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Autumn Worlds I’d Like to Visit

I’ve written about the winterspring, and summer worlds I’d like to visit, so today I’ll wrap up this series by talking about the autumn worlds I’d spend some time exploring if I could.

Some of these settings weren’t necessarily the safest places to visit, but I’m going to use my authority as the author of this post to decide I’d somehow be protected while I was there.  Let’s say I had a protection spell on me to ward off anyone or anything that had bad intentions.

Hill House

Anyone who has read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson or seen the Netflix series based on it knows why I needed that protection spell. This property was filled with malevolent spirits!

The architecture of the house would be what I’d like to see, though. I’ve loved old, stately homes for as long as I can remember, especially the ones that were built during or close to the nineteenth century.

Unlike the clean, sleek styles of most modern architecture, large homes from this era are filled with small details that are easy to miss. There might be carvings around a door frame or a gothic-like spire reaching for the heavens.

Yes, meeting the friendly ghosts would be cool, too, but discovering all of the hidden details of this mansion would be even more interesting.

St. Cloud’s Orphanage

This orphanage was where the main character of The Cider House Rules by John Irving was born and raised in the first half of the twentieth century. Life was hard for many folks then, but it was especially rough for children who didn’t have parents.

There was never enough money, time, or attention to go around…and yet the doctor who ran this orphanage did an excellent job of looking after the children in his care given the standards of his time.

He was passionate about finding homes for his charges as soon as he possibly could. When a home couldn’t be found for a child, he made their lives as comfortable as he could. I’d love to take a tour of this orphanage and see how things were run in that fictional universe a century ago.

Hundreds Hall

If you haven’t already noticed the pattern in this post, that is about to change. Hundreds Hall was the crumbling mansion that the main character in The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters visited in order to provide medical care for the people who lived there. Click here to read my review of the film based on it.

The cool thing about Hundreds Hall was that people were still living there. Yes, it was in need of a lot of repair work, but anyone who visited there would have heat, water, and even some basic food if they went into the kitchen and asked nicely for a snack.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have access to those things while on a ghost hunt than go somewhere that doesn’t have them. My goal while visiting this estate would not only involve admiring the architecture but hopefully catching a glimpse of the ghost that may have lived there, too.

Somehow seeing one ghost who may or may not even exist is a million more times exciting than seeing dozens of them hanging around everywhere like one would at Hill House.

Plumfield

There’s something about this boys school in Little Men by Louisa May Alcott that appeals to me quite a bit. Despite being set in a time and place when women and LGBT+ people had far fewer rights than we tend to have today, it would also probably be the safest place on this list for me to visit.

My fingers would be crossed that Jo would be an accepting host. I’d like to think we could bond over our shared love of writing and literature.

It would be amazing to see what life was really like in her home. Her school was not always the most structured learning environment, but her students did have a great deal of fun between – and sometimes right dab in the middle of – their chores and lessons.

So many of my favourite memories of this book happened during the autumn, so I can’t help but to think of it as an autumn story.

If there were a way to tell her about the future without disrupting the natural unfolding of historical events, I’d also love to give Jo a glimpse of what life was like nearly 200 years after her time.

What autumn worlds would you like to visit?

Interview with Joy V. Spicer

Say hello to Joy V. Spicer ! Last week I reviewed her most recent book, and now she’s the latest person to respond to my call for speculative fiction interview participants. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

‘The Enchanted Wood’. It had a huge tree called the Faraway Tree which reached up into the clouds. All sorts of magical folk lived in the tree and right at the top, different lands would cycle through, stopping for about a week, if I remember correctly, before moving on. If you were visiting any of those lands, you’d have to make sure you left in time or be stuck on it forever.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

I don’t really have one favourite, but if its measured by the number of books I have for any one author, then it would have to be Stephen King.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

My go-to genre has always been fantasy, but I also read other genres, including horror, historical fiction, thrillers and westerns. I love the worldbuilding when done well, believable characters I can relate to, and beautiful wordplay. With horror, I much prefer subtle scares, the kind that leaves you unsettled for days afterwards, like ‘The Woman in Black’, and where the story is set somewhere so ordinary, you wouldn’t expect to find anything horrifying.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

It’s an interesting one, with great potential but, again, only if it’s done well.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

My sons named their rabbits Sonic (she was fast!) and Wolverine (dopey bunny did not live up to that name). The first cats we had were named Cinder and Ashe, after a couple of comic book characters. The cats we have now aren’t named after characters. If I had a horse (wishing, hoping), I’d choose Elessar, Aragorn’s royal name; I love the way it feels when it’s said.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

The Walking Dead! With zero survival skills, I’d have been eaten on day one!

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Middle Earth. I’d divide my time between Rivendell for its ethereal beauty and zen-like atmosphere, and Hobbiton for the food and to spend time in a hobbit-hole.

Book cover for The Vagrant by Peter NewmanSharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

This is more for films/shows than books. I’m not a big fan, especially when no warning is given. I don’t even watch more than one trailer for a film. But if a film/show has been out for a while and I haven’t watched it yet, the onus is on me to steer clear; near-impossible with social media being so immediate.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

I’m always wary of books being made into films. If I had to choose, I’d say ‘The Vagrant’, but only the first book in the trilogy, which I enjoyed immensely. Sadly, the second book did nothing for me, which meant I didn’t even bother with the third.

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

‘Grimm’. I enjoyed the series so much. I think turning that into a book series would give more scope to go deeper in exploring the characters and lore than the medium of TV allowed.

Bonus Questions

Book cover for Joy V. Spicer's The Spellbound Spindle. There are roses entwined with the wordsWhat is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

After I’d written my first book, I was convinced I didn’t have another book in me, so when the idea for my second book just popped into my head, it literally stopped me in my tracks. My subsequent projects are fairy tale retellings, like my third book, ‘The Spellbound Spindle’. I research (my most favourite part of writing!) the different variations of the tale, pick out key points then work on giving it a fresh twist.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

That’s something I’ve not experienced until now. Ready to start my next book, or so I thought, but I was really struggling. Until I realised this morning, the characters ‘want’ their status to be different! It is a strange feeling, realising the writer isn’t actually the omnipotent creator she thought she was.

What is your favourite trope?

To quote Stephen King, “ordinary people dealing with extraordinary situations”.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Love triangles and insta-love. I’m positive love triangles don’t happen as often in real life as they seem to do in YA novels.

Photo of author Joy V. Spicer. She is smiling in it. About JoyOriginally from Malaysia, I’ve lived more than half my life in the UK. I started writing as a way to alleviate the boredom of work, hiding my notebook by the till, before realising how much I enjoy creating stories. My two sons still live with me and they make me proud and inspire me (sometimes make me jealous!) with their prodigious imaginations.

You can read more from me on Twitter and my blog

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What Is My Superpower?

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

What a fun prompt this one was!

I have several different superpowers. Almost all of the humorous things I was going to include on this list fit better into the Strange or Useless Talent prompt that’s coming up in November, so keep an eye out for that one. It’s going to be delightful.

1. Analyzing stuff. That is, I’m really good at picking a story apart, figuring out what did (or didn’t) work in it, and then writing a solid review about that book, TV show, or movie.

2. Working quietly behind the scenes. I’m a little too bashful to want the spotlight pointed at me, but I excel at keeping things going behind the scenes while someone else gives a speech or otherwise acts as the public face of whatever it is we’re working on.

3. Using up leftovers. I grew up in a family culture that deeply disliked waste, especially when it came to food. If there was only half a serving of rice or potatoes left, it went back into the fridge and someone would eat it before it went bad. Sometimes this means my meals are a little nontraditional, but I love the feeling of making sure that everything that is cooked is eaten. For example, I recently ate three ears of corn, two hardboiled eggs, and a slightly soft pear for dinner because that was what needed to be used up in the fridge. I like those kinds of mish-mash meals, though!

4. Seeing the best in people. If someone does something I find perplexing, I do everything I can to find a rational explanation for it. We all have off days, and I have a lot of grace for people who accidentally say or do the wrong thing.

5. Making and updating spreadsheets. This is something I’ve done for years for fun. It’s so satisfying to see neat, little rows of numbers in a document.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Things to Eat/Drink While Reading

 

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Seriously, how fun was this prompt? I had such a good time coming up with my list this week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone else answered it, too.

1. Mint Tea

Caffeine tends to make me anxious, so I try to stick to caffeine-free beverages and foods as much as possible. Mint tea both smells and tastes nice.

2. Vegan Yogurt

I’m not vegan, but I eat a lot of products marketed to that demographic group due to my milk allergy. Non-dairy yogurts have gotten pretty good these past few years, so thank you to the vegan community for creating a demand for them. You’re awesome.

3. Salted Pistachios or Other Mixed Nuts

Nuts are such a satisfying snack.

4. Fresh Fruit

It’s hard to remember the last time I tried a new type of fruit and disliked it. Just about any sort of fruit is delicious to me.

sliced and whole Kohlrabi sitting on a cutting board. There is a knife placed beside them.
This is what kohlrabi looks like.

5.Crunchy Vegetables

I love crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, radishes, or kohlrabi. It’s so satisfying to munch away at them, especially if I’m reading something a little frightening or atmospheric. Somehow having a plate of food to snack on makes me feel a bit less nervous in those circumstances.

6. Hard-boiled Eggs

I eat hard-boiled eggs with a little salt and pepper. They’re amazing. As soon as I pick up another bottle of hot sauce at the grocery store, I might try them that way next.

7. Cinnamon and Sugar Toast

This has been one of my favourite snacks since childhood. It’s even better if the toast is whole grain. My mom always bought healthy bread like that when I was growing up, so I developed a strong preference for it.

8. Grape Jolly Ranchers.

Will I eat other flavours of jolly ranchers? Absolutely, but the grape ones will always be my favourite. They are so delicious.

Peanut Butter spread on a sliced apple9. Almond Butter.

Honestly, any nut butter is appealing to me. it can be spread on toast, apple slices, celery, and so much more.

10. Sardines

I totally expect to be the only Top Ten Tuesday blogger who mentions this snack this week, but I love sardines. They have such a unique taste, and I find them really filling. They’re also a good source of certain nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D that I need to make sure I consciously include in my diet due to my milk allergy .