Lolita Ditzler and Deb Borys Award winning interviewer and In Print member Lolita Ditzler spoke with suspense writer Deb Borys about her “Street Stories” set of novels that take place in Chicago. Deb also read…
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Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has a unique bent to it. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.
Yen Press has recently released the ninth volume of the Spice and Wolf manga, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases, click here.)
Eve, whom we only caught a glimpse of in Volume 8, gets introduced in earnest in Volume 9, and she is, if nothing else, complicated. While shepherdess Norah and clergywoman Elsa were both interesting in their own right, their respective occupations weren’t too terribly unusual. Eve, however, is a merchant, which is such an anomaly for her gender that she dresses as a man to conduct business. On top of that, she’s former nobility. She’s no shrinking petunia though. She’s bold enough to literally sink a ship for profit and so successful she’s no shortage of people wanting to partner with her.
A complex personality indeed, and thanks to her, Lawrence gets to speak to the Jean Company regarding the strip mining book that could threaten Holo’s homeland. Of course, it’s not charity on Eve’s part. She’s involved in the Kerube dispute, acting as the Northerners’ “mercenary” in negotiations with the Southern moneylenders. While land and massive amounts of money are involved, this Spice and Wolf conflict is less an economics lesson and more a behind the scenes power struggle. Unfortunately, so many nuanced details are involved that the intrigue is difficult to follow, and I still haven’t figured out what Lawrence means when he laments to Holo that Eve is being used as a “scapegoat.”
However, everything changes when a ship just happens to catch a narwhal in the middle of the negotiations. The timing is extremely convenient, but at least it simplifies the town conflict to “the side that gets the narwhal wins.” As a result of this unexpected development, Eve finds herself needing Lawrence’s assistance and dangles the strip mining book as bait. Unfortunately, siding with her would put him at odds with his guild, a position no sane merchant would dare take. All in all, it’s a tricky situation for Kerube and Lawrence.
Fortunately, the waif Col offers some simplicity amid all the machinations and back room talk. He has yet to discover Holo’s wisewolf secret, and dialogues involving him are refreshingly straightforward. We even get the secret behind the copper coin manifests introduced in Volume 8, and Koume-sensei’s illustrations of Col’s explanation are a hundred times clearer than the all-text version in the light novel.
Extras include a world map, story thus far summary, and creators’ closing remarks.
The search for the strip mining text embroils Lawrence in a citywide property financing dispute and a vixenish merchant’s scheme. Eve is an intriguing new addition to the cast, but it is difficult to discern the role she is playing in the Kerube marketplace conflict, which is less about economics and more about machinations driven by greed and power. Holo seems to tease Lawrence excessively regarding his interactions with the female merchant, but that aside, it is interesting to watch the maneuvers of a human woman who appears a match for even Holo’s wits.
First published at the Fandom Post.
Now this is true: The Punchy Lands will have another sort of “off” week, if that makes sense. Some things need finished up this week. But everything should resume regularly next week. And, yes, there will be a PL Special for Christmas, I think.
Unless, the professor gets covered in snow, or slips on the ice that is supposed to form.
But the analysts doubt that.
I should leave you with a few great pictures.
I think this is the track for the Polar Express. Or, rather, the Polar Express uses this track every so often.
There is a professorish car in this picture; though, sometimes, I have trouble finding it myself.
Wouldn’t this be a lovely place for a video?
If you are a writer then you know that inspiration doesn’t always come at the most convenient times. We’ve all hit those moments in our writing where it’s suddenly like you are walking through a tub of goo. During these times the words come out awkwardly and all the parts of the story seem to almost fit but not really like when you are putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle and some of the pieces are upside down and backwards. During those times of blockage it seems like all those “inspirational” writing quotes that flash by on twitter and Facebook come out to mock me. Images that advise things like:
(To this one I always want to say- “YEAH, it was only 500 words and will probably need a complete overhaul but, yeah, I wrote today. *eyeroll*)
Then there are the relatable ones that make me want to ask the person that made it to be my best friend:
There are lots of ways to deal with writer’s block but sometimes it just takes a “pushing through” phase. It reminds me of a 24 hour road trip I took from Chicago to Yellowstone with three little boys ages 4, 3 and 1 (don’t ask me what we were thinking). The trip seemed to fly by until we South Dakota. Suddenly we were speeding down these looooong barren roads with warning signs that read “Last Chance” because there wouldn’t be a gas station for another 50 miles.
These were the hours where Joe and I sang loudly to ska music and gave the kids ANY food that would keep them happy. It felt like we would NEVER get to our stop in Montana. Then, hours later, exhausted and almost our of gas we stopped just outside of Billings to fill up. As we pulled into the dilapidated gas station I was all up in my head, dreading changing the kids into their pjs in what was sure to be a gross gas station bathroom. But, as Joe filled the gas tank and I crossed the empty parking lot with three little boys in toe, I noticed the sun setting over the mountains just west of us and how it reflected off the rims that encircled the city. The natural beauty of that sunset stunned this girl from the flatlands of Illinois and suddenly I was grateful for the long, rocky roads of South Dakota, because they got me there, to that sunset.
Sometimes when we write we need those long, seemingly never ending roads of hunkering down in order to get to the “sunset over the mountains” pay off. It’s sticking with it through those rough moments that make it even more satisfying when love the words come easily, the story all seems to click together like it popped into your brain fully formed and the characters become as real (in your mind) as your best friend or next door neighbor.
Right now *knock on wood* I’m enjoying that “on a roll” stage in my current WIP. I feel a little weird declaring it like that, like I’m bragging or jinxing myself but I think after working so hard to get here, it’s worth celebrating. It’s a trick I learned while running. As soon as I could see a hill ahead of me I would force myself to get excited for it and to run extra fast to get to the top because I knew for every up hill I struggled through there was ultimately a downhill following it. Well, unless you start at the top of the hill and end there too…but that messes up my analogy so I’m ignoring that option.
How are all you writers feeling right now? Are you on a roll, going slow and steady or maybe stopped off at a rest area? If you are stuck on a hill, take a moment to savor the burn because it’s making you a better writer and soon you’ll be running downhill so fast your feet (or your fingers) won’t be able to keep up with you!
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