This retro inspired home office appeals to me on several levels. I love the metal desk, which reminds me of the school desks I used to use at university, with the bright red accents. The cowhide on the floor and the ceramic head on the wall gives the office a rustic air. The shelves are lined with books, which is comforting for any bibliophile and writer. This is another Wayfair offering, filled with items that you could find inexpensively to form your creative space.
Book Name: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
First Published: 1979
Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, England in 1952. When his parents divorced in 1957, his mother, sister and himself moved to live with his grandparents in a Brentwood, Essex, RSPCA animal shelter that they ran. It is here that he must have developed his affinity for animals and later inspired him to become an animal activist.
Adams grew to be very tall, he was over 6’ by the time he was twelve. His height made him the butt of jokes. Yet, it was his early ability to write stories that helped him make his mark at Brentwood School, an independent prep school that he attended. His former schoolmaster, Frank Halford, said of him:
“Hundreds of boys have passed through the school but Douglas Adams really stood out from the crowd—literally. He was unnecessarily tall and in his short trousers he looked a trifle self-conscious. “The form-master wouldn’t say ‘Meet under the clock tower,’ or ‘Meet under the war memorial’,” he joked, “but ‘Meet under Adams’.”
The author’s early writings was published at Brentwood, writing that helped him earn enrollment at St. John’s College in Cambridge to read English. During this time, Adams desired to join the prestigious “Footlights”, an invitation only student comedy club where he hoped to hone his comedy writing skills. It took him two years of writing and performing with others to earn his place at the “Footlights”. Adams graduated in 1974 with a BA in English literature.
In the early 1980s, Adams had an affair with a married woman, novelist Sally Emerson, who had been separated from her husband. Later, Adams would dedicate his novel Life, the Universe and Everything to her. When Emerson returned to her husband, Adams was introduced to Jane Belson by friends and they carried on a stormy on again, off again, relationship. The two lived in Los Angeles as Adams worked on a movie deal for the Hitchhiker series and then both moved back to London when the deal fell through. In 1991, they married and had one daughter, Polly Jane Rocket Adams. The Adams family then found a home in Santa Barbara, CA, where they lived until Adams died of a heart attack in 2001. He was only 49 years old.
Adams is best known for the Hitchhiker Guide series, which started as a radio comedy series before being developed into a “trilogy” of five novels that sold more than 15 million copies during his lifetime. The books were then adapted into a television series, many stage plays, a comic book and a computer game. In 2005, Hitchhikers became a feature film. The author is also known for being a story editor on the BBC television series, Dr. Who. He worked on Dr. Who for two seasons, sending actor Tom Baker into a whirlwind of story arcs that are still watched by avid fans. He had a second radio series known as Dirk Gently which was also adapted into a novel, much as his first series was. Adams work in UK radio is commemorated in the Radio Academy’s Hall of Fame.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a story about a book within a book. The Guide is an ebook that is powered by an intelligent computer that contains all the information that a traveler might need when bumping around the Milky Way. Interwoven in the novels, the Guide pops in and gives interesting and hilarious facts about various places, people and the flora and fauna of the planets you might visit. You might say that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a main character all to itself and is the driving force of the story.
The story begins just before the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a galactic freeway. Arthur Dent is about to lose his house and is fighting with the demolishing crew that has shown up on his doorstep in order to save his home. Enter his long time friend of 15 years, Ford Prefect, a man that Arthur had known as an out of work actor. Actually, Ford is an alien and a researcher for the revised edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Ford has been informed that the Earth is about to be destroyed and whisks Arthur off world in time to save his life. Thus begins the pair’s journey through space, aided by helpful quotes from the Hitchhiker’s guide. For instance: “A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” More zany and mind bending quotes ensue as the hitchhikers, Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, go about the galaxy trying to learn the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
Arthur and Ford are joined in their travels by Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two headed and three armed ex-flower child who also happens to be the president of the galaxy; Trillian, who is Zaphod’s girlfriend and also a girl that Arthur had tried to pick up at a cocktail party in England; Marvin the depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a graduate student who searches for the ball-point pens he has lost down through the years; and Slartibartfast, a planetary coastline designer who was responsible for the fjords of Norway. They travel in Zaphod’s spaceship, called The Heart of Gold, which runs on an improbability drive.
What I find interesting about the development of this book is that it started out as a radio play and from this, the novels were born. Quotes from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appear all over pop culture and it became a large influence in the science fiction community of the last few decades. We still talk about these books, laugh over them, and wonder if we should call them classics. Are they too silly to be considered a classic book or not? I don’t think so. Any book that impacts a culture, that makes you think and re-evaluate the world you live in, is certainly a novel to think of as a classic. I can whole heartedly recommend this series of novels as ones you should add to your reading list.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
And Another Thing… (written by Eoin Colfer by request of Adams’ widow Jane Belson)
Happy Monday everyone! I have a new batch of writer’s links for you all. A few about storytelling, using notebooks, and another good tutorial about using Scrivener as part of the writing process. Enjoy!
Vroman’s Bookstore is a Pasadena institution, a literary landmark, and a wonderful old-fashioned bookstore tucked away behind a huge Office Depot. Once you find your parking, you descend a staircase decorated with colorful tiles past buskers who play their instruments. This day, a spry elderly man in jeans and a coat that was in fashion two decades ago played classical music on his oboe, much to the delight of a little girl and her parents that stood enraptured before him. He had a twinkle in his eye as he finished his tune, an expression that turned into a delighted smile when the little girl asked for another song. That smile had more to do with their shared love of music than any dollars that landed in his open instrument case. At the ground floor, a trio of young music students were practicing their violins. They were not busking, but instead taking advantage of the excellent acoustics of the outdoor courtyard. The discordant sound of their practice was a distinct counterpoint to the lovely strains of the oboe on the steps above them.
When you first enter via the double doors of the bookstore, your first impression is one of surprise. Vroman’s Bookstore seems far larger on the inside than what you might guess from the unbroken stucco walls on the outside. The sensation I felt reminded me of how Dr. Who’s companions might feel when they enter the TARDIS for the first time. There are two floors in the bookstore and several departments on each level. On the first floor, there is an area where stationary, fountain pens, ink and other writer’s delights are temptingly displayed. A full case of Filofax binders for sale, along with all the fountain pen friendly paper you might wish for. There is a full gift shop upstairs featuring stickers, scrap booking supplies and artisan styled bags. The rest of the store was filled with paper bound books on stately wooden shelving. However, I was not there to shop, much as I was tempted to do so, I had come to be a guest speaker at the Filofax Extravaganza put together by my friend, Jennifer Reyes. The event was held on January 11, 2014.
In the center of the second floor of the bookstore, there is a large open area that serves as an amphitheater and community center. Many rows of chairs were set up facing a lectern and a table filled with Filofax binders. At the rear of the area was food, bottles of water, and a raffle sponsored by the Filofax Corporation. Several pocket sized Filofax binders were the prizes of the raffle, along with agenda stamps and a few scrap booking items donated by Jennifer.
After checking in with Jennifer in the back, I found my way to a seat to wait for the event to begin. A few people introduced themselves, recognizing me from my blog, No Wasted Ink. As I shook their hands and took the offered business cards, I was rather astounded. It was the first time that I have been recognized as a writer in public and to hear so many positive comments about my blog was heartwarming.
The presentation was moderated by Jennifer Reyes. She spoke about Filofax the company and the history of the binders through the past several decades. Filofax was very popular in the 1980s. I remember that most of my friends had them in college and I was urged to “fit in” by purchasing one myself. This was before electronic PDAs and then later phone apps became popular as agendas. In the last few years, Filofax has been gaining popularity once again as many people are turning off their phones and returning back to paper when it comes to scheduling their lives. She also gave an extensive demo on how she uses washi tape, stamps, and other scrap booking techniques to decorate her Filofax planners.
The first guest speaker was Rebecca Moore Bover. She spoke about her role as an admin for a Filofax group on Facebook called FiloRAKs. As an admin, she has far more duties than simply adding and booting people from the group, she also needs to schedule events. Her Filofax is instrumental in helping her track all of the extra duties she does for the group. Being an admin to a Facebook group is hard work and is often unrewarded. I hope Rebecca knows that her volunteer work is much appreciated.
Next was Karen Massie, a collector of rare and limited edition Filofax binders. She brought her snake Filofax and an A5 purple Malden that she has filled with her personal, teaching and doctoral studies paperwork. Karen’s collection is truly a marvel to see. Many of the rare Filofaxes are more luxurious in person than how they appear on catalog screens via your home computer. Many of the nuances of the leather are simply not captured and it takes seeing the Filofax in your hands before you can appreciate its finer points. Some of Karen’s binders are worth hundreds of dollars. She has much to be proud of in her extensive collection and I hope she can be persuaded to bring them to future Filofax events in the area.
I was the third speaker on deck. Before driving to Vroman’s, I had stuffed my Crimson Personal Malden into a bag and I always carry my Brown Slimline Holborn with me as a wallet. This gave me a few items to display as I spoke. The Malden is what I use to track all the posts and marketing I do on my writing blog, No Wasted Ink. I explained my tracking system and how I interface what I have written in my Filofax with the various online systems I use. The main online systems are: Hootsuite, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I also pulled out my wallet and explained why I like using the slimline Filofax as apposed to using a pocket size.
The final guest speaker was Karine Tovmassian. Karine is spreading the word about how analogue planners such as a Filofax can be superior and more accessable for planning purposes, yet can also interface with the digital parts of our lives. Her company ThinkerExtraordinaire, is helping people all over the nation learn to use their time and energy more efficiently.
After the event, I felt the need for a hot cup of coffee and took the elevator downstairs where a small, somewhat posh coffeehouse is located just off the main street and tucked into a corner of the bookstore. The pastries looked divine and the coffee was smooth. I was lucky enough to find a chair by the window and was able to relax and people watch. There was a foursome playing a game of cards with what appeared to be an aged and weather antique deck along with the usual assortment of laptop and iPad users scattered about.
Visiting Vroman’s Bookstore is a unique experience, even without the Filofax Extravaganza to attend. If you are in the Los Angeles area, it is a literary landmark worth paying a visit. The bookstore is mere blocks away from the freeway and there is plenty of parking in the back. You owe it to yourself to take in the atmosphere of this book lover’s destination.
Christine Frost is a historical and speculative fiction author who explores the lives of real women in history. It is a pleasure to introduce her here on No Wasted Ink.
My name is Christine Frost, and I’ve been working in publishing and communications for nearly 20 years. I’m also a teaching assistant and writing instructor for literature courses at Harvard Extension School. In addition to writing novels, I study world history, and it serves as the core inspiration for the stories I create. I love to cook, and whenever possible, I integrate that passion into my novels; I run a series on my blog about the history of cooking in fiction. I live in the Boston area with my husband, and we enjoy Renaissance festivals and everything from sci-fi to historical and epic fantasy series.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I used to staple paper together in elementary school and write and illustrate stories, and during high school, I was very introverted and spent much of my time working on a fantasy trilogy that I’m still developing, though it’s changed a lot. But it all coalesced in the summer of 1994, when my brother died in an accident. He had just recommended that I watch The Crow, starring Brandon Lee. I saw it with his friends while the funeral was being planned, and the movie had an enormous impact on me. The sudden loss threw me into a tailspin—so I began writing a massive work, a dark urban fantasy that was very much influenced by the movie. It was my way of keeping his memory alive. Like the fantasy trilogy I wrote in high school, it remains unfinished and is being redeveloped, but it was while writing that story to help me deal with the grief that I realized I wanted to be an author.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started working on my master’s degree in literature and creative writing. At the end of a graduate certificate program for communications, I took a creative writing workshop, which led to me applying for the master’s program. I took a number of workshops and courses having to do with medieval literature, such as one on Tolkien’s influences. It was then I really learned how to focus on following through with a story and come to appreciate the intensive revising process.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Dark Lady of Doona is about Grania O’Malley, who is also known as the Irish pirate queen. While I’m a sticker for verisimilitude in my work, the premise is based on speculation that she may have served as a spy in order to help retain her territory at a time when the English were especially brutal in Ireland. So, while it is historical fiction, it has elements of a spy novel, only set in the 1500s during the time of Elizabeth I. It’s about Grania’s strength—in protecting her family, in being a formidable captain who commanded hundreds of men, and making a mark on history at a time when women weren’t as visible in the public realm.
What inspired you to write this book?
The more I read, the more unusual women I find who have been marginalized by history. I want to give them a voice and let them tell their story. It began with my first novel, about the consort to Romanian warlord Vlad Dracula. I have a long list of stories to write based on this idea, and they span all eras and places, from ancient Mesopotamia to Maine during the War of 1812 and beyond. Grania O’Malley was particularly inspiring to me, and learning about medieval Ireland was a wonderful opportunity to explore my family’s heritage.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’d say it’s changed over the years. I was strongly influenced by dense, very complex Gothic novels, but have learned to pare down wording and structure. What I’ve learned from teaching writing is that developing a writing style is always a work in progress.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Grania O’Malley earned the nickname Dark Lady of Doona after conquering a castle. She sought vengeance against a rival clan who killed a lover, and Doona was the name of the castle. As soon as I saw the name while doing research for the book, I knew it had to be the title. It’s poignant, yet shows her tremendous fortitude.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I love finding these incredible women and showing how powerful they were in what has traditionally been considered a man’s world. And it’s never an easy road, no matter what their station in life. They’re often the outliers, the rebels who have a hand in shaping history, even though the recognition was slight or late in the coming. I hope that readers will see Grania O’Malley as a symbol of perseverance—and that it may spark an interest in delving into history to see what fascinating things are there that have important lessons to teach all of us.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I don’t think so. People who know me well may be able to identify little things, quirks and behaviors that help with characterization, but overall, I try to create an authentic portrait for these historical figures, so I stick to what I’ve learned through my research.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
My early years were influenced by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake’s fabulous Gormenghast series, and Neil Gaiman. I love epic fantasy in particular, but Neil Gaiman’s innovative style and how he uses myth and urban fantasy is very inspirational to me. In recent years, I’ve become fond of Modernist authors such as John Dos Passos, and reading Cormac McCarthy was a game-changer in terms of learning about how beautifully lyrical yet sparse writing styles can be, even when portraying the depths of the bleakest worlds.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I’ve been fortunate in this regard. When working on my master’s, I had the opportunity to learn from Stratis Haviaris, who was the founding editor of the Harvard Review, and Paul Harding, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Tinkers in 2010. I’m immensely grateful to have been able to work with them both.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I have a background in graphic design, so I did this one myself.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up. All too often, as a student and teacher, I’ve heard people say writing is hard. It is, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Dig deep—get into the soul of your writing style by reading your work out loud; don’t be afraid to revise until it feels right—you’ll know when it resonates with you. And like many other writers advise, read as much as possible. Go outside of your favorite genres and explore everything you can. You never know what amazing new influences you may gain.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you to all the readers out there! Your feedback and reviews have helped me evolve as a writer, and I’ve enjoyed hearing from many of you.
Imprint: Her Raven Domain Productions