Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week—whether book-related or not—that happened to you.
You know we really love featuring illustrators and artists here at 7-Imp, and we like to pride ourselves on featuring all different styles of art. And it’s not often that we feature art that hasn’t been created for a children’s book, though we love doing that, too. And I can’t remember that we’ve ever featured art like today’s — straight-up realistic portraits of animals, rendered in colored pencil. These are from artist, author, and musician Maggie Stiefvater, who calls herself an “equestrian artist…Suffice to say,” she writes at her site, “I draw and paint a lot of horses…I take my horse portraits very seriously. It seems to me that if you want an exact replica of what any horse looks like on a given day, there are plenty of cameras out there to help you with that. You need an artist only if you want to capture the mood of the day, the character of the horse, the feeling of the moment frozen in time. There’s a point where the camera just doesn’t cut it. That’s where an artist steps in.”
Here’s a bit from Maggie, whose first novel—an urban fantasy—will be released this October:
“What would I say if people asked me?
Well. I guess first of all I would say that, if cats didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have been able to make a living as an artist. Because cats in general and my evil cat, Moose, in particular made me a lot of money! I started out doing cat portraits and then Moose portraits, and slowly my naturally deranged personality took over and I did the Cat of the Old Masters Series. Each of those Old Master Cats was 2.5 x 3.5″, and I sold the originals on eBay for literally hundreds of dollars in some cases — it was very surreal!
Anyway, before I went full time as a writer, my main business was animal portraits in colored pencil. I have lots of boring credits to my name like internationally exhibited and collected, gallery represented, blah blah blah, but none of them really meant as much as that squealy e-mail from a client saying that I’d captured the essence of their furry companion.
Lament (Flux, October ’08), as Maggie puts it at her art blog, is about a musically talented high school girl who falls for an enigmatic boy who seems to know a lot about her. And, adds Maggie, it “sucks that he’s a fairy assassin.” There is more information about the book here.
Thanks to Maggie for stopping by, and we’ll close this part of the post with The Writer’s Cat:
Hey, remember last Sunday was my birthday, and Jules did that big awesome Post of Embarrassing Moments From Our Collective Past? It was so freaking awesome I forgot to do any kicks. So I actually have two weeks to work with here.
1* That freaking awesome birthday post. Thanks again, Jules, and to everyone who joined in with comments.
2* The night before, I went to a party thrown by my upstairs neighbors. At midnight, they got everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to me (very slow and minor-key, so it was kind of a birthday dirge – very appropriate for 35). Then Dana gave me two Pups. They’re these stuffed toys that also serve as muffs, and they are hilarious.
3* Other great presents: an original work of art by Princess Piper (thanks, Jules!); a beautiful necklace of green beads (thanks, Mom!); a super-comfy hooded sweatshirt-robe (thanks, Leslie!); and my own copy of one of my all-time favorite movies, Airplane! (Don’t judge! It’s funny!) (Thanks, B!).
4* B. also took me out for Thai food at a new yummy restaurant. And Dana baked me Key Lime Cupcakes. Oh my god, they were good. And then at work on Monday, my co-workers treated me to a delicious flourless chocolate cake. Ridiculously good!
5* Remember last week Libby mentioned in her kicks that she complained about not getting a review copy of Paper Towns on her blog, and the publicist from Penguin saw it and sent her one? Well, I followed suit and complained that I didn’t have one either. Libby let the publicist know, and now Jules and I have copies too! Thanks, Libby and Jillian!
6* I read a couple of classics that I really should have read a long time ago, and loved them both: I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin.
7* Maybe the biggest kick of all: my husband is finally home from his summer theatre gigs.
7.5* Bonus Kick: This hilarious piece from McSweeney’s, “Jean-Paul Sartre’s Script for Without A Trace.” It makes me want to suggest we all get together and start Blog Like Your Favorite Existentialist Day. Anyone else? Just me? …Right, just me. Oh well, the piece is really funny.
1). My conversations with Alkelda this week about motherhood, how it can be difficult sometimes to mother very young children, and the moments of frustration I had this week. She got it AND gave me good advice.
2). My husband and I finally finished watching “Spaced” this week, a British sitcom that didn’t last more than two seasons, BLAST IT. It’s wicked funny, and I want a third season, I tell ya. I’ve been recommending it to friends so much that I’m sick of hearing myself, but I have to share one moment of brilliance, the gunless gun fight.
The first person speaking here is Brian, the tortured artist living in the flat below Simon Pegg’s character. Brian works in anger, pain, fear, and aggression (I will give seven points to the next illustrator in our seven-questions-over-breakfast series who tells me his or her preferred media are anger, pain, fear, and aggression), and he has just gotten finished saying that it must be strange being a woman, what with all our power — that we are the true creators, the true children of nature, Gaia’s footsoldiers, and that all men do is destroy things…(there’s a colorful word at the beginning. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if children are near you.)
Did I already mention that’s comedy brilliance?
3). Looking at a bunch of art books with my four-year-old this week. Where has this book, pictured here, been all my life (or, okay, since 2003)?
4). My girls and I finished reading James and the Giant Peach. Then, we watched the 1996 movie, and they were promptly traumatized by Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge. Um, that last part is not the kicky part, but they managed just fine and made it to the end. My four-year-old was shivering whenever they were on the screen.
5). Having an impromptu, after-dinner dinosaur tea party with the toy picnic basket but REAL sugar cookies and strawberry Kool-aid — and the neighbor kid showing up, when we invited her, in the fanciest party dress she owns.
6). I’m taking a child/parent music class (of sorts) with my girls. The teacher dumps out a bunch of percussion instruments every week, amongst other things, and my four-year-old always goes straight for—and gets excited about—the triangle. It cracks me up. And it’s totally decent, I must say.
7). My brave moment of the week: Not sure if this is a failure or a success. Both, I think.
Remember how last week Jama took care of a giant spider that scared the bejeeeeeesus out of her? Well, I have an awful, terrible fear of adult roaches (if it’s a smallish baby one, I’m not happy, but meh…I can handle it). So, there was this huge roach in my home this week. It crawled under one of my husband’s dress shirts on the floor. I did my horror-movie scream, the room spun a bit, I could barely breathe, the usual — but then I managed to throw a heavy book on it, and then I grabbed an old amp, of all things, next to me. I still wasn’t sure if the roach was dead, though. Those mother…uh…mother jumpers are hard to kill, and I knew it could have been safe under a shirt fold. I had to sit and try to gather myself and try to work up the courage to lift all those things up and investigate. Let me add that a big roach skittering across the floor anywhere in my vicinity is, to me, a level of hell Dante flat-out forgot to write about. I sat there, thinking of this blasted be-brave challenge, which was originally my own freakin’ idea…and what did I decide to do? Go ask my neighbor, who is not afraid of roaches (but her daughter is, so she understands my pain) to come over and help me.
My failure? I didn’t do it myself. My success, as cheesy as this sounds (and it also sounds like an excuse), is that I have a really hard time asking people for help. I think it took me just as long to work up the courage to ask my neighbor to lend me a hand.
What are your kicks this week?