Ask Nicola Archives
The Blue Place
June 1, 1999
From Laurie, Harleygrrl@hotmail.com
Just thought I'd drop you a line and let you know that all
copies of The Blue Place have been checked out from the
Boulder, CO public library for the past two months!! I've already read it, want
to again, may have to actually _buy_ a copy!! LOL! Thanks for doing such a great
job. When is the next book coming out?
I wish libraries had bigger budgets; they'd buy more of my books <g>.
Until then, though, let's just be grateful for paperbacks: after June 8th you
can pick up The Blue Place in trade paperback at a list price
of $12 (many places will have it on sale for less). Enjoy!
April 4, 1999
I have just thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Blue Place". A
captivating read. Does the question how does a 29 year old woman from Norway
become a retired Atlanta, GA police lieutenant need to be asked.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. Actually, that's not strictly true:
I haven't a clue what you mean. Are you asking how it came about that a
Norwegian gets to be a retired police officer in Atlanta, or are you saying that
no one should care how it happened, because it's not relevant. Or are you
talking about something else entirely? Want to have another go at the
February 15, 1999
I just finished reading The
Blue Place, and stayed up way too late reading it, when I had figured
out who the bad guy was--well before the character Aud did, but then she was in
a state of impaired judgement, and wasn't thinking too much. It surprised me as
usually I can't put any of the clues together until the sleuth makes the big
explanation scene. She is a wonderful, interesting character, and I am very glad
to see here that you are continuing with her development. I was also interested
in your earlier remark, that if the character were a man it would be a bit of a
cliche--the strong silent type, without the inner emotional resources that our
culture takes as particularly feminine or womanly. Aud's fascinating physical
competence verges on mystic-super-power, and remind me of The Warrior Princess.
I am wondering if Xena is a near, or distant, relative.
Best wishes, and good luck with your physical maintenance. I have found tai
chi to be very helpful physical therapy in managing stiffness and fatigue of my
arthritis type condition.
Yes, the whole point of The Blue Place is not that it's a
mystery - anyone could work out whodunnit - or that Aud is stupid. She is, as
you've pointed out, forced into a certain blindness by the way she relates to
the people she knows; while being incredibly astute about most people, she can
be rather myopic about those close to her (especially herself). This is one of
those things that changes in the next book.
Is she related to Xena? Yes and no. Yes, in that she always wins in the end,
and she's always just a little smarter, just a little faster than her opponents.
It's the "always" part which is the point of similarity; it's a somewhat
superhuman attribute <g>. However, she's unlike Xena in that she doesn't
constantly believe she isn't good enough for her lover, that she's somehow bad,
that she'll destroy the innocence of those around her. And she's not as
inconsistent as poor old Xena's scriptwriters have made our Warrior Princess.
Let's see, other points of similarity: X. and A. both feel exalted when they
fight; they both dislike bullies; they're both six feet tall; they're both
charming; they both have esoteric knowledge. Dissimilarities: A. doesn't like to
wear leather; she never gets lice; she neverdescends into broad comedy or get
bawdy; she doesn't need edged weapons; so far none of her girlfriends have been
irritating blondes; she doesn't ride a horse. She may or may not be able to
speak Greek, ancient or otherwise, and I don't know, yet, whether or not she can
sing. I'll keep you posted.
January 4, 1999
Dear Ms. Griffith -
I write to thank you for the excellent read that is
The Blue Place. I just finished it this morning, after picking
it up yesterday. Your characters (as in your previous novels) are strikingly
vibrant and alive. You permit them to philosophize, muse and evolve without
making it seem like digressions from the lives they are living.
Actually, I was so delighted with the story that I almost sat down to write
you last night, when I was about two-thirds of the way through.
As an aside (okay, it isn't really an aside, but still) I would be more than
happy to review medical material for future works or I'm sure that amongst your
friends in Seattle you can find someone whoís in the field. If you're
interested, I can tell you a little bit about how traumatic liver injury is
managed now, and how it's likely to be in the future, and yes, I can do it in
plain English. (I'm an emergency physician) Alas, I don't believe that
transplantation will ever be an option.
There's nothing more grim than a reader who can't resist the urge to
critique, is there?
I really do enjoy your books though, and look forward to reading your work in
With kind regards -
I knew that liver stuff would come back to haunt me. One of my great failings
is getting carried away with what I'm doing, resolving to check out the
realities as soon as I've written the relevant passage, or name, or whatever,
and then forgetting. I did this with names in Ammonite (just
stuck in Gaelic names with the kind of flavour I wanted from Mongolian names
when I got the chance to do the research) and several other things (both in
Slow River and The Blue Place) that no one
else seems to have caught yet <g>. The sheer exhilaration of what I'm
doing, and then the satisfaction of finishing the novel, tend to wipe my brain
clean of all those nagging littletasks. I'm pretty good with rewriting in
general, and copy-editing, proof-reading etc. (mainly because Kelley smiles and
says "Uh-huh" when announce proudly that, this time, I really am done,
and it forces me to be honest with myself and go backthrough the ms. one last
time) but my selective memory really comes into play when research is
So how would Julia have been treated, medically, in the real world?
November 30, 1998
Webmaster Note: This question was misfiled in a mail
folder for months. Let me add my apologies to Nicola's - this was my error, not
hers. - dhs
Hello there. Just finished The Blue Place
and thought it so good i actually looked up this website. Have read
Slow River which i liked too and thought much better (or just
more my flavor) than Ammonite. Liked em all, but this last one
REALLY hits the spot (sf not my main interest). So thanks so much for writing a
"mainstream" book. Hey i'm even glad Aud does woodworking. That bit felt right,
the sound the plane makes and the wood. Also like a character who understands
Well on to questions. How/why the title change? I like blue better. More
icy,like Aud. Got to do with the cover concept? You're right that the title
print is too small you can't read it from three paces. Is the person in the
cover what you had in mind or what avon wanted? How much input do you have in
the overall lay out of the book?
How someone ought to take a corner. Is that something you used to teach in
self defense? Can you suggest a good book on stuff like that?
Sorry to read in these pages that you have ms. But you do aikido when you
can. This is interesting to me as i have a bad back that keeps me from a lot of
everyday (to me anyway) physical activities. I go back and forth between pissed
off, depression and acceptance. How is aikido as a brain and body activity and
as a martial art for the walking wounded?
Thanks again. Come read up here in Vancouver some time.
First of all, my apologies for taking so long to respond to this one; the Ask
Nicola process got a changed some time ago and this question got lost in the
shuffle for a while, sorry.
The original title, Penny in My Mouth, came from the
realization Aud has in Oslo: that Julia has snuck past all her defences; that
when Aud looks inside, she sees Julia looking back at her; that Aud loves Julia.
That realization is as shocking yet familiar to her as the taste of a copper
penny in her mouth. I also liked the allusion to the ancient custom of putting
coin in a dead person's mouth, to pay their way into the underworld. I still
like the title. If it had been entirely my call, that's what the book would be
called. However, my publisher (and the fact that I was asked, more than once,
"Who's Penny?") persuaded me to change it. So then I wanted to call it
Thaw, because that's essentially what Aud does in the course of
the book. But that title was deemed to have "no movement," so someone came up
with the bright idea of The Blue Place. By this time I was
tired, and really not well, and they'd put the whole cover design together (just
assuming I'd go along with things) so I threw up my hands and said, "Fine,
I was asked for my input regarding the cover design and illustration. I'd
wanted greens and blues and violet, bright and icy colours that would stand out
from other books on the shelf. The blue they used is too dark to pop out at a
distance, in my opinion, and the woman on the cover is way too young and scruffy
to be Aud, and has none of her terrifying presence. Still, it looks good up
close, and I've certainly had worse covers (the first edition of
Ammonite, for example). If Avon bring the colours up a tone,
and print the title and my name in bigger type for the trade paperback, I'll be
Yes, all that stuff about walking corners wide and so on I learned while
studying and teaching self defence. There aren't really any good books that I
know of--I wish there were (see an earlier reply for some suggestions, even if
they're not whole-hearted recommendations).
If you have a bad back, aikido probably isn't for you; there's a lot of
falling and throwing involved which I think would probably aggravate any
problems there. I used to find aikido very helpful, but I haven't been well
enough to practise for months now and sometimes wonder if I'll ever get back to
it. We shall see.
I'd love to come up to Vancouver--and go down to Oregon, and California--to
read and sign, but it's a question of time and economics (both financial and
health-related). One of these fine days I'll do it. Really.