August 16, 2011 @ 7:09 pm | Filed under:

I’m in my room working, or trying to work at least, but it’s so tempting to eavesdrop on the complex imaginary adventures unfolding in the backyard just outside my window. On these cool summer evenings, Rose and Beanie spend hours walking around and around the yard, spinning stories. Their bodies are walking but their minds are catapulting, cartwheeling, soaring, sailing. Huck is sitting in the spent vegetable garden, half on top of the watermelon vine that never watermeloned, sifting dirt from a grimy fist onto his beloved yellow dump truck—which he calls an I Team Ruck I Team Ruck (it’s never singular, and that’s ‘ice cream truck’ for the non-Huck-speakers out there).

Rilla floats: sometimes she’s flitting alongside the story girls, part of their web of battles and rescues, and other times she’s hunting roly polies. Sometimes she drifts over to Huck and annoys him by sproinging his curls, like Ramona did to Susan.

Wonderboy is in bed already, the sleepy puppy. He’s our early-to-bed guy. And Jane is off having adventures of her own in Virginia, our old stomping grounds. Getting there last week was an adventure in itself: a delayed flight, a missed connection, an airport rescue, a night with some of the nicest folks in Texas. I’m jealous.

I finished the Riddlemaster series. I’m still climbing out from it, not articulate about it yet. I liked the middle of the trilogy best, the Raederle book. Her “small magics” reminded me so much of Maggie the hearthwitch in Elizabeth Scarborough’s Unicorn Creed series—a set of fantasy books I read as a teen and enjoyed for their madcap humor and fumbling, flawed heroine. I have always envied Maggie’s hearthwitch powers: imagine being able to clean and cook by magic! Tasty food without cooking it! Apart from a singing voice like Eponine in Les Miz, that’s pretty much at the top of my list of Non-Altruistic Wishes. (You know, the non-world-peace kind.)

I’m struggling into the early chapters of Byatt’s Ragnarok. That’s not a criticism; it’s dense, twisty stuff, at once marvelous and intimidating, like a giant vine curling and twining into the clouds. I barely have a foot in the crook of a stem. Now that Riddlemaster isn’t haunting me, we’ll see if I can climb a little higher up the vine.

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11 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    Sigh, I feel like I have dipped into story here, reading this. How marvellous it must be to have two little talespinners in your family – and for them to have each other! What a blessing for them.

    And now, a most important question: how do *you* pronounce Raederle’s name?


  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    SUCH a good question!! I never quite fixed on a pronunciation and it drove me half crazy, frankly. When I wasn’t thinking about it, I most often read it with a kind of German vowel in the second syllable, like Ray-dairle but not quite as hard A as ‘air’ suggests. And almost even stresses on the two syllables, slightly stronger on the second.

    Other times, but less often, I heard it as Ray-DIRL. Not as pretty, to my ears.

    You?? Do tell. It’s wonderful to have a friend who recognizes the really important things. Scott and I have a 20-years-running argument over how to pronounce Saruman. And then the film backed him up, the nerve! Sa-ROO-man, I tell you, none of this SAH-ruh-man business. Hmph.

  3. scott (the other one) says:


  4. sarah says:

    I read it as Ray-dirl, but hated it. I told myself it might have been ray-ED-er-lee, but do you think I could say that in my head every time I read it?

    There have been entire forum discussions about this. We are not alone in geekdom.

    I’ve just been through this same issue with my own writing actually, having to change the very sensible and symbolic name of the heroine because I knew readers would pronounce it incorrectly.

    As for Saruman, I have to say I’m mostly with Scott on that one. Except it should be SAH-roo-mahn. Long a at the end.

    Another name that frustrated me – Kivrin. Was it kiv-rin or kiv-reen or keev-reen?

  5. Hannah says:

    I’m sorry, not that the rest of the post wasn’t great, but I can’t get past I Team Ruck I Team Ruck, Huck of the boingboing curls, you slay me!

  6. Penny says:

    Gorgeous. Makes me long for sisters and baby brothers with curls.

    And ice cream – power of suggestion, you know???

  7. Amy C. says:

    I’ve often wished that authors would include a pronunciation guide in their books (yourself included, dear lady . . . my daughters bicker over Grisie). But maybe for some that would be taking something away from the reader, like providing a picture instead of letting the reader picture a character . . . I don’t know. Anyway, I always wish I knew. And I love it when an author finds a way to work it into the story (like Vikram Seth working his own name into The Golden Gate).

    And film, schmilm. Francis Xavier, anyone?

  8. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ray-ED-er-lee is prettier than either of my head-pronunciations…dunno if I could shape my mind to it while reading, though. The Lee would trip me up, probably—it’s funny how much my German studies (I’m not fluent but am passable) have affected how I ‘hear’ things in my head. If I gave that final E a sound it would want to be UH, which: ugh. 😉

    (Side note: when I had a cat, I used to talk to it in German without thinking—as if somehow that equalized things—it was a foreign language for both of us.)

    Kivrin: KIV-rin. I love that one!

    I saw your post about your character’s name and was going to write about feeling chuffed over hearing it correctly right away. 🙂 Names are so capricious, really. I’ve had characters up and rename themselves midstream: quite maddening.

    As for Saruman: me say hmph.

  9. Melissa Wiley says:

    Grisie: rhymes with busy. Well, sort of. If you’re reading with a burr you’d want to trill the R, and the first I would have more of a short-E sound. Heh.

  10. Amy C. says:

    Thanks for the guidance . . . I’ll be sure to emphasize the trill to keep the victor from gloating over the vanquished. 🙂

  11. maria says:

    Reading this blog entry, as it often is with reading your blog, is the most relaxing mental excercise. With life a bit hairy here, I appreciate reading such lovely spun words. Thank you for sharing. Much needed theraputic reading. As if I’ve taken a stroll in a lovely garden. Ahhhh. sigh
    🙂 maria