Amanda and Megan continue with their holiday conversation today, in a bid to avoid actually, y’know, working on writing or wrapping those presents or baking those cookies.
Amanda: Okay, so here is the story of one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received (a bit like the BB gun in The Christmas Story)–I got something called “Fashion Plates” when I was about 6 or 7. These were bumpy little plastic plates, pics of various dresses, tops, skirts, etc. You could slide them into a frame, cover them with a piece of paper, and draw over them (like brass rubbings of tombstones). I could create my very own fashionable outfits, in all sorts of colors! (As long as the color was included in the Special Pencils that came with it, that is). Sadly, the clothes were actually quite ugly, and I often put together ensembles worthy of Go Fug Yourself, but I loved it. I think it started me on the road to fashion obsession…
And right now I am obsessed with a Barielle nail polish (I think it’s only available at CVS) called, wonderfully, “Misbehaving Mistress.” It’s a great graphite gray, perfect for holiday dress-up but not as predictable as red.
And I am telling everyone to run to the movies and see Rachel Getting Married. I know sometimes I like some sorta crappy movies for the wrong reasons (great costumes, hunky actors, whatever), but this was excellent. A great movie about the nature of families, loss, guilt, love–and with a fabulous wedding. When I get married, I must have samba dancers at the reception. And I was surprised by how terrific Anne Hathaway was.
What are you obsessed with lately?
Megan: I am obsessed with wringing every last bit of BBC drama from my Netflix subscription (a birthday gift, btw!). I’ve been watching Damian Lewis in The Forsyte Saga, and have many more family tragedies in the queue.
Amanda: Oh, yes, more family tragedy please! (as long as it’s just in the movies, natch). I also loved The Forsyte Saga (part one more than part two–Fleur got on my nerves). Don’t you just love Irene’s hats? And that red velvet gown?
Megan: I thought she was just lovely. Great speaking voice, too!
Amanda: I, too, am utterly addicted to Netflix. Currently there are something like 79 movies in the queue, but I’m always looking for more! I just finished Our Mutual Friend, and could not figure out where I had seen that psychotic schoolteacher before…
(Note from Megan: Psychotic Schoolteacher sounds like a good name for an indie-rock band! Amanda: I concur.)
Anyway, then the new Sense and Sensibility came on last night on PBS, and it turns out he was Colonel Brandon! He was sorta psychotic there, too, but in a better way. (Dominic Cooper still looked like an untrustworthy toad, though. Maybe there should have been more shirtless moments, like in Mamma Mia. One of those craptastic movies I loved, btw. Can’t wait for the DVD)
So, what’s next on your Netflix list?
Megan: I’ve got Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio, starring a very young, frequently naked Sean Bean, heading my way. Note from Amanda: I put this one on my own queue immediately. Next up is perhaps Dragonwyck, which I talked about last week, starring Vincent Price, based on an Anya Seton novel. Maybe Mayor of Casterbridge with Ciaran Hinds? Not sure, because that pesky Spouse isn’t as avidly interested in this fine BBC output as I am. So, Gone Baby Gone is there, as is Drunken Master II and the Director’s Cut of Bladerunner. All things I want to see, too, but–there are British Men waiting to talk to me. (Hm, sounds like a business venture. Getting British men to do faux phone sex where they tell us how repressed and tortured they are, and how the love of a good woman could set them free. I’d pay for that)
Amanda: Me, too! Most definitely. Phone Sex for Historical Romance Addicts. Might be a new direction for us in this economy…
Speaking of which–tell us more about this nekkid Sean Bean. Wasn’t he the inspiration for one of your heroes?
Megan: Yeah, ’cause it’s really only one of three men who inspire me and my writing. Clive Owen, Sean Bean, and Richard Armitage. The book I’m in the midst of now is basically if Richard Sharpe got done a bad turn and met a woman who could actually keep him for longer than one book. I like writing someone who’s as bad-tempered as this hero, it’s fun saying the things I always long to say in real life.
And the contemporary I have in mind also features Mr. Bean (Sean, not the comedian one), only even sharper (ha!) than the Sharpe hero in the historical. In that book he’s a law student who makes money as a road manager for a band. My heroine is a bass player in a wedding band. Mayhem ensues. (I’ve just revealed my synopsis skills! Impressive, huh?)
Amanda: Hey, way better than mine! When I try to outline a story it comes out something like “It’s a Regency, or maybe Georgian. There’s this hero, he’s an actor–but not really, maybe he’s a spy or something. There’s a heroine, she does stuff, too. Maybe she’s a writer, or an opera singer. No, she raises Shetland ponies! They meet, and they hate each other, but not really. They have sex. Then interesting stuff happens before they get married. There’s a villain, too. But I’m not sure yet what he does. Maybe a rival breeder of Shetland ponies?”
I guess if the career as operators of a British Men Phone Sex ring falls through, we can’t get a job writing synopses. Sigh.
Megan: Probably not. But, Amanda, besides Orlando, who have you imagined as your hero?
Amanda: Well, my stable of heroes (ha! I love that image) is much wider than yours. The hero inspiration changes with each book, though Orlando is often there. (For High Seas Stowaway, I used lots of pics of him from Pirates of the Caribbean 3). For the WIP (my Elizabethan Christmas/Dancing With the Stars story–weird, I know, but stay tuned) it’s Apolo Anton Ohno, and for the Irish-set book I am starting after the new year, it’s Rupert Friend in Pride and Prejudice (because he is blond, and an officer in the British Army, and that’s what I could find). I need to find stories for Hugh Jackman and Javier Bardem, too.
For a story idea I have in the starting stages, I need a young-ish hero (he’s younger than the heroine), but am having a harder time with that. Maybe Dominic Cooper (in The Duchess, not S&S!), or Ed Westwick from Gossip Girl? Suggestions welcome, please.
Thus concludes Megan and Amanda’s Gossip Hour! For now, anyway. Now it’s your turn! What was your favorite holiday gift ever? What are your obsessions right now (movies, books, anything!)? And who are your favorite hero inspirations? (and suggestions for Amanda…)
And be sure and join us tomorrow as Deb Marlowe talks about her new book, An Improper Aristocrat!
I LOVED my Fashion Plates! HOURS, I spent on those, all those patterns! Hmm, perhaps this is related to my Project Runway fascination.
Actually, I tracked down a set and gave them as a gift last year. I don’t have many girls on my list, mostly boys, so I love giving stuff that I loved. Or stuff that I would have loved– My niece is sooo getting American Dolls when she’s old enough.
I had the Fashion Plates too! 🙂 I think I got it from a yard sale though. . . me, when I was 5ish, I told everyone in the world I think starting the summer before, I wanted the Barbie townhouse. Told anyone who’d listen. Or didn’t want to. Christmas morning, this really long box had my name on it. Now imagine Kevin in Home Alone after putting on the aftershave with his hands on his face, and that was me – but for a much happier reason, the Barbie townhouse! 🙂
Then a few years ago I got my first Rubber Duckie. Have lots of those now — it basically stems from my life long love of Ernie from Sesame Street. Still have to get the astronaut duckie though. One day. 😉
I’m shocked that Gerard Butler isn’t in stall one of your stables of heroes!(talk about Obsessions!–right, Lois?)
Anyhoo, I don’t recall having fashion plates. We used to design our own fashions for paperdolls, though.
One of my favorite gifts of all time was the Madame Alexander “Beth” doll (from Little Women). As a teenager I stupidly gave her away to the Thrift Shop. We were encouraged to get rid of our old toys whenever we moved and I was in that stage where owning dolls would have made me feel too juvenile. So I gave up Beth and all my Jill dolls and my Tiny Tears.
I am so happy there are others who have fond Fashion Plate memories, too! Deb, I also spent hours on that thing, and made some really crazy outfits. (BTW, the one present I am splurging on this year is an American Girl doll for a friend’s daughter. Her name is Samantha, and even though she is only 2 right now I heard the Samantha doll is being “retired” after Christmas! So I had to get her one)
Diane, that is so sad about the Beth doll! Those Madame Alexander’s are such great collectibles. I had a Maid Marian doll, in a pink satin gown. I think I still have her, actually. But I always wanted the Dorothy doll in the ruby slippers…
Lois, LOL on the Barbie townhouse!
“I’m shocked that Gerard Butler isn’t in stall one of your stables of heroes!”
Diane, I am absolutely sure he will appear in that stable one day very soon! 🙂 (btw, I recently got “Beowulf and Grendel” from Netflix. What a terrible movie, but he sure looked GOOD. Maybe I need to write a medieval…)
My best Christmas gift ever was the year my dad went to Newbury Comics and got my imports of Gang Of Four’s Entertainment, PiL’s Metal Box and some Bauhaus records. Really shaped my life; GoF’s Entertainment might be my favorite record ever.
And Amanda, how about James McAvoy as inspiration?
“And Amanda, how about James McAvoy as inspiration?”
Oh, yes! How could I forget him?? He would be perfect as my “younger man” hero…
I had Fashion Plates, too! Normally I was a total tomboy, preferring Breyer horses, blocks, Star Wars action figures, or just playing outside, but I loved Fashion Plates.
My hero inspirations have run heavily to the works of Joss Whedon. My first-ever manuscript’s hero looked like a younger, dark-haired James Marsters, and my Peninsular War romance hero looked like Nathan Fillion in a Rifle uniform. And I’m recycling him, younger and redcoated, as the main soldier character in my alternative history. Wellington in the same manuscript looks like, well, Wellington, but he sounds like Alexis Denisof as Angel-era Wesley.
Susan, I had toy horses too. I don’t know if they were Breyer, but they were high quality plastic beautifully painted. We used to put mirrors on the floor and they would be the horses’ ponds. I gave them up to the Thrift Shop, too. Sniff…
Lately I’ve been obsessed with jewelry making. I went to one of those jewelry parties, bought a bracelet I really liked on impulse and then realized I have nothing that goes with it. So I’m designing a necklace and earrings to coordinate (not match).
I just got a Fire Mountain Gems catalog and I pored over it with probably the same sort of intensity Amanda has for Sephora catalogs. It’s addictive.
I’m doing a to-fer, replying to all the questions asked in both of Megan and Ammanda’s chats. This was SUCH a fun format, you two. Loved the gossip and look-see into your worlds.
I’m muchas muchas muchas THRILLED to see so many fans of the BBC series Spooks/MI-5. I watched the first three season on Netflix instant play. Matthew. (swoon) Since then, I have been renting one disc (two episodes) every week. I’m halfway through season five, and finally, Adam started growing on me. The series has a tendency to rub off its characters rather ruthlessly. My brother gave me an Amazon gift, so I might end up buying season six when it’s released at the end of January, then die as I wait for season seven and Richard HAWT Armitage to be released in May/June.
I share an obsession for Netflix since the first year they started the company. Cranford‘s next on my Netflix list.
Samba dancers at your wedding, Ammanda? How about hiring some of the professionals from Dancing with the Stars for a performance? And of course, Maks to dance with the guests. 🙂
No fashion plates for moi, but plenty of hand-made dress-up clothes or hand-me-downs from younger brother’s infanthood.
Well, those Shetland ponies sure sound interesting. Perhaps Megan’s bass player’s day job is being a groom for those Shetland ponies.
Ammanda, I, too, volunteer James McAvoy for your young-ish hero. Can’t think of anyone else who’s emotionally mature, but physical young/energetic/ahem.
Favorite holiday food has to be the roasted turkey or roasted duck. Love the sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, the brandied fruit cakes with hard sauce for Xmas, and the utterly delicious latkes for Hanukkah. Pumpkin pie’s OK, but apple pie…delicious, particularly, with the apples from our yard.
Fall’s a very busy time for us celebration-wise, because we have holidays from so many cultures to celebrate. Similarly, March/April is another packed season.
Our tree decorations are “interesting.” Neither is like the other, some are handmade, most are from travels, and every one of them has a story. Our tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving. Scouting around on a farm is a must.
I like attending Handel’s Messiah (the sing-along kind), a Nutcracker ballet, and a Catholic Midnight Mass. We go out to watch lights at gardens, zoos, and tacky stuff at people’s houses. Stockings and gifts are all opened early Christmas Day. Since we celebrate all eight days of Hanukkah religiously, we have a couple gifts for Hanukkah and a couple for Christmas and the stockings. We try to not go overboard.
Whaaaaa—I want to come over to your house and have a girl-gab! Honestly, you two are TOO funny.
Somehow, I missed the fashion plates. But I was a bit of a tomboy, and my earliest Christmas present memory was a cowboy outfit, complete with holsters and six-shooters. (My mother swears I asked for it, and it wasn’t just because it didn’t fit my two brothers.) Sigh. Maybe that’s why I don’t have the fingernail polish fetish that you two have.
Ammanda, I love Rupert Friend as the Irish hero . . . but Ion Gryffud (okay, I never can spell his name—the Hornblower guy) would also be divine. And with longer hair, Daniel Craig ain’t half bad.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Web, I love Harriet the Spy, too! I still like to eat tomato sandwiches (note to confused people: Harriet is her icon).
Amanda, I wish I could take inspiration from more actors, but those three are the only ones who really do it for me in terms of heroes. I tend to go for intense alpha males, and if I write using someone else as inspiration (I used Orlando for one book), the hero ends up not as strong as he should be.
Ooh, Lois, I loved my Barbie townhouse too! That was one of the few toys that ended up just as good as it seemed it would be…
As to the fashion plates thing, though, I’d never even heard of it! Except for Barbies, my childhood was Legos and boardgames. And books. 🙂
Interesting you should mention Rachel Getting Married, which I saw just last night. It was quite good–the director was clearly obsessed with music, with different styles and performers under different parts of the movie. And Anne Hathaway was excellent. But don’t be fooled by the description! Heartwarming, it is not. That family puts the “dys” in “dysfunctional.”