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.

Book reviews, What I've been reading

Inspiration, Regret and a Snarky Cat

An interviewer asked me the other day what inspired me to write Lucy & Dee, The Silk Road. The “author” answer comes from my childhood reading history. Of all the wonderful books I read as a child, my favourites were the classic fantasy adventure stories by authors like C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, Mary Norton, P. L. Travers and E.Nesbitt. I wanted to write books as magical and transportive as they did. So, from the age of eight, I was making little books—literally folding pieces of paper into a book-like shape. From there, I wrote facsimiles of Borrower’s stories and other fantasy adventures.

My happy place in Brisbane, the Botanical Gardens. I have a favourite Morton Bay fig tree I sit beneath and think deep thoughts.

The more personal answers come from my family. Fast forward a couple of decades and I had children of my own. I told them my stories and my son always begged me to write them down. I’d start, and even finish, manuscripts and leave them languishing in my laptop. Someday, I thought. Someday I’ll have time to get these published so my children can hold them in their hands.

A few more decades passed, and it was my mother’s death in the spring of 2021 that finally pushed me to finish The Silk Road. My parents were huge readers and encouraged us to read and write. They would have been thrilled to hold a book I’d written in their hands. I was so angry with myself for always thinking ‘oh, I’ll have time later.’

If you’re inspired to write a book, make the time now!

What I’ve been Reading

I love it when I find a new series and each title draws me inexorably to the next!

A snarky, magical cat, Gobbelino, one half of a Private Investigator partnership, narrates the Gobbelino London series. Scruffy, loner Callum (he’s deeply attached to a disreputable trench coat) makes up the other half of the duo. Witty dialogue, hints at their past lives that make you want to know more, and the deep commitment and respect they have for each other fill the books. Their characters develop in satisfactory ways and each title reveals more about their fascinating backstories.

Each book centres on solving an unusual magical mystery from neutralizing a homicidal grimoire (A Scourge of Pleasantries), defeating an infestation of zombies (A Contagion of Zombies), rounding up a gang trafficking in powdered unicorn horn (Complications of Unicorns) and preventing the end of humanity (A Melee of Mages). As they careen from one scrape to another with the help of an eclectic and fascinating collection of secondary characters they manage to save the day. If you need to smile, to laugh, to get invested in some characters you are really going to care about, then please give this series and this author a read. You won’t regret it and the world will seem just a bit more optimistic afterwards too. I am impatiently awaiting the next book in the series.