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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spotlight Saturday: Guest Post and Giveaway with Gwen Perkins, author of The Universal Mirror

Hi, everyone!


Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by Gwen Perkins.



About Gwen:

Gwen Perkins is a museum curator with a MA in Military History from Norwich University. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. Her interest in history fueled the creation of the world of The Universal Mirror, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods. She lives with her partner and three children in Tacoma, WA.

The Universal Mirror is the first novel of the Artifacts of Empire series. The second novel, The Jealousy Glass, will be released from Hydra Publications on December 1, 2012. Gwen is presently hard at work on the third Artifacts novel, The Oracle Bones, as well a dark fantasy series that she is writing with Wilson Fabi├ín Saravia. 

CONNECT ONLINE WITH GWEN:

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Gwen!

Gwen has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her!



How to Read an Artifact: Objects as Inspiration
By Gwen Perkins, speculative fiction author



Children often know things that adults have forgotten and one of them is this: to read, one doesn't necessarily need a book.  Watch a young child sometime as they explore the world. They pick up objects, touch, shake, and smell (and sometimes taste) them in order to decipher their meaning.  I've found in my day job as a museum curator that the way the young approach objects is quite different than the rest of us.  There's a lot that we as writers can learn from that.

Take, for instance, an ordinary object like a box.  If you ask an adult what it is, they'll tell you (after rolling their eyes) "it's a box."  Ask a child and they might say "a box" at first but leave them alone with it long enough and it'll become a castle, a fort, or a robot suit in no time at all.

When I began planning my series, Artifacts of Empire, I knew that I wanted to capture this energy and put it to work in my own books.  I started by taking one artifact known as a polemoscope or more interestingly, a "Jealousy Glass."


This object looks simple on first glance.  It seems like nothing more than a spyglass.  So how does one uncover the truth about an artifact?  If you're a historian, you pick it up and examine it.  What materials is it made out of?  Are there any markings on the object—small words?  Manufacturer's mark?  Something handwritten?  Are there any signs of wear?  If so, what use was the object put to?  If you don't already know what the object is, see if you can figure out how to use it.  Even if you do know and it's not too delicate, try using it yourself to determine how it worked.

Use all of your senses to explore the artifact completely—even smell.  (Okay, I don't actually recommend taste to be honest.  Many objects dated prior to 1900 have a strong chance of having been in contact with some dangerous substance over the years—arsenic, lead, etc.)

When I did this with the jealousy glass, I realized something.  When you look through the viewfinder, the view that you get is not one that points straight ahead.  What you see is everything to either your right or left side, depending on how you point the glass.  This led to questions on my part which in turn led to research where I uncovered the fact that these instruments were once used by high society at the opera.  Indistinguishable from other opera glasses, they enabled the user to spy on those around them and in nearby boxes while appearing to be observing the show.

This led me to further questions which, in answering, determined the course of my upcoming novel of the same name.  (To say more would be to spoil you for it!)

So try this on your own.  Pick up an ordinary object and imagine that you're seeing it for the first time.  Ask it a few questions.  See if you can find the answers—either through research or by letting your mind wander.  Then write a few paragraphs based on what you discover.  I think that you'll find there's more there than you bargained for.            

Thanks so much for joining us today, Gwen!


Three lucky winners will win Kindle Gifts of Gwen's fantasy novel,The Universal Mirror.











On the island of Cercia, the gods are dead, killed by their followers and replaced with the study of magic. Magicians are forbidden to leave their homeland. Laws bind these men that prevent them from casting spells on the living—whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, challenges these laws out of love for his wife. His best friend, Asahel, defies authority at his side, unaware that the search for this lost magic will bring them both to the edge of reason, threatening their very souls. The Universal Mirror shows how far two men are willing to go for the sake of knowledge and what they will destroy to obtain it.



Excerpt from the Jealousy Glass 
(coming December 1, 2012)

Felix couldn't see through the bag placed over his head. Stumbling and kicking, he felt the men drag him through the forest.  He hadn't cried out, knowing that all that it would do would be to bring others closer.  His ears pricked as he heard their voices murmur amongst each other, the words like autumn thunder.
               
"Crows are growing fat this year."
               
"Yes, they are." Another voice answered. "Saves us watching the fields, don't it?"
               
"About the only thing the war was good for."
               
A chorus of voices mumbled back, words Felix couldn't catch. He stumbled, silently struggling against the rope burning his wrists.  He tried to analyze how many men belonged to the band of brigands, remembering four voices or perhaps five. How many had overtaken Asahel and Nicolas after the men had knocked him unconscious, he wasn't certain.
               
The screams that he'd heard after awakening had brought others. It seemed they still remained.  Who was screaming?  Felix wondered, the skin on the back of his neck tingling as he fought the question from his mind.  It didn't do either of his companions any good if he lost his head now.  He'd been too careless.
               
"The war got rid of Sophia." A meaty voice rumbled, giving him something else to focus his concentration on. "Worst thing that ever happened to the Faith."
               
"Worst." Another collective whisper, part of it audible.  He heard their steps slow before he smelled it.  A stench flooded his nostrils like a heavy fog, the sickly-sweet smell of death.  He coughed, choking on the thickness of it, wishing he had a free hand so that he could cloak himself from it as he imagined the men must be doing.  He hadn't smelled death for a long time and never where he hadn't had the opportunity to walk away, had he wished.
               
One of the men tugged at the burlap around his head. The fabric scratched at his cheek as it was yanked upwards, catching on his stubble.  Light slapped at his swollen eyes as he forced them open.  All he could see at first was a mass of blurred shapes struggling to come into focus.  The first sight to sharpen was a husky man next to him, his lip puckered and split by a scar that bisected it neatly in half.
               
"Cercians don't have anything like that, do you?"  The man grunted and leaned closer, flooding Felix's nostrils with the smell of his fetid breath. "It's the Hanging Grove." 
               
Felix tried to turn his head to see what the man meant by telling him the name.  Speaking to him was almost kind in light of the other things that had been done thus far.  The turn gave him a moment to avoid looking at what fate awaited him so he could clear his mind to think about how to escape it.  He couldn't turn far enough around to see, however, and stumbled as strong hands wrapped around his wrists forced him to step forward.
               
It was a grove, yes, but one like he had never seen before.  A small hollow rested in the middle of tall evergreens, each tree bowed into twisted shapes made even more malformed by the remnants of rope and bone hanging from their branches.  The wind carried a slight breeze through the hollow and a collection of bone and gristle clattered like chimes in the gust, rattling in time to the rapid breathing of the man behind Felix.  A few corpses remained intact, some with faces, the others only grinning bone etched clean by the fat crows that flew clumsily from body to body.  He noticed as the leader of the group walked forward that the birds were no longer afraid of these men but instead tamely hopped over to another tree, their cries signaling the arrival of food.
               
Him.

To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open worldwide to anyone who can receive a Kindle Gift from Amazon. The contest will close at 12:01 AM EST on September 8, 2012.

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