Creativity, Writing

Five Fun Facts about the Lucy & Dee Series

The Lucy & Dee series required dozens of inspirations and decisions, large and small. Many involved extensive research which I absolutely loved. Although it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole only to emerge hours later!

Here are answers to five of my most frequently asked questions.

The fantasy land of Sericea was inspired by my travels throughout Asia.

For more than a decade I’ve travel to Asia – from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai, and many points in between. I loved the geography, the people, the culture, the food, and the mythology. When I began to write The Silk Road, it seemed natural to have an Asian flavour.

The title The Silk Road comes from…no surprises here, the fabled Silk Road that united Europe with the mysterious Orient.

I was always intrigued by Marco Polo’s travels to China – it seemed like a fantasy adventure. Having the silk road in Lucy & Dee literally made of silk just seemed like too good an opportunity to miss for a small joke.

Dee’s fascination with alchemy stems from my love of history and science.

The study of alchemy can be traced from ancient Egypt through to sixteenth century Europe. During this time, early philosophers built the foundations of modern chemistry and physics through alchemy, rational thought, and reason. While there was a line of alchemists interested in occult matters, these philosopher alchemists were particularly interested in metallurgy (including turning base metals into gold); the production of paints, inks, and dyes; and cosmetics. During their investigations they refined the scientific method.  

In parallel, China had its own alchemists. They were focused more on medical knowledge and how to live in harmony with the natural order of the universe and traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture, Tai Chi and meditation all focus on the purification of the spirit in the hope of achieving immortality, a core value in alchemy.  While trying to uncover an elixir for immortality Chinese alchemists accidentally invented gunpowder.

Lucy was inspired by the character from The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.

I read voraciously as a child and my favourite books were the fantasy series and stand-alone titles. The Narnia series was a particular favourite as were The Borrowers, A Wrinkle in Time, His Dark Materials and The Diamond in the Window. By age eight, I was determined to write fantasy adventure books of my own.

The Vermilion Bird (Shuka), the Xami, the Azure Dragon, and the White Tiger (Baiku) are based on Asian mythological creatures.

Shuka, the Azure Dragon of the East and the Baiku are three of the four cardinal directions in Chinese mythology. Shuka represent south, The Azure Dragon represents east, and Baiku represents west. Omitted from the story (so far) is the Black Tortoise (north) only because I can’t find a role for this one…yet.

The Xami are based on the Qilin, another Chinese mythological creature.

There will be more fun facts about the series in future posts, but feel free to leave a message with any specific questions you have.

Creativity, Productivity, Writing

Sweet, Sweet Solitude

It’s been a busy, chaotic and exhilarating week with my family. We rented a beach house and spent our days walking a long, pristine, and sparsely populated beach, playing in the water, reading, eating, and talking, talking, talking. And I was spectacularly unproductive – no writing at all. It was great!

But…

Time for some solitude

If I’m going to get book 3 in the Lucy & Dee series written in the next year or two I have to find a door to close behind me. It’s time for some solitude.

What I’ve learned about solitude

The need to spend time alone was, and still is, common among many poets, novelists, composers, artists, innovators, and inventors. According to Michael Harris in his book, Solitude (2017), there are three crucial benefits provided by solitude: “new ideas; an understanding of the self; and a closeness to others.” In addition, it increases our ability to solve hard problems.

The mind needs some space from constant stimulation in order to let all of those fabulous, unique connections, forged during REM sleep, to burble to the surface of our conscious minds.

There is no need to go all hermit to get the benefits of solitude, nor do we need to isolate ourselves for long periods.  We can maximize the benefits of solitude by simply striving to cycle between periods of solitude and engagement with the outside world. Solitude is about what’s happening in our brains, not the environment around us. It’s simply a state in which our mind is free from input from other minds. So, we can be solitary on even our morning commutes on the train if we allow ourselves to just be with our own thoughts rather than being on social media, listening to the radio/podcasts/audiobooks, reading, or otherwise engaging with another human. Moments of solitude—even small ones—when self-imposed, intentional, and fully appreciated, can have profound effects on our productivity and creative thinking.

Stepping away from the routine and disruption of daily life allows us to connect ideas we’ve been struggling with in new ways, follow creative impulses, and simply think about one thing at a time.

I know it’s something I’ve needed in regular doses all my life. It’s the one and only thing that helps me reset, recharge and let fresh thoughts flow.

And now for a moment of solitude

Get your Zen on.

Brought to you from Tallows Beach, Byron Bay, New South Wales.