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.

Productivity, Writing

Space to create

Putting the question of money aside for the moment – ‘enough’ is different for everyone – I’ve found that writing does require space to think and create. And creating it can sometimes mean thinking laterally.

For five years my writing space was in a glorified hallway and the passing traffic didn’t hesitate to stop, have a chat, and ask for some of my time. My focus was shattered. I tried ignoring, I tried glowering, I tried everything short of physical violence. There would be a brief period of smiles, nods, and careful tiptoeing around me (can tiptoeing be sarcastic? Passive aggressive? I feel it can be!). Then behaviours would revert to baseline.

Beside myself, I was ready to give up and then a friend of mine, and master coach, Leah Badetscher suggested typing a sign to the back of my chair when I didn’t want to be disturbed.

Miraculously, it worked! I don’t know how, but it did. I’d hear the thudding of feet approaching, a hesitation, a sigh, and then retreating footsteps.

But I had a space of my own.

Another way of problem solving

When the Morton Bay fig trees are lit up like this at dusk, it makes me think of Lothlórien, the fairest realm of the Silvan Elves remaining in Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings).

Brisbane is full of Morton Bay figs. These spectacular trees don’t rely on anyone else to provide their support system. Instead, they send down shoots from their branches. These shoots root and become full tree trunks thus supporting the primary tree’s relentless quest for reach and height. One core tree can become a forest all by itself.