Works in Progress: #WIPBlogTour

The indie fantasy writer A.M. Justice, who graciously reviewed "An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir," published by Jaded Ibis Press, has tagged me in the Works in Progress Blog Tour (#WIPBlogTour). I am honored to oblige. I’m currently — and I use that word guardedly — at work on two projects that I hope will see the light of day before the end of time. 

The first is another fairy tale, much like half of "Unsuitable Princess." Tentatively titled "The Hawkman," it is the story of a pianist’s experiences in the trenches and prisoner of war camps of World War I.  The story has two inspirations, the first being my father’s stories of his father’s service in the Russian army. The other is a friend’s recommendation that I write another fairy tale, but without the footnotes that distinguished Princess. I wrote what really shouldn’t even be called a first draft, but may be more like a scaffold for a longer piece, about two summers ago. This past summer, I began to expand the work in earnest.

English-speaking P.O.W.s — Americans or English — were relatively rare in the German-run camps; most were Russian or French. So I’m trying to base the protagonist’s journey, in part, on the observations of an actual English soldier.  F.W. Harvey, known for composing the poem “Ducks’’ during the war, was captured by the Germans in 1916. He spent two years in seven different camps, “but happily he lived to write the story of his captivity,’’ as a history of his infantry unit states.  I’ve read Harvey’s "Comrades in Captivity"; and an account of his regiment in the war, the Story of the 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment 1914-1918 by A.F. Barnes, M.C. (). My husband gave me a recently republished edition of Harvey’s novel, "A War Romance," last month and I hope to read it as soon as possible.

Other books I’ve consulted include "The First World War" by John Keegan; "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Eric Maria Remarque; and "Silent Night: The True Story of the World War I Truce" by Stanley Weintraub.

The second project is a series of poems about Daphne, a Naiad, or nymph associated with water, in Greek mythology. As Apollo, the sun god, pursued Daphne, she appealed to her father for help on avoiding Apollo’s advances.  His solution was to turn her into a Laurel tree, and her story has inspired visual artists for centuries. I have written 22 of these poems and am trying to decide whether to incorporate them into a larger, more conventional prose story; or whether to attempt to make them into a poetry manuscript. You can find some of my Daphne poems in the River Poets Journal (“Grandma/Daphne’’) ; The Tower Journal (‘’Daphne Redoubled” ); and Fruita Pulp (‘’Pre-Daphne’’).

To carry on the good work of the Works in Progress Blog Tour, I’ve nominated three writers to pick up where I’ve left off. They are:

Chris Bowen, who as founder of Burning River chapbooks published my first volume of poetry, is the author of "We Were Giants," a chapbook of short stories from Sunnyoutside Press. He also edits The Ohio Vintage Matchbook Company, a site that publishes new poetry or prose once a week. He cooks, writes, and is about to head back to school in Cleveland, Ohio.

Linda Lenhoff is the author of two novels from Kensington Books, Latte Lessons and Life a la Mode.  Her work has been praised for by bestselling author Lynne Hinton, who said Life a la Mode provided “the satisfaction of a great slice of pie without any of the calories.”  She is a freelance writer and editor in Northern California and has written a third book that she is now shopping around. 

Cris Mazza is the author, most recently, of "Something Wrong With Her,"  a ground-breaking memoir from Jaded Ibis; "Indigenous: Growing Up Californian" (City Lights Books 2003); and 16 other books. She is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.