Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Delectable Delineations

I love to write but I also love art.  I have a few side projects that involve art.  One of my favourites at the moment is Xander the Adventuring Barista Cat. I have decided to write a little bio and draw my actual cat Xander, as a barista at cafes in places all over the world I have visited.  It’s so much fun making notes and thinking about the little extras to add to the images ( like the music playing in the cafe and the book that Xander is reading.  You can find these adventures and more on my Instagram Accounts @MouseyGals or @Artwork_by_Silva. Come on over and have a look !










Friday, September 1, 2017

The Marvellous Orange Tree and Magic.

Occultus is very much to do with that blurry line between magic tricks and actual magic.  One of the magic tricks I most enjoy is that of magician Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, a French magician in the 1800s.  Robert-Houdin went to university, his father wanting him to be a lawyer, but he wanted to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a watchmaker. His excellent penman ship got him a job as a law clerk and he continued to tinker with gadgets.  His employer sent him home and he became an apprentice to his watchmaking cousin as his father had retired.  In the mid 1820s he had sent away for a set of books called Traite de l'horoplogerie, written by Ferdinand Berthoud, on watch making.  When the books arrived they were the wrong books, instead he had received a set of two volumes on magic called Scientific Amusements. From these volumes, which he decided to keep, he learnt magic.  Robert-Houdin is widely considered the father of modern conjuring.

I think the most amazing thing about The Marvellous Orange Tree magic trick is the way that Robert-Houdin was able to us horology and magic to create an automata that seemed like a blooming orange tree with oranges that were picked and eaten as they grew in front of the audiences eyes. The trick was used in the movie The Illusionist (2006), however the actual trick by Robert-Houdin has never truly been replicated.  So the line between a magic trick and real magic can sometimes seem blurred.  That's a delicious thought though..what if what we think is a clever trick is actually magic. 






Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Art Deco

One of the settings in my upcoming novel Occultus is a hotel designed in the 1930s in New York City.  Art Deco and the first real building boom in New York City converged and so there are many beautiful representations of this elegant architecture.  With influences from such artistic movements as cubism and fauvism, Art Deco featured rare materials such as ebony and ivory, geometric shapes and bright colours. Though during the Great Depression more subdued materials such as stainless steel and plastic were used. 

Art Deco takes its name from Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925.  Tied in with the emergence of decorative artists, who had formally been considered as artisans, in areas such as furniture making and textiles, Art Deco became a popular style.  This popularity of Art Deco saw decorative artists being recruited to work in design studios.  At its birth between 1910 and 1914, Art Deco saw an explosion of colour and pattern in designs.  Cubism that emerged in France between 1907 and 1912 also had a huge influence in the developing Art Deco movement.  Art Deco was a collection of similar and sometimes opposing styles synthesised.  The skyscrapers in New York City were a culmination of Art Deco architecture.  They were designed to represent the prestige of their builders through their colour, height, shape and dramatic night illumination.  

The interior of Art Deco buildings were always colourful, dynamic and combined sculptures, murals and ornate geometric designs in marble and glass.  

The building that is used by my characters is a fictional hotel but with the history of a New York City Art Deco Hotel.  The individual rooms are still preserved in the story and are furnished in their original elegant and elaborate Art Deco style.  Having travelled to many places in the world, including New York City, and having enjoyed staying in places with this architecture and interior design, I felt it was perfect for my novel.  The architecture and design of Art Deco has a specific sort of glamour that I felt was relevant to Occultus and the characters inhabiting the novel.  



Friday, July 7, 2017

The Lighthouse Keeper by Lily Night



The new novel is here and I am really excited ! ... this is a new genre for me but one I have loved reading for a long time ... the Cozy Mystery.  Enjoy 😊

The Lighthouse Keeper by Lily Night

A few months in a rented beach cottage in Peron Cove seems like the perfect respite for artist Laura to create her next series of paintings. However, hidden behind the idyllic seaside town and its quirky inhabitants lies a dark secret from the past which refuses to remain hidden any longer.





Available all over the place from Apple,  Scribd, Kindle, Amazon and all the usual beautiful book places 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Creating a Novel Cover

I have created the cover for The Lighthouse Keeper part of The Peron Cove Mysteries Series.  The cover was created using two of my original photographs  and a little editing magic.  I really enjoy making the covers for my own work.  I tend to think about the cover and then make it as the final step before publishing. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Elixir Penny Dreadful 2 - Jimmy - The Beginning

The second Penny Dreadful in the Elixir series is here and it's all about that bad boy Jimmy

As a fun little project I have decided to create a series of four Penny Dreadfuls centred around four character from one of my books, Elixir.  Please enjoy the series and perhaps have a look at Elixir which is available at the links below for 0.99c ! 

PS: if you would like a signed copy of one of the four Penny Dreadfuls they will be available for a limited time on the Lily Night or Seren Inspired websites :) also look out for the digital download on the Seren Inspired Etsy store ! 

WARNING THIS IS STRICTLY ADULT CONTENT 

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a digital copy to read !  Feel free to share this post with family and friends. 



Elixir $ 0.99

"Blood from its earlier feast congealed in rivulets down its neck, caked around its mouth, the bloodied maw revealing sharp teeth as it tilted its face skyward, arms spread in triumph as the sun began to rise, heralding the dawn of a new era for its kind."






Also available on I-Tunes 



 
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Magic of Sound

In my novel Occultus the practitioners of magic all access it's power in different ways and have varying abilities.  One group use the magic of sound to create.  I was fascinated by the use of harmonics and vibration to create sound as well as the use of various ancient instrument to perform magical ceremonies.

Cymatics is a subset of modal vibration phenomena.  This term was coined by Swiss man Hans Jenny.  Fascinatingly Jenny was a follower of anthroposophy which is a school of thought that believes in the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world that is accessible through direct experience.  The Chinese singing bowl is an example of cymatics.  The singing Bowl is used to promote well being and relaxation. 
 
(Photo from Google Images)

The Ocarina ( if you are a gamer like me you are likely familiar with the instrument via the Zelda saga) is an ancient instrument made most often of clay or bone.  It can be shaped in many forms including animals, humans and gods. The Ocarina is said to be used to speak to the gods, charm birds and animals.  It's magical sounds are said to have the ability to put humans in a trance. 
 
(Photo from Wikipedia) 

The Tanbur is a stringed wooden instrument with a body that resonates.  It's earliest uses were to heal the sick, create inner equilibrium and calm.  It was said a Tanbur could be used to cleanse spirits. 
(Photo from google images-Bloomington University) 

The Didgeridoo used by the indigenous Australians was believed to create a link between the Earth and its people through the sounds it emits. 
 
(Photo from Google Images)

The sound of the Gong is said to bring good luck and happiness while healing.  
 
(Photo from Google Images)

With the use of sound in various cultures it made sense that in Occultus there should be characters that use sound to manipulate, create and perform magic.  




Monday, May 8, 2017

Penny Dreadfuls

As a fun little project I have decided to create a series of four Penny Dreadfuls centred around four character from one of my books, Elixir.  Please enjoy the series and perhaps have a look at Elixir which is available at the links below for 0.99c ! 

PS: if you would like a signed copy of one of the four Penny Dreadfuls they will be available for a limited time on the Lily Night or Seren Inspired websites :)

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a digital copy to read !  Feel free to share this post with family and friends. 


The Penny Dreadful, or, as it was originally called, the Penny Blood, was a nineteenth-century publishing sensation.  Originally printed on cheap paper, the books were released weekly, usually with eight pages but on occasion with sixteen.  The text was arranged within the booklet in double columns, and the cover always featured an elaborate black-and-white picture.  The illustrations created for the covers were used to advertise and to hook the reader. 


The Victorian era saw a rise in industrialisation and social changes that brought with them an increase in literacy.  Technological advances resulted in better, more efficient and widespread printing techniques, and the rise in transport methods created a faster means of circulation for printed matter.  The cheap price of the Penny Blood and Penny Dreadful allowed the working class to buy the publications.  Those who could not afford to purchase the serialised books regularly joined groups or rented the text from entrepreneurial people who bought a whole series. 


The first Penny Blood was released in around 1836, and was a tale centred on the notorious lives of the Highway Men.  Most often the stories were sensational, and regaled in tales of adventure, crime and the reprinting and rewriting of gothic tales.  The wide popularity of the Penny Bloods and Penny Dreadfuls helped increase widespread literacy.  I, personally, think that this creative synthesis of story and illustration, created for the masses, is very fascinating and should be treasured.





Elixir $ 0.99

"Blood from its earlier feast congealed in rivulets down its neck, caked around its mouth, the bloodied maw revealing sharp teeth as it tilted its face skyward, arms spread in triumph as the sun began to rise, heralding the dawn of a new era for its kind."






Also available on I-Tunes 







 
   

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mirage

One of the inspirations for Occultus was a news item I happened to see in 2011.  The story was about what appeared to be a magical city that had appeared out of nowhere in China.  Witnessed and photographed by many people the city that materialised seemed to have buildings, temples and trees.  The city appeared and vanished quickly.  

This stunning mirage that appeared above the skyline after heavy rain on the Xin'an River in East China, seemed to rise from nowhere.  Many who saw the glittering mirage believed some sort of vortex had opened revealing a hidden city.  

The scientific explanation for this spectacular phenomen was that it occurs when moisture in the air becomes warmer than the temperature of the water below.  When sun rays cross the colder air into the warmer air the rays refract or bend.  This refraction creates a reflection in the air.  

Many felt that the so called mirage appeared to be reflecting something that didn't exist, hence the notion it was infact some unknown city appearing.

I found this entire story and the resultant images enchanting and infact it served to inspire the opening paragraphs of Occultus.  

 
 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Occultus

Occultus, my next book scheduled for release after The Lighthouse Keeper, was inspired by a conversation that I had with a friend of mine who is a magician in New York.  Although I happily enter into that unspoken deal with practitioners of magic whereby I convince myself that their sleight of hand is infact magic, I do like to think there is real magic. I believe supernatural elements are only a mystery because we have not found fully convincing ways of measuring them to satisfy the general populace.  My magician friend told me I should read and look into the history of two ancient texts.  One is called the Malleus Maleficarum and the other is The Discoverie of  Witchcraft.

The Malleus Maleficarum, which literally translates into the title Hammer of Witches, was written by Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer and for two hundred years the book was only second in popularity to the Bible.  Kramer, a German, was born in Selestat, Alsace and joined the Dominican Order at an early age.  In 1484 Kramer made his first attempts at prosecuting alleged witches in the Tyrol Region.  His endeavours so angered the local Bishop Kramer was expelled from the city of Innsbruck.  In an attempt at self justification Kramer contacted  Pope Innocent VIII for a papal bull.  A public decree issued by the Pope, a papal bull is named after the leaden seal, or bulla that is attached to the bottom of the decree to authenticate it.  Impressed by Kramer's eloquence and tireless work the papal bull Summis Desiderantes was published in 1484 by Pope Innocent VIII.  The bull acknowledges the existences of witches and sorcerers and was incorporated into Kramer's book Malleus Maleficarum.  

Endorsing the extermination of witches, the Malleus Maleficarum developed a detailed theological and legal structure for dealing with witches and sorcerers.  By elevating witchcraft to the level of heresay, the book gave a step by step set of instructions of inquisitional practices for secular courts. Torture to extract confessions as well as witches being burnt at the stake were encouraged practices.  In his book Kramer details three distinct elements necessary for witchcraft.  The accused witch should have evil intent, the help of the devil and permission from God. Due to the popularity of the book, that was facilitated by the innovation of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the middle of the fifteenth century, Kramer was invited to conduct public lectures which proved to be very popular.  

The Malleus Maleficarum became a handbook for secular courts throughout renaissance Europe.  With widespread belief in witchcraft, and with the details in Kramer's publication vigorous persecution took place between 1560 and 1630, only beginning to end around 1780. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people throughout Europe and the colonies were tortured and executed after being accused of witchcraft.  

Reginald Scot, an Englishman and Member of Parliament believed that the persecution of those accused of witchcraft was unChristian and irrational.  He believed that the Catholic Church was responsible for the widespread murders and deaths of those accused of witchcraft.  He also felt that most of those accused of witchcraft were poor, aged, simple or women.  Scot, who had studied superstitions surrounding witchcraft, wanted to reveal witchcraft as simple illusions.  In his book the Discoverie of Witchcraft, published in 1584, he discusses how the public are easily fooled by charlatans.  Deemed the first textbook on conjuring, the book included descriptions and diagrams of how some illusions were achieved.  Sadly is it believed that all actual copies of the Discoverie of Witches were destroyed by James I when he ascended the throne in 1603.

In light of these two texts I started to think about hidden worlds and the way that those with real magic may move back and forward between the real and hidden worlds.  I imagined the ways in which they created the hidden places and what they created.  Through these beautiful contemplations Occultus began.  


 
  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Flannan Islands Mystery

When you think about writing a novel all sorts of tidbits that you have heard and read over the years seem to tumble around in your brain. I have a very keen interest in Maritime Archaeology and myths and legends of the sea.  When I was thinking about The Lighthouse Keeper : Book One in the Peron Cove Mysteries, many lighthouse mysteries came to light.
One true mystery I heard of many years ago that seems fascinating and perplexing, is the missing Lighthouse Keepers of Flannan Islands.  Situated on the highest point of Eilean Mor, one of the remote islands once known as The Seven Hunters, the Flannan Island Lighthouse was designed in 1899 by David Alan Stevenson, a relative of the famous author Robert Louis Stevenson.  Standing at 23m (75ft) high the Lighthouse was fully automated in 1971.  

The Flannan Islands are part of the Outer Hebrides and were named after St Flannan, Flannan mac Toirrdelbaig.  The Irish Saint, who lived in the sixth century, was the son of Irish Cheiftan Turlough Thomond.  St Flannan was said to have made a pilgrimage to Rome where Pope John IV consecrated him as Bishop of Killaloe of which he is the patron saint.  He preached in the Hebrides and there is a chapel dedicated to him on Eilean Mor.

In December 1900 a steamer called the Archtor, that was travelling between Philadelphia and Leith, passed the island in bad weather and noticed that the light was not lit.  On the 26th of December 1900 a small ship called the Hesperus made its way to the Flannan Islands with the replacement keeper, Joseph Moore, on board. Three lighthouse keepers manned the  lighthouse in two week shifts with a fourth lighthouse keeper coming in on a rotational basis.  Despite the Captain of the Hesperus sending up a flare and sounding the ship's horn none of the lighthouse keepers came out of the lighthouse.  When the keeper, Joseph Moore, disembarked from the Hesperus he instantly felt something was wrong.  The three lighthouse keepers, Thomas Marshall, James Ducat and Donald MacArthur were no where on the island.  Two of the three oilskin jackets were missing from inside the lighthouse, food was on the table, the clock had stopped and one of the chairs was on the floor as though someone had stood in a hurry.  

Unable to explain how all three lighthouse keepers could be missing, the log entries were checked.  The final entries in the log were strange and unsettling.  Thomas Marshall, the second assistant had noted severe winds, the likes of which he hadn't seen in twenty years.  It was noted in the log that James Ducat, the Principal Keeper had been 'very quiet' and the third assistant, an experienced mariner had been crying.  There was mention of a raging storm, which subsequent weather reports did not match.  The final log entry on 15th December simply said "Storm ended, sea calm God is overall".
Many theories have been put forward to explain the strange disappearance of the three lighthouse keepers.  Rogue waves, aliens, the idea that one keeper had murdered the other two and had killed himself in remorse and the phantom of the Seven Hunters have all been cited as possible explanations.  No bodies were ever found.  It is said however that in subsequent years lighthouse keepers on the island have claimed to hear strange voices on the wind saying the names of the missing keepers. The island is said to be haunted by sea shepherds and perhaps the ghost of St Flannan himself.  

 

 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Serendipity

One of the settings I love in The Lighthouse Keeper is Peg's shop Serendipity. This shop is a conglomeration of all the small seaside trinket shops I have spent time in.  The name was an easy choice as apart from being my actual nickname and the name in part of my company, the word has always been significant to me.  The first time I saw the word I was a child and I saw Serendipity in a sign in a photograph of Andy Warhol. 

Serendipity means a pleasant surprise of fortunate happenstance.  In 1754 Horace Walpole, an English art historian, man of letters , antiquarian and Whig Politician, used the term in a letter to a friend. He used the term to explain an unexpected discovery he had made and referenced a Persian fairytale called The Three Princes Of Serendip. The fairytale was first published in Venice in 1557 by Michele Tramezzino.  He claimed to have heard the story from a Christopher Armeno, who had translated the Persian fairytale from Book One of Amir Khusrau's Hasht Bihisht ( The Eight Paradises) written in 1302. Amir Khusrau was a Sufi musician, poet, mystic and scholar whose famous poem, Hasht Bihisht incorporates folktales told by seven princesses.  It is in these texts that the tales of the three Princes of Serendip first appear.  It is believed that the tales of the three Princes are based on the adventures and exploits of the Persian King BahramV, ancient folklore and Book One of a Thousand and One Nights.  The Princes of Serendip always made discoveries of things that they were not actually in a quest to find.  

The concept of serendipity has found itself a place in the history of scientific innovation and in fact in the genesis of the modern detective story.  Voltaire, the pen name of Francois Marie Arouet, French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, used an adaption of the Three Princes of Serendip in his novel of 1747, Zadig.  The detective in Zadig influenced Darwin's theory, the science of paelantology as well as inspired Edgar Allan Poe and his character M.Dupin, who in turn influenced the writer Arthur Conan Doyle in his depictions of Sherlock Holmes.  

In 1954 Stephen Bruce opened a cafe called Serendipity in New York.  This was the sight of the photograph of Andy Warhol that triggered my long time interest in the word Serendipity.  I have been to this cafe and the one in Las Vegas which has now closed down.  The cafe is in the Guinness a book of Records for having the most expensive dessert in the world on its menu.  The Golden Opulence Sundae cost $1000.  

The word has been such an influential part of my life that it seemed the most obvious name for Peg's store of amazing and unexpected wares.  

 


 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

King Neptune

When writing a novel one of my favourite things to create is the shops, cafes, restuarants and general meeting places that attract the characters.  In The Lighthouse Keeper, book one in The Peron Cove Mysteries, one of the cafes is called Neptune's.  Its a conglomeration of seaside cafes I have visited all over the world. There is always  something different about the cafes that look out towards the sea. I chose the name Neptune's in honour of the Roman God of freshwater and the sea.

Neptune is the Roman counterpart of Poseidon and was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto.  The brothers were in charge of the realms of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld.  Neptune is often depicted with a white beard and carrying a trident.  Neptune fell deeply in love with a female divinity of the sea called Salacia.  She was so intimidated by the King that she hid in the Atlantic Ocean.  Neptune sent a dolphin to find her and persuade her to return to him.  When Salacia returned to be his wife Neptune rewarded the dolphin by giving him a place in heaven where he forms the constellation Delphinus.  Neptune and his wife Salacia are often shown sitting side by side on thrones or driving in a pearl shell chariot drawn by dolphins and seahorses. 

Neptune's in the Lighthouse Keeper, uses the more gaudy and dramatic aspects of the legend as decoration with treasure chests thrown in for good measure.  It is a place that will feature in all the Peron Cove mysteries.  It's a place for the characters to hang out and eat the thematically named food.   
 


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Art of Writing

I have always enjoyed all sorts of journalling and note taking when  researching for something I am writing.  I enjoy handwriting and use graphic organisers continually to extend my ideas and explore.  I love using tech and of course employ it for most finished work but it is handwritten work I find the most stimulating when creating a new written piece.  I have tried all forms of books, planners, compendiums however I always go back to a moleskine notebook and my midori travellers notebook.  I am not sure why I enjoy these two journals best but I think it has a lot to do with the quality of the paper that allows me to write and draw, paint and stick whatever I choose on it's surfaces.  The feel of the paper on both these notebooks is amazing  and  I love to collect all sorts of ideas, thoughts and images between their pages. 

 

 

 

 


 


Monday, February 6, 2017

Magical Islands

Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite islands in the world.  I live on an island now but  growing up I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time at a beautiful coastal island just north of my current island home.  Penguin Island is a 12.5 hectare island off the Western Australian coast.  It is inhabited by 1200 little penguins, the smallest species of penguins.  

Historically Penguin Island was most likely used by indigenous Australians almost 12000 years ago.  There is a legend near the island about a singing rock thought to be the prison of an indigenous girl who was trapped in the rock for punishment for running away with her lover who was speared to death.  Some say you can still hear the rock singing.

The first person to live on Penguin Island was New Zealander Seaforth McKenzie.  He squatted on the island in 1914 and in 1918 he was given an annual lease by the government.  Limestone caves on the eastern side of the island were further hollowed out by McKenzie and furnished as accomodation, a library and a small store.  A large cave was hollowed out and McKenzie dubbed it the Grand Ballroom and it was here that he was dubbed King of Penguin Island.  McKenzie loved literature and held poetry readings in his library cave.  He left the island in 1926 returning to  New Zealand and his surprised family who had not seen him in forty five years.  The only remnants of McKenzies stay on the island are some nails in the cave walls, some old fig trees and his well. 

When I was growing up I would take the small barge across to the island.  There is a natural sandbank, though despite the fact it looks like an easy way to walk to the island, has resulted in many people drowning.  I loved to play in the large caves or stand on the leeward side of the island and feel the force of the beautiful sea.  

Penguin Island is now a sanctuary for the Little Penguins and other flora and fauna that live there.  You can no longer scurry all over the island as I did as a child however there are beautiful paths and fascinating lookouts to explore.  I love that the island is being preserved now.

The island and the few atolls around it were a big inspiration for The Lighthouse Keeper, especially the boat tour taken by two of the characters. 


         

Friday, February 3, 2017

Point Peron


Settings are always a fun part of writing a story and I like to use places that I know or whimsical places I imagine using places I have visited as a basis. 

I was so lucky to have grown up by the sea and still live by its side.  For Book One in The Peron Cove Mystery series. The Lighthouse Keeper, the main setting was an amalgamation of several shorelines and small seaside towns I am very familiar with.  

Gorgeous Point Peron was one of the inspirations for The Lighthouse Keeper.  I lived close to this spot for most of my childhood and young adulthood and am still fairly close to it's magnificent natural beauties.  It is effectively a headland in Rockingham, at the southern end of Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia.  It was named in honour of French naturalists and zoologist, Francois Peron, who was on the Nicolas Baudin expedition of 1801. Peron joined the Baudin voyage after a failed love affair.  The voyage, which chartered huge stretches of Australian coastline, saw numerous clashes between Peron and Baudin.  Despite this Peron was largely responsible for  gathering 100000 zoological specimens.  Peron was also a pioneer oceanographer conducting many important sea water experiments during the voyage. 

In 1942 an artillery battery was constructed at Point Peron as part of a coastal defence system erected in response to external threats to Western Australia during WW2. The bunkers still exist and you can explore the area using a network of paths. 

I have always loved Point Peron as a place to swim and explore or just sit and watch the sea while contemplating life.