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Inspirational Eccentricities … by Prue Batten

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and to get Advanced Review copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO ON THE RIGHT!

Today I’d like to welcome Prue Batten, from the Falconer Facebook Club, author of the Triptych Chronicles, the Gisborne Saga and the Chronicles of Eirie.  Prue is an award-winning historical and fantasy fiction author and she;s talking today about where she finds inspiration for her work.

Welcome Prue.

“Nothing’s safe with me. Seriously…

Almost everything I see has potential for a story.

People AND things.

The other day, I was talking to a vacuous and eccentric someone and I noted expressions, mannerisms and the content of their words with the idea that they could be a character at some point. Good or bad character, it makes no difference – every time there is that little bit out of the ordinary, it’ll be noted and stored in the memory boxes of my mind. I suppose there’s a possibility that maybe it makes me the eccentric one for being so curious and for filing ephemera that might or might not have meaning at some point.

But whatever the case, inanimate things, things of strangeness and beauty, are the true lightning sparks for my imagination.

Way back in 2008, I had a fantasy novel published called The Stumpwork Robe. On reflection, it was perhaps the most awful title one can imagine. But for some reason it caught on with readers of niche fantasy. The inspiration was the superlative raised silk embroidery of world renowned embroiderer, Jane Nicholas. As I stitched under her direction, I thought ‘One could hide secrets under these flowers and insects…’

And BINGO!

That was the genesis of the first and second books in a quartet called The Chronicles of Eirie.

Not long after those books were released, my son returned from Europe with a gift from Venice – a millefiore paperweight. I became enthralled with its beauty and read about the creation of millefiore canes for the glass flowers and thought ‘One could hide secrets inside those tiny tubes…’

Hah!

More segreta! A Thousand Glass Flowers was conceived…

What followed next closed the quartet beautifully. I’ve always been interested in the history of paper and textiles, and I heard about a Japanese papersilk called shifu and managed to find some that had been made by a contemporary paper-artist. Historically, the samurai would write vital messages on paper, then strip it into fine shreds and weave it with silk fibre into shifu which was then used for robes and such, so that messages could be transported in an unsuspecting and inventive way across war-torn Japan.

Wow!

Segreta again! And there it was – The Shifu Cloth.

Can you see? Anything’s possible! Even with historical fiction. All it took to spark my first hist. fiction trilogy, was a quotation about Guy of Gisborne from the Robin Hood legend: ‘Calle me Guye of good Gysborne…’ from Childe Ballad #118 The operative word was ‘good’ and it took me on an absolutely epic adventure.

In the second trilogy, a series about revenge, I found one elegant quotation: ‘The strong man is one who controls himself when he is in a fit of rage.’ Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Hadith 6313 And there it was – rage and revenge rife in a setting of twelfth century trade.

It was that simple…

Late last year, as I wondered what to write after the final in the historical fiction trilogy ‘The Triptych Chronicle’ was completed, I looked up to the top of my bookshelves. Sitting coyly was my Dad’s small wood and brass Chinese cabinet of drawers. It has a secret compartment and a lock and key and has always charmed me. My sewing friends are currently embroidering pieces for their own handcrafted ‘cabinets of curiosities’ but I haven’t time to join them in the project as I have books to write. And suddenly, the little Chinese cabinet whispered – ‘Me! I’m your Cabinet of Curiosities!’ and so it was that the idea and title of my next hist.fantasy was born.

Even as recent as last week, I was visiting a shop in New Norfolk, Tasmania. It’s called the Drill Hall and is filled with all manner of exciting eclectica. When one walks into the shop a thousand stories sit waiting for those canny enough to listen. I found a rusty little French folding chair and the vibe when my fingers touched it was something else! A little story began to whisper.

Like I say, perhaps I am the eccentric. Who knows?

PRUE BATTEN

webpage: http://www.pruebatten.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Prue.Batten.writer

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/pruebatten

 

ARE THESE THE WORST 12 OPENING LINES EVER?

1. “She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her 
like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew
 jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the 
tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what
 little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the 
thief of imagination.”
- Chris Wieloch

 No? Perhaps you’re not into detective fiction. Try a love story:

 2. “As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, 
wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny
 deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum 
therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, 
causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the
 soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.”
 — Cathy Bryant

 Not bad. But perhaps a metaphor is better: Continue reading

WERE THE VIKINGS REALLY HAIRY AND HORNY?

The Vikings: who were they, what were they?

VIKINGS, ICELAND, GREENLAND, SWEDEN,

SOURCE: helgi-halldorsson

No one seems sure any more.

They have arced from slavering thugs brandishing axes and erections to the revisionist view of them as Renaissance men with short tempers and an interest in gardening and travel.

Or there’s the TV series.

So what do we really know?

Well, let’s start with the obvious things: the horned helmets.

No, they never wore them.

They were first worn as props for the performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876.

They were much a part of Viking wardrobe as Mel Gibson’s kilt was to thirteenth century Scots.

VIKINGS, ICELAND, GREENLAND, SWEDEN,

The Vikings only used horns for drinking beer and blowing into as a means of communication: ‘I’m pissed and now I’m coming home.’

Not only did the Vikings not wear horned helmets, they weren’t called Vikings.

‘Viking’ is not a noun, it’s a verb.

Scandinavian men traditionally took time out of their summers to go “vikingr.” The itinerary for such expeditions varied, but the main aim was to turn a profit, either from trade, working as a mercenary, or raiding monasteries and unprotected town for loot and slaves.

Raid or trade, it was all the same to them.

Going vikingr was a summer job. Most of these men, who lived in rural chiefdoms in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, were villagers first, pillagers second and on their return they would resume their agricultural routine.

So were these Norsemen really that violent?

VIKINGS, ICELAND, GREENLAND, SWEDEN, Oh, you bet they were.

There were no sensitive new age Norsemen.

These men were not just warriors, they were very good ones. The Varangian guard of the Byzantine emperors in the 11th century was made up entirely of Swedish warriors.

But this was a violent age and although they were brutal, they weren’t especially … well, severe.

If history has recorded them as barbarians, it is perhaps because the men writing that history – the Christian monks of Britain – were the Norsemen’s prime targets.

The Christian monasteries of the time were unguarded treasure houses of loot and the Norsemen must have enjoyed taking it. Increasingly subject to Christian persecution and forced baptisms in their own lands, the sight of an unarmed monk must have really got the juices flowing.

Payday and payback all at once.

Vikings, Norway, Sweden, Iceland

SOURCE: viciarg

These men not only knew how to use a sword, they knew how to make one.

They were skilled weapon-smiths and made highly prized pattern-welded swords. They were also brilliant navigators, they sailed along rivers into the far reaches of Russia, as far as the Caspian sea, and may have reached as far east as Baghdad.

In fact, the largest body of written sources on the Vikings in the 9th and 10th Century is in Arabic.

And forget Columbus.

The Norsemen already knew about America. They reached Labrador and Newfoundland in the eleventh century and even set up colonies there – after they had already colonised Iceland and Greenland.

They may have been vicious, but these ‘barbarians’ also pampered themselves like a male model in a Bulgari commercial.

Vikings, Norway, Sweden, Iceland

SOURCE: tone

Archaeological finds have included tweezers, combs, nail cleaners, ear cleaners and toothpicks.

An anonymous Anglo-Saxon letter has a man admonishing his brother for giving in to the ‘Danish fashion with a shaved neck and blinded eyes’. Blinded eyes probably meant a long fringe.

So these savages had plucked eyebrows and reverse mullets.

No surprise the monks of Lindisfarne were running scared.

And despite the drinking, raping and general bad behaviour, it wasn’t all frat week.

The 300-year era of their martial and navigational primacy Vikings, Norway, Sweden, Icelandeventually becomes a story of immigration and assimilation.

The Norsemen started bringing women with them on their travels, instead of taking them away. Conquest became colonisation.

The Normans, who took the throne of England in 1066 were descended from Norsemen who won feudal control over Northern France. Even before that, there had been two Danish kings of England.

Once they settled down, they then gave the west its first long-running action dramas; the Icelandic sagas were the probable forerunners of … well, “The Vikings.”

So there you have it.

They were, as we first thought, violent bastards. But more Don Corleone at the opera than Tony Soprano in a singlet.

Which was why, if you saw them sailing into your bay with their supper-savers and perfectly manicured nails, there only ever was one choice.

Run.

 

Atlantis, Vikings, Valhalla,

“We set out looking for a New World, a place where we would finally be safe – how the gods must have been laughing at us that day.”

263

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

12 WAYS TO SEE HISTORY

Not all history is in books.

Some of it you can see for yourself in a photograph.

history, world war two, blitz

What can you see here?

What you are looking at is a little boy who had just come home to find his house in rubble and his mother, father and brother dead inside.

It happened during the “Little Blitz” when Nazi Germany employed V-1 and V-2 rockets to bomb England.

It was taken in 1944 by the legendary photographer Toni Frissell.

The little boy survived the war and actually recognized the picture many years later when it was used to advertise an exhibition.

Hollywood, movies, MGM

‘Leo the Lion’ having his famous roar recorded in 1928 so that it could be heard throughout history at the start of every MGM movie.

The lion’s name was actually Jackie, though I suspect he didn’t come when he was called either way.

Mata hari, spies, world war one

The legendary World War One spy Mata Hari.

In this instance, she’s the one being spied on.

wild west, Billy the Kid, gunfighters

The only known picture of Billy the Kid.

It was taken some time between 1873 and 1881.

apache, geronimo, wild west

And one of Bill’s contemporaries, the legendary Geronimo.

He is seen here on the right with fellow Apache warriors, Yanozha (his brother-in-law), Chappo (the son of his second wife) and the inappropriately named Fun (his half brother).

The photograph was taken somewhere in Arizona in 1886.

Berlin wall, East Germany, Cold War

A mother in East Berlin passes her young son across the border to his father while the East German police are momentarily looking the other way.

The photograph was taken in August 1961.

bowling, history

‘Pin boys’ working in a bowling alley in South Street Brooklyn, in 1910.

It was taken at one in the morning. Three much smaller boys were not allowed to be photographed by the manager of the hall.

Machu Piccu, Incas, Peru

The first ever photograph of Machu Picchu, taken by Hiram Bingham III himself in 1912.

The beautiful peak of Huayna Picchu overshadows the city. On its summit were found a few rough caves from where Inca guards could once give warning of approaching danger.

What they couldn’t see coming was tourism, and hordes of western backpackers taking naked Selfies of themselves on the sacred sun dial stone.

einstein, relativity

Albert Einstein’s school report when he was seventeen.

Pupils were graded from 1 to 6.

As you can see, he performed quite well in maths, but in other areas there was Room For Improvement.

samurai, Japan

Satsuma samurai during the Boshin war period in the 1860’s.

You can tell it’s an old photograph because they’re not using Google maps.

elephant man, joseph merrick

Joseph Merrick, on whom the film Elephant Man was based.

The photograph was taken in 1886.

And finally:

abraham lincoln, slavery

Abraham Lincoln, before he became Abraham Lincoln, holding the anti-slavery newspaper ‘Staat Zeitung’ in 1854.

 

 

anastasia, romanovs, russian revolution, historical romance, historical fiction, romance, adventure

colin falconer, bestselling author, international, historical romance, historical fiction, romance, adventure

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

8½ quotes about failure that may lead you to success

colin falconer, bestselling author, international, historical romance, historical fiction, romance, adventure

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

Thanks for the pictures to quozio.com

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