Lyra Selene

Novelist, blogger: lyraselene.com. @lyraselene writes young adult urban fantasy. She is inspired by world mythology, brooding landscapes, and the alchemy of love.

Monthly Post at Spellbound Scribes

Hello, my lovelies! Because it’s Halloween month, when the leaves start to change and everything is pumpkin flavored and things go bump in the night, I thought I’d try my hand at a piece of horror flash-fiction, called “Lost at Dusk”! Check it out here!

What’s your favorite thing about autumn? Let me know in the comment section below!

#PitchWars Mentee Blog Hop!

Oh! Hello there! I am delighted to be participating in Brenda Drake’s fantastic Pitch Wars contest this year, and figured I ought to throw my bio out there as part of the Mentee blog hop! If you have no interest in learning more about me, or for some reason really hate obnoxious amounts of GIFs, well, you might want to move along.

First off, I’m Lyra! (Yes, it’s my real name, and yes, the Golden Compass books were based entirely on my life.) I’m 26, and live in the Best City in America, aka Boston.

I’ve been writing since a very young age. My mom recently unearthed a short story, written and illustrated by eight-year-old moi, about a farmer tying chickens to pigs in order to prove the old adage “when pigs fly.” My stories have since become slightly more sophisticated.

I’m pretty bad at twitter.

I read. A lot. My worst nightmare is people asking me what my favorite book/author is–that question has no answer. The last book I cried over: Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising. The last literary book I read: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Book I’m itching to get my paws on: Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unmade.

I graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Political Science and a minor in English. I once took a class called “Victorian Vampires” from a Romanian professor named Dragan who wore only black. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

I play the piano, sing, paint, and do calligraphy. My husband says I belong in an Austen novel since I’m such an “accomplished young lady.”

I belong to more fandoms than I care to name. Supernatural, Doctor Who, BtVS, Battlestar Galactica…the list goes on. And on. I have no shame. What can I say, I love to squeeeee!

When I’ve had a few glasses of wine, I start to sound reeeaalll Southern. But that’s okay–there’s something to be said for growing up in the South.

And that’s me in a nutshell!

Be sure to head over to Dannie Morin’s blog to check out the other Mentee bios!

O Captain! My Captain!

"Good Morning Vietnam"“Good Morning Vietnam”

I don’t usually blog about current events, much less celebrity deaths. When the newspapers are filled with school shootings and police shootings and dead Palestinian children and natural disasters, spending time mourning a famous person seems worse than trivial.

But it is a queer thing to cry for a stranger. To feel tears running down your cheeks and an ache in your chest for someone you never met, someone you only know through their on-screen performances. To feel genuinely heartbroken about the suicide of a famous person. But that is how I feel about Robin Williams’ death, and if the lachrymose outpouring on social media is any indication, I’m not the only person grieving for the late actor and comedian.

I never met Robin Williams, but he was a fixture in the pop culture of my childhood and an icon for my generation. He outran a stampede of animatronic jungle animals in Jumanji. His manic, ebullient, and mercurial voice-acting brought Genie to life in Aladdin. He hilariously cross-dressed as a Scottish nanny to spend time with his children in Mrs Doubtfire. And when I was older, he sat on a bench in the Boston Public Garden and said to a young and arrogant genius, “You’re just a kid. You don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talkin’ about.” He taught a group of young men about loving literature, about standing up for what they believed in, about seizing the day. “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Genie, you’re free.

And that’s just to name a few.

I’m not sure precisely why Robin Williams’ suicide has affected me so deeply. Like all celebrity deaths, there is an element of admiration for his work, and disappointment that he will not create anything new. Basic grief for a bright light snuffed out too soon. Sympathy and sorrow for the family and friends left to go on without him. But that’s not all. I think the worst part, for me, is the terrible, poignant irony that Robin Williams, who brought joy and laughter and light to millions of people for decades on end, could not keep himself from slipping into the darkness.

I think I knew deep down, even as I laughed at his antics and wept at his serious monologues, that Robin Williams struggled with depression, drug addiction, and alcoholism. A sort of dark duality simmering beneath the crackle of manic energy. He was the type of person who would leap onstage at a TED Conference and treat the audience to 20 minutes of improvised comedy while the staff resolved technical problems. He was also the type of person whose smile never quite reached his eyes. A glittering talent overlaying a well of melancholy.

Eventually, he drowned in that well. Depression is cruel, and it is random. It can be inherited, like blue eyes or bad teeth or schizophrenia. It can pop up at anytime, in any circumstance, in any person. It does not discriminate against age, or race, or gender. It cares nothing for money or fame. It is invisible, and it can be fatal. It is not a state of mind–it is a disease. Do you tell a man with a broken arm, man up? Do you say to a woman with cancer, count your blessings, look on the bright side? No. You help them get help for their maladies, and you support them along the way. There is help, too, for depression, but it must be asked for, and it must be given.

My heart is bruised for Robin Williams, and I can’t imagine the years of pain he endured. Without him, the world is a little darker, a little quieter, a little sadder. But he was not mine; he was not ours. That irrepressible energy, that childlike sparkle, that wit and that charm almost seemed to exist on a different plane, tapping into something extraordinary and magical and impossible. But everything has its end. He gave us what he had, and now he’s gone. And there are only so many words.

“O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done.” Goodbye, Robin Williams, and know we loved you well.

If you suffer from depression or have suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


"You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it." - RIP Robin Williams, July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014

Thank you Robin Williams, for everything you gave the world.

"You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it." - RIP Robin Williams, July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014

Thank you Robin Williams, for everything you gave the world.

(Source: timetravl, via emmiemears)

THE MASKED SONGBIRD, by Emmie Mears!

THE MASKED SONGBIRD, by Emmie MearsTHE MASKED SONGBIRD,
by Emmie Mears

Sometimes, when you meet a random roommate on Craigslist and move in with them, they wind up stealing your food or refusing to take out the trash or throwing all-night ragers in your living room. And other times–if you’re reallllllyyy lucky–they become successful writers and bloggers who go on to found websites and publish books.

Emmie, as you may have guessed, is the latter kind of roommate. United by Craigslist, we bonded over our shared Celtic heritage, our love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and our aspirations to become writers. Although we no longer cohabitate, Emmie and I have kept in touch for years, and I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that her first book, The Masked Songbird, is being released by Harlequin in July! Set in Scotland on the eve of the Scottish Independence Referendum, the novel tells the story of Gwen Maule, a young woman who develops powers after she accidentally drinks a strange beverage.

Here’s Emmie to tell you a little bit more about herself, and her new book! Make sure to snag a copy of The Masked Songbird on July 1st–you can preorder it HERE!

1. Hello Emmie! Thanks for being here. I’m so excited to get my grubby paws on The Masked Songbird at last! Tell us a bit about the titular superhero, Gwen Maule. What is the quality you most admire in her, and what do you think is her biggest flaw?

Even at her worst, Gwen is nothing if not tenacious. I think that’s probably her best quality and one I try to emulate. She keeps trying even when things go wrong. Even when her life sucks, she keeps getting up in the morning. I think her biggest flaw is thinking she can do it all herself. In spite of her superpowers, she can’t be everywhere at once.

2. Aside from Gwen, who is your favorite all-time female superhero, and why?

I think I have to say Rogue. I sat quietly for a moment after reading this question, and her name popped into my head. She has to deal with some really overwhelming fear and obstacles, but she still pushes through. Even when she doubts herself, she manages to keep going. She’s spectacular.

3. The Masked Songbird is set in Scotland on the eve of the Scottish Independence Referendum. What made you choose this particular backdrop for the story?

I’ve always loved Scotland, and with the referendum coming up, it was constantly on my mind. I thought it could make an interesting external manifestation of the transition in Gwen’s life: the need to make decisions, to know yourself and what you want, to learn your own strengths and see where you can go.

4. Is travel important to you, as both a human and a writer? Where in the world would you visit, if you could go anywhere?

Travel is vitally important to me on both levels of humanity and writerdom. I wouldn’t be who I am without the stamps in my passport, and I’m still thankful that I was able to do that in spite of my rather poverty-stricken upbringing. If I could go anywhere right this second, it’d be Japan to visit my best friend Julia.

5. Finally, just for fun, pick any one fictional character to spend a day with. Who is it? Where would you go, and what would you do?

I just surprised myself, because Dean Winchester’s name popped into my head. I would happily spend the day with him fighting some monsters and capping it off with each eating our own pie. Blueberry. Because nom.

emmieEmmie Mear, in the flesh!

Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country. Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor. Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

5 Favorite Literary Fathers

Being a father ain’t easy, and it’s nigh-on impossible to pin down the archetype of a great dad. But, literature has certainly tried.

As a follow-up to my Literary Mothers post, I thought I’d do a corresponding post about literary dads just in time for Father’s Day on Sunday. Literary fathers certainly run the gamut when it comes to character: they can be heroes or villains, role models or examples of how not to be, loving or distant, protective or abusive. But the men on my list all share one thing in common: they love their children, and want what’s best for them in this wild, complicated world.

And so, with no further ado (and in no particular order), here are my top 5 literary dads!

Joe GargeryGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens

Joe Gargery, played in a BBC miniseries by Shaun DooleyJoe Gargery, played in a BBC
miniseries by Shaun Dooley

Although technically Pip’s brother-in-law, Joe Gargery is the closest thing the boy has to a father.  Joe is passive, and often downtrodden by his overbearing wife, but he is also kind and loving and adores Pip as his own. He gives Pip much-needed affection, passes him extra food under the table, and when Mrs. Joe is on a rampage, he tries to protect Pip from her verbal and physical abuse. He loves and supports Pip unconditionally, even when Pip inherits a mysterious fortune, moves to London, and becomes an imperious, pretentious, unbearable ass. Now that’s what I call a good father!

Mr. MurryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

It’s pretty hard to not love a dad who nicknames his daughter, Meg, “Megaparsec.” Mr. Murry is absent for a large portion of the book, and the plot revolves around Meg’s drive to find her lost father, based on the certainty that he has not abandoned her and her family. Mr. Murry values Meg’s intelligence, strength, and inner beauty, and encourages his daughter to recognize those qualities within herself. Though his instinct is to protect her, he also recognizes that she’s smart and strong and has to figure some things out on her own.

Mr. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr. Bennet is not the perfect father. He tends to be dismissive and passive aggressive towards his wife, often holes himself up in his study for long periods of time, and lets his younger daughters run wild. But he can also be tolerant, kind, generous, and supportive, and at the end of the day desires nothing more for his brood of daughters than to live happy, carefree lives. He visits Mr. Bingley, even when he originally said he wouldm’t. He gives Elizabeth permission to refuse Mr. Collins even when her mother tries to force her to marry him. And–perhaps most importantly–he admits his mistakes with regards to Lydia and Mr. Wickham, and does everything in his power to rectify them.

Señor Sempere, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Although something of a background character for most of the book, Daniel Sempere’s widowed father is integral to the story. He introduces his only son to the most important thing in their lives; books. Shortly after the tragic death of his wife, Sempere takes Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinthine homage to bibliophilia that shapes his son’s childhood and sets him on a very particular path through life. Señor Sempere may be quiet and mild-mannered, but he cares deeply for his only son, making whatever sacrifices necessary to improve Daniel’s life.

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Atticus Finch, famously played by Gregory PeckAtticus Finch, famously played
by Gregory Peck

This list would not be complete without Atticus Finch, hands down the most admired and beloved of literary fathers. A single father in a prejudiced, backwards Southern town, Atticus raises his two children, Scout and Jem, with integrity, honesty, bravery, and love. He teaches them, through example, that might does not make right; that morality is something that springs from a person’s own conscience; and that you can’t judge anyone until you’ve climbed into their skin and walked around in it. And on top of all that, he loves his children for who they are, and encourages them daily to be themselves without worrying what people think.

Happy Father’s day, to all the dads out there!

Do you have any favorite literary dads? Add yours to the list in the comment section below?

4 Fairy Tales I’d Rather See Adapted

Maleficent.  Image belongs to Disney.Angelina Jolie as Maleficent.
Image belongs to Disney.

Unless you’ve made yourself a nice, cozy home beneath a rock somewhere, you’ll know that the last few years have witnessed a veritable explosion of TV and film-based adaptations of classic fairy tales. ABC’s Once Upon a Time indiscriminately mashes together every fairy-tale character ever into one small town. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman both attempted to rejuvenate the Snow White story. Beauty and the Beast, on the CW, is a modern retelling of the classic “beauty is only skin deep” narrative.  And most recently, Maleficent seeks to rehabilitate the titular villain from Sleeping Beauty.

But for the most part, all of these shows start where the Disney versions left off. Well, I’ve got news for you, folks: Disney’s fairy tale mythology is pretty different than the original versions of most fairy tales. The collected folk stories of the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen often ended in misery, tragedy, and violence. So, in the spirit of contrarianism, I thought I’d put together a list of all the creep-tastic original versions of fairy tales that I’d rather see adapted to the big screen than yet another Disney-fied mush-fest.

Bluebeard

THOSE EYES, THOUGH.THOSE EYES, THOUGH.

Although no one knows what became of Bluebeard’s previous wives, he somehow entices a young woman to marry him. He gives her the keys to all the rooms in his castle, including one small room which he adamantly forbids her from ever entering for any reason (bad move). Predictably, the moment Mr. Bluebeard goes out of town his young wife heads straight for the forbidden room, only to find it awash in blood and the carcasses of Bluebeard’s former wives hanging from hooks in the ceiling.

The Hollywood adaptation of this classic boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl romcom will star George Clooney as our wise-cracking anti-hero and Scarlett Johansson as his headstrong wife.

The Girl Without Hands

The Devil offers the miller vast wealth for whatever stands behind his mill. Unfortunately, it’s not the apple tree the miller assumed he meant; it’s the miller’s daughter. But the girl is too pure for the Devil to steal away, so he convinces the miller to chop off his own daughter’s hands. She is still too good and pure. Later, she marries a king and bears him a child while the king is off at war, but the Devil tampers with some letters and convinces the king through deceit to try and kill his own handless wife and their heir. All’s well that end’s well?

This animated family-friendly comedy of errors will feature the voices of Kristen Bell as the Girl Without Hands and Seth McFarland as the Devil.

The Wild Swans

They wore crowns so everyone would know  they were still princes, I guess.They wore crowns so everyone would know
they were still princes, I guess.

The King’s new wife turns out to be a witch (surprise!) and spitefully curses her eleven stepsons to turn into swans and forces them to fly away. The only way for their sister, the princess, to break the curse is for her to gather stinging nettles from graveyards and sew the nettles into shirts. Oh, and on top of perpetually blistered fingers, the princess also has to take a vow of silence while she works to break the curse. A King inevitably falls in love with the mute princess, and takes her to wife. But unfortunately, someone catches her gathering nettles in a graveyard and they try to have her burned at the stake as a witch.

This serious foreign film about familial devotion and strength under pressure will star Audrey Tatou as the princess and Gaspard Ulliel as all eleven swan brothers.

Allerleirauh

When the King’s wife dies, he declares he will only remarry someone who can match the late queen’s peerless beauty. Unfortunately, someone does; the King’s daughter. Understandably, the princess doesn’t want to marry dear-old-Dad, so she tries to forestall the wedding by requesting impossible gowns sewn for her: one silver as the moon, one as golden as the sun, one as dazzling as the stars, and one made out of donkey skin (?). The king has them made, however, so the princess is forced to escape the castle to a far off land, where she works as a scullery maid while refusing to ever remove her donkey costume.

Wes Anderson will direct this quirky indie comedy about coming-of-age and questionable fashion choices.

Do you have any favorite creepy fairy tales? Which fairy tale would you like to see adapted to the big screen? Leave you thoughts in the comment section below!

5 Favorite Literary Mothers

Oh, hello there! I just finished a classic novel featuring a pretty awesome mom character, so even though I’m a few days late for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d put together a list of the literary mothers who, in my opinion, embody great maternal instincts.

As James Joyce once wrote, “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.” And that is true for all of the women on this list: they love their children. Some of these women are kind and nurturing, some of these women are fierce and protective, and some of them are difficult and dramatic, but they all share one important role: when it comes right down to it, they’d do anything and everything for their children.

Margaret March aka Marmee, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

MarmeeMarmee, portrayed by Susan Sarandon

Although Marmee can come across as somewhat saccharine to a mature reader, to a young reader the March girls’ sweet mother embodies everything a mother ought to be. She nurtures and cares for her gaggle of girls while her husband is away fighting in the Civil War, with little money and few resources. She shapes her girls’ educations around her own strong moral code, and unlike some mothers on this list, never encourages them to marry for money. And all this without a frown or unkind word! Patience, thy name is Marmee.

Mrs Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel doesn’t always have the kindest thoughts about her mom; Mrs Lancaster is kind of the definition of a helicopter parent. But can you blame her? Her only daughter is slowly dying of cancer. She has given up nearly everything else in her life to become a stay-at-home mom for Hazel, taking care of all the medical details while also acting as emotional and social support for her ailing daughter. Mrs Lancaster goes out of her way to make celebrations big, to encourage Hazel to make the most of each day, and to be unafraid when facing the short time she has left. Go Mrs L!

Mrs Bennet, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Moooom! You’re embarrassing me!”

Garrulous, self-absorbed and socially inept, Mrs Bennet wants nothing more than to see all five of her daughters married off to men with at least five thousands pounds a year. She spends a good portion of the book whinging, kvetching, and generally getting on everyone’s nerves, but beneath Austen’s humorous and somewhat insulting characterization is a mother deeply anxious for her children’s futures. If only she could realize that all her plotting is doing more harm than good!

Topaz, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Although technically a stepmother to Cassandra, Rose, and Thomas, Topaz is artistic and kind and competent and hard-working and a little bit mad. Her favorite pastime may be communing with nature while wearing nothing but a pair of wellies, but she also goes to bat for the Mortmain girls time and again, counting pennies and sewing crinolines and dyeing old tea-gowns so that they might have a shot at a better future. And all this while putting up with Mr. Mortmain at his most ineffectual and Rose at her most noxious, in a crumbling, dripping ruin of a castle! Phew! Go Topaz!

Molly WeasleyHarry Potter series by J K Rowling

“Not my daughter, you bitch!”

Molly Weasley ought to be sainted: she raised seven children in a rambling, magical house with barely any money and no help from her absent-minded dolt of a husband. And when she meets orphan Harry on Platform 9 3/4, she wastes no time in taking him under her already extended wing. When she discovers Harry won’t receive any gifts at the holidays, Molly knits Harry one of her famous sweaters, and continues to send one every year afterward. But aside from being a generous surrogate mom to Harry, Molly is also a staunch defender of good, a fearsome opponent in battle, and a furious protector of all her children.

Who are your favorite literary moms? Share your thoughts in the comments below!