Being Dunyazade

Kage Baker felt that accessorizing was a vital component of life. All tasks and experiences, she believed, were enhanced by having the appropriate add-ons to hand: the right idols, the right music, the right snacks. The idea was to broaden and enhance an  already-favourable ambiance,  and thus extend its beneficial influence.

Feng shui appealed to her; she tried several of its staples, and added the ones that seemed to work to her own life. Elephants, jade, doors at cardinal points, scarlet and gold in appropriate places; these joined her personal juju of old concert tickets, sea water, white shoes and gold earrings. No crystals near her, especially not amethyst or quartz: they gave her migraines. A Bebe from a King’s Cake, wind-up animals, pieces of shipwreck – there was one carved into a door guard by the front door, and another large spar built into the frame of her bed.

Some of it was for moods, some of it was for relaxation and/or focus. Some of it was practical magic. It worked for Kage. I don’t know why …

Kage encouraged me all the time to develop a suite of accessories that would similarly aid me in creative endeavours; the same way I nagged her to take feverfew to fend off her headaches. We each considered these to be sensible, common-sense solutions for certain domestic problems … they both worked for Kage. They didn’t work for me.

The closest I’ve gotten to helpful juju is my writing cap. I do find that it’s easier to write, especially to begin writing, if I am wearing my black and silver smoking cap. As long as the tassel is firmly to the back … I assume it’s an automatic reflex; I’ve set it up on an unconscious level as a positive stimulus.  But you know what Kage would say?

You don’t need ‘positive stimulus’, you maroon, she would say. You need magic!

I’m don’t know any magic, though. Kage played a few games of Free Cell before she settled down to write, and checked certain web sites to get into the right groove: animated gifs, mostly. I just research plot points – I print a few things, to have on immediate hand for visual reference, but mostly it’s all in my head.

It does slow me down a little, because I then have to correlate, cross-file and regress to the mean. Or something of that nature. If I thought magic would help, I’d try it – but honestly, Dear Readers, I’ve just never gone in near as much for talismans as Kage did.

Dunyazade must have had problems like this. You know her, Dear Readers; she was Scheherezade’s little sister, often assumed to be an invisible listener in the royal bed chambre … Not only was Scheherazade a hard act to follow, her sister must have wondered – how the hell did she do it? What was the secret?

There is no indication that Dunyazade ever found out.

Me, I have found it necessary today to do some in depth research on Charlotte. I’m collecting my own talismans, I think. Why is she Charlotte? What does she look like? There’s been a face in my mind for some time, two of them, really – one a little girl, and one a scowling teenager. It took me a while to find them again, though, from where I had first seen them and been at once haunted by their sea-water eyes …

They’re Neanderthals. You probably suspected that, Dear Readers, when Charlotte announced her birth in England 40,000 years ago. There weren’t many folks there during the last few glacials and interglacials. Some of them were Neanderthals.

Her home has solidified, too; the soft green hills rising above the River Elwy, near Cefn Meiriadog. It’s in Wales, and Neanderthals once lived there, to judge by the hand axes and some teeth.  Cefn is a village. Its name means  “the side of a hill”; the Meiriadog in question is Saint Meriadoc.

I find myself thinking of Charlotte as a sort of proto-Took  or Brandybuck … short and stocky and round-faced, with no chin to speak of, but ice-water eyes and pale red hair over the gentle double curve of her brow. I think she’s pretty. I don’t know what she thinks yet.

But I will soon.


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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4 Responses to Being Dunyazade

  1. Kara says:

    I wonder if whoever recruited her was a Bronte fan. Loved meeting the happy child-Charlotte running around the fields. Can’t wait to see the drama that will come with sulky teenage cyborg Charlotte!


  2. Kate says:

    I suspect Charlotte’s recruiter was a Bronte fan. And something of an Anglophile. The name means “a free woman”, being the feminized version of Charles “a free man”. I am simply very fond of the name, and it came at once to mind when I saw her face.


  3. Lynn says:

    “The closest I’ve gotten to helpful juju is my writing cap.”

    I know why. Because your writing cap is your green umbrella. If you remember through the mists of time, Dennis Day taught us that we needed to have a green umbrella (or red polka-dot boxing shorts) to get into character. That one piece of business we physically put on each day to help us find who we alternately are at any given time. Your writing cap gets you into the character of the writer and so you can write. You are an actor, after all.


    • Kate says:

      I think you must be correct, Lynn. I can hear Richard Dreyfuss in my mind, drawing himself up proudly as the Player King, and declaring: “We’re actors! We’re the OPPOSITE of people!”


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