September 02, 2013

Anne Barwell: Easter Eggs

Please help me welcome the lovely Anne Barwell, who is here talking about Easter Eggs. I know, it's not Easter time, so find out what Anne's topic is all about!

Easter Eggs

A big thanks to Chris, for hosting me J

I love Easter eggs. I'm not talking about the yummy Cadbury caramel ones, although I love those too, but Easter eggs within stories, TV shows, and movies. Easter egg in this case is another name for intertextuality or the way in which texts relate to each other. In other words those lovely cameos, or name/place/whatever dropping, in one story from another story by the same author.

Some authors, comic books, and movies/TV shows do it brilliantly. It's like spotting Stan Lee in Marvel movies, or another character wandering through in a scene without being credited and you're left wondering "hang on, wasn't that...?"

I've always loved references like that, and so as an author it's something I tend to do, especially now I've got a few more stories under my belt. It's one of the reasons I already have names for characters I haven't written yet. The other is the fact they're clambering for their stories to be written and figure if they have names it's more likely to happen. After all, it's easier to annoy me and grow do a bit of character development on the side while they're waiting for their shot in the limelight. Or so they claim.

I don't repeat character names unless it's on purpose. I also tend to not only write in series, but a lot of my stories take place in the same universe, even if not obviously so, so if I can drop an Easter egg in I will. I'm not going to make it obvious, just a "hang on, wasn't that...?" reference in passing rather than something that detracts from the story I'm writing. After all, characters aren't supposed to steal scenes when it's not their story, but that doesn't mean they can't wander through it so briefly that if the reader blinks they'll miss it. If I'm writing something set in WWII in Europe and it's already been mentioned that a certain someone was in the area at the time it's not unfeasible for his name to come up in passing even if that's all that happens.

There's also the fact that I am planning a series that crosses over a bit with something else, once I get that far. Why create a new character when one will happily work in both? My psi guys have been champing at the bit for quite a while now and are not impressed that certain dragons managed to queue jump. *pets them* They'll get their turn and in the meantime if a character needs information and someone happens to work in a library, well it only makes sense for them to help out, right?

I'm sharing an excerpt etc from Shadowboxing today because my current WIP is the sequel Winter Duet, and there might just be an Easter egg in there when I get that far...

Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.
When Michel contacts the Allies, hoping they can work together, it isn’t long before the so-called “simple” mission becomes anything but. With both men realizing they can no longer ignore their growing feelings for each other, Kristopher and Michel must fight—not just for a chance of a future together, but for their very survival.

Kristopher laughed then stopped, surprised at his reaction. After all, wasn’t being provided for, as the price for at least attempting to live up to his father’s expectations, the very thing about his life that he’d resented? In a twisted way fate had provided him with the opportunity to move on from that and maybe become the very person he’d always yearned to be.
First things first,” he muttered under his breath, reminding himself of the reason he was here. On the run for murder, theft, and God knew what else, and he was planning his future. He was definitely losing his mind.
His hands twisted the towel over and over while he attempted to calm himself. He took a few deep breaths. There was no point alarming Michel. He had enough to worry about. After returning the now-damp towel to its original hanging place, Kristopher drew himself up straight and walked back out into the main room.
Michel looked up from where he was sitting at the table; he seemed thoughtful. “Feeling better?” Was that concern in Michel’s eyes?
As much as I’m going to be,” he answered, giving a small smile with his reply. Maybe Michel did really care? After all, everything that Kristopher had seen so far seemed to suggest that scenario. Or perhaps it was just wishful thinking? “Is my being here going to be a problem?”
You’ve taken a great deal of risks to get this far.”A determined expression crossed Michel’s face, and he shook his head. “I am certain that the priorities of this mission will be changed to include your safe passage out of Germany.” He slid the case back under the bed and looked Kristopher up and down. “You need to change your clothing into something less conspicuous. The cut of your suit draws attention to you, and you want to be able to blend in rather than stand out.” He opened the wardrobe, pondering its contents for a moment. Finally he pulled out a pair of gray flannel trousers and a nondescript cotton shirt, holding them out in front of him as he obviously attempted to gauge the sizing. “These might fit you. Try them on, and let’s take a look.” Turning back to the wardrobe, Michel chose a dark-colored, woolen zip-up sweater to complete the ensemble. “It’s cold. You’ll need to keep warm.”
Thank you.” Kristopher took the clothing from Michel and headed back into the bathroom, wanting some privacy in which to change. “See you in a minute.” He almost regretted that decision when it brought home just how small the bathroom was, but he managed to only hit his elbow on the side of the sink once. Re-entering the room, feeling quite pleased by his accomplishment and how well the clothes fit he… stopped.
Michel was standing by the bed, clad only in a pair of very form-fitting undershorts. The earlier assumption about his uniform hiding a well-developed physique was quite an understatement on Kristopher’s part. Michel was… extremely good-looking. In fact Kristopher would even go as far as to use the word gorgeous to describe him.
Oh God.
Blushing, Kristopher stammered his apologies and ran from the room, seeking refuge in the small bathroom he’d just vacated. He splashed himself with cold water. What the hell? One look at Michel…. Glancing down, Kristopher willed the bulge in his trousers to disappear. What was wrong with him? This was not the reaction he should be having in response to seeing another man in a state of undress.
His heart was thumping, his skin flushed.
Kristopher groaned.
No, he wasn’t going to allow himself to react like this. He couldn’t, not after putting all this behind him that last time. A small voice whispered to him, reminding him the only other time he’d felt desire such as this was in response to accidently walking in on another man in a similar state of undress. It had to be a coincidence. He wasn’t attracted to other men. He couldn’t be. It wasn’t natural. At least according to what he’d been taught. It was his belief that those teachings had to be right that had prompted him to back away from David in the hope that some distance between them would make it easier to ignore the situation. If he was going to burn in hell it was better he do it alone rather than drag someone he cared about down with him. Hurting David by cooling their friendship was supposed to be better in the long term for both of them.
Yet, he’d still felt an echo of that physical attraction for David the last time they’d met, although the emotions that had once accompanied it were very much mellowed.
That attraction, in hindsight, had at least been easier to hide. He’d never had a physical reaction to David to this degree. David had been, and still was, a good-looking man. Michel…. Kristopher licked his lips, his mouth dry.
Michel looked amazing. He was muscular, yet not overly so; a fine smattering of light brown, almost red hair dusted his chest.
These thoughts were not helping.
Kristopher, are you all right in there?” Michel sounded concerned.
Fine. I’m fine. I just needed to um… adjust something.” Kristopher hated lying, but he wasn’t about to admit the truth. He didn’t want to see the disgust he knew would be reflected in Michel’s eyes. There was no need for anyone to know. It wouldn’t happen again.
This had to be a side effect of the stress he was under. Getting out of Germany would be very dangerous. No wonder his body was reacting in ways it shouldn’t. After all, it wasn’t every day that he discovered everything he’d believed in was a lie and the ideals he’d spent his life working toward weren’t worth the paper they were written on.
Seeing David again had also brought back memories and the emotions of the time they’d spent together as friends.
Kristopher walked out of the bathroom, hoping he appeared much more nonchalant than he felt. “Sorry about that,” he mumbled, hoping he hadn’t made a total idiot of himself.

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Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.



  1. Love those fun little surprises. Alfred Hitchcock was a master at it appearing somewhere in all his movies. One of my favorite directors of all time. I also love to find them in games, when you trip that something or other and get a fun bonus. Sometimes you need the cheat codes to get to the easter eggs. Look forward to trying yours out.

    1. I loved the Alfred Hitchcock cameos too. I've always been a big fan of easter eggs which is why I write them. I'm a big believer in writing what you want to read - because that's the point, right?

      Thanks for commenting :)

    2. *nods* Yes. Exactly.

      I rather like spotting Colin Dexter in the Morse episodes.

    3. I'm sure there's a lot more books and movies out there that do this than we realise. That's half the fun - spotting them in a particular series for the first time.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  2. What a fun and cool thing to do in books and movies. I liked that Hitchcock appeared in his movies, too.

    1. It is fun, and a nice nod to the fans too. Arrow is another show that does it - with their subtle references to other comics lore. I love spotting those.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  3. Thanks again, Chris, for hosting me today :)

    1. Anne, you're very welcome! I enjoyed reading your post and hosting you. :)