Answers, the First!

OK, I think I’ve waited long enough — it’s time to start answering the questions from Ask Me Anything! February 2012. And feel free to still ask, if you like…it’s the 10th anniversary month here, so let’s make this one special! If there’s something you’ve always wondered about Yours Truly, or something you’ve always wondered what Yours Truly thought about it, or something you’ve never wondered about Yours Truly but it just occurred to you to ask, go for it!

My good old college friend (and husband of another good old college friend) Aaron asks: As a very slow reader (I started reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy in October and am just nearing the end. And, that is a pretty good pace for me), with a decent sized list of books on the “need to get to” list, should I add the Song of Ice and Fire series?

Krista and I are just finishing up the first season of the HBO adaptation, and have loved it, but it feels like so much is missing.

I just finished A Clash of Kings the other day (blog post forthcoming), and I do recommend it, thus far. My admiration of the series’s first two books remains untouched; I’m most nervous now about the next two (as well as the fifth one, which I’ve never read yet), because I didn’t like those ones as much the first time through. For a slow reader, these books do represent quite an investment — I mean, look at these things! Since paginations differ, the best way to gauge lengths of books is word count, and check out the numbers on this site. Assuming these are accurate, and I don’t see reason to doubt it offhand, the entirety of The Lord of the Rings checks in at approximately 473,000 words, while just the first two of GRRM’s Ice and Fire books top 610,000 words. A Storm of Swords, GRRM’s Book Three, is 404,000 words…meaning, that one book is a short novel shy of the entire Lord of the Rings. Wow.

Of course, word count isn’t everything. Martin’s prose, when he’s on his game, can really propel the reader forward, in my experience; his dialogue can absolutely crackle, and the device of each chapter being told from the point of view of a different character is extremely effective when one gets used to it — one effect I’m rediscovering is that I’ll finish a chapter for a character I really like, Jon Snow for example, and then decide to keep reading until I get back to Jon Snow. What GRRM does, language-wise, is rarely as dense and descriptive-heavy as JRRT. So this is definitely a “Your mileage may vary” kind of thing.

As for the differences between the books and the teevee adaptations, I honestly don’t know, as I haven’t yet watched the teevee show beyond the first episode. I do plan to, though.

(BTW, on the subject of word counts — I’m really hoping to bring the first draft of Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title) in at no more than 180,000 words, with a further eye to cutting at least ten percent of the words upon the edit. We’ll see!

Bill asks: Have you kept up your chops? Do you play anything besides trumpet?

Sadly, no. I haven’t touched the trumpet since I played in a friend’s wedding — Aaron of Question Number One’s wedding, actually! — and that was in 1995 or thereabouts. Time and opportunities available tend to make it hard to do such things…not that there are no opportunities, but life has that odd way of moving on, and other interests surge forward, arise anew (when we have space to do so, one day, I plan to take up woodworking and carpentry), or resurface in a big way (I loved writing as a kid several years before I knew what music even was). My musical life now is pretty much as a listener, only. But that’s fine for me; at least my musical training earlier in life has equipped me to appreciate music on a level that would be harder to attain had I never touched an instrument.

As for other instruments, I played the piano in high school and college. I do wish I had devoted more effort to the piano, because in all honesty, I was actually fairly decent at it. But I never took the piano as seriously as I took the trumpet, so I never got good enough at it to do more than scratch a surface. I consider that one of the missed opportunities of my life. I suppose I should write a post about my piano teachers one of these years….

More answers to come, and feel free to ask more, if you like!

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