Detail of beaded silk slippers from the 1880s
In the Victorian period, women didn’t show off their shoes, and they were generally hidden under their long skirts. There were two main types of day-wear shoes worn by women for the appropriate occasion: the boot, and the slipper.
Velvet button boots
Two-toned laced boots circa 1900
Boots were the workhorse of the Victorian-era women’s shoes. The boot could be made from hard leather and was worn by working women (of all classes) during the day, or could be made from more luxurious materials to create a riding boot or festival boot for the aristocrats and middle class women. The boots could be laced or buttoned.
Leather button boots
Canvas button boots
Even my cat Felix has buttons on his boots.
Slippers were for everyday wear indoors – if you were wealthy – or festivals and celebrations, like weddings and balls. They could be made of…
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I’m afraid I have a weakness for shoes and boots. I don’t like admitting it, because it is such a cliché for a woman to love shoes. But I blame my Great Aunt, who gave me her wedding boots as a gift, and I blame my great grandfather, who was a cobbler and a boot maker. I was driven by both nature and nurture to love shoes.
1870 velvet and gold leather button boots
Victorian-era, jet-beaded, leather lace-up boots dating from 1895
Embroidered silk-lined boots, made with linen and kid, with leather soles, circa 1885
It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that they started making pairs shoes that were distinctly left and right. This is obvious from Queens Victoria’s wedding slippers below, where the shoes have nearly identical configurations. By the end of the 19th century, shoe making was taken to a high art and all pairs of…
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Just over a week to go!
As I may have mentioned, I really enjoy watching a good villain. Villains always seem to have the most fun. The perfect example is Tamatoa from Disney’s Moana, who has the all the best lines and steals every scene he is in, while also having the best bad boy song ever. My only problem … as a zoologist, I looked at Tatatoa and immediately thought to myself “But most crabs moult. Wouldn’t that mean he would lose that love shiny shell every year?”
Nope. Juvenile coconut crabs do moult, and like hermit crabs, the little crabs wear scavenged shells for protection. However, as adults, they grow a tough outer integument. The coconut crab reaches sexual maturity around five years after hatching. but they reach their maximum size only after 40 to 60 years. They are fully terrestrial once they mature, and can drown if held under water for too long (hence Tamatoa living in an air bubble).
So Tamatoa could have grown to be huge, and he could be wearing a shell covered in treasure from one year to the next; even if has moulted, he could be wearing his old shell over the new one. These little details are important to me, even though giant singing crabs don’t exist. They certainly don’t have teeth!
So, why do I have to try and make sense of an animated character? Well, Tamatoa wasn’t the original form of the villain. It is obvious that the animators had done quite a bit of research of their own to come up with our glam crab. By knowing how they came up with such a charismatic antagonist might help me add a bit of that glamour to my own villains.
I have been working on the end to my Steampunk Work-in-Progress (yep, I’m WiP-ped). In the past week, some serious thinking and research helped me come up with the logical progression for constructing the ending. This will mean more re-writes, but not huge structural edits.
I see research as part of the process of feeding the muse. My main problem is that I can never predict what is going to inspire a good (or even great) idea. So, I do a lot of research. I read news stories, science articles, textbooks, anything and everything gets fed into the files for the muse to sort through. Sometimes I wish I could just click my fingers and the best idea would swim to the front of the pile, but that isn’t how it work.
Sorry, but feeding the muse takes effort, just like anything else. This is why I am a little cynical when I hear a writer claim that he/she doesn’t do any reading.
The muse is unforgiving. It just ins’t a case of ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. No fuel, and the flame splutters out entirely.
Currently, I am reading up on Victorian-era model villages. These were both a great concept and a really bad idea, depending on who was in charge. On one hand, these were developed to create ideal living conditions for a planned community. creating comfort for families and a guaranteed population base for businesses. On the dark side, these were nearly gulags for imprisoning a workforce to labour under unpleasant and dangerous conditions. What a perfect setting for both a hero or a villain!
This is the last piece I need for the puzzle that is my book. It is almost a frightening thought. I’ve worked with these characters for so long, that I will miss them once the book is complete. However, I’ve been through this ‘breaking up’ period a few times now, when you have to distance yourself from your creations. The best solution is have a new project in the wings, a shiny new toy for the muse to play with.
When I sit down to write
I pray that I am not a fraud and
That I am a real writer.
I often feel that I am
Misguided, deluded or insane
To spend so much time
I wish I had the Magic Box
That my author friends have:
The Magic Box of Wonderful Ideas.
I need a key to open it.
And yet, I toil on,
That hard work can be a substitute for talent.
(And that I am not a fraud.)
And then I decide to make my own key from my paranoia …
And write this poem.