Saturday, September 15, 2007

Oh My Ears & Whiskers!

I do feel like the White Rabbit at this moment. I have two classes to teach at Kennesaw State University this next week (their Entertainment Marketing class). I always enjoy those even though the students look so (sigh) young. And you never know what kinds of questions they're going to ask. I put together a PowerPoint presentation for both classes after massaging my computer for nearly six hours to get the new software loaded. For a time I thought I'd killed it, but it survived. I consider that a miracle.

I'm also putting the finishes touches on my talk for the Whitechapel Society. Its official title is: Once Upon a Dark Alley: A Tale of Ripper Fiction. Of course, I didn't just want to do a thumbs up or down on the books I'd read over the previous year. These folks deserve a lot more than that. I wanted to dig for the deeper themes present in [Jack the] Ripper fiction since 1889. And I've found them. It's hasn't been easy, but it's been informative, while kicking my butt in the process. One thing I've learned, if whatever I'm doing is a struggle, I'm learning something. Can you name a book in which Jack was the hero?*

Between now and our departure to England is Moonlight & Magnolias, the local Atlanta romance writers' convention. This one will be fun. It's within driving distance and that's a plus. In the meanwhile we're slowly putting together all the stuff needed for the trip: housesitter who has no idea how much a pain-in-the ass the Kat can be, one new piece of luggage (the old one was falling apart) and a complex itinerary so I can do as much research as possible in just under two weeks. As the US Dollar is at an all-time low against the pound sterling ($2.03 per pound the last time I checked) we damned well better get a lot of work done while we're there. We do intend on having some fun in between those riveting trips to the former asylum and the Fire Brigade Museum. Yeah, this author knows how to really have a good time.

I'll do an update right before I sling the bags out the door and then while I'm on the road in the UK, Internet connection permitting. It's been five years since I was in the UK. Lord, I miss the place (and their beer).

*A Night in Lonesome October -- Roger Zelazny


steve said...

It's amazing that for over a century--even after Paricia Cornwell gave us what amounts to a solid case for the Ripper's identity (and where she proved herself a far better nonfiction author than a novelist), people are still fascinated by a Victorian serial killer. The Boston Strangler, the Xodiac killer, the Hillside Strangler, and John Wayne Gacy took more lives, but the Ripper is better known.

Off-topic: a case of parallel ideas. "The Lincoln Hunters," a 1958 novel by Wilson Tucker, has a team of time travelers working for an amoral corporation in a dystopian world. They go back to 1856 Bloomington, Illinois to record what Lincoln really said in his "Lost Speech." My suspicion is that you've never read it or heard of it--that the ideas came to you and Tucker independently, though some 40+ years apart.

Jana Oliver said...

Okay, we'll just have to agree to disagree on Ms. Cornwell's "solid case" for Jack the Ripper. I will give her credit for applying modern lab testing to an old crime, but that's as far as I'll go.

I'm currently polishing my Ripper fiction talk for the Whitechapel Society and mention Gacy (etal) as those who built on the Ripper's legacy. As Karl Alexander put it in "Time After Time" Jack really was an amateur. Now that's depressing.

I haven't read "The Lincoln Hunters." I'll see if I can hunt up a copy. Amoral corporation, dystopian world. Gee... sounds familiar. Sounds like another author who doesn't really trust the Powers That Be. I suspect that sentiment is ever present no matter the century.