The Amazing Catwoman: A History, Part 2

The Amazing Catwoman:

The Amazing Catwoman:

Right, so I have a few hours before I have to go down and do Goblin Guard Duty for Her Seelie Won’t-Let-Me-Out-Of-Her-Realmness, so I guess I’d better record a little bit more about what happened to me in House Geasan and how things went after the five people who lived there (yes, even Shari!) accepted me into their occasionally merry and always interesting band of mayhem.

Shari spent weeks teaching me how to glamour my skin. Every day, we’d get it a shade or two lighter and more human looking, and every night it’d go away, and every morning she’d throw something at me because I hadn’t made the glamour strong enough to hold up overnight.

“What are you gonna do,” she used to ask, “when the Secret Police come crashing through our doors one day and discover you’re a Svart? You’ll be sent off to Faerie, tortured til you can’t stand up, or worse!”

I often retorted that House Geasan would be in even more trouble for harbouring a Svart than I would be for being one, but she didn’t really buy it.

Anyway, the morning finally came up when she didn't throw anything at me.

Anyway, the morning finally came when she didn’t throw anything at me.

Anyway, the morning finally came when she didn’t throw anything at me. I was sleeping on an old couch that belonged to some relative of David’s by this point, in a room that used to be a cellar closet but, once we’d (well, I’d) scrubbed all the damp out and cleaned up the walls, added an old trunk and an armchair, a couple of lamps and an ottoman, most of which were already in storage in the cellar anyway, David said I could have the room for myself, and Shari became much nicer to me after that—except for the throwing random shit at me in the mornings bit.

I stretched. There wasn’t a window in the cellar, so there was no way to tell what time it was.

“Breakfast, you pale bitch!” Shari finally called from the kitchen. I went upstairs to find that she was actually cooking breakfast. I don’t think I’d ever realised Shari ate anything but crisps and seaweed before this. “And you can have the day off,” she said. She even smiled at me.

So I spent the day mostly lounging on the couch.

So I planned to spend the day mostly lounging on the couch.

So I planned to spend the day mostly lounging on the couch. It felt good!

My respite didn’t last long, though.

“You want to start learning some magic?” Owen asked.

“You want to start learning some magic?” Owen asked; it was probably some time after noon. Owen was the resident magic expert in the House, and he did things like help the team hide themselves when necessary, provide distractions, that sort of thing. Back then, I didn’t know what they all did for a living, but, yeah. I knew it was probably not completely on the up and up.

“I thought it was my day off,” I replied.

“I thought it was my day off, I replied.

“Smart-arse. Nobody gets a day off,” Owen said.

“Shari said I could have the day off!”

“Shari is an idiot,” Owen said. “Nobody gets a day off. Here.”

He threw a stack of notebooks at me, which my memory says I caught neatly.

He threw a stack of notebooks at me, which my memory says I caught neatly.

He threw a stack of notebooks at me, which my memory says I caught neatly: goddess knows what actually happened.

“What am I meant to do with these?” I wondered.

“What am I meant to do with these?” I wondered.

“You’ll need them for writing shit down.” Owen came and sat down in the arm chair. He handed me a ballpoint pen. “Now, you want to start simple. Write down all the steps you go through to glamour yourself. And,” he squinted at me. “You really ought to do something about your eyes. They look weird.”

“Look,” I said. “I already told Shari. I’m not changing my ears, and I’m not changing my eyes.”

He shrugged. “Your funeral, but you should learn to glamour them for when you start running jobs with us. Lios Alfar have light eyes, green, grey, blue, doesn’t matter, but they’re always light.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Yeah; yours are still yellow even when you do that,” he said, unaffected by my sarcasm. He pointed at the notebooks. “Start with your glamour. How you manage it. How you make it strong. Writing it down will help you remember.”

Yeah, I remember that pretty clearly. After that, there was a lot of writing and writing and writing.

Once I’d got the knack of writing down spells, David took me through physical training, which was rough, but fun. After that, I started doing small jobs with the team, mostly light corporate espionage, but at least I was able to earn my keep.

And I'll never forget the day I bought my first actual for-me outfit.

And I’ll never forget the day I bought my first actual for-me outfit.

And I’ll never forget the day I bought my first actual for-me outfit with the money I’d earned. Oh, the feel of leather again, instead of charity shop stuff and hand-me-downs from girls who’d long passed through the House.

I remember that day because that was the day Owen came down into the cellar again.

“I brought you something,” he said. And he pointed to the crate.

“I brought you something,” He said. And he pointed to the crate.

“What the fuck is that?” I said, staring at the small mountain of books he’d placed there.

“Your next lesson,” he said as he settled in to the arm chair. “Those are grimoires.”

“Grimoires?” I said. “You mean books of magic.”

“Grimoires?” I said. “You mean books of magic?”

“Go to the head of the class,” Owen said. “Now, put away that novel, and if I ever see you put down a grimoire like that, I’ll beat you with it before I make you straighten each page magically and mend the spine.”

“So…. You want me to read these.”

“So…. You want me to read these.”

“I want you to study them. Somewhere inside those books, and those are all the grimoires we have at the house, you’ll find things that you can and can’t do, and we’ll ascertain and develop your personal magical style from what you come up with.”

“But there have got to be like twenty books there!”

He nodded and smiled. “And some of them are handwritten, so this won’t be an easy task.”

“Couldn’t I just do more physical training and let David beat me up again?”

Owen snorted. “And why should David get to have all the fun, hm? There are only seventeen books, by the way.” I think he had to count while we were talking.

I sat down on the couch and stared at the books as if they might attack.

I sat down on the couch and stared at the books as if they might attack.

I sat down on the couch and stared at the books as if they might attack. “You know I don’t like to read, Owen,” I said evenly.

“Says the girl who’s got A Wizard of Earthsea propped open on her night table,” Owen said.

“That’s different: it’s a novel.”

“Think of these as novels too,” Owen suggested.

“Think of these as novels too,” Owen suggested. “Only they’re novels written by people, about their real lives. It’s a little like reading someone else’s diary. There’s all kinds of personal shit in therm.”

I still wasn’t convinced. But I did know I was losing this argument.

“Fine,” I snapped. “Just start with the one on the top, I presume?”

“Fine, I snapped. “Just start with the one on the top, I presume?”

Owen sighed. “I don’t care which one you start with. But I want you to study each and every one.”

I knew it was foolish to ask the next question. “And then?”

“And then,” Owen said, with a smug smile, “you can start writing your own grimoire.”

“And then,” Owen said with a smug smile, “you can start writing your own grimoire.”

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Style Cards:

First set of photos (cami and jeans):
Body: Maitreya
Hair: Mina, Elin (Available at Tres Chic!)
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Malika, Chestnut (Available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store; Maitreya and SLink appliers also available there!)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Gauze, Paradox Cat Eyes
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: Otherskin, Selene
Clothes: Echo, Seri Cami, Hali Skinny Jeans (Available at the Echo Main Store!)
Shoes: Ingenue, Pandora Flats, Noir

Second Set of Photos (leather jacket):
Body: 
Maitreya
Hair: 
Mina, Grace
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Malika, Chestnut (Available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store; Maitreya and SLink appliers also available there!)
Ears: 
Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: 
Gauze, Paradox Cat Eyes
Ring: 
Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: 
Otherskin, Selene
Clothes and Boots: Flippant, Sometime (Available at the Flippant Main Store!)

Scene:
Couch, Rug, Crates, N4ARS, Bombay Set
Lamps: What Next
Armchair:
Atelier Visconti
Ottoman: Trompe Loeill

Special thanks to Moxy Macbeth for lending me some lamps! Even though she was super fine!

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never leave home without it! 

WLTB 500x500

skinlogodiap

A Conversation with Dr Gwyneth Evans

by Chrissie Sanderson

Dr Gwyneth Evans is disarmingly charming as she greets me. I’m a bit breathless from the ferry trip over to Bainbridge Island, and the following drive took me down lots of winding roads. When I finally get to her cottage, she’s sitting on the front doorstep, vaping and reading a book.

She chose the cottage near Agate Point, she says, “because it reminded me of my granny’s house in Aberydyfi (that’s pronounced ‘aber-dovey’ and means, ‘mouth of the river dovey’ according to Dr Evans) from when I was small.”

Once we're inside, she invites me to have a look around.

Once we’re inside, she invites me to have a look around.

Once we’re inside, she invites me to have a look around. My photographer is having a field day with all the first editions of classic science fiction and fantasy that grace the bookshelves, but I’m more interested in where it all came from.

She explains that the books were shipped over from the UK when she started her visiting professorship at the University of Washington three years ago. “Everything else I found at antique shops, well, except the artwork on the walls: that’s my hobby when I have free time.”

“So you’re a painter as well?” I examine the large framed work on the bare wall to my left.

“Not really. Some are altered photographs from an online game,” she admits. “I spend time playing dress-up online and making pictures.” She shrugs. “A couple of them are photographs that I digitised years ago, mostly from the time I spent playing LARPs when I was a kid.” She laughs. “Of course, at my age, everybody feels like a kid. I turned 60 this year; can you believe that? I can hardly believe it.”

“So a milestone year for you,” I say as I take a look at her cluttered desks. “What time will you be checking in to the Hyatt?”

She checks her watch. “Probably around four, I think; I need to get some rest time in before opening ceremonies.”

“How does it feel to be a Guest of Honor at a Worldcon?”

“It’s exciting. I’ve been attending Worldcons since….” she pauses to think. “I guess my first one was Glasgow in 2005? I would have been, what, nineteen?”

“Wow, every single Worldcon since 2005? That’s 41 years of World Science Fiction Conventions. You must have seen a lot of stuff.”

“Well, I missed a couple,” she admits. “I was in a terrible car accident when I was 21 and I lost a leg. Took a lot of work to get back in to the swing of my studies and my teaching after that. I was in a wheelchair for 15 years before they developed the technology to rebuild limbs. Now most people say they can’t even tell.” She lifts her skirt to show me the implant marks on her right knee. “Looks like a zipper, right?”

I laugh. “How many Hugos have you won?”

“Six,” she says without missing a beat.

By this time, we're comfortable ensconced on her couch.

By this time, we’re comfortably ensconced on her couch.

By this time, we’re comfortably ensconced on her couch. “And you’re teaching creative writing and the history of science fiction and fantasy?”

“That’s right. When you’re as old as I am, you get to teach the good classes.”

“Which Hugo are you most proud of?”

“Well– it’s not really a Hugo, but I’m most proud of the Campbell Award.”

“That’s your latest one?”

She smiles. “Last year. After all these years writing criticism, I finally got a novel in my head, and I’m so proud that it was well-received.”

“I loved it,” I admit. “The Prince of Jasper Cove kept me on the edge of my seat, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.”

She gestures back to one of the desks in the back of the living room. “It’s on its way, I promise. Teaching keeps me so busy, particularly with a new lot of excited creative writing MA candidates every term.”

We move to the bookshelves, where she proudly shows me some first editions she's collected.

We move to the bookshelves, where she proudly shows me some first editions she’s collected.

We move to the bookshelves, where she proudly shows me some first editions she’s collected. “I come across these in all sorts of weird places,” she says. “Even though it’s getting harder and harder to find paper books these days.”

“You released The Prince of Jasper Cove as a paper book, didn’t you?” I say as I run my hand reverently across the covers of books I’ve loved for years. “How did it sell?”

“We sold out!” she says with some excitement. “Of course, the print run was only like, 500, but collectors snapped them up.”

“Tell me about this photograph,”

“Tell me about this photograph,” I say, gesturing to the one on the back wall next to the drafting table.

She smiles, and a wistful look crosses her face. “That’s my LARP group, from back in the 2010s. That was the year I got to play the Faerie Queen. It was so much fun. I was crazy in love with that guy I’m standing next to, John. We were quite an item once.” Her eyes crinkle up when she smiles. “And that’s my best friend there, sitting on the log. She played a satyr. We’re still good friends today.”

“What about John?” I asked.

“He died,” she responds. “In the car accident. Along with everybody else in that photograph, except Chrissie.”

“Same name as me,” I say. “And I’m sorry.”

“It was a long time ago,” she says, quietly. “I like to imagine they’re all living somewhere, in some alternate universe, lives they love and want to live. I was lucky, so lucky, to live through that.”

“We’re lucky you did, too,” I reply.

Once again, Dr Evans looks a bit wistful.

Once again, Dr Evans looks a bit wistful.

Once again, Dr Evans looks a bit wistful. “It’s thinking of them, imagining what alternate lives they might have had, that inspired The Prince of Jasper Cove, and all the rest of the books I’ll write about that group of characters. So in a way, they’re all still alive.”

Her phone rings; it’s her World Con liaison, saying he’s about 5 minutes away by car. “Well then, that’s all the time we have,” Dr Evans says briskly. “I need to stuff a suitcase and pack my laptop. Marisol will be cross with me; I said I’d be ready in plenty of time.

“See you at the World Con!” I say.

“See you at the World Con!” she responds.

And that’s what it’s like to spend an hour with Dr Gwyneth Evans. I’ve attached her World Con schedule to the bottom of this article, so you know how to find her this weekend at the 104th World Science Fiction Convention in downtown Seattle.

by Chrissie Sanderson, for The Stranger, Seattle’s oldest online arts newspaper!

Style Card:

Body, Hands, Feet: SLink Physique
Skin: LAQ, Gun, tone 1, with Maitreya and SLink appliers* (new at the LAQ Main Store!)
Hair: Truth, Ami
Eyes: Poetic Colors, Summer Sky Eyes, Pool Blue
Clothes: Valentina E, Rebecca Lace Top and Maxi Skirt
Shoes: Ingenue, Pandora Sandals
Glasses: EarthStones, The Countess (Available at the Cool and Vintage Fair!)
Jewellery: EarthStones, Belly Crystal, Katya Bangles, Krishna Harmony Ball, Krishna Pendant, Tumbled Stones Earrings

* I have rarely been so excited about a new line of skins before, but Mallory Cowen of LAQ has created Gun, an aged skin, on the heels of an ageing tattoo that actually works and looks good and comes in various intensities! Well done, Mallory— this skin inspired a story of an alternate Gwyneth and an alternate world for her altogether. Thank you for making such cool stuff!

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never leave home without it!