reading, writing, and the opening paragraphs of Thunder at Twilight

John and Aeryn

Farscape. You knew that was coming, right?

Watched episode Green-Eyed Monster on dvd last night, listening to the commentary by Ben Browder, who plays John Crichton and also wrote this particular episode. Listening to storytellers talk about the creative process is something that I could do forever. This particular episode is interesting because it’s mostly about the drama that goes on around the triangle of John, Aeryn and Crais, the slightly-off-center former PeaceKeeper commander who lusts for (as Ben Browder puts it) John’s girl. It’s this episode where John and Aeryn both make the decision to pursue the relationship, and it’s handled beautifully.

Ben Browder, in his commentary, seems somewhat uneasy about his own work; he keeps refering to himself as schmaltzy, when in fact there’s a wonderful mixture of strong emotion and tentativeness in the way John and Aeryn approach each other. You know the old addage about how porcupines mate; you can see it happening here.

Sense & SensibilityAnother movie/dvd to watch again and again, with or without the commentary, is Sense and Sensibility. I have great respect for everyone associated with this adapation, from Ang Lee (the director) to each and every minor character. But I’m in awe of Emma Thompson‘s work on the screenplay, and I recommend her commentary on the dvd very highly.

I’ve been writing very little, but thinking a lot. And reading constantly, about islands in the Caribbean just now.

It occurs to me that readers might get a little panicky, thinking that I’m sending the Bonners off to an island somewhere for the duration of book five in the series. Let me say: that’s not the case. The first few chapters of Queen of Swords do take place on such an island, but only a subset of the family is there.

I’m aware that many of my readers don’t like it when I take the action outside of upper NY state, but I hope they’ll stick with me. Most of novel five takes place in New Orleans and environs, with occasional peaks back at what’s going on in Paradise. New Orleans in 1814 was an incredible place, and I hope I’ll do it justice. Certainly I know my characters are all wound up about it.

Another problem I should mention: since there’s such a long gap between the time I finish a novel and the time the readers get to see it, I forget sometimes what they know already and what they don’t. I try very hard not to let spoilers into my discussions, but I may slip in a small way sometimes.

I have to go now and draw a map. Luke is requesting it.

And here’s the opening page of Thunder at Twilight, something I’ve been promising the members of the discussion board at yahoo for a while. See the “continue reading” link at the bottom of this post.

Excerpt: Thunder at Twilight. Forthcoming Bantam Books. Copyright Sara Donati. All Rights Reserved: no part of this text may be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author.

Prologue: Jennet

Late Spring 1812
Carryckcastle, Annandale, Scotland

Set free by the death of a husband she had not wanted nor ever learned to love, Jennet Scott Huntar of Carryckcastle left home for the new world on her twenty-eighth birthday.

Jennet told her mother and her brother and her husband’s grieving family that she had chosen Montreal for practical reasons, and she ticked them off on her fingers: the family’s extensive holdings, the many friends and business associates to look after her, and the fact that Montreal was the closest city to the Bonner cousins in New-York State. These reasons, so rationally presented, fooled no one, not even herself: in a clan of men and women to whom reserve and restraint were as natural as breathing, Jennet was an oddity, unable to hide what she was feeling or even to try.

It was true that she was eager to see the cousins who lived deep in the wilderness of the endless forests in the state of New-York, but the first and most important truth was this: Jennet went to Montreal in pursuit of Luke Bonner, a distant cousin and the man she should have married instead of good-hearted, timid, practical and predictable Ewan Huntar, who had gone to sleep one spring night and died as neatly and quietly as he had lived. Of a bleeding on the brain, the doctor had announced firmly, to stop any rumors or speculations before they could start.

And there was another truth, a crucial one. Jennet had not seen Luke Bonner in ten years, but in all that time he had never married. A handsome young man from a well-respected family, with a quick laugh and a considerable fortune, all of his own making; he could have married fifty times over, and yet he had not. It was both an invitation, and a challenge. One that Jennet could not ignore.

14 Replies to “reading, writing, and the opening paragraphs of Thunder at Twilight”

  1. This is wonderful…I’ll be first on line when this books comes out…I’ve waited so long for the 4th in a wonderful wonderful series. Sara Donati is a great writer. I’ve read her books over and over again and still never tire of them. To hear of Elizabeth and Nathaniel again is like coming home.

  2. Sara,
    Oh my! This excerpt is even better then a Cubs Win! (I hope they win tonight.) I get nervous at your jumps in the story. Don’t get me wrong… I love every step you take. I’m still worried about Hannah, and I KNOW you’ll fill us in -I’m just greedy and want it now. :) Once again, in only a few lines you’ve managed to to take us into the Bonner fold. I love the mystery, maturity, and desire that seep through these opening paragraphs. Thank you. Thank you. The wait for the Cubs to get in the play-offs is much easier then waiting for Thunder at Twilight…I know it will be worth it.

  3. This is wonderful. Having thought and thought what the next book could be about, this is the last path I would have thought. In fact I wouldn’t have thought it at all but after reading the excerpt I know I’m going to love it too. I was so afraid things might get a little stale since that happens alot in other series, but no way will this be boring. Even as Elizabeth and Nathaniel age there are so many other characters to keep things hopping. Thank you so much for giving us this little teaser.

  4. Dear Sara,

    LOVE your books! Can’t wait for the 4th to come out.

    I live in the part of New York State in which the books take place. I live about 10 miles from the Mohawk River and about 30 minutes drive from the Great Sacandaga. Sometimes it seems possible to walk outside my door and run into the Bonner family. I like to believe that in some magic place they could have been my ancestors.

    Thank you for so beautifully describing my part of this great state. Not all New Yorkers are from “The City”!

    Keep up the great work!

    Wendy Pinder

  5. What an incredible teaser! I should never read excerpts…but I get suckered into taking a peek and POW, I want to whole enchilada, now!!! I just can’t wait, I have no patience.

  6. I have been trying not to look at these spoilers but have finally given in to temptation. How glad I am that I did. I love the character of Jennet and always hoped she would be included in this next book.I can’t wait to what unfolds for her and all the other people in this wonderful story

  7. The prologue sounds very enticing. I don’t know if I can patiently wait for the August release.
    It took me forever to finish the 3rd book; my husband said that it was intentional as I couldn’t bear it ending. He’s probably right!

  8. I have to agree with you on SeNSe & SeNSiBiLiTy… EMMA THOMPSoN is a GReAT ACTReSS… she did an AWeSOMe job in HBO’s ANGELS IN AMERICA. GReAT ACTReSS… GReAT WRiTeR, ToO!

    THiS LoOKs VeRA iNTeRESTiNG… CANNOT waiT to read iT!!! I DO LOVE MAPs… LuKe SOUNDs LikE my KiNDa’ guy! LOL!

    Keep up the WONDeRFUL WORD-PAiNTiNG that you do, SaRA… i am LOOKiNG forward to the publication of this next book.

    And the SAGA… CoNTiNUEs….

  9. I am thrilled that Luke and Jennet are back – and together! I thought that’s what you were hinting at early in Lake in the Clouds and was so disappointed when you seemed to drop the storyline mid-way with the announcement that Jennet had married someone else. Sorry for doubting you!! Now, if you’ll just bring Liam back too I can truly be a happy girl!

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