Announcing Love You to Death Season 4

Good morning, and I hope you’ve recovered yourself from last night’s Vampire Diaries. I don’t think I have; I’m still a bit weepy. But I have something happy and exciting to report — well, two somethings really!

1) Love You to Death — Season 4 is happening.

2) I’m not going it alone this time. The brilliant and hilarious Heather Vee is writing it with me! You’ll get what you’re used to reading in a volume of Love You to Death but more! and smarter! and added silliness! and borderline inappropriate swooning over a certain Alpay! In all seriousity, I cannot tell you how much it’s already helped to have Vee on board with the book — she’s helping me step up my game, as well as bringing her smarts, her wicked sense of humor, and her TVD Super Knowledge to the table. (Or shared dropbox’d Scrivener file, as it were.) We have Big Ideas!

Wanna see the cover??

Things are a little different here too — it’s a new era of TVD, and a new era of LYtD! — and this original painting by the talented Klaus Mikaelson Carolyn McNeillie combines elements of TVD’s past, the symbols of the present season, and the woman fighting at the center of it all.

Love You to Death Season 4

The book will be out October 1, 2013 from ECW Press! (We even got an announcement in Quill & Quire — whoop!) Until then expect a lot of slightly incoherent twitter chatter between Vee and me (so, nothing out of the ordinary there).

Here’s the official description:

The fan-favorite Love You to Death series returns with an essential guide to the fourth season of The CW’s hit show The Vampire Diaries. The season 4 companion delves headlong into the twists and turns of each episode, exploring the layers of rich history, supernatural mythology, historical and pop culture references, and the complexities and motivations of the show’s memorable cast of characters. Add expanded chapters on the making of the show, the people who bring the world of Mystic Falls to life, and the intensely loyal audience that keeps it thriving, and you have a guide as compelling and addictive as the show itself.

Previous volumes of Love You to Death have featured exclusive interviews with executive producer Julie Plec, series directors and editors, guest-star actors, and fandom leaders.

I’m so thrilled to be able to continue writing this series (even though writing about “Stand By Me” will mean more tears shed per page than ever before) and am so thrilled that Vee said yes when I asked her to join me on this project.

Can’t wait for y’all to read it!

and with writing before me…

…I can’t go far wrong.

virginia-woolfThat used to be the ‘headline’ thingy on this here blog. I should know where I found that Virginia Woolf quote, best guess is one of her early years journals. It was her birthday recently, and JK and I had a little festival of fawning over Virginia. First novels we read, ones we like best, Jen’s idea that one year we should read her journals every day.

I’ve been reading a short story collection of hers, A Haunted House And Other Stories; one a night before I go to sleep. Some I’ve read before — I cannot see a mark on a wall without thinking about “The Mark on the Wall” — but some are new to me. Sometimes I feel a bit pretentious going on about how much I love Virginia Woolf, but I truly earnestly do. From the smallest word choice to the rhythm of her sentences to the unexpected turns she makes leading me to see something or feel something or recognize some bit of myself in something otherwise quite alien to me. Perfect paragraphs exist, and she wrote a good many of them.

There’s another life I used to imagine for myself: staying in university and studying Woolf, modelling myself after my excellent professor Melba Cuddy-Keane (even her name is cool!), and I could picture myself going to somewhere British and tweedy and reading and writing papers and — no, not lecturing. Too terrifying, that.

It’s nice though, having my shelf dedicated to Woolf — biographies and letters and journals and fiction and stories and essays. Two little apples, now shrivelled stolen from the orchard at Lewes by my fellow Woolf devotees, my boss Jack and Ms JK, sit on the window ledge by my desk at work.

To purple ink (her favorite), the benefits of writing every day, and the triumphant use of “higgledy piggledy,” whenever it suits.

all is quiet on new year’s day

I have two draft posts sitting in my little wordpressy dashboard: a 2012 in review, and a 2013 resolution post. Neither, it seems, will ever be finished. So instead this: the present, not the past or the future.

Tis a tradition of mine to blast U2′s “New Year’s Day” on New Year’s Day (and, yes, “November Rain” on the first rain of November; I am nothing if not into overly literal song moments), so here: have a listen and a look a little Bono (and his epic hair).

An auspicious beginning to the year so far. I was up at 6 a.m., as per my new REGIMEN of being more like Ben Franklin; I’ve done some writing, I’ve done some work at ecw, I’ve chatted with fam, and I’ve even eaten vegetables and fruits. My hair is still quite orange and red. So, you know, it’s all bright and sunshiney at the Calhoun Ranch.

What next? Perhaps a walk on the windy snowy boardwalk? Maybe a little reading? Maybe I should work a little more on the top-secret-but-not-for-long Liv Spencer book I’m writing with the wondrous Jen Knoch? (Between our Taylor Swift updated edition and two more bookish projects on the slate for 2013, I probably should be doing something writing related or else how will it all get done? Eep.)

I hope your new year is off to a good start too. Here’s to a banner year ahead.


“And who am I?”

That’s one secret that should never have been told. Did I enjoy the Gossip Girl finale? Yes. Does it make one lick of sense that Dan is Gossip Girl? No. Should Gossip Girl’s identity have been a plot point ever in this series? IMHO, no.

I felt that way back when I was writing Spotted, my book on Gossip Girl, and included this sidebar on the potential of revealing GG’s identity toward the end of my season 1 episode guide:

“And who am I?”

While it may be the one secret she’ll never tell, the question “Who is Gossip Girl?” is asked at the beginning of every episode. Her identity was never revealed in the book series, with Cecily von Ziegesar commenting, “Originally the books were going to be this unfolding mystery about figuring out who Gossip Girl is, but then the characters’ stories took over. And that became a behind-the-scenes mystery that didn’t really matter anymore.” Stephanie Savage gave an equally vague response to the question, saying with a laugh, “We are all ‘Gossip Girl.’ We all feed that chain, participating in that circle and circus of information, whether we want to admit it or not.”

From the first episode of the show, it became clear that while Gossip Girl has agency in the plot and affects the lives of these characters (spreading information, encouraging characters to take action, ruining Blair’s birthday party), she’s a narrative device. Period. She has the omniscient ability to see and know things no army of cell-phones-in-hands gossipmongers could tell her.

Exhibit A: in the pilot episode, Gossip Girl instantly knows that Blair and Serena have had a falling out before the girls have even talked to each other — Nate’s told Blair about the Shepherd wedding, and Chuck has confronted S, but the rest of the world has no way of knowing. Ah, but what if one of them is Gossip Girl? On to exhibit B: when Blair and Chuck start making out at the end of “Seventeen Candles,” Gossip Girl calls Chuck “the gift that keeps on giving.” (Ha ha! Ew.) How does she know they’ve hooked up before and are hooking up again? In the next episode’s home page story, she’s back to not knowing (“What did Serena see?”).

Gossip Girl is used well and to the writers’ convenience to provide snarky commentary and truisms, to drive the plot, and to raise the stakes, but let’s all cross our fingers that her identity is never revealed. It would be like asking the audience to pay no attention to the writers behind the curtain.

Ah well. At least crossing my fingers for Kristen Bell to make a cameo worked.

Goodbye, Gossip Girl

old skool

The end of Gossip Girl is upon us, and it’s making me all nostalgic for seasons past… Season 6 has not been my favorite, to put it kindly, but as the plot meanders and the characters spin in circles, one thing that has not wavered since the show’s premiere back in 2007 is how flipping good this show looks. So well made. I wonder how it will all end tomorrow…

I went to NYC a few weeks ago, and somewhat unintentionally it turned into a Gossip Girl Nostalgia Tour. First off, we were staying at the Empire Hotel (which I stayed at a few years ago), and just across the way is the Lincoln Center and the David H. Koch Theater (another GG location). Wandering around the city, it’s hard not to think of what’s been filmed there, and of course when we happened upon the Palace Hotel, it was mandatory photo taking time. Luckily, we ran into Maurice, the Palace Hotel employee who takes GG fans on impromptu mini tours of the hotel. He was the best.

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He showed us the Gilt bar, the kitchen where Chuck had the grilled cheese made for Serena, the cotillion ballroom, the brunch room and the staircase S and N scurried down, the library — and every room is stunning. This hotel is well named, and built in 1882 as a private residence. Wander around the lobby if you get the chance. It is luxurious. [Sorry for the slightly terrible photos — we were moving quickly!]

"The Big Sleep No More" So many creepy masks. Less smooching IRL.

“The Big Sleep No More” So many creepy masks. Less smooching IRL.

That night, we went to Sleep No More, which you may remember from last season, at the suggestion of my friend who does not even watch Gossip Girl. I could pretend like I was just super cultured and into experimental NYC theater and that’s why I knew what she was talking about. It was creeeeepy. At first, I was giggling under the mask that I wasn’t allowed to take off (and no talking!) but then I got into it. The “hotel” is huge and full of all the nightmarish things you can think of. You just wander around, you can follow the performers if you like, or open up drawers and peer inside. Sometimes it felt like being in a live immersive episode of So You Think You Can Dance — the performers don’t really speak (they make some grunting noises at times) but they dance the scenes. I think you could go multiple times and see different stuff — we didn’t follow the performers around too much (it can get a bit crowded with other masked audience members) so I’m sure we missed some of the Macbeth-ish action. (Tho we did see the King killed!)

All to say, that trip made me wistful about Gossip Girl. It was the first show I ever wrote seriously about. My book on the first two seasons of the show was a huge undertaking for me, one I was not sure I was capable of, and it set me off on a path that I didn’t know was ahead of me! I loved writing about Gossip Girl; I loved talking about GG with Angela and company on TGAD; it’s the first fandom I was a part of and the first show that introduced me to awesome people online with whom I became friends.

Gossip Girl gave me a crash course in classic American film, in fashion, in New York. It led me to discover people like Norman Buckley, who I think the world of, and it paved the way for other series I adore like Pretty Little Liars. (It also gave me a go-to Halloween costume for a couple of years: my B was only 100% less elegant than Leighton’s.)

So it’s with a heavy heart that I bid Gossip Girl adieu, and I know I’ll be busting out my DVDs for rewatches time and again when I have that Upper East Side nostalgia for waffles, Cedric, gossip bombs, the steps of the Met, the lobby of the Empire, hairbands, summers in the Hamptons, cotillion, Thanksgiving hijinks, trans-borough pop-bys, Chuck’s limo, B hollering for Dorota or her spot to feed the ducks in Central Park, but, most of all, for the Non-Judging Breakfast Club.


#TVDChristmas Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who played along with the impromptu Love You to Death book giveaway on Twitter before last night’s episode of The Vampire Diaries. Without further ado, the three winners are…

@meftiheSo. Sad. So true.

@miireyaaThis made me literally LOL.

@tvdniThis was a popular gift idea for poor Damon, so the first one to tweet it gets the prize — @TVDNI!

To read more gift ideas for our dear Mystic Falls friends: #TVDChristmas. And winners, please email me your mailing address and your choice of Love You to Death: season 1, 2, or 3? crissycalhoun [at] gmail [dot] com.

[And if you're stuck on gift ideas for that TVD-loving person in your life, might I humbly suggest that the Love You to Death companions make excellent presents? (Also good for indoctrinating those new-to-the-series! First companion guide + season 1 DVDs?)]