Another Mystery Model

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A Visit with Some of My Characters

 As you might have guessed by now, an author has a relationship with all the most important characters in her stories.  The main sort of relationship is Identification; that is, that the author considers, to some extent, that that character is her, herself!  I certainly identify very strongly with some characters, and to a tiny extent with all my characters.  (There are exceptions; for instance, a character created specifically as a minor villain would be too insignificant to identify with at all.  If you've read Alexandra, you might remember Chairman Michael, who is mentioned, vilified, and never referenced again.)

There are several characters with whom I identify strongly, to the point of thinking of them as (versions of) myself.  Among these are Alexandra; Jane, Heather and Deanna, all in Jane; Maia, Sybilla and Tatiana, all in Prisoner; Alison, Cass and Helen, as well as Sheila and her children (yes, all of them!) in Galactic Voyager;  Aggie, in Yraid; all the others are—I'll explain.

In the case of the Helen stories, I identify with lots of them: Janet, most strongly; Old Elly, John Nordstrom, Amy, Maryssa, Lalitha, Sita, Norma Major, and various others.

You're probably thinking that this is crazy; how could I identify with both characters in a couple that is falling in love?  The answer is a lot less kinky than you might expect.  Each part of such a story is written from the point of view of one character or another (except for Yraid, of course, which is from Aggie's point of view the whole time).  Suppose Character A is falling in love with Character B, and we're in a part written from the point of view of B.  In this part, I think of B as myself; but I think of the other character, A, temporarily, as someone else; either someone I know, or a real, 3-D version of A.  For the moment, I try and ignore that I'm hidden inside A, somewhere.

Actually, in Yraid, I'm Andy, as well.  If you read carefully, you will see that Andy and Aggie kind of have similar personalities.  (If that spoils it for you, I apologize!  :(  )

Some characters in my stories are drawn from people I know, or have known; I'm whispering in their ears how to think, what to do, what to say, so they're still a little bit me, but sometimes they don't listen, and they do something unexpected, and I'm surprised.  (Don't ask; I don't understand it myself.)

Because of the way Yraid is written, of late I have found myself identifying mostly with Aggie (Agnes, in case you haven't read it yet).  This story is my fantasy of falling in love with someone, without any of the complications that all of that usually brings with it in these modern times!

I ought to say something about these modern times.  It is too easy to think of the present as some horrible situation, that may not ever go away.  It is bad, but I am too interested in what is going to happen to bury myself in gloom.  We've got out of terrible scrapes, as a nation, too often, to be defeated by any vicious political scheme.  In fact, I think people the world over look to the US for ideas for getting out of bad tangles.  We should show the way for Brazil and Venezuela, though we must absolutely not actually interfere directly.  That's my view; but who am I?  Nobody.  Like Paula Poundstone, nobody listens to Kay.

In Yraid, I fear I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve a little too much.  Luckily for me, Judy and Leslie are extracted from people whom I know and love, and the story is driven more by what they do, than what Aggie thinks and does.  If I had written that story back in 1999, I think I would know myself better today, but some of the things that made it possible to write Yraid had not happened yet!

And now we come to the infamous, intriguing, omnipresent Helen.

In the beginning, Helen had no big faults, except for being in love with Janet rather immoderately.  Then, as the story wrote itself, I realized that some characteristic property of Helen would have to be stretched, to make her a protagonist who was less "perfect", and more realistic.  I chose that she fell in love with everybody.  (Almost.)

Now, if a real person did that, we would consider her to have a very weak character indeed; we could not take them seriously.  And that criticism remained with Helen; she began to see that she had become a caricature of herself.  In my mind, this happened while she was in hiding (Helen On the Run).  It does not really come up in the story—I can't remember exactly—but, starting with Westfield College, she begins to realize that this is a problem.  And then, she gets hit with Evelyn (Rain) Woodford, and Lorna Shapiro simultaneously.  From then on, Helen acts like someone embarrassed by her promiscuity, but she tries to minimize its visibility, and the toll it takes on her "SO"s.  After her last, unsuccessful, pregnancy, she stops being sexually aggressive, and starts being more, well, passive.  She has a second tumor removed, and all her aggression is gone, both sexually, and in terms of fighting, though being a large woman (not really; she's about 5'10", and 165 lbs, which is not really large), things proceed as we would expect, when she's making love.

I conceived of the character Helen initially as someone I would like as a romantic object.  She was about 15 years old; that should tell you something about my character, though I hope it doesn't.  But I took some time off from the Helen story, and wrote Alexandra, and Jane.  When I came back to the Helen story, I began to identify more with Helen, and thought of her less as a romantic object.  (Or sex object, if you must; but I cannot remember ever imagining making love to Helen.  Take that any way you want.)

A number of characters are related to each other, in terms of where they come from: Hattie, in Beach; Genevieve in Alexandra; Judy in Yraid; Neela in Prisoner!; Deanna in Jane, to some extent, and the twins.  Daisy in Galactic Voyager is unusual, I can't think of where she came from.

The teenage girls are all superficially similar: Ninel, in Alexandra; Heidi, in Jane; Erin in the Helen stories, and to a lesser extent, Gena; Lena in Voyager.  But, as they grow older, their personalities diverge.

The strong, highly controlled characters also have a common origin: Janet, Heather, Sybilla, a little bit; Ellen Harper; to some extent, Megan Barrows, in Voyager.

In one sense, treating these characters en masse does them a disservice.  On one hand, you do begin to see character details you might have missed.  On the other hand, you begin to see them as a type, and miss the uniqueness that each of them acquires, simply because that uniqueness has been written into that story, and obviously because of the events to which they have been subjected.  Our lives change us, as people have seen objectively when studying identical twins separated at birth.  Even Helen and her clone, Athene, should be considered to have different personalities, but I might have failed to depict them that way.

In Yraid, by accident I put into Aggie's narrative how she began to empathize with characters in the books she reads.  All of us, of course, do this, when—and if—we get into the habit of reading fiction for pleasure.  Because Aggie has had so little opportunity to compare notes with friends in school (she was a loner in high school), all this appears to her as a unique state of affairs that she finds herself in.  But, I realized that these words forced themselves out, because that's what happens to me!  The more I read one of my stories, the more I'm haunted by the feelings of the characters!  In Yraid, though, as soon as I open the book, it is as if I pop into Aggie's brain, and it is all happenning to me personally immediately!  If I write more First Person stories, I suppose, the effect will fade; but right now, that happens like a wild ride.


P.S.  Including free downloads, the total number of my books that have been taken has exceeded 9,000!  So there are at least a thousand people who know who Kay Hemlock Brown is, and have gotten multiple books of mine, or perhaps 9,000 people, each of whom has got a single book.  (I can't think which is the more plausible assumption...)

Monday, September 7, 2020

A Temporary Free Book

I made Yraid free, just for the remainder of today, and tomorrow morning!

Hope you all have a fun and safe Labor Day!


Friday, July 31, 2020

A Wonderful Aria

A song—a classical aria, really—that is, in my mind, one of the pinnacles of Helen’s vocal performances, was a number from Handel’s Messiah, unfortunately one that is not very well known outside the circles of die-hard Messiah fans.  It is featured in an episode in which Helen, who was deeply depressed at the time at her rejection from the circles of  Baroque sacred vocal music, began to re-assess her own capabilities, and begins to believe in herself.  (At the same time, Helen was beginning to realize how much Sita had come to love her.)
The aria is I know that my Redeemer liveth, a lovely aria, very long, very lightly accompanied, and to my mind, difficult for typical listeners to appreciate, precisely because of its length and the light accompaniment.  The melody has to be carried entirely by the soprano, because the accompaniment is so light.  
Back when I was a kid, and more Romantic adaptations of Messiah were still not in disrepute (as they were just a few years later), all these arias were accompanied by the full orchestra: flutes, clarinets, oboes, horns.  Wagner had shown how this could be done pianissimo—very softly—so that the vocal line was like an exquisite string of pearls on a velvet cushion.  But, to those who demanded authenticity, that was not the point.  The original only was accompanied by the violins!  Only the lute or harpsichord, and the bass line, probably just a cello, or a couple of cellos.  That was all!  So we have the soprano singing for all she’s worth, supported only by violins and bass.
There is yet another problem, namely the text.  The song is about physical resurrection, something that hardly anyone believes in.  Of all the things Christians believe in, and those of us who are CINOs—Christians In Name Only, this is the principle that is among the first to be rejected, together with the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection.  We may love Jesus, and we may follow his teachings as far as we can, because they are not easy; but I, for one, have never believed in those magical things that we were supposed to believe.  It is a tragedy that so many jettison the teachings of Jesus along with the mythology.
So when the soprano sings that she knows that Jesus is alive, I can imagine scores of listeners shutting off their ears to the words of the delusional librettist—the Apostle Paul, in this case—and trying to obtain satisfaction in the music alone, which is so difficult, given that the entire piece is so vehement in its message.  (Here is a performance that is more moderately accompanied.  Do not try to imagine that, when Helen sings this tune, that it sounds like this; I imagine it quite differently.  Here is another performance.  Lynn Dawson can look beautiful while she sings, something that many sopranos cannot pull off!)
Helen, the character, was not created to be a philosopher.  The only instance where she tries to think about abstract things is this one, where she struggles with the text of this song.  All the rest of the time, she was thinking of the children, about music, about her teaching, and mostly about the people around her, especially if they were struggling with something or another.  I wanted Helen to be, above all, a compassionate woman, and to some extent, that was Helen’s only, or at least her principal, saving grace.
As I have written about before, there is an interesting episode that I have left out of all of the published Helen stories, because it is difficult to squeeze into them, timewise.  At first, I had her teaching at Westfield only for two years.  But now it appears that she would have to have taught there for at least three years, to have done all that I had written about; in which case, if I were to include another Westfield story, this episode could find a place there.
The story is briefly as follows.
Helen returns to Westfield, to hear that one of her colleagues in the Math Department has been the victim of a hit-and-run incident.  There is some suspicion that one of his students was responsible, because evidently there was severe animosity between them.  The students are suspicious of each other, and the administration is at a loss as to how to complete the semester for those students in the particular class that seems to be the one that was most hostile to the late professor.
Someone happens to have told the President that Helen had a strong background in mathematics, and it ends up that they have Helen taking over the course.
Helen struggles as never before, and the students struggle, and bits and pieces of information emerge from the Police murder investigation, and the course is slipping downhill, but Helen, and a couple of students manage to salvage it, and it ends much better than anyone had any right to expect.  One of the students is Angie Connors, who emerges as an important character in Helen’s Concerto.
As you can see, I was preoccupied with this aria, and I think I must go listen to it sung in a version from the sixties, when the authentic performance movement did not yet have a lock on Baroque performance as it had from the Seventies onward!  If I have interested a reader to listen to that aria, I would be delighted!
Kay Hemlock Brown

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Who is Kay Hemlock Brown?

Just to clarify:  most of you know that I'm incognito; this means many of the pieces of information that I give, that you would normally expect to be able to use to identify me, really presents a person who is different than me.  Kay Hemlock Brown is just a nom de plume, or a pen name.  There are many good reasons for this; the best one is that I do not want to be "outed" as a writer of fiction, including lesbian fiction.  (This is a holdover from when I first started writing, when alternative preference was not as well accepted as it is now.  A lot has happened in twenty-five years.)
The time has come, though, for me to decide what the details of the Kay Hemlock Brown persona are.  This is not absolutely necessary, but I'm just in the mood to give it a good try, especially since I have stumbled on this method of creating a profile picture that is so interesting!
Kay is a female; that hasn't changed since I started writing, or since this Blog was created.  These days, in more progressive forums, or places where ideas are exchanged (such as this Blog site, or Deviant Art, or Facebook or Instagram, for instance,) people are allowed to have fluid gender, that is they're allowed to declare that, well, they're female, but would prefer to be regarded as gender-fluid, that is that in some situations, they would not respond to certain things as a female.  In addition, the concept of transsexual is gaining ground.  Exactly what people mean by that term is not clear, and different people can mean different things by it.  For instance, it could mean a person who intends to change their gender, possibly through surgery; and have begun taking hormone treatment to enhance the outcome of the surgery, or prepare for the surgery; they could even decide to take the hormone treatment, and go no further; they could choose to wear male clothing, which means that they are transvestites as well, or cross-dressers, and so on.  I am none of these things.  In fact, a woman wearing male clothing is not even remarked upon today; we have successfully hijacked most items of male clothing and made it our own!  (That reminds me of a book I was reading: Escort, by Emily Hayes.  I would cautiously recommend this story, but the story is very carelessly edited, which is rather a turn off.  In any case, one of the main characters in the book, Ashley, likes to dress in masculine style.)  It would help if I were hip to all the terminology that lesbian women use to describe themselves, but being a recluse has its disadvantages!
Kay is young, but not as young as she used to be!  When I read lesbian fiction (why would I read any other kind?), I'm beginning to see dialog that is most definitely not part of my own idiom, or my dialect.  I'm just barely within the age-group where you greet your friends with "Hey."  I used to say Hi almost all the time, but now, Hey is creeping in.  I started writing in the late 90's, if that helps you to date me.  I couldn't possibly be less than 20 years old, because I would have written those books before I was born!
Kay is very plain.  In fact, I ought to be honest and say: Kay is a dog!  But when I started this Blog, the first thing that struck me was that here is an opportunity to be attractive!  I put up, as my profile picture, a well-known piece of art of the 19th century.  As I got bored with that, I kept changing my profile picture to other, less well-known portraits of really pretty women, until this software came along, and I could put up an image that looks a lot more like me than those early pictures!
Kay hates to read badly edited text, despite the fact that her own writing has spots where the editing has major lapses.  Unfortunately, the process of uploading a story to Smashwords is so clumsy that, even after I finish editing some errors out of a story, I drag my feet in uploading it.  The first few weeks after uploading a story, I work quite busily, replacing the early, error-filled editions with cleaned-up versions.  Then the process slows down, and comes to a halt.  (I wish there were a means where readers could--politely--alert an author to any remaining errors; I would love that.)
Kay would love to use more exclamation points (!), but when you use too many of them, their value gets diluted.  In Yraid, for instance, I started off using hardly any exclamations, but then it seemed as though Aggie was a sort of morose person.  (She starts off being pretty morose, actually.)  I also like to use semicolons; these things are supposed to be used when you have two sentences next to each other, and they make better sense if they were combined into one sentence, without using a conjuction, such as 'and' or 'but' or something like that.  But I also use them when I'm making a list, and there are commas within the list items.  For instance, if you were giving a list of your favorite songs.  You could do this most of the time, separating them with commas.  But what if one of the songs had commas right in the title?  I would then separate the titles with semicolons, and the comma could go right in the title, where it belongs.
Kay likes to use italics.  I use them everywhere I can; I think it makes the text appear more sprightly, it makes the dialog look more lively, it gives a better approximation of the vivacity of the speech of a young person.  Young people often emphasize particular words to get their meaning across, instead of using cue words.  For instance, look at these two sentences.
I liked the costumes better this time.
It was the costumes I liked better this time.
I think I'll stop here; it's better to put in additional information as I think of it, rather than strain to think up other trivia that isn't important!  I hope everyone is keeping safe, and avoiding big indoor gatherings that have the potential for becoming major spreading events.  That gives me an idea; I think I will create an avatar wearing a mask, and put it up temporarily, if that is possible.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Inspiration From Models: Lidia Savoderova

Lidia Savoderova, Model and Photographer
One of the sources of inspiration for me—for a story, I mean—is from women.  It just so happens that usually the women are public figures, or people that I know, or people that I see on the Internet.
I am not impelled to write.  I was, some time ago, but now I start writing with some reluctance, because I anticipate lacking the energy to do a good job with it!
So, I go about the usual silly things I do, and if I’m preoccupied with a particular woman, I imagine what sort of person she is, and what she would do, and how she would interact with other people, and what sorts of situations she would find herself in.  And sometimes, this leads to a story.  Usually a story that doesn’t lead anywhere, but sometimes, it is promising as the loose plot for something that I would write.
Lidia Savoderova was someone I discovered on DeviantArt (DA), a model, and a photographer.  I decided that she had one of the most beautiful faces I had ever seen!  She could change her face to look like anything from the girl-next-door, replete with freckles, to an elegant model, to a sex-symbol in lingerie, to a tragic character in a melodrama.  Until I learned that she was a photographer as well, there wasn't much I could imagine her doing; unlike other writers, I didn't have the imagination to create a story based on a model, because, (never having been a model myself,) I regarded modeling as essentially a passive occupation.  In contrast, photography is very much an active and creative occupation.  Depending on what drives the photographer, they, in turn, could be inspired by either the prospect of big money, or the beauty of a subject, or the prospect of making real a story in her mind, and so on.
I had already written a fantasy about a photographer, Jane, with a couple of other books loosely related to Jane.  (My goodness; I had forgotten all about some Jane stories that I had left hanging …)  In the Jane stories, I had created Jane not to be a beauty, initially; if I were to write a photographer story inspired by Lidia Savoderova, it would be quite a different sort of story.  Now that it has come up …
The sort of character I would like to write a story around, would be a strong, somewhat driven girl, who nevertheless gets distracted by the needs of the people surrounding her (Helen, Alexandra,) or a girl oppressed by her circumstances, who nevertheless tries to function as a compassionate human being (Prisoner, Jana), or a girl hungry for love, who discovers a heart that returns love and affection (that sounds disgusting in so many ways, but that's pretty much the story of Yraid).
I just realized how narrow the spectrum of thematic inspiration is that I am driven by.  However, that’s not to say that the plots do not evolve into quite complex stories; for instance in Alexandra, the story has surprising twists.  I had great hesitation about the plot twists in Galactic Voyager, but it just barely holds together, and I’m not going to mess with it.  The story of Helen (Helen and Sharon) was the twistiest of all; it evolved without my conscious participation!
Something I struggle with is the entire problem with how girls and women present themselves in today's world.  I have very few friends with whom I meet regularly—these days, of course, hardly anyone at all, because I take distancing instructions as seriously as I can.  Quite honestly, though I have often been lax about wearing masks and keeping distance, and not coughing in anyone’s face, and so on, it ultimately comes down to luck, or probability, whether the people around me are infectious or not—but there is a wider circle of acquaintances, and there are many interesting types in these circles, who serve as models (not in the art or fashion sense, but in the sense of the origin of a character) for my stories.  Remember: I must not only have a central character, who may be just a little glamorous in some way, but also characters who surround and interact with the central character.
Until recently, girls presented themselves as feminine; sometimes submissive and feminine, sometimes feminine, but not at all submissive; sometimes not very feminine, but not aggressive, but quite determined, and so on.
You might recall that I was recently engaged in looking for an avatar to represent me.  Being incognito, though, I didn't want to have my avatar being recognizably me; but I also wanted to get away from being represented by a photograph of someone who was not the least bit like me, as had been the case for seven years.  (Which may have been the source of the little popularity I do have; something to worry about.)  So the goal I set myself, was to start with a photograph of myself, and blend it with a photograph of some other woman, who looked similar, or like other members of my family.  (Of course, I would not consider actually using the photographs of family members, for fear of being badly beaten up.)
One of the pictures I considered was that of Lidia S.  What I loved most about her were her lips, which are so kissable!  And her eyebrows, which are to die for.  Another one was Hedy Lamarr, the actress of the 1940's, who had rather an annoyingly highbrow expression when her face was in repose.  But I discovered, quite by accident, that one of the actresses under consideration to play Hedy Lamarr in a planned biopic was the woman who played Wonder Woman in the recent movie: Gal Gadot.
Now, Gal Gadot is an interesting person.  It is difficult to get a handle on what sort of person Gal Gadot is, from observing her public appearances.  (It seems very much as though she is a lighthearted person with a wonderful sense of humor.  Watching a story of what Gal Gadot was like on the set of Saturday Night Live as reported by Kate McKinnon makes you crack up.)  Thinking of Gal Gadot as playing the role of Hedy Lamarr is thought-provoking.  Either Gal Gadot's acting skills will be stretched, and she'll wind up being a fabulous serious actress, or it will be a disaster.  Gal Gadot has a huge personality (as Kate McKinnon would confirm), and it is possible to imagine her doing almost anything.
Quite unintentionally, I have described Gal Gadot as being quite charismatic, due to information we get from TV and the movies.  The only reason I haven't described Lidia Savoderova in as flattering terms is simply because I have not seen any media coverage of her.  I imagine that there might be a lot of coverage in Russian TV,
Kay Hemlock Brown

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

I'm Frustrated with DeviantArt

Most of you are aware that I joined the DeviantArt Website in order, mainly, to get high-quality covers for my Smashwords publications.  But once I arrived there, I realized that I could fulfill another of my greatest interests: to create digital art.  Some of the examples of things that could be done digitally (which I'm using in the sense of: not with actual oil and canvas, but using a computer), in ways I found fascinating, except for one aspect: the subject-matter.

Many of the artists on DA are very young.  Not that I am dreadfully old, but I feel ancient compared to the extreme youth of these kids!  I love them, and have gotten to know many of them, and many of them are aspiring writers, and many of them would be close friends, if we ever met, but the sources of their inspirations will forever be outside my own circle of interest.  The many stories I see are brutally, and superficially, sexual.

I love to write erotica.  I don't like to talk about erotica, because I think of erotica as a rather private thing.  And the crudeness of described sexuality has to be, in my mind, moderated with gentleness, and emotion, and caring.  These are ideas that would be considered too heavy for my friends on DA.

Even the mature adults on DA, even though they are certainly craftsmen of an incredibly high calibre, seem focused on their little niches, and are difficult to touch.  Sometimes a random comment I make on some artwork pierces their shell of mechanical politeness (everyone on DA is polite to a fault, and I initially saw my remarks frowned upon), only to discover that we only had that tiny fragment of an area of discussion in common.

There are photographers who have access to absolutely beautiful models, some of them just stunning, among the most beautiful women I have seen anywhere.  There are cosplayers, that is, people who like to dress up as characters from illustrated books or animated movies or games, or even the movies, and get themselves photographed.  The art here is in the makeup, the costumes, the poses, etc.  Above and beyond that, some of these people---mostly women, as it happens---are amazing actresses; they can portray an emotion that a scene requires just perfectly, to produce what we would call a tableau, a scene.  But the concerns of these women are centered around wigs, and costumes, and makeup.

In a vague sense, DeviantArt is about artistic perversion, I believe, judging from the name of the website; somehow they have hit on the idea that, if they downplay the perversion aspect, they can make a lot of money by providing a forum in which digital images can be hosted and, ostensibly, discussed.  Some commerce goes on on the site, from which the site makes an income.

I have learned an enormous amount by hanging around on DA.  The people there are generous with their knowledge, and even with their Art.  But until I learn to keep a certain distance from some of the art, which seduces me into thinking that I can relate to it extremely deeply, I am going to cause myself to bleed unnecessarily by bashing against artwork that was never intended to be bashed against!

You must take this post as what it is: a rant against having to be an objective art critic.

Kay H.B.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Slightly Expanded Version

I often find myself thinking about various supplementary information I could insert in a book, and it was worse with Yraid than it had been for other books.  So I added a page or two of this stuff into an 'Afterword', and uploaded that as a new version.  So far, only one reader has downloaded (or read) the free portion of the story, so I suppose, only he or she will be surprised with this supplementary stuff.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I now have a far more accurate picture to represent me on any site.  They always encourage us to upload an 'Avatar', as they call it, but now I can put one up, rather than the arbitrary picture I have up presently.  (In case you're wondering, it is an actress of the last century, a very attractive woman, and I am more than satisfied with how well that portrait served my purposes.

The new picture has already been uploaded on both Smashwords and DeviantArt.  I only mention it here because this would otherwise be a short post indeed.

This is no more my image than any of the others were; but it is a signifantly modified image of me (whereas the others were not images of me at all).  On the left is the face without a smile, and on the right, with a smile.

Well, enjoy.