May 2, 2016 • No Comments
I’ve been quiet lately as I battled a cold/flu thing that seemed to absorb most of April. I don’t get sick often but I made up for lost opportunities with this particular bug. I’m pretty much over it now and am predictably obsessed with lifestyle improvements so I don’t get so run down again. Being confined to the couch for a few days made me realize how much energy I’ve put out without what is quaintly termed “refilling the well.” By the end of my down time I began to feel creative in a way I haven’t in a very long time. That spark that gives us our art is very strong, but it’s not indestructible. I realized the crazy, electric wildfire of ideas that rattles around in my head had dulled, but I hadn’t noticed the fact until it came roaring back. Now my job is to keep it safe.
The biggest hazard to any creative person is the world we exist in. Stress is universal, but writers have a strange add-on bundle comprised of self-doubt, well-meant advice that leaves us feeling like compost, and a crazy industry. I can make a grandiose statement about how it’s our responsibility to endure it, but that only makes people want to punch the speaker.
May has to be a better month. It started with the best weather we’ve had so far and I took this photo on May Day. I love the touch of blood read in the depths of these saw-toothed tulips. They’re beautiful but sinister if you have the right kind of warped imagination.
February 14, 2016 • No Comments
January 14, 2016 • 1 Comment
I was piling through some photos from my trip to England a few years ago and found some from the fashion museum in Bath. This extremely Downton Abbey dress is certainly beautiful. I’ve seen photos of my grandmother as a young woman wearing this style and the cut, while seemingly loose, is very flattering to feminine curves. The dress dates from the early 1910s, but I think there are vague hints of the flapper
look to come.
The plaque at the museum describes the dress as “cream silk ninon dress with satin ribbon work trim.” For those (like me) who had to look up the term “ninon” it’s the gauzy stuff. I have to say I am besotted with the way the overskirt is gathered up at the back. It looks casual and elegant at the same time and reminds me of Grecian statuary.
January 13, 2016 • 4 Comments
So here we are the beginning of 2016 and it’s time for me to take a step back and consider next steps.
It’s been a while since the last Emma Jane Holloway offering landed in bookstores. I’ve been careful not to make promises I can’t keep, but I can say that after clearing out other obligations I have a bit of space to think about it and hopefully will have a concrete plan about next books before long.
It’s not like I’m short of ideas or ambition. There are a handful of projects to choose from, each appealing for different reasons. Some are connected to the Baskerville series, some not. Each of my babies deserves to be written. Really. In my admittedly biased view, they all have interesting features and undeniable merit (but then I’m their mom). The fact that I have a choice is in some ways a problem in itself—doing one thing means not doing another, and then I get sad. I want to write ALL the books.
When it comes to decision time, the question is one of how ready a particular project is to be written. It’s not something an author has control of—at least not beyond a certain point. It’s like having a bowl of pears on the table. Which one is ready to eat first? All you can do is watch and wait. What am I waiting for—I dunno. I get a glowy feeling or I don’t. The more complicated the story, the more it needs to sit in the cellar. But eventually a book simply must be written, and away we go.
To complicate matters, sometimes I think I know which project it will be and then some outlier gallops past the post. Yes, it is possible to ignore that project in favor of another, but then what happens is a messy struggle between an unripened plot idea versus a rotting synopsis. I’m not sure, but I think that’s how dystopian novels are born.
Those of you who are writers know what I’m talking about. For those of you who aren’t, be aware that writers are weird.
December 27, 2015 • No Comments
One of the pleasures of Christmas holidays is a little bit more time to read. Book time is also one of the benefits of having a rotten cold since nobody wants to talk to me right now. So, I bring to you a taste of what I’ve been dipping into. This bon-bon fell into my TBR pile a month or so ago. I love historical fiction, I love books about musicians, and I love Mozart so this was a triple win.
Vivien Shotwell’s Vienna Nocturne is the story of Anna Storace, a soprano whose career takes her across Europe and into the sphere of Mozart as well as other musical luminaries of the period. The book seemed to be positioned as something of a romance, but it wasn’t—at least not in the conventional way. Anna has a deeply felt affair with Mozart, but her art is just as much her true love.
Readers who know classical music will lap up the references to the theatres and composers of the period, singing techniques, and the highs and lows of an artist’s life. It’s no surprise to me that the author is also a singer. (see her website). Those less familiar will encounter some unfamiliar terminology and allusions connected with music practice and the history of the period. However, most of it should be understandable from the context.
The book is constructed out of many vignettes that give it almost an epistolary nature, which absolutely suits the eighteenth-century period. There is some gorgeous writing that had me stopping to savor a line here and there. The storyline is straightforward biography but it reads more like a literary than a genre novel, with less detail and a distilled quality of emotion. The form works wonderfully well, never drawing attention to itself and leaving Anna’s discovery of her personal strength a powerful narrative.
I recommend this for music and history lovers, and those who would like to be.
November 27, 2015 • No Comments
The last while I’ve been pulled into a day-job project that has monopolized a lot of my time. It finally came to fruition this week and now I’m on the other side blinking like some small, furry creature plucked from its burrow and into the daylight. As well as relief and some satisfaction, I’m feeling the OMG of everything I let slide until “after.”
Work projects are an opportunity to show what you’re capable of doing, and for that I’m grateful. I’m also humbled by the number of willing hands who pitched in to make it happen. I work with kind and brilliant people. And, in the end, we had a days-long training event with speakers and food and hotel and travel and hospitality suite and recognition–all with very little budget to speak of. Folks came from many cities to take part and seemed to actually enjoy the experience, if rumors of cartwheels in the lobby are to be believed. It’s all good. No doubt I’ll eventually forget the hours of nail-biting and remember only the fun stuff, which is how it should be.
October 6, 2015 • No Comments
I recently had a chance to visit the Ross Bay Villa in Victoria. It’s a historic house I’ve driven by a thousand times and finally made time to visit. Both the garden and building are being restored and tours are available. The best part of visiting was the tour guides, who were tolerant of all my questions and willing to go off on a tangent if asked!
Here are a few details about it, mostly borrowed from its excellent website here, where there is also a fundraising campaign to preserve the site:
- Ross Bay Villa was the home of Francis James Roscoe, his wife Anna Letitia, and their five children from 1865 to 1879.
- Roscoe was a Member of Parliament for Victoria from 1874 to 1878.
- A “Villa” in Victorian architectural terms was the country dwelling of a gentleman. This one is built in the gothic revival style.
- It is believed the house was designed by Write and Sanders, Victoria’s first professional architects.
I can’t imagine seven people plus servants living in this small residence, especially as they must have entertained given Roscoe’s political aspirations.
The wallpaper in the photos was replicated from examples found buried beneath other paints and papers. They believe it is the original or close to it. Notice how the pictures are hung from trim placed right under the ceiling during this period.
July 31, 2015 • No Comments
So, when I was about to begin A Study in Ashes, I was hunting about for some reference material on female colleges. I found plenty of references to the fact that such things existed, but not much detail until I got my hands on this book. I blogged about it here.
To my delight and trepidation, the Baskerville Affair (and A Study in Ashes in particular) has been made part of a college course! http://cdmyers.info/Steampunk.html
It raises some interesting questions about the use of history in what is essentially fantasy. I tend toward a real or real-ish setting because it grounds the story in an “ordinary world” that is the foil of the fantasy. I don’t think it is “bad” or “good” to include a certain level of historical detail but I do think it’s important to make what’s included reasonably accurate.
The other benefit of researching is you never know what you’ll find. The entire setting of the Dartmoor laboratories is a real place I discovered by chance. It’s an old farm and the ruins of a gunpowder mill. However, it serves delightful cream teas and holds pottery classes. The Hound of the Baskervilles was an old collie, I’m afraid.
July 6, 2015 • 9 Comments
A member of my local writing chapter has just released a fantasy book. As it’s a genre very close to my heart, I thought I’d introduce it here. Please welcome Sylvie Grayson and the first volume of Khandarken Rising: The Last War. This is brand new to me and I look forward to reading it!
What do you usually write?
I have been writing contemporary works, with an emphasis on suspense, romance and attempted murder. I like the way suspense pushes the story along with greater speed and purpose. It keeps the reader reading (and the writer writing 🙂 ) when there is danger lurking and bad guys looking for their own goals.
How is this book different from your others?
The Last War: Book One, Khandarken Rising, just grabbed me by the throat. I read every genre, and enjoy them all. But some books speak to me more at different times than others do. The whole world of Khandarken rose out of the mist, as far as I’m concerned. And I loved writing it. The idea of creating a new world, with different issues, and another focus was very freeing. I hadn’t realized it would be this way, but felt it opened up so much to me. I’m currently working on Book Four of the series.
Will this be your new focus?
Perhaps. Because I have a few contemporary books calling to me too. So if I am free to move back and forth between contemporary and sci-fi/fantasy, it just seems like the best of both worlds. It is also more of a challenge in some ways. Working on Book Four has forced me to go back and really study my notes for the first three – some of the details have evaded me and I have to remind myself of all the nuances of that world. Each book takes me into a different part of the territory and the surrounding countries, and it’s been so much fun creating that.
The Last War: Book One, Khandarken Rising
The Emperor has been defeated. New countries have arisen from the ashes of the old Empire. The citizens swear they will never need to fight again after that long and painful war.
Bethlehem Farmer is helping her brother Abram run Farmer Holdings in south Khandarken after their father died in the final battles. She is looking after the dispossessed, keeping the farm productive and the talc mine working in the hills behind their land. But when Abram takes a trip with Uncle Jade into the northern territory and disappears without a trace, she’s left on her own. Suddenly things are not what they seem and no one can be trusted.
Major Dante Regiment is sent by his father, the General of Khandarken, to find out what the situation is at Farmer Holdings. What he sees shakes him to the core and fuels his grim determination to protect Bethlehem at all cost, even with his life.
Sylvie Grayson loves to write about suspense, romance and attempted murder, in both contemporary and science fiction/fantasy and has published romantic suspense novels, Suspended Animation, Legal Obstruction, and The Lies He Told Me, all about strong women who meet with dangerous odds, stories of tension and attraction. She has also written The Last War series, a sci fi/fantasy adventure, the first book of which was released in June 2015.
She has lived most of her life in British Columbia, Canada, in spots ranging from Vancouver Island on the west coast to the North Peace River country and the Kootenays in the beautiful interior. She spent a one year sojourn in Tokyo Japan. She has worked as an English language instructor, a nightclub manager, an auto shop bookkeeper and a lawyer. She lives in southern British Columbia with her husband on a small piece of land near the Pacific Ocean that they call home, when she’s not travelling the world looking for adventure.
February 17, 2015 • No Comments
I did an interview with Between Dreams and Reality, which reviews in both French and English. There’s a great giveaway there, so spread the word to any steampunk lovers!
The brooch is by Copper and Lace and I confess to wanting to keep it …