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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Leslie D. Soule

Tina Turner sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and in doing so, caused her listeners to ask the same question, applying it to their own lives. This song is one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the reason for this may be that the song’s message is one that people can easily relate to. For example, when I broke up with a boyfriend of mine and he asked me, “Don’t you love me?” I found myself wanting to sing the song’s signature line to him – “What’s love got to do – got to do with it?” because with relationships, love is necessary, and yet love isn’t enough to keep a relationship going. You’ve also got to have trust, security, maturity, and so many other things all working together.

So for me, the song is about the deeper issues that love intermingles with, and it’s about how all-pervasive the idea of love is. That’s why in the process of writing, it seems that you can’t skirt around the issue of love and you have to deal with it one way or another with what you’re writing. That being said, love is one of those things that’s difficult for me to write about. Writing is such an expressive form of art, that it’s hard to open yourself up enough to write honestly about love.

Love is one of those ideas that becomes a base concept for other branches as well – under the general heading of “love” you’ve got self-love, which is different from a relationship-type love with a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, which is different from the love of family members, which is different from the love of ideas, the love of a country, a planet (which I delve a bit into with my short story “Worlds Divide”), etc.

In short, love has everything to do with it, if “it” means your story. Love is what connects characters, drives them apart, drives them to act the way they do, etc. However, love isn’t the only driving force you have to delve into, and undoubtedly won’t be the only motivations that your characters must have. So in answer to the question, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” I offer the ambiguous answer: Everything, and nothing, all at once.

Thank you for having me as your guest! If you’d like to be entered in the gift card giveaway, please leave your name and e-mail in your comment post. 🙂

Leslie Soule lives in Sacramento, California. Fallenwood is her first fantasy novel. She has received her B.A. in English from Sacramento State University and is currently working on her Master’s degree in English at National University.

Fallenwood—a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. When 23-year-old Ash is thrust into the middle of Fallenwood’s power struggles, she is also forced to face her own inner battles. Life on Earth was hard enough on Ash, who is locked in grief for her stepfather. Now, the fate of Fallenwood rests on her shoulders. She must destroy the Great Crystal—the catalyst for all the land’s magic. As the kingdoms prepare for war, Ash must look inside to find the power to save the world, and herself.


Mythic Journeys and Men Who Stare At Goats
By Leslie D. Soule

So I watched the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney. I didn’t think I’d like this movie, but it promised to be quirky, if nothing else – so I gave it a shot and watched it. Well, it didn’t take long before I began to recognize elements of the mythic “hero’s journey” in the plot. Also, it did have its funny moments – like seeing Ewan McGregor, Mr. Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, saying “But I don’t even know what a Jedi IS!”

Uh huh. Sure ya don’t. *wink*

Basically, the hero’s journey is the cycle that a character goes through in their quest to become a better version of themselves (or a worse version, if you’re like Darth Vader). In the beginning, we are introduced to someone who has either lost their way or has yet to find it. They are called to action, and usually they meet up with some sort of older, mentor figure. This stage is important because the hero is still weak and vulnerable. The mentor provides guidance and protection. But eventually, the mentor must leave and it is up to the hero to take over. Of course, this is after they’ve together hit a metaphorical “rock bottom” of existence and can go no further. Writers have come up with all sorts of clever ways to save their heroes from the pit of despair, including unbelievable and often hilarious incidences of Deus Ex Machina where they are saved by an incredibly fortunate turn of events.

Then it’s time for the EPIC BATTLE, where the forces of good must inevitably win or I throw the popcorn bucket at the movie screen and demand my ten dollars back. Just kidding.

But if you want to see an example of how the hero’s journey goes, leave a comment telling me what your favorite childhood television show was, and you’ll be entered to win an ebook copy of my mythological short story “Trial By Fire,” which released June 29.


Growing A Shakespeare Garden
By Leslie D. Soule

Originally, I was going to write about the plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s elf-kingdom of Lothlorien, but upon finding that his flora is all invented and native to Middle-Earth, I realized that this quest was in vain. However, I’d heard about people planting “Shakespeare gardens” – which are just basically gardens filled with the plants that the Bard has mentioned in his plays.

One of the scenes that instantly comes to mind is the scene in Hamlet where Ophelia’s been driven crazy by the murder of her father Polonius. She gives us a grocery list of plants and their symbolic meanings.

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end,–“
~Act IV, Scene V, Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

She mentions rosemary, fennel, and rue. Anyone who’s cooked with herbs ought to recognize rosemary and fennel. Rue stumped me though, and I had to do an internet search, which revealed that rue is “A European strong-scented perennial herb with grey-green bitter-tasting leaves.” So planting according to this passage would yield a garden that’s half filled with herbs and half filled with flowers. Shakespeare also mentions roses, in Romeo and Juliet, and in many of his sonnets.

Juliet ponders the silly fact that a mere name should keep her from her Romeo when she says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

There are many types of roses out there, and there is actually a variety of rose that has been dubbed the “William Shakespeare rose”. It is a rose with a deep, blushing pink color and an abundance of petals.

If roses are your preference, you could set aside a section of your Shakespeare garden for red and white roses, as a nod to the historical Wars of the Roses, waged for the throne of England. The houses of Lancaster and York fought a series of civil wars that lasted from 1455 to 1485. Be sure to label the red roses with a “Lancaster” marker and the white roses with a “York” marker.

I was hoping Shakespeare mentioned mint somewhere in his works, because when I create my own Shakespeare garden, I would love to have this fragrant, tasty herb as a part of it. I was delighted to discover that he does mention it in The Winter’s Tale – a play renowned for the line, “Exeunt, pursued by a bear,” – which in my humble opinion is the best example of Deus Ex Machina in all of literature.

“Here’s flowers for you; hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram.”
~The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Scene 4.

Although the witches of Macbeth add “root of hemlock, digged i’ the dark” to their potion, I wouldn’t recommend planting it on purpose. I volunteer at a nature center here in Sacramento, California, and we try to pull up as much hemlock as humanly possible because not only is it an invasive species and one that spreads wildly, but it is extremely poisonous. Legend has it that Socrates was made to die by drinking tea laced with hemlock.

So that should get you started with a basic Shakespeare garden. To add more plants, simply look through the Bard’s work and see what flora is mentioned and then check if it’s available in your local area. Statues, signs, and markers can be added and….Voila! You have yourself a Shakespeare garden.

Leslie Soule lives in Sacramento, California. Fallenwood is her first fantasy novel. She has received her B.A. in English from Sacramento State University and is currently working on her Master’s degree in English at National University.


The Tortured Hero

Happy stories where everything goes right, rarely make for interesting reading material. Thus, it becomes necessary for an author to introduce the element of conflict. Personally, I have a hard time with creating characters who have the right amount of torment in their lives to make it interesting without going overboard. I tend to err on the side of caution when this difficulty arises, coddling my characters because I grow attached to them. It’s hard for me to like the idea of introducing pain into my work. I’m the kind of person who cringes at surgery shows on television and sympathizes with characters who suffer, to the point where painful movie scenes force me to turn away.

And yet, I know that as a writer, being too overprotective of my characters will ultimately be detrimental to my work.

I was reminded of this the other day, when a friend and I began discussing how we’d gotten various scars. I began to realize that to some extent, our scars tells the story of who we are and where we’ve been. So I think one of the major challenges in writing a believable character is to give them scars, both physically and emotionally.

While I was talking with my friend, it also struck me that the two do not necessarily have to be separate – physical and emotional scars. As I began speaking to him about a scar I’d gotten from the spikes on top of a barbed wire fence, strong feelings of insecurity began to arise, like I was making myself vulnerable. It wasn’t because of anything he’d done, but it was connected to times in my past when I’d opened myself up to someone, only to be ridiculed or misunderstood. So our scars, physical and emotional, are inescapable reminders of who we are. As a writer, you don’t have to go overboard with torture, but be sure to give them scars.

Bio: Leslie Soule is the author of the fantasy novel Fallenwood, soon to be released by Decadent Publishing.