Legend of Korra, or Cartoons I Wish had Existed When I was a Kid


If you’ve read this blog before or follow me on twitter, you will already know that I am a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender (the cartoon obviously, not the live-action abomination squirted onto cinema screens). A:TLA is a gem, and a rarity, and I could talk forever about all the things it does right; the story is fantastic, pairing personal journeys with genuine peril, every character grows and learns, there is humour in buckets (“My cabbages!”) and more than one moment that will leave you sobbing like a small child (Uncle Iroh sitting under the tree, singing. Enough said). In short, A:TLA is some of the best television I’ve ever seen, animated or not, and it even ends well, something that hardly ever happened in the cartoons of my youth.

And now there’s a sequel. In Legend of Korra our Avatar Aang has passed on and been reincarnated in a water-bender called Korra. We’ve moved on a couple of generations from the time of the first series and this is reflected brilliantly in the new landscape of Republic City; the fashion, the architecture, the vehicles – everything has a slightly 1920’s feel to it. It’s clear time has passed, and yet there are enough nods to the original series that you feel you already know this world quite well; for example, Toph’s revolutionary “metal bending” has become a genuine offshoot of earth bending, and the police force of Republic City use it for some spectacular action sequences (and, oh my god, Lin Bei Fong, Toph’s daughter – new favourite character? Quite possibly).

So, new Avatar, new Team Avatar, new setting, new troubles. I don’t want to talk too much about what actually happens because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anyone, (the new baddie is excellent, the pro-bending tournaments are fab, and the animation is looking better than ever) but I did want to talk about Korra herself for a bit, and what a tremendously exciting character she is.

When I was small I was dead keen on all the action cartoons – Thundercats, He-Man, Defenders of the Earth, Dungeons and Dragons. I was also extremely averse to what I perceived to be “girly” cartoons (I have, my friends, never seen an episode of “Jem”). In the cartoons I liked there would be female characters, but they were never particularly interesting and they were very clearly not the main characters. My favourites were Eric the Cavalier, Tygra, Panthro, Orko (god help me), Mandrake the Magician. The female characters were usually quite girly too, something I, as a relentless tom-boy, thoroughly disapproved of. I grew up with token women, inserted to fill out the ranks and create a toy that someone’s sister might buy (I was never particularly into She-Ra, before you mention it, which seems like a bit of a shame).

Now we have Korra. Korra is the main character. She is not “girly”, but she is very clearly a girl. She hasn’t been stuck in there to give your eyes a break from the boys. She is strong, and stubborn, occasionally makes rash decisions, and she is cool, and powerful, and stands up for what is right.

She is also a teenager, and has regular teenager problems. There’s a boy she likes and she’s not sure if he likes her back, and she’s struggling to understand herself and her powers while the world around her is in turmoil. She is confident, and yet she has a lot of doubts.

I would have killed for a character like this when I was eight, because I would have recognised myself in her (hey, I’m a girl and I like to wear trousers and play rough and hang around with boys) and I would have seen someone to look up to (I want to be brave enough to do the right thing, and to be myself).

And the beautiful thing about it is LoK is full of excellent female characters. There’s Asami, who is brilliant and capable in her own right, Lin Bei Fong, the grumpy chief of police who absolutely kicks arse, Tenzin’s two daughters Jinora and Ikki, Pema… I don’t feel like my gender is a token effort any more.

I’m not sure what my point here is, except a) I love Korra, b) you should watch it and c) cartoons are amazing these days

The Other End of the Year Post


Well, essentially 2012 was the year of The Copper Promise. As you might remember, it was around this time last year that I released the very first part onto the wild plains of Amazon; The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel was supposed to be the first in a series of short sword and sorcery novellas. They were supposed to be fast, written and released one after the other, and they were supposed to be short.


And then while I was writing part two, at the beginning of this year, several things happened at once to change that. Firstly, I realised that releasing each part after I’d written it just wasn’t going to work – maybe if it was a silly thing that didn’t really matter, I could get away with that, but TCP was growing more complicated, and if I wanted it to be good, I would need to be able to go back and polish. And that was the other major thing: The Copper Promise was growing. I loved the characters, who felt frighteningly real to me, and I loved the story, which had accidentally grown into some sort of weird epic/pulp hybrid.


So I threw out the idea of instant gratification and wrote parts 2, 3 and 4 in 2012. And then I redrafted, and edited, and then edited some more, and ended up with a book nearly twice as long as anything else I’d written (it’s still too long). And what happens to it now? Well, that is the question.


Thanks to some quirks of fate and a writing buddy who always seems to know what’s going on before I do (I’m looking at you, Adam) The Copper Promise ended up on the desk of the fabulous Juliet Mushens of the Agency Group, and in a sudden twist of awesomeness that I’m still getting my head around, I got an agent. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of my year was meeting Juliet for the first time (who is every bit as sharp and hilarious in real life) and hearing her quote bits of my book back at me. I mean, you wouldn’t think that would be weird, but it is. In a brilliant way. Next year proves to be very interesting indeed.


There were other things happening in 2012, of course. After ignoring it for a year I finally summoned up the courage to read and edit my Urban Fantasy book The Snake House, and much to my huge surprise I didn’t totally hate it. I also started work on a YA Fantasy book called London-Under-Sea (all weird religion, sea monsters and fishpunk) although that is on hold for the moment while I revise The Copper Promise. In non-book stuff Mass Effect 3 came out and proved that it is indeed the greatest video game series of all time, if not the greatest SF trilogy of all time, and I sobbed and cheered my way through it in an epically messy fashion. I finally watched Avatar: The Last Airbender and utterly fell in love with it.


Other, more random moments of 2012: I saw two sets of friends get married and danced at their weddings, I wore a corset for the first time and didn’t die, I oversaw new episodes of Dark Fiction Magazine, and I attended Bristolcon, which was brilliant. I got hugged by a wookie in Wales, saw my name in the acknowledgements of a real, live book (twice, technically) and partially helped nag my lovely boyfriend into taking up writing regularly again.


And that’s all I can really remember at the moment – no doubt I’ll have left something significant off the list, but all in all, I reckon I can chalk 2012 up as a goodun’. Wishing you all a fantastic new year full of excellence and joy!


The Copper Promise: Latest News and Also Cartoons


Time for a quick update from Admin5000!


So, the last Copper Promise post was a few weeks ago now and I think I was on Chapter Three of part four, which I had yet to give a firm title too. Well, a month later and I’m on Chapter 25 and part four appears to have morphed into Upon the Ashen Blade, which hopefully means I am making progress – quite a lot for me actually, as I seem to have finally developed a system of writing in small bursts that has boosted my word count. Hurrah for that!


I’m into the endgame now. There will be perhaps another two chapters (the endings always take longer than I expect them to, so take this with a healthy pinch of salt) and the first draft of The Copper Promise, in its entirety, will be complete. At which point I will probably crawl into a dark room and hide under a pillow for a while, making small uncertain noises as I contemplate the editing job that must take place.


This book has turned into a monster. Wydrin would probably find that hilarious, the moo.


In other news, isn’t Avatar: The Last Airbender amazing? I’m aware that I am horribly late to the party on this one, but we’ve just started watching series 2 and I’m a bit in love with it. The writing is great and utterly persuasive (how much do I adore Zuko already? It’s ridiculous), the world building and mythology is top notch, and the animation, which benefits from a lovely clean anime style and healthy dollops of slapstick, is just an absolute pleasure. New favourite thing!