Here are the books and shirts from Inverted-A Press, which are available over on Amazon. Many of novels were written by Aya Katz, but a couple of the books are also written by other authors. Check out this store if you are looking for a new book to read, or would like a shirt from the cover of Vacuum County.
Yesterday people were avidly discussing Star Wars with the passing of Carrie Fischer. I was sad to hear she passed away at sixty, but I was more torn up about George Michael’s passing on Christmas day as I loved British pop stars from the early 80s such as Wham and Culture Club. I have literally been humming Careless Whisper to myself ever since Christmas day.
So yesterday when someone started telling me about a character on Star Wars, I straight up admitted I did not know much about that. To be honest beyond watching the movies as a kid, I just never really wanted to sit down and really engross myself in the entire series. I have no clue about the storylines in Star Wars books or movies, but when I ask people about Pomegranate Soup, they usually have no clue what I am talking about, either. I would not demand people read that book, but people look at you like you are an alien if you do not know about every character in Star Wars. I thought R2-D2 was cute, and people used to tell me I should do my hair in a Princess Leia-style when I was five. Seriously, so many people came up and touched my hair, and told me it reminded them of Princess Leia. Beyond that, there was nothing fascinating for me about the Star Wars franchise.
I cannot help it, but I like what I like, and I have always had strong opinions about this. However, this does not always make for good conversation when most people want to discuss a popular topic, such as Star Wars. If you are not well versed on the latest show or movie, some people will look at your skeptically. “Are you from Mars?” someone once asked me when I revealed I had no interest in watching Star Wars. It might be jest, but there is some truth in many jokes. Someone even told me knowing about Star Wars was like knowing about culture icons, even though he really did not like the movie himself. However, he was considering watching the series when he had more time because he felt it would enable him to have more fulfilling conversations with people who adore this franchise.
I know about history, current events, movies, novels, and music videos I enjoy, but I have never feigned interest in being well versed on a certain topic just because everyone else was engrossed by it. What I like tends to be eclectic, and set in faraway places with a historical emphasis. I like some American historical fiction as well, such as Of Mice And Men and To Kill A Mockingbird, but I feel like I guess so much of that just by reading historical texts that when I digest historical fiction, I want something with an international setting. So upon reflection, I had to think about whether I had my own version of Star Wars. When I was young I think that was the Mutiny on the Bounty books and movies. At the age of thirteen, I remember being captivated by Marlon Brando’s interpretation of Fletcher Christian, which was far more intriguing than Luke Skywalker. By the way, the historical description of Fletcher Christian is far more handsome than the fictional description Luke Skywalker (not the actual Mark Hamill), so you should check Fletcher out, ladies. As I started to read more about the topic I learned that William Bligh and Fletcher Christian were romanticized and fictionalized in books and movies, but even then, these two men are based on real characters. My love of history is infinite, and I also enjoy literature and fiction, but I tend to gravitate towards the historical genre.
As much as I love a good novel or movie, I realized I just appreciate stories based on real people. William Bligh charted his men through open waters and unknown waters of the Western Pacific after Fletcher Christian mutinied and threw him and his loyal followers off the HMAV Bounty. I can admire Bligh’s courage and cartography skills for bringing his followers safely to Jakarta. Also, even though Fletcher Christian broke the law by rebelling against his commander William Bligh, he ensured the mutiny was bloodless. He wanted no one to be hurt, even when some hotter heads wanted people to be killed. I can admire both men and the visceral and real things they went through.
From what I gather people in Britain are far more versed in the history Americans since William Bligh and Fletcher Christian were from England, but I find that I am intrigued by what might be considered obscure in the US. Perhaps back in 1960 Mutiny On The Bounty was more well known here because a movie came out with Marlon Brando, but it was considered a box office failure. Unfortunately, according to some, the quality of a movie or a book is usually based on how well it sells, but I find once again I am always drawn to things that might not fit into this category.
There was some clever wordplay in the lines of the 1962 version of Mutiny On The Bounty. For instance, the men are supposed to be pulling up breadfruit saplings to transplant to the Bounty but become over distracted by vivacious Tahitian women fishing. The crew working under Christian would rather frolic in the water and “help” the Tahitian women fish. Christian is all for joining the men in helping “give the women a hand”, because you know they are “working their fingers to the bone” with a fishing technique the English would not understand, but it up to this crew to “help” them with their work. I wonder how these men would feel about helping their wives fry fish back in jolly old England? Anyway, Gardener Brown wants Fletcher to stay behind to help him “Ball the root,” and here we have ingenious innuendo that gets around the Hays Code of not discussing frank sexuality on screen.
I am sure there are witty scenes like this in Star Wars, but when it comes to that franchise I am just not interested in following them. Hays Code movies were very clever, and the censors were often clueless about all the innuendo below the radar. Now we have celebrities who wear the scantiest clad outfits possible and who swear like chimneys, but there is something to be said for an era when things like to be articulated taboo subjects in a more subliminal way. Also, I guess I just like movies and books based on historical fiction. So when it comes to icons I do have some, but mine favorites are Fletcher Christian and William Bligh. I have burned out on rewatching the Bounty movies for awhile, but in the future, I know I will come back to these. I forsee having no interest in watching any of the Star Wars movies. So sometimes when it comes to cultural equivalency I find I will never be well versed on the most popular books and movies. I want to be true and authentic to who I am. Also, just because someone is not talking about the latest movie or book does not mean they are not an avid conversationalist. I can have engrossing conversations about books and movies when people are on the same page as me, but these just happen to be the ones I like. There are a few people who actually thank me for book recommendations, and after all these years I do have a few. Perhaps I will be doing an updated post about that here.
We all succumb to the pressure of talking about what is popular, and sometimes it can be hard to admit what you like as an individual, especially if everyone in the group is raving about a certain film or book. I asked the man who thought he should watch the Star Wars movies what he truly enjoyed, and he said he was not exactly sure what fiction or movies he might actually really like. Perhaps people are sometimes swept up in what is trending give more time to that than exploring more obscure books and movies they actually connect with on a more meaningful level. If you are truly a Star Wars fan I am not insinuating you must give that up, but if you feel slightly blase regarding a certain franchise, there is no requirement to read books or movies about it. Perhaps it is okay to admit you can have your own icons, even though I really do not like the idea of that either.
Honestly, I just enjoy historical figures that can sometimes be written into exceptionally entertaining fiction. However, your interpretation of what is diverting will probably vary from mine. I am going to stop saying that I seem to enjoy things most people do not like because in all honestly, I think there are some people out there who are not exactly sure what they like. Part of growing up as an introvert from a young age revolved around social exclusion. I had a few friends, but I always did my own thing. I always dressed how I liked, which set me apart from the crowd. Wearing skirts really put people in a dither for some reason. As a young person and an adult, I have always had my own interests. I am subdued and do not really vocalize these much in social settings, but in my blogs and videos, I am not afraid to voice these a bit more. I think 2017 is going to be the year of sharing things that are more obscure. The article sharing sites and YouTube used to tell bloggers and vloggers to follow the trends, but I have stopped doing that completely. I challenge you this year to find the books and movies your truly enjoy, even if this means you will not be able to discuss most of these with your friends. In the age of the Internet, there are online communities where you can discuss varies topics at length.
The artwork on the cover of Aya’s book In Case There’s a Fox is mesmerizing, so I asked her a few questions about the inspiration behind this volume she has published for children. Aya’s responses about the artwork in her book are quite fascinating, and will be of interest for anyone who is looking to purchase a new book for a birthday or Christmas present.
1. Was the acrylic painting on the cover of the book In Case There’s A Fox the first attempt at painting the fox you envisioned for this story, or did you create several versions before settling on a final one?
Yes, this was the first attempt to do the painting, although I did some sketches before that. Actually, I was dreaming of painting this particular fox years before I wrote the poem and before my daughter was born. I had a book of nature photos. The book’s focus was grizzly bears in Alaska. There were only a few photographs of foxes. But I was enchanted by the foxes, and I wanted to someday do a picture of a fox, foxgloves and a little girl.
I forgot about that for years, and then later when we moved to the Ozarks, and I knew there were foxes around, even though I could not see them, that’s when I wrote the poem for Sword, when she was four. And after I wrote it, I decided to illustrate it. But the flowers I used had to change a little to suit the poem.
Later, when Sword was in kindergarten, I saw a fox come into the schoolyard when I was visiting her class. (I mentioned this in my hub, “Curious Facts About Foxes”.)
2. In your hub about In Case There’s a Fox, you mentioned that you enjoyed acrylic painting in a barn with your daughter Sword? I used to enjoy drawing with my niece and nephew, and I think it is very educational when parents and adults spend time fostering creativity this way. Did Sword have a favorite subject that she used to like to draw?
Sword’s drawings went through an evolution of sorts, so I can’t recall exactly what they were like at age four, when we were painting together. She started out focusing on disembodied faces, when she was in preschool. Then later the bodies emerged. But as she got more control, she also liked drawing other animals as well as humans. Later, when she was in second or third grade, there was an event where each child prepared a box lunch for a parent, and the parent had to pick out the lunch just by the way the box was decorated. Sword only drew on hers, there was nothing written, and I honestly wasn’t focused on what sorts of things she was drawing at the time, but when I saw the animals on the box lunch, I knew at once it was hers, because those were exactly the sorts of things I used to draw at her age. There were dogs and cats and birds and what might have been foxes. I recognized it instantly.
3. In the book trailer about your book In Case There’s a Fox, I noticed you have many rich illustrations in the book. Was there one painting that you enjoyed creating more than the others?
There were actually only two paintings, and all the different illustrations came from the details in those two paintings. I like to create narrative paintings – paintings that tell a story. Because that’s the kind of artwork I do, it’s easy to pick out a detail from the painting to illustrate a plot point in a story or a line in a poem.
Of the two paintings, my favorite was the one of Sword encountering the fox, because I feel that artistically it is better executed. But the other one has a lot more of a narrative feel to it.
4. Do you have any other children’s books in the works, and will you be creating
artwork for these as well?
I am not planning on writing any new children’s stories at the moment, but there is an old one that I wrote long ago that I would like to publish sometime in the future. The name of the story is The Little Boy Who Didn’t Catch a Fish, and it is about how to deal with failure. All of us have failures in our lives. There are times when we try our very best to attain a goal that is very important to us, but despite our all out, sustained efforts we fail. Then, on top of the failure, we are left to grieve alone, because most people don’t really accept failure in themselves or in others. Sometimes they will tell us that we’ll succeed later, and they don’t recognize that there are deadlines in life, and later will be too late.
I wrote The Little Boy Who Didn’t Catch a Fish as an antidote to The Little Engine That Could. It is written in very simple language, so it is suitable for children, but I think a lot of adults could benefit from reading the story. And yes, there will be illustrations in that story. The cover will feature a grizzly bear that has caught a trout. I painted that a long time ago, too.