The Old Shelter

Dieselpunk Roaring Twenties. Sarah Zama's Author Blog

The Trumpet

One morsel review: A fantasy story historically set in the Twenties, this is a smart intuition, executed with more than a few uncertainties.

51eWJOzXNSLThe Trumpet
Damian Fredericks

———————————————-
Genre: dieselpunk
———————————————-
While trying to avoid the police on the street at night, a jazzman comes across a tramp who gives him his trumpet in exchange of the jazzman’s old one. The instrument turns out to be of exceptional quality… it also has the power to make all the man’s dream come true.
———————————————-

The premise of this story is a classic – the deal with the devil – but the author succeeded in making it fresh and enjoyable in spite of its familiarity. Just a shame I discovered at the end… there was no ending. This is not the entire story, but just the first instalment and honestly I’d have preferred to know it up front, rather than at the end.

When Terry, jazz cornet player, stumbles into a tramp in a alley, he sure doesn’t expect the man to offer him his high quality cornet in exchange of the old cornet Terry’s father gave to him. When he tries the cornet, Terry can’t believe his good luck, because he has never heard such poor, beautiful sound. But then, the tramp seems not to believe his good luck either.
The cornet is truly sublime. With its exquisite sound, it almost seem to turn Terry into a better jazzman. But something else also happens: Strange dreams of the Theatre of Shadows start haunting Terry and every time he wakes up, he discovers reality has changed in accord to his desires.

I particularly like this catch of the changing reality in accord to Terry’s desires, especially because, after a while, it becomes apparent these might not be Terry’s own true, more deep desires, but rather the trumpet’s suggestion of a easier, more desirable reality which is materialistically more comfortable. And there’s a price attached to it and Terry knows it.

The fantasy part of the story is the one I enjoyed the most. Not only I find the idea of the changing reality crafted by the trumpet fascinating, but also the place where it may come from, the Theatre of Shadows. In his dreams, Terry finds himself in this theatre full of people but cloaked in shadows, and even if he stands of the stage, he can only see a few of the people listening to him, which is quite haunting and even creepy at times. In this theatre, Terry meets a man (the devil?) who knows a lot about him and his supposed desires and tries to allure Terry into doing what the trumpet wants. These are very atmospheric, suggestive sequences, very effective.

Can’t say the same for the historical setting, and I’ll admit I didn’t like it because I personally think it wasn’t historically very accurate.
The author seems to tap into the surface of the era, but didn’t really researched it. This comes out in the details especially, details that clearly portray today’s life and simply transport it in the Twenties, regardless of things having been sometimes very different back then. This tells of a very superficial portrayal of the era, which spoiled the story for me, because, as good as the idea is, this sloppy handling of the historical setting detracts from the story itself.
Just a shame, because the story – at lest the part I read – was quite entertaining.

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #18

dieselpunkssquarelogoMy supporting cast is very numerous. All the club stuff, the jazz band members, quite a few customers as well as a lot of community members people my story. These characters have a smaller role in the story in comparison with the main characters, but I had a lot of fun creating them and giving them a personality if not a story of their own (though some of them do have an arc).

Rob is probably one of my favourite, in spite of him not having an arc and entering the story only diagonally. He’s the representative of the black underworld inside the club and this is his first interaction in the story.

How about that?

“Don’t bother about him.” A man sitting on one of the nearest stools turned to Michael. “He’s a bag full of shit, that one.”

Michael thought at first this was a white man, but then he remembered him playing pools over at the table. Very smart dressed – smarter than most other men at the bar – he sat at the counter with great ease, uninterested in who else was there. His angular face didn’t betray any uneasiness, his sharp eyes spoke of a quickness of mind.

“I like men who know how to treat such numbers.” The man gave a wolfish grin.

———————————————————————————

Did you enjoy my snippet?

If you didn’t, I’m sorry (shed one tear), I’ll try better next time, so don’t give up on me.

If you did, here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, you might want to join the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks‘challenge’.  Head over to Dieselpunks, sigh up and look for the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks And join the fun!
  2. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer and you have a blog, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  3. If you are a historical writer and you have a story or more sent in the Twenties too, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  4. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, or if you are a historical writer writing in a Twenties setting or if you are just a reader, by all means leave a comment below. I’ll never oppose to that.

Murder Mystery Game – The suspect: The secret paths

Where Ombretta was born, deep in the mountain, ‘benandanti’ walked the path between realities in the old days, but still today, people walking the woods say when you under the trees’ shadows, away from any road, and you hear them whispering among themselves, you can never be shure what you actually see.

murder-mystery-and-mayhem-the-suspect (1)

 

—————————————————————————————————

A mystery is always fun. Here are a few things you might want to do with this one

  1. Head over to the Etsy thread of the mystery and see what the other members are up to
  2. Have a look to the other treasuries in the ‘suspect’ stream
  3. And if you’d like to leave a comment in the comment box below, don’t hold back… I won’t suspect you of anything

Thursday Quotables – The Dain Curse

I asked him if he knew Eric Collinson. He said he did; there was nothing to know about him except that he was engaged to Gabrielle Leggett, that his father was the lumber Collinson, and that Eric was Princeton, stocks and bonds, and hard-ball, a nice boy.

‘Maybe,’ I said, ‘but he liked to me.’

‘Isn’t that like a sleuth?’ Fitzstephan shook his head, grinning. ‘You must have had the wrong fellow – somebody impersonating him. The Chevalier Bayard doesn’t lie, and, besides, lying requires imagination. You’ve – oh, wait! Was a woman involved in your question?’

I nodded.

‘You’re correct, then,’ Fitzstephan assured. ‘I apologize. The Chevalier Bayard always lies when a woman is involved, even if it’s unnecessary  and put her through a lot of trouble. It’s one of the convention of Bayardism, something  to do with guarding her honor or the like. Who was the woman?’

‘Gabrielle Leggett,’ I said, and told him all I knew about the Leggetts, the diamond and the dead man in the Golden Gate Avenue. Disappointment deepened in his face while I talked.

‘That’s trivial, dull,’ he complained when I was finished. ‘I’ve been thinking f Leggett in terms of Dumas, and you bring me a piece of gimcrackery our of O. Henry. You’ve let me down, you and your shabby diamond.’

quotation-marks4Because I’m writing the Twenties and because I like mysteries, I of course wind up reading Dashiell Hammett. I can’t say that something clicked with him, which is kind of a shame, but there are things I do like about him. Definitely his style, which is essential in the extreme, but very effective, really natural-sounding and loaded with era lingo, which is certainly a bonus for me.

I also like his ability to create peculiar characters. Fitzstephan is sure one of these. A novelist with a sharp mind and an egocentric personality, a sharp wit… and a few secrets. He was the most fascinating in the book. I enjoyed all the episodes where he appears.

—————————————————————————————

Did you like this quote? Here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. Head over to Bookshelf Fantasies, who sponsors the Thursday Quotables, and join in the fun.
  2. Post a quote on your blog and make sure to leave a link in the comment box below. I’ll be sure to visit and comment.
  3. Maybe you’ve read this author too and would love to share your opinion. By all means do it in the comment box below. I’ll never object.

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #17

dieselpunkssquarelogoDepicting Michael’s warrior’s nature has proven to be quite tricky. Falling into the stereotype of the lonely hero or even the anti-hero is easier than I thought. But he is a veteran of the Indian Wars, and he did see things no human being would ever want to see. In short, he’s a very experienced man who had a hard life, and this is what I’m trying to depict, staying as far as possible from the lonely hero stereotype.

Any success at it?

Sinéad lifted the glass to her lips and the alcohol burned her throat, but warmed her stomach up nicely, and her fingers stopped trembling.

She felt Michael’s eyes on her and when she looked, he was frowning at her hands around the glass. He didn’t say anything, though, and that silence ate at the comfort of the alcohol, so she asked, “Weren’t you scared?”

Michael’s dark eyes roamed to her face. “I’m always scared when a fool holds a weapon in his hands.” A pale smile cracked his face. “Though a bunch of schoolboys with a broken bottle is hardly the worst I’ve seen.” He chuckled in a strangely bitter way.

———————————————————————————

Did you enjoy my snippet?

If you didn’t, I’m sorry (shed one tear), I’ll try better next time, so don’t give up on me.

If you did, here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, you might want to join the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks‘challenge’.  Head over to Dieselpunks, sigh up and look for the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks And join the fun!
  2. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer and you have a blog, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  3. If you are a historical writer and you have a story or more sent in the Twenties too, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  4. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, or if you are a historical writer writing in a Twenties setting or if you are just a reader, by all means leave a comment below. I’ll never oppose to that.

Murder Mystery Game – The suspect: Ombretta Vivaldi

I’ve just joined a team on Etsy that organises a mystery. That’s right and that’s the reason why I joined them. They have a very unique way to create treasuries, giving them such a form that will actually tell some kind of story. They call themselves The Museum of Made and Found and generally act as if every treasury were a find to showcase in the museum. Kind of a RPG if you will.

When I discovered them a couple of weeks ago they had just started a mystery. There will be five parts to the game and the goal is to create treasuries that will speak about the different elements of the mystery. The first part was the introduction of your suspect.

Well, you see I couldn’t resist. And of course you’ll see my suspect has a distinctive dieselpunk falvour to her.

So, here she is, Miss Ombretta Vivaldi.

Ombretta Vivaldi was born deep on the Dolomites.
She’s an archeologist, specialized in human remains and ritual artefacts. She’s always thought there is a lot more inside what we hold in our hands after digging it out of the earth than we actually see.

murder-mystery-and-mayhem-the-suspect

———————————————-

A mystery is always fun. Here are a few things you might want to do with this one

  1. Head over to the Etsy thread of the mystery and see what the other members are up to
  2. Have a look to the other treasuries in the ‘suspect’ stream
  3. And if you’d like to leave a comment in the comment box below, don’t hold back… I won’t suspect you of anything

 

Thursday Quotables – The Troubleshooter

Whoever said that misery loves company was right on the money – and probably the loneliest soul on the planet. Because the problem is that company doesn’t love you back. Being miserable is actually  a rather dismal and insular experience, something I can relate to from prolonged exposure.

Naturally the depression was complimented by the sound of rain pounding the pavement outside my grime-streaked windows. I didn’t complain, though. Most folks hate the rain ‘cause they’re thinking about their hair  or their darb rags that are about to get socked. Then you got those daisies that get all depressed and sit around crying and writing poetry and all.

But me?

Suited my mood just fine. The office air conditioner blew its circuits a while back, so I kinda like it when the rain cools things down. You know; washed some of the grime off the streets and into the gutters where it belongs. It never lasted. The cleanness, I mean. That’s about the only thing you could bank on in New Heaven.

quotation-marks4This is the opening from The Troubleshooter – New Heaven Blues by Bard Constantine. This is a fun story, where fun means a lot a of things happen all of the time and you rushed thought the story breathless, wanting to know what will happen next. I’m enjoying it, and what I’m enjoying the most is the language. I like this narration, so close to spoken language. It makes it sound as if the author were telling us the story rather than let us read it.

This is a very grim dieselpunk story, with a lot of shady and downright dark characters, in a place where life is cheap and smartness is your best bet at survival. A fun place to read.

The Damned and the Beautiful

One morsel review: Well-informed dissertation about life of the new youth of the Roaring Twenties. Maybe a bit too wordy, but very interesting.

51FcBARjmvLThe Damned and the Beautiful
American Youth in the 1920s

Paula S. Fass

——————————————-
Genre: social history
——————————————-
The book presents a portrayal of family life, with special regard to the education of young people in Victorian/Edwardian Eras. It presents the social and material change that allowed a loosening of habits with regard to man/woman relationship and gives a vivid image of the life of young people in 1920s America.
——————————————-

The book opens with a presentation of the upheaval  the new behaviour of youth stirred in the Twenties, then goes back so to relate what life was like for these youths’ parents in Victorian and Edwardian Eras. People familiar with the history of family will know these facts, but for me everything was new and very interesting. The attitude of bourgeoisie families toward children and personal aspirations in Victorian Era was enlightening, because they made sense of many characteristics of that age, especially with regard to man/women relationship. It was the idea that the fulfillment of personal aspiration was fine, the shifting of social expectation from a community welfare to a more personal fulfillment, and the advancement in contraception techniques, that allowed that explosion of egocentrism that was the Twenties. Young couple could decide now when to have children and even how many children and this resulted in a more satisfying life for the parents and a richer, freer life for the children.
This first part of the book was really very interesting and eye-opening for me.

The central part focuses on a very important age of life for the youth in the Twenties: college. In the Twenties, the number of middle-class young men and women going to college skyrocketed, which of course again impacted on personal aspiration and expectations, but also amplified the change already happening in the lives of young people.
It was in the colleges that what the author calls the ‘peer society’ was born. For the first time, young people found an early, prolonged adolescence free of family and society obligations and so they could devote all of themselves to their friends and groups of friends, who were the ones setting values, approving and sanctioning behaviours and generally choosing by themselves, never actually seeking the approval of the older generation. This attitude of finding their own way with their own means and shaped by their own values was general, but in colleges it became amplified by the share number of students gathering in the same place, away from their families’ direct control.
Although the dynamics presented are interesting, I found this central part of the book to be quite boring. The author reiterates the same concept over and over and over again without really adding anything new every time she talks about the subject matter. I really think this part could have easily been half the length and lose nothing.

The last third of the book was the more interesting for me because this is where the author covers attitudes and behaviours of the young generation of the Twenties. What they did, how they dressed, what they wanted to own, who they wanted to be around with. But also, more importantly, why they acted like that, why they dressed like that, why they talked like that, what they thought and why their values clashed with those of their parents even if there wasn’t a true breaking between the generations. It also covers how young people’s lifestyle influenced and often reshaped the lifestyle of the older generations as well in what was truly a social revolution.

So, all in all, the book was very interesting and informative. Pity it was too long in the central part and generally too long-winded in style.

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #16

dieselpunkssquarelogoJustin and Adam Brailsfield are two more new characters introduced during the first visit to the Old Shelter. They are very important to the story. Adam is a main character, Justin is the antagonist of the story.

The Brailsfield family built the building where the Old Shelter is housed in the very early days of Chicago. Now Adam, the younger brother, owns the place (and yes, there is a story behind it) while Justin is the manager of the club. In spite of being brothers, they are two very different men. I love both of them and I always have fun writing them.

This is Susie’s first impression. What’s yours?

 “Adam, the nice guy,” Susie said.

“Ah, I see. You like him because he clapped his hands when we danced.”

“I like him because he smiled when he clapped his hands.”

Blood smiled and his nose rippled that way she liked.

She spun again and had them looking toward Justin, who sat on the corner of the table by the door and surveyed the club with a grim gaze. She had guessed who he was the moment he saw him because he looked a lot like his brother, only he had more of everything. He was taller, his shoulders were wider and his body was more muscular. His skin was tanned, his hair was blond rather than chestnut and he dressed in a smarter way.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” she said. “But I don’t like him.”

——————————————————————————————–

Did you enjoy my snippet?

If you didn’t, I’m sorry (shed one tear), I’ll try better next time, so don’t give up on me.

If you did, here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, you might want to join the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks‘challenge’.  Head over to Dieselpunks, sigh up and look for the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks And join the fun!
  2. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer and you have a blog, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  3. If you are a historical writer and you have a story or more sent in the Twenties too, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  4. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, or if you are a historical writer writing in a Twenties setting or if you are just a reader, by all means leave a comment below. I’ll never oppose to that.

Not from experience

images“Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.” ― Nikki Giovanni

——————————————————–

Thanks to Jessica Ann Mitchell 

Post Navigation