Stephanie Burgis
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Love and Not-Love
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I love reading good history books. Even if I don't have the slightest impulse to write a story set in that particular era, there's something about reading well-written historical nonfiction that gets all my writing sparks flying. The history section at our local library is too small for me to specialize (if I could, I'd just read endless books about the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries), so every week I pick out one random history book that looks interesting, no matter what era it covers. This week I got Maureen Waller's Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father's Throne, and it's just perfect writing stimulation. It's got it all: bizarre family dynamics, interesting, complex & conflicted characters, and an absolutely fascinating setting. Here's the description of Whitehall Palace during the reign of King Charles II:
At the Restoration some of the royal portraits and other treasures had been returned to Whitehall. There were exquisite Indian cabinets, looking-glasses from France, and a bevy of clocks whose chiming kept the King's attendants awake through the night. For all its grandeur, when the court was in residence the palace was dirty and stinking. Anyone who was at all fastidious found the smell of the King's favourite spaniels, which were allowed to produce their pups and give suck wherever they pleased, noisome and repellant. Dressed in their lace-edged finery and expensive silks and velvets, courtiers would urinate and defecate in any convenient corner. The layout of the palace, the dark rooms and secret nooks and crannies, the easy access to the often fog-bound river steps and small private gardens, made it perfect for the sort of lascivious intrigue that was so typical of Charles's court.

It's not the kind of palace lifestyle you'll find in most high fantasy novels...but it's so much more fun to read about!

Now here's what I don't love: my laptop is becoming erratic and worrying in its "old" age (nearly 2 years old). It's crashed twice this afternoon already, and both times, it took forever to restart - and the restarts only finally worked after several false starts, which were even scarier. I do not love this behavior. Two years old is not very old. I keep telling my laptop this, and instructing it to shape up. Unfortunately, my laptop knows as well as I do that we can't afford to replace it no matter how badly it behaves, so it doesn't listen to any of my lectures. Then I just have to eat more chocolate to comfort myself, and the laptop sniggers and crashes again, just to taunt me.

On the other hand, Maya is behaving better and better every day, becoming more and more like an angel and less and less like a hyperactive puppy. All I can think is that she must somehow know we're leaving her in a kennel this weekend and wants to make sure we feel really guilty about it. It is definitely working.

And now to post this entry before my laptop can crash again...

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