Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South
Richard Armitage fans who are familiar with C19 will not need any introduction for today's guest at FLY HIGH! Damaris Osborne is well known to them. For all the others dropping by and reading, I'll   invite them to read her guest post and welcome her to our little corner of the blogosphere. She loves writing parodies and spoofs inspired byi the works of our favourite British actor and would like to share her passions with us.

I began writing parody when at university, but I have to say it has rather a bad press as a genre, being treated like puns as rather ‘cringe worthy’.  I think that one needs to like the work being parodied, otherwise it becomes unsympathetic and snide.. It can also be seen as ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ of other people’s success.  However, I believe it can be more ‘original’ and draw in a multitude of threads to make it stand alone fiction, although the sort one dips in and out of for five minutes at a coffee break rather than become absorbed in for three hours solid. Like rich chocolates, parody is best sampled, and savoured, not scoffed.I am a member of the C19 forum, which sprang from the  2004 television adaptation of North  & South, and where discussion of nineteenth century literature rubs shoulders with admiration for the work of Mr Richard Armitage. He is an actor of wonderful nuance, and has the ability, first said about Greta Garbo, to drag you into the soul of the character through the eyes.

Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks
 When I write, I always see everything ’played out’ as if watching a film, and so using him as a start point has many advantages. Most of his roles are serious, and therefore it is great fun to take them from their reality, twist them, and reform them as parody. I have treated Spooks (MI-5 in US) and  North & South in this way available on Kindle (HERE & HERE, for instance) , and have ongoing ‘episodes’ with Guy of Gisborne and Strike Back purely on C19.

Richard Armitage as Thorin in The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey
My premise with North & Spoof was to use the television adaptation, and mix in the dwarf theme of The Hobbit, although I wrote it long before they finished the main shoot for the trilogy. There is the line that Margaret writes to her cousin ‘I have seen Hell and it is white, snow white’, to which I wanted to add ‘and there are seven dwarves.’ Once Richard Armitage was cast as Thorin in The Hobbit I could not resist. I enjoy the world of Middle Earth, not so much as fantasy but in the way it illustrates Tolkien’s love of our pre Conquest, and even pre-Christian, Anglo-Saxon world. The dwarves are very Nordic, and of course Northern England was heavily populated by Scandinavian Vikings in the centuries before the Norman Conquest. This lingers in the dialect and accent even now. It was thus obvious to me that John Thornton, or rather John Thorinton, was actually a dwarf. There was the slight problem of Mr Armitage being six foot two ish, but if Peter Jackson could use green screens, I could use ‘Longing’, the process by which, over centuries, certain dwarves grew tall and their beards reduced to a fetching degree of stubble.
 I admit that North & Spoof is best suited to the person who knows the series, and not just the railway station scene. As many know, the locations included the Hale’s house being filmed in Edinburgh, so I have them residing in Lookslikeedinburgh Street, and I also highlight Hannah Thornton’s dismissive attitude to her daughter Fanny by making sure that Hannah Thorinton keeps getting her name wrong, and calling her every thing from Furry and Fuzzy to The Girl One. Mr Thorinton, needless to say, broods well. 
With Spoofs, my Spooks spoof, there are recognisable characters from the television series but the plots are entirely my own. With North & Spoof the story has been followed much more exactly, so that readers who have seen the series will recognise specific scenes. As an example, here is an extract from the riot scene.

From within the crowd a lump of mithril slag was lobbed in his direction. In an instant the dwarves had formed a shield wall. However, this wall stood only four feet tall. Another lump arced through the air. Miss Hile, fearing for Mr Thorinton's safety, threw herself between him and crowd, flinging her arms about his manly chest.

“For shame! You may lobby, but not lob. How dare you offer violence to this man.”

Her accent was alien to many. They looked at each other.

“We would not give him flowers,” came a cry from the back.

“It is not the season for violets.”

“They don't go with his eyes.”

“I get hay fever.”

The crowd grumbled, and another slag lump whistled through the air.

“Duck!” cried Mr Thorinton.

“Where?” Margaret looked up at the sky, and the lump of mithril slag landed with a thump upon her head. “Oh!”

The world spun. She felt Mr Thorinton's strong arms about her, lifting her. She swooned. He cried out in anger and anguish.

“You would assault a lady, and you call yourselves men? Be gone, now, for I set the dwarves upon you.”

The dwarves smiled through their beards, and banged their wooden swords upon their shields, and began to stamp and advance. Even as he turned to carry the limp figure of Margaret Hile into the house, Mr Thorinton knew that his yard would be clear within five minutes.

His fair burden stirred. She certainly stirred him, he thought, and his moan matched hers. He carried her into the drawing room and kicked Fanny from under the sofa. 

“Fetch cloths.”

“You want her to wear my dresses?”

“He said cloths, not clothes, Foggy,” snorted Mrs Thorinton. “I'll get them. You get to the maid for warm water.”

He was alone with her, with the wilful Southern woman who looked so disdainfully upon him and yet who had come out to face danger at his side, to fling herself as a shield to his body. He laid her upon the sofa, knelt beside her, touched her cheek, and the bleeding wound.

“I could lose myself in your soft beard,” he whispered, adoringly. “Margaret, my Margaret, for she who sheds her blood this day for me shall be my Margaret, be she ne'er so proud, and Southern, and . . .”

“Does she stir?” Mrs Thorinton returned, with an assortment of cloths, face cloths, dish cloths, even a pudding cloth.

“Aye, Mother, she stirs.” Ah, how she stirred him.

Of course, both spend much of the story being 'stirred' and misunderstanding each other, but, with a little help from the dwarves, it all ends happily.

Damaris Osborne

Damaris's Parodies at Amazon Kindle Store

It is grim up North. I have seen Hell and it is white, snow white, and has seven dwarves.' Margaret Hile leaves her beloved Hailstone and in the grim North encounters Mr Thorinton of Middlearth Mills. North and South are antagonistic. He is harsh, acts without getting written permission, and scowls. She wears a depressed brown hat, and looks down on him from below. Yet from inauspicious beginnings, their mutual attraction grows, despite misunderstandings and disasters, but only with the intervention of the Brethren, the dwarves of Middlearth Mills, will true love find a way. North & Spoof is Victorian 'drama' with tongue firmly in cheek, a dash of Gaskell, with a smidge of Tolkien, and lots of lunacy.

Available at amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Lucosade Upnorth and his Russian wife, Itzkolda, have been under cover, deep duvet cover, for seven years, in a shepherd's hut on the north side of Skiddaw. Now he is back on the Grid, and his country needs him. This parody of a spy thriller contains the declassified files of three of his operations. The Andchips File – A British pie firm is being taken over, piemakers are under threat, and international blackmail is in the offing. The Bondaid File – International master criminal Dr Ohnoitsyu sets up a Research and Development facility on a Hebridean island. Meanwhile Lucosade Upnorth, as Dr Oleg O'Lambie, ballistics expert, infiltrates the stronghold. The Pinkyperky File – CIA Agent Sarah Cauliflower, an old flame of Lucosade Upnorth, goes missing whilst looking into a threat to the British Banger. The team have to find Agent Cauliflower and the virus that could ruin the British pig industry before it is too late.

Available at amazon.co.uk and amazon.com


Leslieg said...

The spoofs are also available at amazon.ca!!!

Maria Grazia said...

Thanks a lot for informing us, Leslieg :-) Canadian fans will be happy to hear that.

Trudy said...

Not everyone's humor is the same, but I can't stop smiling while reading Damiris' spoofs. And nearly every page is bound to elicit a soft chortle or perhaps even an unladylike guffaw!