I don't need to write a blog post about what fantasy I read as a child and how it affected me because Theodora Goss's post, Deep Magic, does it for us both. I discovered her work through a narrative poem, "The Dragons" in The Book of Dragons (2020), in which a lawyer is rescued from a life of tedium by a clutch of baby dragons left on her porch. Now I'm reading Goss's Snow White Learns Witchcraft, twists on traditional fairy tales (love the idea of the princess who herself turns into a frog when she kisses one). Coming next? The Collected Enchantments. My advice? Dive in anywhere.
Picturing a World
Website alerts: Oh, my! Two things I love already, Narnia and book sculptures. And now, voilà: Instructions for making your own sculpture of Lucy's first visit to the lamppost, complete with PDF's of some of the elements. I'm not a crafter, but, I might just make up a story about someone who is.
For those who want to take such things to a professional level, moreover, Su Blackwell has a new book out, Into the Dark Woods, which comes with an booklet of instructions for making the sort of talismans she included to illustrate her retold fairy tales. Well worth mooning over.
This topiary llama has always made me smile, but, whoa! The antlers transform it into something spookily magic, especially when the winter sun is caught in a circle of their prongs and tree branches. I had to stop the car and take an amateur photograph. Such poignance here in the Anthropocene to be carried into the deep resonances of myth from an earlier age!
Blog post alert: A report from the History Blog that the world's oldest preserved woven fabric was made of bast from oak trees rather than from linen or wool somehow deepens a mythic connection between women and trees. I don't yet know what to do with it, but surely something!
Image at National Gallery, London
Blog post alert: Alert, alert! Ancient ghost discovered on Assyrian exorcist's cuneiform tablet! That it was found it at all is marvellous. That there were magicians and exorcists with libraries 3,500 years ago –well, how's that for inspiring historical fantasy?
I admit I've been reading more than writing in the last few weeks, so here's another recommendation. Last night I finished Pat Barker's new novel, The Women of Troy, a sequel to The Silence of the Girls (2019). I read each compulsively in big gulps. Troy ends full of possibilities for another installment. I hope she writes it!
I'm having fun. One by one, at intervals to stretch it out, I'm reading stories in Jonathan Strahan's anthology, The Book of Dragons, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Recently, I read "Pox" by Ellen Klages, an author new to me. I loved it, and what a great pleasure to find that one of the delightful characters, Franny Travers, also appears in Klages' novella, Passing Strange.
Look! the Holy Austin Rock Houses that may well have inspired the invention of hobbit holes. It would have been more delicious to stumble across them unexpectedly on a walking tour of England, but I'll settle for glimpses on the web. You can find out more here. And visit what looks like a nearby troll hole here. As for today, Happy Bilbo and Frodo Bagginses' Birthday!
Website alert: Does anybody else perceive a rider on the back of a horse in this detail from NASA's video animation of a flight past the planet Jupiter?!? And if so, is an elephant-headed rider looking over its shoulder or is that an elaborate hood? I'd love to see the photographs from which this segment of the video is projected. Meanwhile, whether you are as taken by this imaginary cosmic figure as I am, do check out Ride With Juno As It Flies Past the Solar System's Biggest Moon and Jupiter. It's mesmerizing
First off, apologies to Su Blackwell: I've lost the citation for this piece, but it's just too emblematic not to use. I'm nearing the end of the first draft of a short story. I'll come out of the woods soon, but I'm not sure whether what I'm bringing with me will ever be truly satisfactory.