Interview with Georgina Guthrie Part I

I am super excited about this post. We just wrapped up The Weight of Words re-read as part of the countdown to the release of The Truest of Words, final book of The Words Series. This is the FIRST EVER author interview on Symphony Book Cafe and I am so honored to have Georgina Guthrie as the first interviewee!

Thank you GG for agreeing to do this and Amy for contributing questions.

You can visit GG’s website here: In my Write mind

 

How did you come up with the title The Weight of Words?

I don’t even remember the process (it was over five years ago…I’ve reached an age where I often can’t remember what I did five minutes ago…LOL). I think it was really organic. When plotting the story, the first scene that came into my mind almost fully realized, was the one in which Daniel tells Aubrey about his experience at Oxford. I was contemplating the power of words, and how just a few can have such overwhelming implications, especially if there is a powerful verb involved. (I hate you, I love you, I forgive you…) In this case, the verb was “molest”. “He molested me” were the three words that blew Daniel’s life out of the water. I wanted to choose a title that reflected the powerful impact of these few words.

 

What personality traits or characteristics do you share with your characters? What do you love most about Aubrey and Daniel?

I’m stubborn and independent, like Aubrey. Definitely stoic and emotionally strong. I share her love of literature and have a similar interest in nicknames and verbal sparring. What I love most about her is how much she grows as a character over the course of the three books. She’s always been independent, but she really matures during the time span of the books, primarily in her deep understanding of the importance of the various relationships in her life—with friends, with family, and with Daniel.

Like Daniel, I’m an acute perfectionist and often doubt myself and my abilities, which can be paralyzing at times. I’m also a romantic. I’m fond of sweet, simple gestures which can mean much more than grand ones. I like that he comes to realize that and embraces simplicity as well as spoiling Aubrey with “material” gifts. What I love most about him is how he throws himself wholeheartedly into his relationship with Aubrey. It’s all or nothing. There’s no in between.

 

TWOW was primarily written in Aubrey’s point of view and a little bit of Daniel’s, not entirely a dual-POV book. Why did you choose to write it this way? How did you decide when to switch from Aubrey to Daniel’s POV?

I’ve always enjoyed dramatic irony—that feeling of a reader knowing more than the characters do about something critical. That’s a difficult kind of tension to create when writing in the first person. I’ve played with that notion a little bit in the third book without the POV change, but there are still a few chapters written from Daniel’s point of view. For me, the time to switch from one character to the other occurs when I need the opposing view to skew things, or when I know more about what’s happening with the characters than both the characters and the readers. That happens a couple of times in The Truest of Words. *insert evil laugh*

I enjoy exploring another character’s mind, as well. As a writer, I’ll often write out what another characters is doing during a certain time period, just so I can fully understand their motivation and mindset. I suppose for readers, seeing events from each character’s perspective also allows them to identify with characters more readily.

(And don’t you just love being inside his tortured brain? Sigh.)

 

Aubrey and Daniel’s first tutorial debate sees Aubrey reference the title of the book, The Weight of Words. Daniel says he completely disagrees with her stance during that debate. Whose opinion was right? (whose opinion do you believe?)

Daniel puts forth the idea that “a play isn’t fully realized until it reaches the stage.” When Aubrey disagrees with this, claiming that such a statement belittles the importance (weight) of the words on the page, I agree with her in general terms. Every text has its own import, meaning, and textual significance. If you read a book and then watch a film adaptation, you simply cannot assess them with the same set of criteria. They are different mediums entirely.

But in the case of literature that rose out of a “pre-literacy” era, you have to consider the author’s intended audience. Shakespeare was writing for the stage. Whatever he wrote on the page, he knew would be spoken by an actor at the Globe (or wherever his plays were being performed at the time). Very few people were reading the printed page. The reading and study of his plays came later. In that sense, where Shakespeare is concerned, I agree with Daniel.

 

Anti-fraternizing policy prohibits Daniel & Aubrey to have a relationship while they are TA and student yet they are together. Do you believe that true love conquers all? Or at least in this case, is love above ethics?

I’m a bit of a rule follower, so I’m not sure I could flout policy this flagrantly. (This aspect of the story is definitely NOT autobiographical). In writing the story, I was not intending to denounce university policies, or indeed policies of any organization which discourage fraternization. Those rules and guidelines are in place for a reason. In the case of the story, Aubrey and Daniel (Daniel in particular), found a way to navigate both the moral landscape and the academic pitfalls.

I don’t know if I necessarily believe in aphorisms like “true love conquers all” or “love comes before ________”. I’d like to think that I’m living my life with my soul mate, and I know my life is richer and better because of his presence in my life, and dealing with difficulties is easier with him by my side.

 

I wouldn’t mind violating the anti-fraternizing policy with this guy, would you? 😛 If you are licking your screen, I hope you had a screen protector on! And did I intentionally make the photo this big? Ummm, YES! You are welcome! (source: Justice Joslin FB Fanpage)

 

This is only PART I of the interview, please let me know what you think by commenting below!

PART II will be revealed next week! Please stay tune!


For those of you who are wondering what we are doing post TWOW reread, here is the plan:

11/9 Part II of Interview with GG

11/16 Better Deeds Than Words post where Amy and I will talk about favorite moments in BDTW, things we want to see resolved in The Truest of Words, scenes we want to see happen in TTOW, and scenes we DON’T want to see happen in TTOW. Maybe even some prediction.

11/18 The Truest Of Words release date!

I hope you will stay with us as we countdown to 11/18

THANK YOU!!!!

Steph

TWOW Chapters 25-30 Discussion

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Wow, here we are, FINAL WEEK! THE LAST TWOW reread discussion! Thank you all SO VERY MUCH for tuning in and reading our discussion. It means a lot to us! Last week had a tough ending, we ended with Aubrey and Daniel in a not-so-great place. 😦 Thankfully, this week is about resolution. When you reference the TWOW calendar, you will see that we have arrived at Aubrey & Daniel’s one-month anniversary since their Hamlet Hart House (oh, alliteration 😛 ) date!

1. From Matt’s confrontation with Daniel, we saw that Daniel was absolutely convinced that Aubrey and Matt were involved because it saved him from having to do “the wrong thing”. First, any thoughts on Daniel’s behavior and attitudes? Second, was it right for Matt to talk to Daniel without informing Aubrey?

Steph: Daniel was rude to Matt because he probably felt like Matt was there to gloat and definitely did not expect Matt’s explanation. The whole incident really brought out Daniel’s insecurity, doubt, jealousy, and fear. I think Daniel said it best himself when he lectured on Antony’s dilemma in tutorial. Antony (or Daniel) couldn’t “reconcile his clashing values” which were honor & reputation and love. Daniel was convinced that Aubrey and Matt were involved so that he could get out of solving that dilemma. It’s easier to blame others than yourself. And in this case, blaming Aubrey for her conduct was easier than resolving his inner conflict. This whole incident could be traced back to the Nicola accusation (see #2).

I’m glad that Matt talked to Daniel. Matt was definitely the savior in this case. He put his love and friendship with Aubrey before his own misery (I’m sure he was still feeling upset about seeing his ex-girlfriend kissing another guy). Even though he knew Aubrey wouldn’t approve of this but he still did it anyway and it really showed how much he cared about her.

Amy: Well, I couldn’t say it better myself, you nailed it. The Antony analogy was just perfect. In psychology there are these defense mechanisms we tend to use in certain situations. In the case of Daniel he uses Displacement, this involves taking out our frustrations, feelings on people or objects that are less threatening. For Daniel it was easier to blame Aubrey than indeed confront the real reason behind: him.

About Matt seeking him, mmm…I don’t know if it was the right thing to do. Any person would go nuclear if your friend airs your dirty laundry to the last person you wanted to talk to. But, if you ask me between Julie and Matt’s words whose have more weight? Matt all the way, since he was one involved and him denying everything and setting everything straight once and for all definitely put Daniel in his place.

2. Daniel finally revealed the shocking Nicola accusation that happened in Oxford, what was your reaction to the news?

Steph: I was shocked and disgusted to hear this. This sort of accusation can easily ruin a person’s reputation, especially in the academia setting where reputation means everything. It’s absolutely abhorrent that Nicola falsely accused Daniel. I mean, what a bitxh! Even her name sounded bitxhy. This accusation clearly damaged Daniel on a psychological level. Daniel’s fear of crossing that physical boundary with Aubrey was evident (pg. 291). With Aubrey, I think Daniel’s fear went beyond ethics. Nicola’s accusation had made him questioned himself as a person, “Nicola made me feel like a monster. I spent a hellish year convincing myself I wasn’t one” (pg. 306). Nicola’s accusation was the root of his fear, anxiety, and trust issue. For Daniel, his rejection to Aubrey was a form of self-preservation. By crossing that physical line with Aubrey, after he had convinced himself he wasn’t a monster, he probably felt like he was becoming the monster Nicola set him up to be. So, when it came to Aubrey, he was uncertain about how to proceed, but he knew he loved her.

Amy: I was so mad and also sad for him. He had gone through hell career wise, but let’s not forget the family issue this problem has caused, “…The worst part is the element of doubt the episode raised about my conduct. I’d been so mindful of being professional and doing all the right things, and it didn’t make one iota of difference. To this day, I wonder if my parents believe me entirely, especially my dad. It’s a constant source of conflict between us. It makes my mother crazy” (pg. 305). I cannot imagine how hard is to live questioning if your parents believed you, so Nicola made a lot of damage in Daniel’s life in every aspects.

3. Daniel considered giving up his position so that he and Aubrey won’t have to wait. What did you think about that?

Steph: I definitely agree with Aubrey that it was a stupid idea. Clearly, deep down Daniel was not happy with that decision and was already resenting Aubrey even before he told her. I think that resentment definitely played a part in the misunderstanding with Aubrey& Matt.

Amy: I understand that after all he has been through, Daniel found this light in Aubrey’s love and that she is the one. But we all have to agree with her, it was stupid. His other love is to teach, that was the only part Nicola didn’t take with her false accusation. When Daniel is teaching, he is in his element, all the darkness he feels fades away, and yeah, you’re totally right he was already unconsciously resenting Aubrey before he told her.

Steph: Teaching was definitely something that Nicola did NOT take away from Daniel. So true.

4. Should Aubrey have kept the truth about Matt to herself?

Steph: No, I was happy that Aubrey told Daniel. I think it was good for the two of them to lay everything to rest.

Amy: No, it was the right thing to do. I think they both deserved to put their cards on the table and put everything behind them and move forward.


Favorite moments

I think there’s no contest this week. It’s the moment we have all been waiting for, THE KISS!!!!!!!!!!!! Or should I say KISSES??? And we got THREE of them! Count them, 1, 2, THREEEEEE!

1. Sweet kiss:

“Slowly, tortuously, his tongue slid against mine again and again, making me dizzy with desire. An involuntary sound–half moan, half whimper–betrayed how badly I wanted him” (pg. 321).

2. Passionate Kiss

“He took my hands and curled my fingers around the lapels of his suit jacket. Then he spun me around, trapping me against the car as he pressed his lips against mine. The kiss deepened, becoming increasingly passionate, almost frantic, as weeks of unrequited longing tore through us.” (pg. 322)

3. Tender Kiss

“…[he] tenderly kissing me again with measured control, his tongue moving deliberately against mine. Gradually he loosened his grasp, slowly pushing me back, kissing me sweetly, calming the stormy passion that was raging through me” (pg. 323).

Does anyone else need an ice bucket, an ice shower, or an ice bath?


Weekly Q&A with GG

One of my favorite scenes is always the tutorial. I love reading the debates Aubrey and Daniel often get into. Since they usually have opposing viewpoints, how did you go about writing these debate/discussion scenes? How difficult was it to write scenes like these?

I loved writing the tutorial scenes. All of them. They were a great deal more detailed in the first draft. It was tricky reining them in. (Too much fun! Lol.) I basically took a look at where Aubrey and Daniel were in their relationship and tried to pick plays/poetry that would echo their status. It’s not difficult finding points of contention when dealing with Shakespeare—his plays have been debated for centuries. I guess the hardest part was not letting the content of the tutorials become so complicated that a reader who isn’t familiar with Shakespeare would lose the plot. That was very hard for me to be objective about. But what a great way to expose characters’ ideologies about things like love at first sight, romance, passion, ambition, jealousy, regrets, the meaning of life etc. For me, incorporating the tutorials or simply infusing the text with lines from Shakespeare’s plays was such an amazing literary device. It’s heartening to hear from readers who have been inspired to pick up their old Shakespeare anthology again after reading The Weight of Words.

 (Steph: I have to give GG a HUGE KUDOS for finding the perfect parallels between Shakespeare’s plays and Aubrey& Daniel’s relationship! I mean CH. 26 is a great example! On top of that, the chapter quotes, too!!! GAH, BRILLIANT!)


Well, this is it! We have now concluded our TWOW reread!!!

We can’t thank you enough for joining us on this awesome journey. We didn’t know what to expect when we started this. It began as two people loving an author and her work, and trying to find something to do while counting down the days for the release of TTOW. We are so so so glad that you guys joined us on this reread. We had such a great time re-visiting the story, talking about it, and finding new things that were overlooked or forgotten; we hope you did too!

Thank you, GG, SO MUCH for this incredible book and opportunity to host this reread.We hope we didn’t botch your book 😛 And thank you for all of your support, advice, and generosity for letting us to do this. And of course,  all the Justice Joslin photos! He is Daniel Grant!

Thank you readers for participating, reading, and commenting! THANK YOU! *bow*

REMEMBER: Final installment of The Words Series, THE TRUEST OF WORDS, comes out on NOVEMBER 18!!! MARK YOUR CALENDAR!!!!!!

Steph & Amy

The Words Series Soundtracks

In one of my earlier Opinion posts, I talked about authors using music to create soundtracks or playlists for their books as a way of enhancing the reading experience. You can read the post here. Music and lyrics often convey and capture what prose can’t. The melody, tempo, rhythms, and keys create a symphony that speaks to us on a deeper emotional level. And this combination of music and books intensifies our connection with books. Ms. Georgina Guthrie has done so with the soundtracks to her books, The Words Series! I hope you will take a listen!

(source: GG’s website).

Steph


 

The Weight of Words:

 

Better Deeds than Words:

 

BDTW Calendar

I am interrupting our current The Weight of Words programming with this post on Better Deeds Than Words, book 2 of The Words Series. I posted TWOW calendar in the last post as part of our reread. For those of you that might be (re)reading BDTW ahead to prepare for the Nov. 18 release of The Truest of Words (LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!!!! MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!), here is the calendar for BDTW.

Recap: Daniel gave Aubrey a Shakespeare calendar as a gift for their secret countdown to freedom. You can read more about this scene on pg. 161-162 in TWOW. I use the paintings mentioned in the book to create our own Real-Time Reading Calendar.

The paintings featured in BDTW calendar are:

  • March: A Dance to The Music of Time.
  • April: Antony and Cleopatra
  • May: The Happy Lovers

You won’t find any description for May’s painting in TWOW. I have asked GG herself to pick the painting for May and she has picked The Happy Lovers by Jean-Honore Fragonard.

Steph

TWOW CHAPTERS 19-24 Discussion

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WOW, I can’t believe we have reached the penultimate week! How are you all enjoying the story so far? Are you all swooned by Daniel? Last week we ended with Aubrey and Daniel skulking in the corner (again!), but this time at the stairwell of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Aubrey said it so well, “being in his arms was pure, unadulterated joy.” I wish I could also be in Daniel’s arms. I mean, let’s review by staring & drooling at the photos and having dirty thoughts.

1. Aubrey commented that they still had “so much to learn about each other”. What would you have preferred in your own relationship, getting to know someone first then entering into a relationship? Or secure the person first, and then be friends later?

Steph: I think Aubrey and Daniel’s relationship is unique in that they were able to observe each other in classroom settings. I mean, you can’t fake true intelligence, so in some ways, they were already getting to know each other before they admitted their feelings, but only in a limited context. I guess, in terms of learning someone about their hobbies, habits, pet peeves, etc. I would have preferred to know before I enter a relationship with the person.

Amy: For me the ideal way is getting to know them first, and that’s one of the reasons I love this story so much, it has the “I relate myself with the situation” component.

2. What did you think about that almost-kiss at the Four Seasons parking lot??

Steph: *fan myself* IT WAS HOT!!!! It’s all about foreplay, seduction, and temptation. That scene hit all the right (would be) spots! Haha. How much longer until they actually do it?! *pull hair*

Amy: *feels warm all of the sudden& moves in front of a fan* That my friend.. was HOT!! Did the book caught on fire in that moment? Hell YES. And yeah yeah yeah, her tongue across his jawline bit…whew!  Aubrey is a dream achiever, she won at life! Hahaha 😀

3. Did you think Julie over-reacted when Aubrey revealed the truth about her and Daniel at the dorm?

Steph: I thought Julie might have over-reacted until Aubrey questioned her loyalty, “you are not going to tell anyone, right?’ (207). Aubrey’s comment was definitely hurtful and Julie’s reaction was completely understandable. I can see why Julie felt hurt and angry because she thought Aubrey was her friend. She felt humiliated by the possibility that Aubrey and Daniel might be laughing at her behind her back. The whole thing definitely could have been worse, but it wasn’t the best either. I guess I was hoping Julie to be calmer and let Aubrey explain, so more sympathetic right there and then. Eventually, she did!

Amy: mmm I don’t know. At first, I didn’t think she was going to get mad, but I think the 2 things that detonated her anger were first that she confronted Aubrey the day before and asked her what was going on between Daniel and her and Aubrey lied. Second was what you just said, her loyalty being questioned by Aubrey. So I think she just felt hurt and needed a moment to process, I think she would have overreacted if she didn’t look for Aubrey afterwards and talk things through.

Steph: Well said, Amy!

4. At the end of Ch. 21, we encountered Aubrey and Daniel’s first “fight”, what did you think about that?

Steph: Honestly, It was a “what the heck just happened” moment. I was totally confused. One minute things were heating up then it plummeted to sub-zero coolness. Daniel was trying to rein both of their desires, but it backfired terribly leaving them in a bad place. Aubrey was mad and frustrated she was rejected even though she knew they should be more careful. I can see why Daniel was so upset because they had talked earlier on the phone promising to behave. I didn’t like that Aubrey ended with “whatever” that’s like the worst word in a relationship (the next is “fine”). They weren’t communicating properly and maybe in the heat of the moment, Aubrey couldn’t really control the mix of emotions, which led to her being brisk.

Amy: It was definitely a “what the heck just happened” moment. I think the mojitoes played a part in Aubrey’s reaction. Yes, it is true that just the day before Daniel let things escalated in the parking lot, and she was properly teased. But let me tell you, things like these are what make the story more relateable. Nothing ever goes 100% smoothly in relationships. And the “whatever” at the end was the cherry on top of the ice cream, as you said, worst word to say in a relationship.

5. The disagreement escalated into a huge misunderstanding at the end of Ch.24 when Daniel misinterpreted Matt & Aubrey and he stormed out without really trying to understand the situation. Do you think this reflects a lack of trust and foundation between Daniel and Aubrey? Or was this a reasonable reaction for Daniel?

Steph: DISASTER! DISASTER!! They were already having minor issues then this happened! I could see that Daniel was upset giving the way he and Aubrey left out, he felt hurt and definitely would have wondered if things had ended. it drove me crazy that he didn’t try to understand what went on. I guess, he couldn’t go in or else he risked exposing the relationship, but he didn’t try to walk in and see or even, at the very least, wait outside for Aubrey. It made me mad. To me, it definitely reflected some levels of distrust and uncertainty in their relationship. I guess this might be the price of secrecy because the two of them don’t have enough time to develop and build a solid foundation. Gah, what a nightmare!

Amy: I was so mad, sometimes you see them talk to each other…say things like “I follow you the first day of lectures and eavesdropped your phone conversation” but they don’t make the time to really sit down and talk about misunderstandings and about the foundation of their relationship. I don’t think is entirely not trusting one another, I think is a self issue. Daniel has issues trusting, you see he expresses “he made a leap of faith..a blind one” so this tell me he has a hard time letting people in. But Aubrey doesn’t know this, also I think Aubrey can be a little negative perhaps, after the first argument thinking all is doomed. And then there’s pride, “I’m not gonna call him..he has as much fault as I have.” And there is also dread, they both were dreading confrontation thinking the other was about to end what they have.

Regarding Daniel’s reaction, we tend to believe that a picture expresses more than a thousand words and it was a very confusing picture leading him to believe Aubrey and Matt were together. So, it was reasonable to a certain extent, but she did try to contact him to explain at the very moment, but circumstances got in the way. He then drank himself to sleep and seeing the text messages the morning after probably sent the wrong signal to Aubrey. But, then again he didn’t reach her to let her explain either…so yes…we are in the midst of a nightmare.

Steph: I really like what you said about the self issues! They both have flaws and this was the moment where their flaws really showed and we see the devastating effects of that in their relationship *shake my head*.


Favorite quotes & moments:

“Maybe Mr. Shmexy just needed a vacation. Gosh, I can’t believe we have a date with him tomorrow, I wonder if he’s got a thing for threesomes” (179). – Oh Jules, you nut job always cracking me up.

The Skulking in corners this time near the stairs at the hotel – Can I have A Daniel to skulk in corners with, please? GAH!

“His lips parted expectantly as I reached across the table to pop the piece of fruit in his open mouth. Before I could pull my hand away, he gently pulled my fingers toward his lips and, after taking a quick glance over my shoulders…”- LETS STOP RIGHT THERE, TO BREATHE… JESUS H CHRIST… BREATHE IN…. OUT… REPEAT. Oh my ever beating heart!!!

“…Slowly licked the juice from them. When he pulled my fingers into a V and slipped his tongue up and down my index finger, I damn near passed out”. (189) – SWEET BABY JESUS, AUBREY, I NEARLY PASSED OUT WITH YOU.

CHAPTER 19!!!


GG weekly Q&A

1. Could you tell us your writing ritual? Do you listen to music? Write alone? Stare at Justice Joslin’s photos?
I don’t really have a ritual. It seems to me that if I were to ritualize the process, I would make it virtually impossible to get anything done. I have precious few hours at my disposal when I can sit down and write, so I need to be able to do so under any and all circumstances. I don’t have to listen to music, but listening to music while I write doesn’t bother me, and can sometimes help to set a mood. I prefer to write alone, but I can also churn out thousands of words at the dining room table while my family watches TV in the next room, chatting, laughing etc.  I’m not averse to writing in public either. If I’m playing chauffeur to my daughter, I’ll drag my laptop with me and write while sitting in the waiting room at her piano studio or things like that.

2. Some authors say that the characters talk to them, some say that they sort of watch things happen as a bystander? Which one are you?
Well, I don’t think my characters actually talk to me.  They talk to each other a lot in my head, which can make it difficult to carry on with daily tasks. Lol. Generally when I sit down to write, I have an idea of where I want a scene to go, but inevitably, once the writing begins, and you start to feel the energy of the scene, the cues of the body language and the implications of what they’re saying and doing, things can go off in unexpected directions.

3. This week’s reading involved Aubrey and Daniel having a huge misunderstanding, their first actually. Was it hard to write conflicts compared to romantic scenes? Which do you prefer?
I find conflict quite easy to write, and I think the conflicts are quite realistic. Even though readers often find it frustrating when characters don’t talk to clear things up, I’m well-versed with the type of misunderstanding Aubrey and Daniel had in this section of the book because I’m an extremely proud person. I have a large extended family, as I think I’ve mentioned before, and stoic pride is a family trait. The number of “falling-outs” I’ve witnessed over the years because of people not communicating properly or trying to save face is quite shocking. So many times, different family members haven’t talked for years because so-and-so said blah blah blah (when actually, all along, something very different was meant, but failure to communicate left the truth hidden). So it might seem like an unrealistic thing to some people, but it’s not to me.
 
The misunderstanding Aubrey and Daniel have is also based on Daniel’s psyche and what he’s grappling with. He almost talks himself into the conflict. That’s not something that can be brushed aside quickly. He’s genuinely struggling with something difficult and he makes decisions and draws conclusions that allow him to deal with a moral dilemma in a convenient way. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for it, as it seems like a fairly logical coping mechanism.

Thanks again for tuning in, everyone! Leave us a comment! Next week is our LAST WEEK of TWOW reread!!!!! LAST WEEK! We hope you will come back and discuss this amazing book with us for a final time 🙂
Steph & Amy