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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A World of Wonder in 5000 Words

The cover art for Creatures of Light is taken
from Claude Lorrain's 17th century painting,
"Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba."
Hadley Rille Books has released a Kindle edition of my short story Creatures of Lightand has made it available for free download today and tomorrow.

Creatures of Light provides a glimpse into the life of Selenia, a brilliant and ruthless woman scientist, and her lover Nicolas, intrepid explorer of the high seas.  They live in a fantasy age of exploration, an imaginary world that mixes the art and politics of Renaissance Italy with the wonder inspired by  17th and 18th century European explorers.  Theirs is an unapologetically imperialistic and misogynistic society, and Selenia has learned to do whatever it takes to establish and maintain a place of power in the context of this brutal world. 

I've had many sources of inspiration for Creatures over the years.  The first seed was probably planted when I read A Naturalist in La Plata by WH Hudson, which chronicles the 19th century biologist's journey through the Pampas of Argentina. 

Since then, many more books have crossed my path.  Biographies of powerful women of the 16th and 17th century, such as Lucrezia Borgia, Isabella de Medici, and Catherine de Medici.  Stories of 17th and 18th century women scientists such as Maria Gaetana Agnesi and Maria Sybilla Merian. 

Additional chronicles of exploration have also fed into the mix, such as the extraordinary adventures of Alexander von Humboldt in South America.  Most recently, I started The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes, which documents the discoveries of 18th century scientists such as Joseph Banks and Caroline Herschel, as well as the colorful, romantic, and disturbing times in which they lived. 

Holmes historical account had little influence on the short story Creatures of Light (since I picked it up long after the short story was written), but it is providing a lot of fodder for the imagination as I prepare to write a full-length novel by the same name.

Creatures of Light emerged as a short story about three years ago, when my local writer's group did a holiday story exchange.  It first appeared for the world at large in the Fall 2010 issue of Adventures for the Average Woman.  Now Hadley Rille Books has picked it up and made it a stand-alone short story available on Kindle, complete with its own beautiful cover.  And for FREE, no less!  At least for the first couple of days of its release. 

I hope you enjoy reading Selenia's story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I am certain you will.


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