear doing something stupid. These letters were mostly written in the 1920s and 30s, and you can see a similarity with some of the events that happen in The Hobbit, which at that point he was yet to write. In a way you can see it as a catalyst to his later works. I love all the illustrations he did for these letters and the lovely colour selection of mostly yellow, red and green. I only have a paperback version of this book, but it’s still a lovely edition to look through.

The Road Goes Ever On (1978 Second Edition)

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This book was co-written with Donald Swann (of Flanders and Swann). Initially it was just meant to be the written music that Swann had set to some of the poems and songs from The Lord of the Rings, but Tolkien also added notes and translations to the Elvish song Namárië that was sung by Galadriel when the Fellowship leaves Lothlorien and Swann included in the song cycle, and also A Elbereth Gilthoniel, a chant that Frodo heard while in Rivendell. The second edition also includes the words and music for Bilbo’s Last Song which was handed to Swann not long after Tolkien’s death by Joy Hill, Tolkien’s secretary. I was overjoyed to find this copy in a second hand bookshop as it seems to be extremely hard to find. The dust jacket is very tattered, but the interior is in good condition with paper that is a yellow creme colour. I would love to have a first edition of this one day.

Roverandom (1998)

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Tolkien’s son Michael lost his toy dog on a beach during a holiday in 1925. Tolkien came up with this story to console him. In the story the dog is turned into a toy by a wizard and ends up having adventures on the moon and under the sea. Tolkien is believed to have written the story down in 1927 and then it wasn’t published until 1998, over 70 years later. It was first submitted for publication in 1937, but was turned down by Unwin. It’s quite a nice little story and with a few illustrations by Tolkien that he drew around the time he was writing it.

The Lord of the Rings (Millennium Edition)

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As is pointed out in this edition, the Lord of the Rings wasn’t actually meant to be a trilogy. It was one book that got separated into three volumes by the publishers. It is however six books, and this edition gives each book it’s own separate volume, and an additional one for the appendices. I quite like this edition, and the last few times I’ve read the Lord of the Rings it was this one I read. It also came with a disc of Tolkien reading out parts of the text and a rather haunting rendition of Namárië that he chants. This edition corrected many mistakes that had existed in the Lord of the Rings text for some time, though the 50th anniversary edition which came out four years later was even more accurate.

The History of Middle-Earth Series:

The Book of Lost Tales 1 (1983)

The Book of Lost Tales 2 (1984)

The Lays of Beleriand (1985)

The Shaping of Middle-Earth (1986)

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One thing I was doing before my funds ran out was collecting the History of Middle-earth series in hardback. I managed to get the first four volumes, but I will have to get the remaining eight volumes some other time. I got these ones fairly cheaply by shopping around on places like eBay and Abebooks. I do have volumes 9 and 12 in hardback too, but they are the American editions which I bought without seeing a picture of them and was disappointed when I received them, but they’ll do for now. These editions have got such lovely thick paper. I do have the other volumes in paperback, but it’s not the same…

The Hobbit (1997)

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This edition is illustrated by Alan Lee. It’s a very beautiful edition to look at. The paper is glossy with a big font and with black & white and colour illustrations all through the book. My only quibble with the illustrations is that Smaug the Golden lying on his dragon hoard looks rather brown instead of the red he should be, but that’s only a minor thing I guess.

Poems and Stories (1992)

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This collects a lot of Tolkien’s shorter works such as The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham. The cover illustration is by Alan Lee, but all the interior illustrations are done by Pauline Baynes whose work I’ve always liked. My favourite shorter piece by Tolkien is Smith of Wootton Major which is an allegorical piece about visiting Faerie. Smith, who has a fay star on his head, is able to wander the lands of Faerie at will and sees incredible sights there. What I think Tolkien is talking about is the ability to wander around Faerie in his imagination and this allows him to write all the incredible and amazing things he does. One day I might go into this a bit further. Like the Silmarillion this book has a nice solid feel to it. The paper has a grainy texture to it.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1990)

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I value this book because Tolkien’s letters contain a lot of valuable information regarding Middle-earth. I only have this book in paperback, and I consult it regularly if I’m looking for some information, whether it’s for an article or just some private musing. It is worth dipping into this. You get his thoughts on a variety of topics and he answers many interesting questions from people who loved his works that can often clarify some things, whether it is what the Crown of Gondor looks like (which he draws a picture of) or why Gandalf was sent back after being killed by the Balrog, etc. There are many answers in this book.

I also have the books The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur, The Story of Kullervo, and Beowulf in hardback but I didn’t have much to say about them here though they are all beautiful publications. I don’t have the recent releases of  The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun or Beren and Lúthien yet, though when I have the money to afford books again they are both at the top of my list. Hopefully I will still be able to get them in hardback when I can afford them.

I hope you enjoyed this look at some of my favourite books from my bookshelves.

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