Tag: Alice in Wonderland

Top 9 Greatest Hats in Literature

Happy National Hat Day! Yes, this is a real, federally recognized holiday, and to celebrate the world’s oldest head covering (fun fact: the first known pictorial depiction of a hat is a straw hat on a tomb in Egypt dated around 3500 BCE) I’ve compiled a list of the greatest hats in literary history.

 

Image via Keweenaw Report

9. the cat in the hat

I think all of you knew this anthropomorphic feline was going to make an appearance. Making his debut appearance in The Cat in the Hat in 1957, he quickly rose to stardom as one of the most iconic characters in all of children’s media. Curiously, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel, for those of you who were unaware of his real name) provided varying accounts of the creation of the Cat in the Hat. According to the one he told most often, though, he conceived of the character when he scanned the word list that William Spaulding provided him with the intention of creating a story out of the first two word that rhymed, which were naturally “cat” and “hat”. Regardless, the Cat’s tall, red, white-stripped hat is perhaps the most recognizable article of clothing in children’s literature.

 

Image via People | HowStuffWorks

8. the mad hatter

The word “hat” is literally in the man’s name, so you probably also anticipated this Lewis Carroll character to make an appearance. Making his first appearance in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, The Mad Hatter is perhaps one of the most creative children’s characters. Sure, Dr. Seuss may have his contenders, but considering that everyone from Wonderland is absolutely insane, I definitely think they take the cake. And you ever wonder how such a character was conceived? In the early 19th century, “mad as a hatter” was a common phrase, back when fancy hats were the talk of the town. The hatters went mad when, in an effort to create fine felt for their hats, they would use a mercy-based compound, and for those of you who are unaware, exposure to mercury causes psychotic reactions, hence the madness. Does this mean that our fun-loving hatter is actually victim to high-dose poison? Probably.

 

Image via The Fact Site

7. gandalf

If you haven’t read my article on The Lord of the Rings (found here) then you don’t know how overrated I find Tolkien as an author. However, I am willing to admit that, for all of the faults I find in Tolkien’s work, he did pioneer the modern interpretation of the wizard. Sure, Merlin was a character long before Gandalf, and while he was depicted with the same long beard and flowing robes, it wasn’t until The Lord of the Rings where wizards were finally given their now signature pointed hats. While Gandalf’s may not have the stars and crescent moons that most wizard hats found at Party City are decorated with, its wide brim and dipped tip is just as iconic.

 

Image v ia VRScout

6. The sorting hat

Can the Sorting Hat read minds? How exactly does he determine what house the students of Hogwarts belong to as he sits atop their heads? I only read through the Harry Potter series once when I was in elementary school, and to this day I still wish they explained how the Sorting Hat worked. Even in some extended lore, if not directly in the books. But I digress. Every bookworm that was born after 1980 has read through the Harry Potter series at least once. While the Sorting Hat may be yet another testament to how poorly operated Hogwarts is, he’s probably the most famous living hat in all of fiction (which, admittedly, isn’t that high of an honor, for how many living hats can you even name?).

 

Image via The Victorian Web

5. sherlock holmes

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and while he himself was far from a rational and skeptical man (not only did he believe that fairies were real, but he also believed that Harry Houdini could dematerialize), Sherlock Holmes quickly gained a reputation as the greatest detective in all of fiction (that is, until Batman came around), and his look has gained such popularity that it has become the stereotypical  clothing of all detectives depicted in future media, specifically his deerstalker cap. While headgear worn typically hunting in rural areas, it’s association with Sherlock Holmes has made it the staple of the detective look.

 

Image via Reddit

4. Holden caulfield

Narrator and main character of J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, since the book’s publication in 1951, Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion and angst. For those of you who haven’t read The Catcher in the Rye, the book is chock-full of symbolism, one of those symbols being Holden’s red hunting hat, which symbolize his sense of alienation from those around him and intentional isolation. It’s his way of protecting himself from the world, which is why he gives it to his younger sister Phoebe at the end of the novel, in hopes that it will do the same for her.

 

Image via DADaPalooza

3. the man with the yellow hat

Aside from George himself, the only recurring character in the Curious George children’s books was the Man with the Yellow Hat . Never mentioned by name and only appearing as a plot device, either to facilitate George to the adventure or to save him when he gets in a tight spot, the Man with the Yellow Hat is made famous by his signature wide brimmed yellow hat. Most of us may not remember him from our days reading Curious George as a kid, but we all definitely remember his hat!

 

Image via GeekTyrant

2. peter pan

First appearing in The Little White Bird in 1902, free-spirited and mischievous young boy Peter Pan wears perhaps one of the most iconic costumes in all of classic literature, and a costume incomplete without his green, red feathered cap. Surprisingly, J.M Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, never described his appearance in much detail. His famous green garb was instead an original Disney creation, and the famous cap, too. Peter Pan is one of the few characters ever conceived who you can identify just by the hat.

 

Image via Nicola’s Book

1. waldo

Who remembers playing Where’s Waldo? as a kid? While we may not know much about him (other than the fact that he enjoys a competitive game of hide-and-seek), Waldo has existed for decades, ever since 1987 in the UK, where he is known to our neighbors across the pond as Wally. While we all identify him by his red-and-white-stripped shirt, his bubble hat is an article of clothing exclusive to him. No matter where you find it, you’ll always associate it with him.

featured image via kids make it right

L.L. McKinney Talks A Blade So Black Series And Black Fantasy

I had the privilege of speaking with acclaimed Black author L.L. McKinney about her work and what it means to create inclusive, real and tangible characters to help give more of a voice in the fantasy genre to Black writers and writers of color. We talked about her series A Blade So Black, her writing journey and career so far and she gave me just a little a bit of info on the third book in the series, A Crown So Cursed, coming out in 2021.

Today, is Nov, 26, the original publishing date of the classic novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and since McKinney’s famed series uses from the works of Carroll as a stepping stone of sorts for her own, this was perfect day to celebrate both authors.

 

Image via L.L. McKinney

 

Every writer has had that moment when they realized that they wanted to write; that they had to tell a story or stories.

1. When did you start writing and what was your ‘A-Ha’ moment when you found out that you wanted to be a writer? And who inspired you to put pen to paper?

I started telling stories and writing when I was real little. I’m talking, like, kindergarten. I wanted to be a writer early on, but I had an English teacher in high school who told my parents that writing was a distraction for me, and I should stop. My parents didn’t really believe her, but my teacher had a problem with me being smart and finishing my work early? Can’t have the fastest kid in class being a Black girl. Anyway, I didn’t write again until college. I tried to read Twilight, couldn’t get into it. Saw the movie at a friend’s house and was like “well, if she can do it, so can I.” Then I started writing seriously.

 

As a Black writer myself and a lover of all things fantasy, it gets exhausting constantly seeing black people and brown people excluded. So, I’ve done my due diligence to find more authors like yourself who can give me what I need but there is still a disparity in the genre.

 

2. For you, how important is diversity? And even though things have gotten somewhat better what do you think can be done to bring Black fantasy to the forefront and get it the recognition it deserves?

Diversity is everything. I mean, I like being around and seeing people like me and having examples to follow and heroes to root for and watching people who look like me and my friends and family fall in love and go on adventures. Run on sentence, there. But it’s really important. A BLADE SO BLACK is my first published book, but not the first one I wrote. The first four I wrote were about white boys, because that’s all I read in the genre growing up, so I thought that’s what you had to write to get published. Like, a lack of diversity meant I didn’t give myself permission to be the hero of my own story, one I control, until five books in. That’s messed up. I think in order for Black fantasy to get the recognition it deserves—and this answer is gonna make some people made—publishing needs to make those stories a priority.

Not just say they will, and not take on a couple books here and there to assuage the masses. I mean a for real push like “we’ve got two Black authors, great. Let’s get four more by the end of quarter.” And also hiring Black people within the industry so those books have people who understand them, who will fight to get them support. And THEN, because there are levels, giving MONEY AND RESOURCES to those Black people within the industry to provide said support. It’s a lot, but it can be done.

 

Image via Amazon

 

The Nightmare-Verse series in a way, is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland but it’s so much more than that. We are introduced to Wonderland, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Mad Hatta, the Queens but they are vastly different from the source material.

 

3. Why did you decide to use those books as an influence for your own? Where they influential in any way?

There was no real reason. I just really liked Alice in Wonderland overall, and when I thought of how it could be a real place and someone could go there to fight monsters, I wanted it to be about a Black girl doing the slaying. The original tale is somewhat influential, I mean I name characters after them and have a few similar themes in setting and whatnot, but I really just sorta used it as a baseline and built on top of the. I mean, most of the foundation is mine in this one.

 

Your Alice is such a dynamic character. She is pulled between her daily life, going to school and being relatively normal to having to literally fight for her life in Wonderland but all the while she stays grounded. She’s not outlandish or over the top, she feels like someone I could know. That goes for her mom as well. Sometimes I swear, she’s my mother.

 

4. What do you attribute the authenticity of your characters to?

Writing about the type of character I wanted to read about when I was young, the type of character I wanted to be. I kinda still wanna be. And I used bits and pieces of people I’ve known over the years to add to characters. Friends, family, enemies. I throw some of them in there, too. It’s usually not all that flattering for them, though. By adding in pieces of real people, I think that makes the characters more real. And avoids getting into trouble if someone thinks you based a whole character on them, because you gotta put those characters through some stuff, and folk be getting in they feelings about it, lol.

 

Image via Amazon

 

I think we can all agree that a book’s cover is rather important. A cover of the book can help set the tone for what I am going to expect and gives me a glimpse of what our main character/characters may look like. The covers of your books just happen to be some of my favorites. I love how unapologetically Black, Alice is. She’s dark skin with her natural hair looking fabulous but she also looks incredibly fierce.

5. Were you heavily involved in the creation of you cover art? And was there any push back to change it to something else, to maybe make more “marketable” to more demographics?

I was fortunate enough to be involved in my covers at every step. There was a list of about 16 models, and my editor told me to pick my top four who I thought embodied Alice. Luckily, they were able to get my girl. Then a friend paid for me to fly to New York for the photo shoot! That was a time and a half and I really enjoyed myself. After that, I got a couple fo cover comps, mockups to see how the design was going. I told them what I liked about both covers, and they were able to mesh them together into the first cover of the series.

After that, they pretty much nailed it on each following one, but I gave opinions on weapons and colors and stuff here and there. They really listened to my suggestions. There was no pushback at all. My editor was a woman of color, and she knew having this dark-skinned Black girl with her natural hair front and center on the cover was important to me from jump, so she made it happen.

Image via Twitter

The anniversary of A Blade So Black has passed. And your baby is couple of years old now!

6. Can you enlighten us on what the journey was like? Going from writing it, to having someone pick it up, to publishing it and having a growing a fan base of The Nightmare-verse series?

It had been more than ten years of trying by that point. As I said, I’d written about four books before that. Maybe closer to 3.75, sometimes you don’t reach THE END, and that’s okay. I was on my second agent at the time, the one who sold A BLADE SO BLACK. See, she wasn’t even an agent when I started writing or querying in the beginning. She was fairly new when I signed with her. And I had stopped counting query rejections a long time before then. I stopped at 250, to give you an idea. Then, after signing with her, we were on submission for two years before it sold.

So, this has been a long, long road, and not the easiest trying to get a story about a Black girl fighting monsters out there without some sort of pain narrative, you know how people love the trauma porn. Now? It’s kinda of surreal. People ask to take pictures with me and want me to sign things and sometimes when I talk to folks, they get really excited about it, and I’m happy, really, but I’m also at the same time like “y’all have no idea how much of a dork I am!” I’m not used to it. I don’t think I’ll ever be used to it, but I’m glad something I’m doing brings people joy. And I’m grateful too be so blessed. I got the best readers in the world. Thank you Jesus for them.

 

The third Nightmare-Verse book, A Crown So Cursed is coming out in the spring of 2021. When I finished A Dream So Dark, I was expecting a little preview like at the end of A Blade So Black. The book seemed to end on good terms, but I was surprised that it went right to acknowledgements.

 

7. Do you think you can spare even the tiniest detail of the next book?

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII guess I can spare a few. I know book two ended on good terms, but don’t get comfortable. There’s lots more cosplay, more fighting, further dipping into Wonderland’s history, love, curses, betrayal, shenanigans, MORE NANA-K!, and hopefully all the answers everyone is looking for. Well, maybe most of them. The Nightmare-Verse is a pretty big place. Or, at least it will be, if I have anything to say about it.

 

Image via Amazon

If you haven’t checked out L.L. McKinney yet, I highly suggest that you do. She’s an incredible writer who has personally influenced me and people like me who are fans of fantasy, young adult fiction, diverse literature and just amazing novels all together.  This series and her other works are just a few of the novels across genres that are overlooked because the cover art is of a black person or a person of color and the potential reader doesn’t think they can relate.

You might not be able to at first but give a novel you would have passed by a chance. You’ll hear from new voices who come from different places, who have lived different lives than you. But as you read through, you will find things you can relate to on a human level. The themes of growing up, anxiety, pressure, fear and loss are always relatable, no matter where they come from.

Featured image via Twitter

5 Non-Harry Potter Characters Who Are Definitely Ravenclaws

Since its release, the Harry Potter series has pulled other shows into its universe. Fans of all kinds love to categorize their favorite characters into one of the four Hogwarts houses. So, in honor of Ravenclaw Pride Day, here are five non-Potter characters that show all the signs of a true Ravenclaw!

  1. Sam Winchester from Supernatural

Image via Nerds and Beyond

Sam Winchester is the true research king of the Supernatural universe. He knows everything about everything, and in a world overflowing with new creatures, Sam is ready to learn. Add Sam’s witty personality and his love for teaching others, and you’ve got a Ravenclaw on your hands. And don’t forget the fact that he (as a homeless teen) got a full-ride merit scholarship to Stanford University.

  1. Matilda from Matilda

Image via Bustle

The intellectual, witty Matilda is the epitome of a Ravenclaw. Her love for learning, books, and that clever personality sorts her into the house of blue and gold. But don’t get it confused, Matilda learns on her own time, like any good Ravenclaw. She would be bored with monotonous studies, eager to learn what she can from her wagon of books. Matilda has enough ambition and brainpower to wow any Hogwarts professor, and she can move things with her mind! She’s already such a great witch.

 

  1. Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf

Image via Nerds and Beyond

Here’s to another researching king. Stiles Stilinski: smart, loyal, clever, and witty. After finding out that his best friend had been bitten by a werewolf, Stiles dives headfirst into the supernatural world. His wit and humor keeps his friends afloat as despair takes them head-on, but it’s his intellect that saves them time and time again. And maybe that Mountain Ash trick means he really can do magic.

  1. Alice from Alice in Wonderland

Image via IMDb

Alice, so bored with the teachings of her sister that she gets lost in a book and transported to a new world. Well, isn’t that cliché? Alice is quite the Ravenclaw. She is eager to explore and learn more about the world she’s been transported to, but she is still a daydreamer, meant to spend her days in the Ravenclaw tower with Luna Lovegood. Alice is also a clever girl; creative enough to wiggle her way out of any tough spot.

  1. Rainbow Johnson from Black-ish

Image via Medium

Seeing as she’s a doctor, it’s obvious that Rainbow is all about the books. She’s a studious woman that sees intellect as a personality trait. But Rainbow is also a wise, caring mother. She loves her children and wants them to express themselves, to be creative and clever like she is. Rainbow values to individualistic nature of Ravenclaws, carving her own path through her life and her marriage.

Feature Image via Wizarding World

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Do You Know the Story Behind Your Favorite Song?

Happy National Jukebox Day everyone! We all know that songs are are used to tell stories of the past. From tribal chants that tell tales of ancient civilizations to even nursery rhymes that describe the horrors of the plague that ravaged Europe. So let’s take a look at five songs that are either inspired, retell or based on a written story. 

 

5-Love Story by Taylor Swift

Image result for taylor swift love story

Image via FLICKR 

 

We can’t make a list without discussing Taylor Swift Love Story. Taylor sings to the boy she is pining after that all he has to do is “just say yes,” even though its against her dad’s wishes because it’s a “love story.”  The song is re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s most famous play Romeo and Juliet. Taylor envisions herself as Juliet Capulet and her star-crossed lover as Romeo Montague try to begin their love story despite their family’s long standing blood feud. Even in the video she portrays herself as a princess in a castle waiting to be saved by her prince.

 

4-November Rain by Guns N’ Roses

Image result for november rain

IMAGE VIA WLUP.COM

 

November Rain is one of Guns N’ Roses most famous songs within their amazing catalog of music. Its music video depicts the story of a musician (played by Axl Rose) who’s lifestyle leads to the death of his wife (played by then girlfriend Stephanie Seymour.) Interestingly, this larger than life song is based on the short story Without You by Del James within his book The Language of Fear: Stories, a story about alcoholic and drug addict musician Mayne Mann, lead singer of a band named Suicide Solution, whose lifestyle causes the deterioration of this relationship with his wife. I won’t spoil the end of the story but I recommend reading it!

 

3-Xanadu by Rush

Image result for rush xanadu

IMAGE VIA PINTEREST

 

Rush’s song, Xanadu to one of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s three great poems, Kubla Khan or a Vision in a Dream. The poem was written after Coleridge had an opium-influenced dream after he read a work that describes a man named Kubla Khan that travels Xanadu and found a fantastical amount of wonders. Xanadu was the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China, Kublai Khan. The song categorized as progressive rock that, spends approximately five of its eleven minutes with instrumental filled with synthesizers before getting to a retelling of the poem where a man who describes himself as a “mad immortal man” that waits for the world to end that came to Xanadu because he searched for immortality.

 

2-For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica

 

Image result for for whom the bell tolls metallica

IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE

 

The song For Whom the Bell Tolls, written by Metallica, is not retelling of the story of For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, but it does describe the process of modern warfare as does the book that takes place during the “Spanish Civil War” which is viewed as the ‘dress rehearsal’ of World War Two. The song mainly borrows from chapter twenty-seven when the scene of five men are obliterated by the airstrike, as they wait for their death. The book follows Robert Jordan an American Spanish Language instructor that volunteers and involves himself with a Republican Guerilla Group.   

 

1-I am the Walrus by The Beatles

Image result for i am the walrus

IMAGE VIA NOW I KNOW

 

The song, I am the Walrus written John Lennon and Paul McCartney was a reference to ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter a poem written by Lewis Carroll that was told in his book, Through the Looking-Glass. The poem is about a walrus and a carpenter that trick a group of well dressed young oysters, so that the can eat them. The poem is recited to Alice by Tweedledee and Tweedledum. After hearing the poem Alice tries to decide which of the two characters were the more sympathetic. The funny part is that when John Lennon was asked why he used the Walrus, he admitted that he regrets using the Walrus because he didn’t realize that he was the villain of the story.

 

 

So next time you listen to your favorite song, take a look at the lyrics. Don’t be afraid to look up background information on the band as well. the You never know what story might find that inspired it.

 

Featured Image Via Now I Know

 

    

 

 


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