Friday, November 30, 2007

Daleks rock

I am not sure whether this cake demonstrates that daleks rock or simply that my husband (who made the cake for Minion Number One's birthday earlier this year) rocks.
The icing is royal icing dyed red, with licorice allsorts, Pez and Smarties. You too can make your own dalek.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Surfing the romantic wave of global capitalism

Cruising some of my favourite blogs this evening, I came across this link:

which will take you to the Harlequin Presents blog and news of a competition for a sizzling first chapter and synopsis for a Harlequin Presents novel. That's a Mills & Boon to those of us outside the US and Canada.

So here I am, now about 15,000 words into The Apprentice, plenty of ideas a-burgeoning, lots of lovely possibilities unfurling, the momentum achieved to know roughly where I'm going in a long-haul journey which will take another 6-8 months. Should I take a swift break to craft up a quick 4,000 words + synopsis for a book which I might then have to write? Except that of course, there will be thousands of contestants in this race, quite literally, and I'm very unlikely to get any nearer a firm book contract.

The thing is, I've always wanted to write for Mills & Boon. Now there's a confession! But first completed novel was a Mills & Boon. As with most of my writing, I started writing it in extremis, in this case, financial extremis, during my second year of university. And I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. So began the tale of Ellis and (oh God, I've forgotten her name, let's call her) Elinor. They were musicians brought together in a string quartet much against their will and there were endless opportunities for angry scenes followed by sizzling kisses and my very first sex scene. Ellis and Elinor long ago headed to the great recycling bin in the sky - the mss was written on the dot-matrix v. portable Brother typewriter that my mother bought for my 18th birthday, then photocopied and punted off to Paradise House in Richmond (M&B HQ for the uninitiated). I did eventually receive a really nice rejection letter - not a form FOff you daft bint, but a rejection letter that suggested that someone had actually read my sweaty 52,000 words and thought about them. They pointed out that the setting was not really glamorous enough for the M&B market (yup, I can see that classical music isn't really an alpha male setting....) and apart from that, perhaps Ellis and Elinor were just a touch... well... immature??? I have a feeling this is because Elinor (or whatever the hell her name was) was a bit free and easy about slapping poor Ellis during their various misunderstandings which were many and varied.

Since then, I have learnt a fair deal about writing including how to create conflict between my characters without letting them indulge in assault and battery. But I still want to write a proper, no holds barred M&B with a title that tells you all, e.g. The Secret Millionaire's Greek Baby. Or Virgin in Distress. Or The Italian Tycoon's Reluctant Bride. You think I'm kidding. Well, I'm not. Technically, I believe it was The Greek Millionaire's Secret Baby, but basically, you need a set of dice with the words Millionaire/Billionaire/Tycoon/Prince/Sheikh, then Secret/Misunderstood/Reluctant/Baffled and Virgin/Bride/Mistress/Secretary/Baby with finally, Spanish/Italian/Greek/Arab engraved on them and you too can play the Name That Romance competition. Actually, maybe not Baffled. Maybe Captive or Innocent instead of Baffled.

So here's my title, The Reluctant Greek Tycoon's Millionaire Mistress. Nah - I've used Reluctant in a previous title, I can't have that again. So how about The Italian's Innocent Captive. There we are, perfect. Why's she captive, why's she innocent, what does he think she's done? Excellent kick-off questions which can surely take me through 5,000 words and a cooking synopsis...

On the other hand, my current heroine is about to watch her worst enemy break the legs of her uncle's extremely valuable horse at the San Bartolomeo palio....Before the animal rights activists get up in arms, only imaginary horses will be harmed in the making of this novel.

The thing is, one of my goddesses in the writing world, Jennifer Crusie, kicked off her extremely healthy and amusing career by writing what are known as Series Romance for Harlequin. If you can break in and get regular contracts, they are a very nice steady earner. And if you build up a following, you can break out and get into the really lucrative single title market. A great launchpad for a career in one of, if not the most, steady niches in the crazy world of publishing.

So what do you think? Innocent Captive or horse-harming daredevils?

On Teach Me Tonight (, an erudite hangout for those interested in the psychology and philosophy and literary roots behind the explosion of romance in the publishing world, Laura Vivanco writes about the competition and the idea that the success of M&Bs or Harlequins are inextricably linked with the expansion of capitalism around the world. It's a really interesting piece with links worth pursuing. But it raises for me that good old question - what am I writing for? I have to write, this is something I've long ago accepted, and my feeling is that if I am going to spend so many hours bashing away at a hot laptop (normally 2-3 each night in case you are curious) when I could be doing other things, it would be nice to be rewarded. I've always wanted to be able to earn my living exclusively from writing. It doesn't mean that I would give up teaching, but I would like the option. So, as a writer do you chase the money or write the book of your heart, in the hope that some sweet editor somewhere will read it and believe that it could be a book to soothe many other people's hearts also?

I have friends who are full-time writers/actors/artists and they don't all necessarily like the way things have panned out. Getting the contract, building the following, but most definitely, meeting the deadlines, can be far more stressful than trying to fit the writing in the gaps left by work, kids and life in general. So should I go for the mainstream romance route or pursue my more complex, opaque and ambiguous current WIP?

Whatever the answer, it's time to go and do some writing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


It should of course be water dripping from the light fitting, although light dripping is quite an image...

and no, I do not watch the Bill. I write while other people in the house watch the Bill.

Drenched in the dark

Last night, I was about to get stuck into my next 500 words when there was a sort of clunk and the whole house went dark. My heroic husband was in bed watching TV, so he sent me off to investigate and get The Bill back asap. But it was not a runner. Found the matches, found the candles and went down to the fuse-box. As I was standing there, having no luck, I heard an ominous dripping. A dripping I had never heard before... I went to the guest room, and found a big old puddle and a stinky, sodden rug and saw light dripping from the light fitting, which is under the kitchen.

Sigh. I called the Hero upstairs and he moved the rug (a truly disgusting task) and we went back upstairs. I went to bed and read by candlelight, just like the ladies of Cranford which started last week on BBC1 with one of those heritage casts where every old luvvie and some fresh-faced young luvvies have a slot unless they were too busy with the latest Harry Potter or Poliakoff saga - except for the ubiquitous Michael Gambon who has managed to crop up in all three.

Once I blew out the candles, I kept waking up with a start, imagining some worse disaster - the ceiling disintegrating, the basement flooding (especially because I was too tired and cold to find out where our bucket has got to...), working out how to live without heating, lighting or hot water past the weekend because the plumber wouldn't come and sort this out, discovering that the whole kitchen floor would have to be dug up (that one could still happen, I suppose, but I'm too tired to care much about it anymore). I think this happened four or five times until the final time, it turns out it's Hero-guy going to the loo, after which I can't go back to sleep at all and lie there plotting to make sure I have the first shower, because if he shaves and showers, there will be no hot water left at all. There's some myth about women and bathing and how we hog the bathroom, but the truth is that men take three times as long and use four times as much water.

I did get the first shower, and intrepidly found my torch and went down to check out the devastation which had all dried up whooppeeee! So I flick the fuse switch and the house lights up, the dark is dispelled and electronic gizmos come to life, including the dishwasher and so I get going with the little bit of washing up left from the previous night... It will come as no surprise to any technically minded reader that the lights went out again. Sigh. Which suggests to me that the leak is somewhere into/out of the kitchen sink zone. It's so good to narrow these things down.

It was charming and romantic to have a candle-lit breakfast. Just as I left, I tried the lights again, on they came and I left in the happy illusion that they would be functioning when I got home. Hahahahaha. It finally occurred to me that if I took the light-bulbs out of the leaky light-fitting, we might get a continuous electrical supply...They were halogen bulbs, and by the time my mighty mind had figured this one out, they were full of water - never seen that before. It's frightening to think that I am the most technically minded person in our house, the one who does plugs and erm.... well that's about it. The Hero is a whizz when it comes to allan keys and building Billy bookcases (well he should be by now, we've got about 20 of the suckers) but anything electrical/plumbing/machine-connected - that's my territory. I have managed to take a Dyson to bits and get it working again, and I have figured out how to programme the thermostat and keep the central heating pump at the right pressure...And I used to be able to handle spark plugs and distributor caps for the old Mini (the proper Mini). I protest too much. We are a house of incompetents.

Nonetheless, we've gone 2.5 hours without a power cut - maybe I hit on the solution after all, at least until the plumber puts in an appearance.

I don't feel too glum about this - for some reason, virtually every one I spoke to this morning had a story of woe about some household trauma, so the puddle seemed to shrink as I encountered companions in adversity. Then while I was doing my Victorian miss impression in bed last night, I found the book I'd idly picked up to round out a 2 for 3 offer over the summer was funny and twisted (Book of Air & Shadows, let me get back to you in a couple of days about that one) and when I was hanging around the Cora buying two plastic basins to substitute as the kitchen sink, I found another big fat thick book with promise, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I know, a title too cutesy for a totally good vibe, but I had time to chew up a couple of chapters in the checkout line, and the heroine had me hooked. And finally, I found the gold ring I was given on the birth of Number 2 son, which I thought had disappeared for good. That made up for a lot of dripping and fiddling in the dark with fuses.

All is not entirely right with the world - not with the big bad world outside the house, but even though my lovely home is leaky and electrically vulnerable, it still feels righter than it's been for a bit - decent stories make a difference.

(PS any complaints about the alliterative nature of this post should be directed at Mr Robert Browning - I spent some of this morning in the company of the Duke of Ferrarra and he sneaks in quite a bit of alliteration here and there. It is catching. Look it up on some medical site, alliterationitis, an uncontrollable tendency to alliterate at all opportunities, and when those do not present themselves, to veer into assonance.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Comfort Reading

I've been reading a book called The Thirteenth Tale, which I've enjoyed. It's a bit Barbara Vine, but more pot-boilerish and less original than say A Dark-Adapted Eye, which still remains one of the best psychological mysteries ever. TTT is fine, but not as complex. Reviewers have compared it to Rebecca but I think that's a glib option because what the two books have in common is a country house which is burned in the course of the action (not a spoiler for either book, I hope). Setterfield is good writer, there's clarity and pace and an effective distinction between different narrative voices. Rebecca, however, it ain't. I re-read Rebecca. TTT - well, probably not.

That's the difference, isn't it. Re-reading. The books we sink into like comfortable armchairs. The books that we take down from the shelf when the world outside is too much for us and we need to retreat to another place, perhaps another time, a world of certainty because we know the story already.

I've had numerous comfort books that have seen me through the customary range of woes that plague as we march day by relentless day onward. The first was Harriet The Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. It was odd and unusual and happened in a world where a 10 year old was able to slip out into a city and watch people. I think it is still one of the best books about growing up that has ever been written. My parents thought it was unhealthy that I read and reread and reread this book, but I couldn't stop myself. Harriet's world was one I understood.

Another childhood favourite was Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfield, about the Fossil sisters, orphans and theatrical performers. I still love this book and if I am really really sick, retreat to bed with it. The secondary characters are interesting, the way the story unfolds is incredibly vivid, and it was the first book I read where children really worked and earned their own money and became their own people.

Then there was Gone with the Wind. My mother took me to see the movie when I was 10, and I was stony-hearted and dry-eyed through the whole thing. But when I was thirteen, I picked up the book, and that was that. I had at one stage three or four copies because my parents kept confiscating it in the hope that I would read something else, but frankly, my dear, nothing else would do. And like all the men in the book, I was in love with Scarlett, I wanted to be like Scarlett when I grew up, bad and selfish and hot-tempered and petulant. Fortunately, the infection didn't last. Now I think Scarlett is the sort of person I'd see coming and think, "Run, just run. Don't look back, run!"

By the time I was sixteen, the 19th century got me. For various reasons, I opted not to do A level English literature, but I had several friends who did. And one afternoon, as we were sitting putzing about in someone's room, drinking coffee, eating toast, I picked up a stray copy of Bleak House and that was that. For the next 72 hours, I couldn't put it down. And then I re-read it. And just for good measure, once more. Still one of my all-time favourites and to my delight, two marvellous TV adaptations, one in 1985 and one two years ago, have done the book justice and encouraged others to pick it up and lose themselves in the fog of Chancery.

Then there was the summer of Mill on the Floss and This Side of Paradise. A weird way to spend the summer, flitting between rendez-vous with Maggie Tulliver thinking high thoughts about Thomas Aquinas and then heading off to meet up with Amory Blaine and watch his Jazz Age high-jinks.

Interspersed somewhere in there was Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, the woman who arguably created the historical romance as we now know it, and Frederica by Georgette Heyer, who is definitely the mother of the regency romance. I knew Shanna was high-grade, crazy ass nonsense right from reading the opening page, but it was unputdownable. If you want a taste, follow this link:

What is it about books that turns them into comfort reads? Partly it is in the world-building. You can be a lame writer and still world-build effectively (q.v. K. Woodiwiss above). Partly it is characters who just erupt from the page. Partly it is a story which a reader stumbles upon at the right time - I was the same age as Harriet and Maggie Tulliver and Amory Blaine (at the start of TSoP, anyway) and they were people I could understand and believe in and listen to. I don't suppose it matters really, once you know what your comfort reads are. But one of the things I have noticed is that the more you read, the fewer comfort reads you find. There are books I enjoy, books I will re-read (pretty much anything by Michael Chabon, frex), but not many comfort reads. Except, except.

Thank you Jennifer Donnelly, for A Gathering Light (A Northern Light to N. American readers). Voted one of the top ten ever winners of the Carnegie medal, it is a book that is beyond age boundaries, a book that moves me every time I read it, a book that I have started to use when teaching, and despite having read it five, six, seven times, never weary of re-reading. It is perfect and entire of itself - it doesn't need sequels or series, but one of its greatest pleasures is wondering what its heroine, Mattie Gokey, made of herself. And best of all, it is a book that celebrates books and words and stories with so light and absorbing a touch that it makes me dash off to read more. If you haven't come across it, go out and get it now, drop everything else and read it. It's wonderful.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Casting Game & Venetia

I'm currently re-reading a favourite novel of mine, Venetia, by Georgette Heyer. I have five favourite Heyer novels: Arabella, Frederica, Sylvester, Venetia and The Black Sheep and reread them every couple of years or so. On one of the lists I frequent, this month's read is Venetia, so there you are, my decision is made for me. And then someone asked who we would cast as the hero of Venetia, Damerel, aka The Wicked Baron.

When I first read the book, this was the Damerel I envisioned, roughly speaking:

But nowadays my taste has altered a little, and I am afraid in any case, I have never been able to take T.Dalton quite so seriously after seeing him as Antony in Ant & Cleo with his then squeeze, Vanessa Redgrave. When he kept saying, "I'm dying Egypt, dying," you could almost hear the audience collectively demanding why he was taking so long about it. At this point I am tempted to digress on the nature of the A&C play. It's one of my favourites, but it seems to me that it is either amazing and utterly excellent, or diabolically awful in performance. There's Hopkins and Dench, who were notoriously wonderful, ditto Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter and then there was Mirren and Rickman, which should have been a dream team but the couple had the charisma and chemistry of a pair of toads in a stagnant pond. Although I've currently foresworn all directing, I might be tempted if someone let me do an open air version of Ant & Cleo. But no, no, no, no. Let my thoughts not that way fly. Directing is hell. Drama is hell.

Back to Damerel. And casting Damerel. My latest thought is Clive Owen:

Here's Heyer's description: "He was taller than Venetia had at first supposed, rather loose-limbed and he bore himself with a faint suggestion of swash-buckling arrogance.....he was dark, his countenance lean and rather swarthy, marked with lines of dissipation."

I hope my fellow Heyer fans, if they visit here, will approve of my choices for Damerel. Actually, it doesn't really matter if they object, it will simply be an excuse for them to think up even better examples. That is the joy of the Casting Game - infinitely more rewarding than seeing an actual adaptation of a much-loved book.

What I love even more than the casting game performed on a published novel is the casting game that I play in my head when writing a new book. We authors, we call this "Creating Place holders", which sounds like a sophisticated way of laying a table, but personally, I continue to think of it as the Casting Game. What I particularly enjoy about the casting game is that I do not play it solely with movie stars. In fact, I rarely play it with modern actors. Instead, I play it with portraits and pictures from the period I'm writing about. Which can be fascinating. Frex: here is a portrait of a young Italian girl of noble family:

There's tons to write about there - the silver gown edged with golden thread, the dog, the open expression of this child's face, how it felt dressing up in this stiff kit, whether she could walk anywhere in it... I could go on. What was even better was that there is another portrait of this young lady, Margherita Aldobrandini, painted some years later after almost twenty years of marriage to her rather unpleasant Farnese husband, Ranuccio, Duke of Parma, who was volatile, cruel and violent. I can't upload it for some argh computer reason, but if you can google it, it's extraordinary - recognisably the same person, but a totally different expression, hard eyes, a chill, tight mouth, a taut, tense body as if she were preparing to lash out or expecting to be lashed out at.

The Casting Game is one of the ways of rounding out a character: somehow, a real face bestows on a character a much greater sense of identity. But I wonder if this is a by-product of existing in such a powerfully visual time. Back to Shakespeare: just check out the way women are defined by the way they sound. Beatrice and Cordelia leap to mind, but there are others. In his world, sound perhaps mattered more than sight, certainly in decoding the signs of one's own culture. That's one explanation for the density of imagery in his plays, the reiterations and repetitions and echoes. Now, we are surrounded by visual images, and directors play with that by trying to recreate worlds, particularly in historical films. Derek Jarman did this wonderfully cleverly in both Caravaggio (obviously, in a biopic of a painter) and in Edward II and his version of The Tempest, as did Greenaway in Prospero's Books. And this is one of the enriching aspects of the casting game, because it is fun to imagine what friends and colleagues and family would like dressed in 16th or 19th century get-up.

There's a confession - I admit it, I do use my circle of acquaintance in my books. Sometimes I borrow your names, sometimes I borrow your physique or features, and occasionally, I borrow personalities and internal characteristics. I think all fiction writers do in one way or another beg borrow and steal from life, but it is a question I am asked and this is the answer. Yup. You never know, I could write about you next. Just don't expect to recognise yourself because it's not a cookie-cutter process. You might be jumbled in there with the physique of Timothy Spall and the whine of Peter Lorre and an early 17th century set of boots of Spanish leather. Writing is a magpie art, picking and dropping and nicking at bits and pieces from who knows what foetid corner of the author's subconscious.

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stardust, spoilers galore

I didn't fall asleep - perhaps that is because we got to the cinema early enough for me to kip through the ads, but perhaps it was because Stardust was genuinely a lovely, cuddly, sweet movie. There are minor liberties taken with the plot and characters' backstories, but they work to pare the movie down into a pacy 130 minutes, which given the flab of some blockbusters out there (spidey 3, 139 mins, Pirates 3 168 mins, King Kong 187 mins) is dealable. Anyway, Neil Gaiman must have approved since he is one of the producers of this baby (Neil Gaiman, who he? Well only the writer of the original graphic novel which he then turned into a novel. And genius writer of the Sandman series. Not to mention American Gods - about which more later).

The essential scenes are there - but the story has been somewhat kid-friendlied - the unicorn frex, does not die in the movie. That was a three-hankie moment for me in the book, but I was absolutely not looking forward to discussing it with distraught 10 and 4 year old. Luckily, 4 year old took one look at Tristran Thorne and fell asleep so he missed all the squicky bits with animal entrails. Actually, not that that would have upset him much as he is in a very dark place at the moment involving dreams of fanged flesh-eating baby kangaroos and the evisceration of Barbie, any Barbie). Victoria has quite a charming love-story in the book, but is punished for dithering between her movie suitors, in a way that I think enhances the movie, but the book is more interesting there ultimately. And poor old Dunstan Thorne loses Daisy and his numerous family - it's just him and Tris (why did he lose the second r? he becomes Tristan in the movie).

The performances: Charlie Cox is a serviceable Tris - he does a good job at changing from bit of a gangling boy to polished fencer and dapper man about Stormhold; I liked Claire Danes as Yvaine (I've heard some quibbles - how the NYTimes reviewer could ever imagine gooey Gwyneth as an alternative beggars belief); Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent as Lamia, but for me the standout witch was Sarah Alexander of Green Wing and Smack the Pony and the princes, dead and alive, were great, wish we could have seen even more of them. It was delightful to see Ricky Gervais (Ferdy the Fence) prevented from making anything but animal noises and then getting a shiv in the guts for his pains, and Mark Strong was on fine-foaming-at-the-mouth form. Robert de Niro's comic turn sort of worked, but only because Dexter Fletcher, that stalwart, was a great foil to him. And of course, Mark Williams, previously the stammering apothecary of Shakespeare in Love and Arthur Weasley, father of Ron, was terrific as the enchanted innkeeper Billy, from goat to man to late goat in a skip and hop. It was also interesting to see Ms John Simm, Kate Magowan as Tristan's mother, although I thought it was a thankless role for her.

Still, the real star of the movie for me was the locations-spotter. We had gorgeous shots of Scotland, Iceland and Wales. The landscapes and the camerawork were terrific - I felt that Wall and Stormhold were really plausible places, and that's a joy when seeing an adaptation of a book (ok comic) (sorry, graphic novel) you liked. Well, loved. I hate to get all fangurl squeeee but I really have enjoyed just about everything Gaiman has had a hand in, from Mirrormask to the Sandman sequence.

I'm now looking forward to Beowulf, which Gaiman scripted, and the animated version of his super-spooky kid's book Coraline. But but but. If only someone would make a movie of his greatest novel, American Gods - now that would be something (18+ as a rating, but hey ho). If you haven't read American Gods yet, go, get thee to a bookshop. It's really dark, really nasty and really fantastic in all senses of the word. I think my favourite novel of 2005. I'll never let my copy go. I'm not sure I'll re-read it particularly soon, it is a work so epic and harrowing that I won't be going back to it in a hurry. But it is very memorable, very rich and very readable. Can't wait to see what Gaiman comes up with next. Let's hope he's not too lost to the movie-madness that he fails to write any more fiction.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Heroes and shark-jumping

Well, I know I'm behind the times, because I'm watching Heroes real time on BBC2, and there we are, on ep 17 where the rest of the world is busy with Season 2. I was hooked, but oh, look, here comes the Fonz, ready to jump that shark:

So what made Heroes a shark-jumper for me? Sylar. Serial killers, ptui. I didn't see much of ep 17, but what I saw induced a bit of weariness in me that underlined the irritation I felt after watching last week's ep when Mohinder busily takes Sylar along so that he can slaughter another individual with some super-power, in this case, the mechanic woman with fantastic hearing. Mohinder does appear to be a little suspicious of his new pal, but sigh, the serial killer schtick is just gratuitous. Perhaps it's a nod towards Heroes' comic-book homage thing, because there are plenty of serial killers in various graphic novels one way and another. There was enough without a Sylar who will no doubt be back. Besides which I am beginning to find the Petrellis pretty irritating too.

I have no quibbles with the acting of Zachary Quinto (or any of the rest of the cast). But somehow, for me, the show has lost the zing it had, the whole thing is getting darker and darker and we never seem to see enough of Hiro and Ando who seemed to have the best lines but are being lined up for all sorts of phony samurai hi-jinks what with having to collect the sword and all. I have this feeling that from now on, there'll be stockpiling of coincidences and confluences of plot. It's shifted from amusement and entertainment to trying to be deep, there are too many characters to care about any in particular, there are even more unpleasant bad guy super-powers people lurking about and I'd rather watch other stuff: Desperate Housewives, Bones, House - yes I know, they are repetitive and formulaic, but they aren't testing my willing suspension of disbelief system to total destruction. Same problem with Lost. At least I got through 17 eps of Heroes - I couldn't get past the pilot for Lost.

Actually, my problem is that I'm pining for Buffy and Angel. And Firefly. I think I have to set my 200 euros aside and go for the wholesale purchase of complete Buffy and Angel on DVD, and then just re-enter the Whedonverse. Which will continue to spoil me for anything terrestrial TV has to offer. Bring on the quip, the internal and external demons and scrummy men in black leather. Return me to the world of sensible story arcs (cough cough, Cordy as demon goddess intent on devouring the world, oops, sorry, forgot about that one, take it back on the sensible story arc) and Glory and funny knights and the Groosalugg, and my favourite of all, Lorne. Sigh sigh sigh. Reavers, Jayne, River, Simon versus Jayne, Wash and Zoe....It was all so fast, so funny, so poignant, so witty and now, so over. With apologies to Prince, nothing compares 2 the whedonverse.