Jubilare has semi-illegally nominated me for a Liebster Award, mostly, I gather, to hear my answers to her questions. I am honored!
1. If you could walk into a book and make a home there, where would that home be, what would it be like, and what sort of people/creatures would you try to befriend? Specifics would be fun and you can give more than one answer if you like.
There are a lot of book places I’d like to visit (Lothlorien, Narnia, Neverland, etc.), but few I’d actually want to live. The first place to spring to mind is Twombly Town (The Elfin Ship). The world has enough danger to be exciting without being terrifying.
- I would run a bookshop there and carry plenty of G. Smithers novels, so when master cheeser Jonathan Bing came in I could trade him books for a marble cheese, or perhaps one of his raisin cheeses. I have never been a big fan of raisins and don’t see why anyone would ruin a perfectly good cheese with them, but Jonathan Bing’s raisin cheeses are famous even with the Elves all the way down the River Oriol as far as Seaside. So that’s worth a try.
- I’d accompany Professor Wurzle on the occasional scientific expedition
- I’d talk my way into at least one adventure on Theophile Escargot’s submarine.
If not Twombly Town, I would have to live in Mitford (At Home in Mitford), the sleepy little mountain town where Father Tim serves his tiny Episcopal parish.
2. Name a food you have read about, but never eaten, that you have since wanted to try. It doesn’t have to actually exist. What, in the reading, piqued your interest?
Cap’n Binky’s perpetual pot of coffee from The Disappearing Dwarf. The first load of grounds went in thirteen years ago. I literally have a copy of this page framed:
It was so rich as to be almost creamy, and there were a hundred unidentifiable flavors in it. Just when he’d come to the conclusion that it was almost chocolaty, he couldn’t find any chocolate in it at all. And when it seemed, after the second sip, to resemble one of those dark stouts made with burnt barley, that flavor disappeared too, only to be replaced with the unmistakable essence of strange spices…as he took another sip, the faint promise of weedy river water appeared momentarily. Not in such a way that when he drank it he thought, this tastes like river water, but as a sort of strange, half-lost memory of wide, deep, cool rivers that mingled somewhere deep in his mind with the waters of the sea.
3. Do you have a favorite plant? If so, what is it and why do you like it so much?
I wish I was the type of person who could write about alders and poplars and so forth, but I’m not as versed in plant lore as I should like to be. That said, I have fond childhood memories of honeysuckle and mint. I’m a big fan of lavender as a mosquito repellant, and wisteria has to be the prettiest plant I’ve ever seen.
4. What fictional character is your favorite hero (male or female), and what villain really scares you and why?
My top five heroes:
- Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings: He is not glamorous or handsome or terribly clever, but he is true and decent and that, to me, is what ultimately defeated Sauron.
- Rudy Steiner, The Book Thief:
- The boy who painted himself black and ran around a track in the middle of the night (in Nazi Germany) to emulate his hero, Jesse Owen
- Jumped into freezing water to rescue the book of the girl he loved
- Crawled onto the plane crash of an enemy pilot to give him a teddy bear as he died
- Hans Huberman, The Book Thief: Another page I have framed:
To most people, Hans Huberman was barely visible. An un-special person. Certainly, his painting skills were excellent. His musical ability was better than average. Somehow, though, and I’m sure you’ve met people like this, he was able to appear as merely part of the background, even if he was standing at the front of a line. He was always just there. Not noticeable. Not important or particularly valuable.
The frustration of that appearance, as you can imagine, was its complete misleadance, let’s say. There most definitely was value in him, and it did not go unnoticed by Liesel Meeminger. (The human child – so much cannier at times than the stupifyingly ponderous adult.) She saw it immediately.
The quiet air about him.
When he turned on the light in the small, callous washroom that night, Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Huberman was worth a lot.
- Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: He is the smallest of the Dawn Treader’s crew, but the most valiant. When they encounter an inexplicable darkness ahead, and decide not to sail into it:
“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not?”
No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued.
“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”
“But what manner of use would it be ploughing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.
“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honour and adventures. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honours.”
- Sydney Carton, A Tale of Two Cities: Alcoholic genius who gave his life so the girl he loved could be with the man she loved.
Runners up: Hermux Tantamoq (Time Waits for No Mouse). Phileas Fogg (Around the World in 80 Days). Jeeves (various Wodehouse books and stories). Ahab (not the sea captain: Jonathan Bing’s dog).
Two villains scare me the most:
- The Unman, Perelanda: In his spare time, he dissects live animals with his fingernails.
- The Crooked Man, The Book of Lost Things: He steals innocence.
5. There is a crossroad at your feet. Behind you lies the path back to home and hearth (wherever that might be). The road directly ahead leads to a city, blue in the distance, settled among hills and on the edge of a bright inland sea. To your right lies a steep climb into old, low mountains clothed in forest and fern. To your left is rolling farmland that eventually flattens out into broad plains dappled by the clouds overhead. You can go as far as you like on any of the roads (even farther than you can see), including back home. There’s no wrong answer, only the where and why.
Home is my favoritest place, but I’ve just come from there, so I’m not going back yet. Considering I do not yet know much about the lands before me, I’d turn toward the town, spend a few nights in an inn gathering information about the nearby wildlands, and then purchase supplies for a proper adventure in whichever direction sounded most interesting from the city folks’ stories.
As far as whom I would nominate: all the InMonsters. Though many of them have too many subscribers to be nominated, and many have probably already received the Liebster, they are all worth reading. I encourage any of them to answer the above questions (you can make up your own questions for your nominees, but I like Jubilare’s just fine. Check out her blog for full guidelines).
And thanks again to Jubilare for being so interested in my ramblings (and for always having something interesting to say in the comments here as well as on your own blog). I’d really like to know your answers to your own questions, too. That may also be against the rules, but we’re already rebels, right?