Photo of Russian riverboat by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, circa 1910.
I have a guest post on fellow author Sue Bursztynski’s Great Raven blog, about the impact on me of Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff, and about being involved in bringing it back to English-speaking readers. Here’s a short extract:
I read the novel I don’t know how many times, swept away by the grandeur of the story, the fantastic adventure, with its wolves, bears, mountain storms, bandits, iced-up rivers, cruel torturers and traitors. I thoroughly enjoyed the funny rivalry and repartee between Alcide Jolivet and Harry Blount, I thrilled to the love I could see developing between Nadia and Michel, both equally tough and brave. And I was swept away too by the description of the journey, which starts in Moscow and ends in Siberia — a journey over water, through forest and mountain and cities and villages: you get a real sense of the vastness and amazing diversity, both human and environmental, of Russia. Basically, it’s a chase novel, and it has the breakneck pace of that, and lots of twists and turns, culminating in an especially unexpected and satisfyingly resolved one. But it is also beautifully written, as tight and clever and witty as Around the World in Eighty Days, and much more passionate and exciting.
You can read the whole post here.
I’ve cross-posted this short, appetising extract from Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff on my food blog. Appropriately, it features a description of food, from a fantastic, colourful chapter where our hero stops for the night at the town of Nizhny Novgorod, where a massive multinational fair is taking place.
Translation copyright Stephanie Smee. Edition copyright Eagle Books.
And thus Mikhail Strogoff found himself wandering through the town, not unduly troubled, on the lookout for some form of accommodation where he might spend the night. But he was not trying very hard and, had it not been for his gnawing hunger, he would probably have wandered the streets of Nizhny Novgorod until morning. For he was more interested in a meal than a bed. And he found both under the shingle of the Town of Constantinople.
The innkeeper there offered him a perfectly satisfactory room, sparsely furnished, but equipped with both an image of the Virgin and portraits of various saints, for which some golden fabric served as frames. He was promptly served up some duck stuffed with spiced mince, drowning in a heavy cream sauce, some barley bread, some curds, some cinnamon-flavoured sugar and a mug of kvass – a type of beer very common in Russia. He would have been satisfied with less. So, he ate his fill; more so than his neighbour at the dining table, who, being an adherent of the ‘Old Believers’ movement of the Raskolniks and having taken a vow of abstinence, left the potatoes on his plate and was careful not to add sugar to his tea.
Having finished his supper, instead of going up to his room, Mikhail Strogoff headed automatically back out to resume his walk around town. But though the long twilight was still drawing on, the crowd was already dissipating, and little by little the streets were emptying as everybody headed for home.
Some nice news this week from the Australian Script Centre, which is a wonderful digital repository and shopfront for plays from all over Australia: The Green Prince, the play I co-wrote in 2001 with Christopher Ross-Smith, based on my fantasy novel of the same name, made a few sales in 2014, enough to earn some small but unexpected royalties! It was so much fun and yet such a challenge to write that play, and it was such a wonderful experience to see it in production back then! I’m so pleased that it continues to have a life.
Producers and directors whether professional or amateur are most welcome to go over to the Australian Script Centre and take a look at the play! Would work well as a film too. 🙂 Just sayin’.
Here’s the blurb:
Jack Fisher, an orphan growing up in a small riverside village, is feared and hated because of his webbed limbs and his talent for singing fish out of the water. When he is beaten and left for dead on the riverbank, he is rescued by a strange, puckish creature, Shellycoat, and the merman Vagan. They tell Jack that he has been chosen as the Champion of the Green Kingdom, destined to fight Grimlow, Lord of the Abyss. And thus begins Jack’s enchanted, terrifying, action-packed journey into the lands under the water.
And if you’re interested in checking out the tribute page on Facebook to the original production of the Green Prince, back in 2001, take a look here.