Glass flowers and paperweights: genesis of a story.
Seeing as I’m about to start putting up the novel, A Thousand Glass Flowers on Mesmered, I thought readers might like to know how the story came about.
I’m always inspired by small things. In fact I think my writing has its very own god… The God of Small Things. The Stumpwork Robe and The Last Stitch were inspired by beautiful embroidery that has its roots in the seventeenth century. Another work-in-progress, The Shifu Cloth has its genesis in the fascinating fabric created in Japan through the centuries and which is in fact called ‘shifu’ cloth. And of course, A Thousand Glass Flowers was conceived from a paperweight. In each case a novel grew from small things. In every case the small things guarded dangerous secrets.
Or so it seemed to me and my imagination.
Take the paperweights for example. I have always been fascinated by millefiori paperweights. Particularly the ones that are from Murano in Venice. My aunt has a small collection that is eye-catching and when my son decided to go to Venice whilst in Europe in 2008, I asked him to find me a millefiori paperweight.
Thus I was able to have the hero of my piece in front of me.
I had already decided that the next book in the Eirie Chronicles would move to other members of already existing families and so it was a matter of creating an exotic female protagonist and an anti-hero who could be my male protagonist. Lalita and Finnian came into being.
Whilst researching the art of millefiori, I came across an amazing online shoppers’ site for Murano paperweights and I remember finding a unique little paperweight that contained a night sky, a quarter moon and two stars. I just knew there was more inspiration within that piece. In fact it could even be a lynchpin. But when, some months later, I went to purchase the paperweight, the site had completely disappeared. Imagine my delight today, when seeking images of millefiori paperweights, to find a picture of a little paperweight that is almost the same.
Thus my story began to take shape…
What you are reading now is the basic form and subject matter of that original inspiration. Only the technical detail has changed.
Oh… and the title. When I began further drafts, it was quite simply called The Millefiori Paperweights. But the editor in London, nothing less than a Random House editor, didn’t like the title, fearing the book would be misconstrued as non-fiction. She cast about for various suggestions and I offered A Thousand Glass Flowers which was in fact suggested to me by the hugely successful fantasy writer, Cecilia Dart Thornton and for which I am grateful. I passed it on to the editor and she loved it and that’s what it became.
I do hope you find a measure of enjoyment in the story.
*See Mesmered’s Pages just below the header for links to each of the chapters. *
Must send you a photo of the paperweight we got for a wedding present. It’s lovely.