Ravenous Wednesday with Special Guest Kit Marlowe!

So today we have another special guest … one I’ve not yet met. She is a friend of our own Kate Laity and C. Margery Kempe, which means she’s bound to be trouble on the hoof. In the best possible way, of course!

Ahem… 🙂

I don’t know what Kit’s post will be about as this is a case of me begging for someone to write something for today’s RR Wednesday. Yes, someone lost track of the time, day of the week, home address, you name it… So luckily for me Kate and Margery said they’d do the equivalent of a literary press gang and get Kit to be our guest.

I do know Kit is a writer of historical fiction with humor. How do I know? It says so on her website here. Being Kate and Margery’s friend, I’m betting she enjoys a tasty alcoholic libation now and again. I will be very disappointed if all she wants is a pot of tea. I won’t know this until a bit later – I’ve been told Kit will be sending me a post later this evening, which means this intro might serve as a placeholder to let everyone know we are indeed having Ravenous Wednesday today, but SOMEone (BAD Inara/Dana) didn’t get her act together this week…

Ooh, and the placeholder can now give way to the actual post, so please welcome Kit Marlowe to Un:Bound!!

Cant, Argot and Jargon

Kit Marlowe

I love language!

I know, I know: all writers do, but I love the superfluity of language that supplies slang. I think in part it’s like knowing a secret handshake or being part of an exclusive club. I specialize in rather obscure languages: for my graduate work I studied Old English, Middle English, Old Norse, Old Irish, Old High German, Middle High German, Modern German, Modern Swedish, Modern Icelandic and Latin (whew!).

But what I really love most are informal vocabularies that define a time or place. In my forthcoming novel, The Mangrove Legacy (coming in November from Tease Publications) I used a lot of Regency era cant even though I often stretched the narrative to a later time period. But the cant from that period was so much fun! I first learned it from the pen of Georgette Heyer, whom I first learned about from the fabulous Stephen Fry, who listed Heyer among his guilty pleasures on his 50th celebration.

The slang from that time is so rich: “foxed” means you’re drunk, as does “disguised” and “tap-hackled”—how quickly slang dates! But some terms can be easily understood even much later, like “swimming in lard” which refers to someone with considerable wealth, and “making a cake of yourself” which describes someone making a fool of themselves.

Often Cant and slang belong to a different—and often lower—class, marking out their standing verbally in any social situation, like rhyming Cockney slang—if you like your Tilburys pulled up as you head up the apple and pears or have done for yonks [I love the word “yonks”]. Like the thieves cant in the 18th and 19th centuries, the secrecy was a necessary part of things to keep from being caught.

Of course you can go to far and I always think of the Monty Python RAF sketch that shows what happens when people try too hard to develop a special patois for a given group and end up being completely incomprehensible. Sometimes, too, it comes back: a lot of the jazz age hipster terms I used in the novella I have coming out next month from Noble Romance, “The Big Splash” have not gone out of fashion.

Here’s an excerpt:

It would have been quite impossible for Constance to account for such a thing, but about forty-five minutes later she slipped into the table next to Mr. Wood at the Lorne Acorn. “Darling, what a day I’ve had!”

“How late you are, Constance,” Mr. Wood drawled, exerting as always as little effort as possible to make conversation, though his dark eyes caressed her form.

“I would have been much later had salvation not appeared this afternoon,” Constance said, perusing the menu with an eager gaze. “You’ll never guess what happened! How many martinis have you had?”

“Only two,” Mr. Wood said, leaning toward Constance to rest his rather large hand upon her thigh.

Constance hid a smile. “Do be a dear and order me one immediately. I think I ought to have some kind of beef for lunch. Meat will bring me back down to earth after my extraordinary good luck. I am quite giddy!”

Mr. Wood nodded to the waiter who whisked himself off to accomplish this task. Her companion’s fingers slipped across the ruffled length of her skirt to hook under its edge and begin drawing the fabric back to expose her stocking.

“Need I remind you that we are under the bright glare of luncheon lights, Mr. Wood?” Constance said severely even as the familiar tingle of desire warmed her thighs.

“I don’t know what you mean, Constance,” Mr. Wood said with a nearly believable tone of innocence.

“Why don’t you order the brisket? I have enjoyed it many times.” Why did nearly every thing he said seemed aimed to raise a blush? Or could it be merely his hand on her leg?

Constance closed her eyes to enjoy the sly touch of his fingertips along the top of her stocking and sighed happily. To think only this morning her life had been in disarray. Now everything had gone back to normal—well, as normal as her days ever got.

“Your drink, miss,” the waiter murmured, setting the delicate stemmed glass before her.

“Very good,” Constance said with a sunny smile, picking up the beverage with her slim fingers. “I shall have the brisket.” With practiced ease, she threw back the martini, which struck her throat with a cool thrill then warmed the path to her stomach. “And another martini,” she added. The waiter smiled, took her glass and backed away in silence.

“You’re lucky they have long tablecloths here,” Constance scolded quietly. Mr. Wood said nothing but leaned in to kiss her cheek sweetly even as his hand slipped deeply between her thighs, his pinkie just tickling the silk of her knickers as he did so. With an effort, Constance maintained her composure.

“Care for a cigarette?” Mr. Wood asked, a wicked smile curling his lips.

“Not at present,” Constance said. “I feel a trifle warm. Ah, here comes my second martini.” She put the cold glass to her lips and tried to ignore the insistent touch of Mr. Wood. “Don’t you even want to hear my news?”

“No, not especially at present,” Mr. Wood said, wiggling his defiant finger in such a delicious manner that Constance no longer wanted to discuss the changes in her household staff, important though they might be.

“Can we have the brisket to take away?” Constance asked the waiter with a sweet air when he arrived with the steaming plate. Within a few moments, the two were headed out onto the busy street where a cab arrived at once as if aware of their urgency. They made it all the way to her parlour before Mr. Wood dropped the neatly boxed lunch, grabbed Constance and pulled her into a kiss that was anything but polite.

“My mother does not approve of you,” Constance whispered fiercely when Mr. Wood extricated his tongue long enough for her to do so.

“Your mother can go hang,” Mr. Wood said unfeelingly as he reached under her skirt to run his hand down the front of her knickers, slipping two fingers under the elastic band and putting an end to any further commentary from Constance apart from a very quick “oh” that sprang from her lips…

Interview – Kate Laity

I was at the brilliant Magus event at the weekend and our own (yup, she visits us therefore she is ours) Kate Laity was presenting. So it should come as no surprise that at the end of the first day we took off to a local pub where I suspect the barman deliberately turned up the bad music since it wasn’t exactly busy but there we are, you are used to the random background noise in my interviews by now.

Kate and I started out discussing her academic career and why it is that Medievalists were such quick adopters of the internet. Working in such a specialised area the internet made a huge difference to the accessability to texts and ideas.
Since we were at the Alan Moore conference we discussd comics and performance and the work she does with her students, creating a visual narrative and drawing performance into their work. She forces them to use social media in their studies, wish i’d had lecturers like that.

Kate’s presentation was focused on geography, Moore is very focused on place, particularly Northampton while Kate loves to travel and move around so we talked about literature and resonance of place which is just a gorgeous phrase.

We moved on to Kate’s fantasy writing and her love of fairy tales and working medieval magic into her stories. If you don’t know what a donkey skin tale is, it’s not gross, just go listen, she is fascinating on every subject but it was a real pleasure hearing her talk about mythology and female perspective.

We also talk about C.Margery Kempe, Kate’s alternative identity under which name she writes erotic romance, but who is named after a fascinating historical character.

Kate is a wonderful interviwee so go and have a listen.

Kate’s coverage of Magus, the Alan Moore conference can be found on her blog with posts here.

Writers Reading – K.A. Laity

Kate Laity is an awesome chick. She has put her professional info at the bottom of the post so I shalln’t repeat it except to say that I had no idea that I was talking to the same person under two names for a while until she told me. Her alter ego has been a guest on Un:Bound’s Ravenous Wednesday but this is all about Kate. So without further messing about….

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” — Desiderius Erasmus

I must admit that I am reluctant to show you just how bad it is. I include a few pictures, but I should explain but not actually SHOW you that in addition to the couple thousand books in my flat, there are a couple thousand more in my office on campus (including the closets) and at least that many (okay, more) in a storage space that I dream of simply abandoning. How did things get to this level? Mostly a lot of moving — although the influence of a real job cannot be overlooked (“I can pay movers!”).

I have too many days filled with daydreams of walking out the door and getting in my car with my cat and my computer and never living in a fixed place ever again. I go through periods where I try to “simplify, simplify” as Thoreau exhorted, but I have to acknowledge that I have been a bibliophile since childhood and it’s a difficult habit to end. But after the last couple of cross-continental moves (and as I contemplate moving across an ocean), I know I need to divest myself of a lot. I have begun to try. But as you can see in the above picture, bookshelves seem to be magnets for other things like Hello Kitty playing a guitar, Durga lunchboxes, neat cards my friends send me, Lament Configurations. Each shelf has an insidious whisper, “Put things here!”

There are discreet collections within the larger madness: for example, here are the books that fueled my writing of Unikirja, my collection of stories and a play inspired by Finnish myth and legend. This is the primary source of most of my books: topics on which I write. So there’s the Finnish bookcase, there’s the myth case, esoterica, two for witchcraft, films/drama/ritual & drama theory, pulps, two for horror, two for fantasy, music, erotic and romance, and of course, the Liverpudlians.

What can I say? Obsessed much? On campus there are the subjects I teach, so two big bookcases that have Old and Middle English, Old Norse & Icelandic, medieval drama, then there are the closets that have the remainder: medieval history, drama, film, horror – oh, and my collection of vinyl LPs which was culled before the latest move, but not enough. I’m working on the divesting: here’s the horror PB bookcase post culling:

You’ll note the books are stacked two deep. Those are pieces of my Halloween costumes (yes, I always need more than one) left atop the shelves because I have no Jeeves to look out for me. I’ve got a plan where I put things on my blog to give away for the price of shipping. If I can give things to people who will enjoy them, I can give them away. I’ve been doing it a little — need to do it a LOT. I keep reminding myself how once my belongings all fit in my car.

But then I have so many cool books! How am I going to get rid of these?

One shelf I won’t be getting rid of, something every writer probably has, is the brag shelf to show off all your publications. Okay, in my usual excessive manner, I have two. The brag shelf in my office has more of the gigantic tomes, mostly encyclopedias in which I have entries. It’s the one shelf I want to grow.

I have a pile of books on each of my desks, part of whatever I’m working on at a given moment. I also have folders for each project (hey, parts of my life are organised!) and my bulletin board of things that I need have visually accessible. This is the home one. There’s the Vonnegut picture that inspired the novel I’m finally getting ready to send out; my press pass for New World Finn; pictures from my childhood that my folks sent; Peter Cook as Drimble Wedge badge; Lost Souls badge (Clive Barker fan club); various notes for future projects or things to remember. Unlike the more polite “Just say ‘no’!” sign on my office bulletin board, cautioning me against taking on projects, you’ll note this one has much more peremptory language (“Do not fucking say ‘yes’!”). When I was working my way out exile in Texas, I took on anything that would bolster my CV. It’s been a hard habit to break.

Of course the one place that maintains a Spartan simplicity is my fridge. Erasmus was on to something, eh? You see, I need a Jeeves to look after me. Jeeves would weed out the unnecessary. He could get my life back in order, effortlessly remove the extraneous — and make sure I ate better. He’d probably make me dress better, too. Maybe I should add a Paypal link to my website, “Help me hire a Jeeves!” I need to get rid of a lot of these books (and tchotchkes and bits of paper and whatnot).

— and let’s not even commence talking about the extensive CD and DVD collections…

*Apologies for the crap phone pix; I fell and broke the view screen of my camera in London last summer. I am pleased to say I did NOT drop my Magnum, however. Ice cream is important. The man who helped me up could not hide his admiration.

K. A. Laity (www.kalaity.com) is the author of Unikirja (Aino Press 2009) and the forthcoming Pelzmantel: A Medieval Tale (Immanion Press 2010), as well as numerous short stories, academic essays, plays and more. She’s a tenured professor of English and a columnist for BitchBuzz.com, the global women’s lifestyle network. Visit her blog, Wombat’s World http://katewombat.blogspot.com or read her ongoing comic Gothic serial, The Mangrove Legacy http://kalaity.blogspot.com, or her comic web jam with Elena Steier, Jane Quiet http://janequiet.com. It’s been said that she bears a striking resemblance to erotic romance author, C. Margery Kempe http://www.cmkempe.com, but it may just be the hats.

Wordgeryne – Kate Laity

Kate Laity is, in her words, “an all purpose writer” and she’s a regular visitor here so I was delighted when she let us have her Cthulhu inspired story. The story originally appeared in Lovecraft’s Weird Mysteries.

Check out Kate’s website to learn more about her work and to enjoy her blog. In the meantime prepare yourself for the old gods in Wordgeryne

“Take my hand!” I begged, but Brigitte’s wide eyes only stared back in mute terror. I inched further out the window, stepping gingerly onto the narrow ledge, trying to reach toward her hand. “Please!” There was an audible gulp, but no other response. She closed her eyes and lay her palms flat against the wall. Hope sprang up in my heart. Perhaps Brigitte had changed her mind. Her whole body suggested defeat, relinquishing. Give up this foolish plan, I urged silently, but aloud I repeated, “Please, take my hand.” Brigitte turned her head slowly and opened her eyes once more to meet my gaze. My tentative sense of hope disappeared at once, and I could hear an increase of fearful whispering in the crowd below.

“I didn’t know,” my friend said softly, a single tear crawling down her cheek. “I didn’t believe…it. I’m sorry.” And before I could begin to puzzle the meaning of her words, Brigitte pushed herself awa y from the wall, the ledge and—arms wide— fell into the air. I could not separate her scream from my own until the sickening smack of her body on the concrete below silenced her wail. The crowd, temporarily chased back by the imminent impact, bunched once more around her prone figure. I withdrew. “

Read the rest of Wordgeryne or visit the Index to read more short fiction.