Kage Baker just wanted to tell stories, you know?
She was a born story-teller. Speculations, ideas, alternative endings and plots bubbled constantly to the forefront of her mind, and she was one of those people whose brain automatically cast it all into clear sentences. She was a raconteuse nonpareil. She could enthrall an audience, make them laugh, weep, despair and look fearfully over their shoulders into the suddenly menacing dark …
But Kage was also shy and had a quiet voice. Oh, once she knew you and relaxed in your company, she was a lively and energetic conversationalist – but she was always easily drowned out. It was easy to talk right over her. And since years of this had left her with a “hit and run victim” reaction, she just withdrew into her super-watchful shell whenever it happened. You might find yourself caricatured in a story sometime in the future, but you might never hear a tale from Kage again.
She hated it with a passion. A quiet, low-voiced, muttered passion. “I hate it with the heat of a thousand electric candles!” she yelled once in frustration at a riotous family party. It cracked me up, but I was the only one who heard it. Which pretty much proved her point.
It was one of the big reasons she became a writer. That was the only way to not be interrupted. Oh, anyone could refuse to read, or put down the book, or dislike it even if they did read it. But they couldn’t get in the way of the story. They couldn’t stop the narrative flow. They could only step out of that particular river, losing their part in it entirely – cutting off their ears to spite their head*, as Kage put it.
Her brag shelf – which was an entire 4-shelf bookcase by the time she died – was her personal shrine to uninterrupted conversations. She had said all this, the way she wanted to say it, and no one could put a stop to it. It would always be there.
She gloated over the Library of Congress numbers in the fronts of her books.
Nonetheless, in her last weeks, she repeatedly asked me to make sure she was not forgotten. If I was somewhat insane by the time Kage died, (and I am pretty sure I was) this is one of the larger reasons. Every time she asked, it was a knife in my heart.
However, actually doing it has been … good. Not always easy, but a grand old time. And there are so many people – like you, Dear Readers – who want to join in!
Today is Tuesday. That makes it Stefan Raets Day at tor.com, where the second edition of his Kage Baker Company Reread (Chapters 2-4) posted today:
He’s doing a lovely job – I especially like the way he first gives a tidy recap of the basic plot, then analyses its details, foreshadowings, implications and twists. I appreciate the way he ponders the confusing bits (they do exist, and tormented Kage). I like the way he gets the jokes. And not once has he used the phrase “wry wit”!
Go read his post. It’s cool.
And Kage’s voice goes on.
*The actual phrase is cutting off your nose to spite your face. But Kage’s books didn’t come with Smell-O-Vision, so she changed it …