The Cannibal and the Cop: Why I love Hannibal and Clarice

Goodreads allows readers to ask questions of authors, a feature I normally don’t pay a lot of attention to. However, in this case, I found the question interesting enough to warrant a response. My favorite fictional couple isn’t really a couple at all at least not in the traditional sense. Hannibal and Clarice never kiss. They don’t go on romantic dates together. Heck, for long periods of time, they aren’t close enough to touch. However, they are certainly in love with one another.

Hannibal and Clarice don't kiss
Not Quite a Kiss

[Warning: I will be discussing the movies [Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal] because I remember them better than the books. Hannibal is one of my favorite movies of all time.]

If you know their story, you know they meet while Hannibal is incarcerated and they begin to develop a relationship in her repeated visits. It starts out as her working him for information and him using her for his amusement. Each of them is getting something out of the relationship even if only a little bit. Clarice respects and maybe even fears Hannibal perhaps due to his reputation while Hannibal is bored and curious. Not the best ground for a burgeoning relationship, but we all start somewhere, right?

Through his aid, she rises. Then at the end of Silence of the Lambs, he kills some cops and disappears. She cannot and will never forget him. Clarice says to Barney, former orderly at Hannibal’s institution, in Hannibal “He’s with me at least thirty seconds of every day, like a bad habit.” However, she moves on with her life. And he with his.

We later find Hannibal has absented himself to Italy and is building the life of an intellectual there. Still, he knows he cannot outrun his past and he still has some unfinished business with Ms. Starling. The letter he sends her is friendly and comfortable despite the awareness they are standing on opposing sides. He wishes to be free to roam, she wishes to catch him.

The striking question for me in Hannibal, before I realized their real relationship, was: Why come back? He could have killed the Italian cop and disappeared to another place without ever setting foot back on American soil. First theory: He came to do away with Mason Verger. Except he doesn’t care about Verger as he’s already mastered him. Also, that doesn’t follow as Hannibal doesn’t go to Verger, he goes to Clarice. Second theory: He just wants to be back in the States. Again, doesn’t wash because he could have gone somewhere else in the States without interacting with Clarice or putting himself close enough for Verger to catch. Third theory: He wants to finish what he started with Clarice and see where it is going.

Their final scene together in the kitchen right before he cuts off his hand to get out of the handcuffs is a state of their relationship discussion. He says to her, “Would you ever say, if you loved me you would stop?” He admits, without overt sweetness, his feelings for her. She refuses him when she says, “Not in a million years.” Then, despite this rejection which I can only assume he expects since he knows her very well (“That’s my girl.”), he still chooses to mutilate himself instead of her for the purposes of his escape. He loves her so much he puts her well-being above his own. In spite of her staunch resistance to his advances, you see a single tear come down Clarice’s cheek. She mourns his loss and I have to wonder if she is thinking of what may have happened if she had said yes.

It is undoubtedly a dark romance, but it fits the bill.

Timed Challenges and Why I Love Them

If you’ve been around a while, you’ve heard me talk about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or the 50k Sprint across the month of November I do nearly every year. Over the last 12 years, I’ve done it and won more than 10 times. In short, I’m a fan. It was my first time challenge. Since then, I have also participated in 48hr Film Project and 24hr Playfest. In each of these, I’ve written a complete work within the time frame to be used by someone else to perform. In the case of Film Fest, my first year, I wrote and directed a movie called “Savannah, Slick”. The script ended up being over 10 pages long, which if you know anything about film making means the resulting film would be over 10 minutes long. This was a small problem since I had to get everything down into 7 minutes or less. Quick lesson in reducing a story to its most necessary elements.

Though I had no idea how to direct, I had an amazing cast and crew who made my work come to life and insured I would be willing to do it again.

The second time, I decided not to direct but was rather an assistant on a friend of mine’s project. Since I had some experience directing, things defaulted to me for a while, but once my friend David found his directorial legs, he was off and running on his own which resulted in “True Egyptian Cotton”.

“Three Witches and a Sacrifice,” my first play, a bit of a paranormal comedy about three young witches attempting their first human sacrifice debuted at the Muse Arts Warehouse (a Savannah local theater venue) in 2015. I wrote it and “Demons on a Train,” which has not been performed, in the same four hour time span.

There are two things I absolutely love about Timed Challenges.
1. They produce work.
2. They tell you when to quit.

They Produce Work
In the month of November, with that 30 day deadline kicking around in my head, my production goes into overdrive. One year, I produced 75k in November. Which is, according to NaNo standards, a book and a half. By publishing standards, it’s not quite a full Fantasy novel (120k) but it gets you a lot closer to being finished. Basically, if I could sustain that pace, I could write 120k in two months and have a full first draft of a Fantasy novel finished.
48hr Film Project usually expects you will write the script on Friday night, so you can start filming on Saturday, so you can do your editing Sunday prior to turning the work in.
24Hr Playfest gives you from 10pm to 5am to write a 10pp play. According to my friends who do this and somehow write multiple drafts this is enough time to write at least two full drafts before turn in time. As I said previously I wrote two plays in about four hours. I also don’t write multiple drafts for timed events. I go with the first thing that comes to mind and run with it because otherwise I get bogged down and nothing gets done. The deadline forces me to produce work.

They Tell You When To Quit
No matter how much time you have, eventually it runs out. Someone is going to yell time. The bell is going to ring. The turn in deadline hits. No matter what else happens, this WILL occur. At that point, you turn something in or you don’t, end of story. You produced something or you didn’t.

A Tidbit: There’s a standard thing in writing these days called a “sprint”. Short periods of INTENSE activity leading to higher levels of production. They can last up to an hour, but they don’t generally recommend them being longer than that. I’ve found my ideal is between 15-30 minutes. This allows me to produce up to 1k words in 30 minutes. Good to know when I’m trying to get something done on a deadline. Not familiar with this idea, google “Pomodoro Technique.” 

I’m not going to say that timed challenges are for everybody. They aren’t. If you’re the kind of person who has to stop and consider every comma, then they will probably frustrate you and that’s never a good thing. However, if you struggle with wanting to get words down on paper and are willing to let your inner editor take a back seat for a while, maybe you should give a timed challenge a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?

Day Eleven – Taking Stock

Day Eleven.

That makes it sound like a day of importance, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I cannot say it is any more important than any other day. It is a day like many others in which I will get up and go to work, deal with problems, come home, work some more, deal with things like dinner and socializing, and then go to bed not sure exactly what I accomplished of actual worth. And like every other day, I can choose not to do it that way.

Right now, I’m sitting here writing a blog post about a standard day. I summarized about what my standard day looks like. General enough. There are things I cannot change like ‘Go to Work’ for instance. I have to eat, there are bills to pay, going to work is an obvious answer to these things. However, I can almost decide whether or not I deal with problems. Many things I do are uneventful, something I find soothing. The few sparks of confusion and conflict I deal with can be dispatched in minutes, usually by listening to someone rant until they are satisfied they’ve been heard and then moving on with my day.

In case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like being a postal employee, take all the worst parts of retail and add a time limit.

When I say ‘Work Some More,’ one wonders about my vagueness. I’m a not full time writer. I produce fiction at the rate of a couple million words a year on average but I don’t make enough money to sustain not doing another job. And here is where I have the most power. I have a deadline (Apr. 1st) for Blades of Fate. However, I cannot edit for long periods of time without a break. I also cannot afford to solely focus on one project at a time as that is an inefficient use of the time I have. As it currently stands, I have approximately three hours a day in which I am not otherwise occupied by the vagaries of life. In those three hours, I must cram creating (blog posts, new fiction, mailing list senders, promotional materials) and editing (moving the novel toward completion).

As you have probably guessed, I need something that qualifies as a system. Working on that. Currently, I note down the number of words I produce and the number of hours per day I commit to working on the novel on a spreadsheet as a marker of consistent progress. What it has told me, through the number of days I have marked zero in the word count space, is that I am not consistently producing. This is a problem. Consumers cannot consume what you do not produce.

A little while ago, I discussed my feelings on rewriting and how it was something of a personal nemesis of mine. I thus sallied forth to make rewriting something I did naturally as if it were a necessary evil. Yesterday, I was browsing my Kindle (on my iPad) and came across “Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing” by Dean Wesley Smith. One of those sacred cows is: Writing must be rewritten in order to be good. (Check it out on his blog!) Imagine my surprise at this reminder, the book has been on my Kindle for at least a year and I’ve read it before, that my process doesn’t have to include extensive rewrites. In his own words, he is a three draft writer and from the first to the third things don’t change much, unless he has to scrap the story and start over in which case it takes him six drafts.

Kevin J. Anderson (a super prolific writer with a process I only just understand) outlines his process, which is a bit more involved (dictation/transcription/clean up editing), for writing at speed in “Million Dollar Productivity”. His thought, as a full-time author, a day when he doesn’t produce, he doesn’t eat. 

I like to eat. Not gonna lie.

Heinlein’s writing rules state you only edit when an editor asks you to. Working on getting submissions out to editors who might, maybe, ask me for a rewrite. (Dean Wesley Smith gives you all of Heinlein’s Rules in the above blog post.)

Perhaps this a moment for hybrid theory. Rewrites are not strictly speaking necessary, but okay if it doesn’t hinder the piece getting out to market with all speed. It takes me an hour or so to go through and proof a short story (depending on length), novels significantly longer.

So to put this into steps:

  1. Write 1st draft.
  2. Sweep (fix major obvious errors).
  3. Send to Beta.
  4. Sweep again (with help from Beta).
  5. Publish/Submit.

Simple enough to put on a postcard.

In case you were wondering what makes me think I’m a good enough writer that I can write a tight enough first draft not to have to do major revisions, I don’t, but I do know my writing well enough to know the more I fiddle with it, the worse it gets. Better to get it out of my hands before I do some major damage.

That said, Day Eleven. One more day marching toward a goal.

This Whole New Year Thing

Let’s talk about the New Year thing.

Wearing His Ring: She Becomes Death Book 1
Available on Amazon for Sale or Borrow.

If I’m honest, and I generally am, I don’t always look forward to the new year because the expectation of success is more than I want to deal with. It seems as if everyone looks on the New Year as if (magically) it will be better than the last year. 2016 wasn’t the greatest year of my life, but then I can’t say that about any year of my life up to this point. Yes, I got engaged (March 4). I put out my third book (Wearing His Ring: She Becomes Death Book I). I didn’t end up in the hospital. I moved in December.

But what about 2017? I’m starting the year by getting married Jan. 13. I am working on Con appearances and vending.

  • April 1st – Blades of Fate, sequel to Chains of Fate
  • July 1stWielding His Scythe: She Becomes Death Book II.
  • September 30thThe Becoming/Hush (Psychic versus Serial Killer).
  • Christmas – Debating between Alice Effect (Cthullu zombies) or Winning His Kingdom: She Becomes Death Book III.

In between, I have various short stories and other projects (including possible in person workshops) I’m working on. Maybe it will be a good year. Maybe it won’t. What I do know is that no matter what, I have to make it a year worth remembering. Otherwise, I’m gonna kick myself at the start of 2018.

Novelist. Actress. Coffee Addict. Horror Enthusiast