3361044690_e6b0490a76_mTruly, Victorian/Edwardian, but these date to 1917 (the watch) and the 1930s, respectively, though certainly evocative of the Victorian aesthetic. These were passed to me by my great aunt, and they belonged to my great-grandmother, Evelyn. When my great aunt brought out the watch, I think my heart stopped. My eyes filled with tears. I never knew there were such heirlooms in the family, to be honest. Or if there were, I didn’t think they’d be mine.

3361042794_d3e27bf5bb_mThe watch was given to my great-grandmother on her graduation from high school which, at the time, was the only schooling she was allowed to have. As a woman, and a sister to a brother, the family would not pay or support her if she wanted to go to college. Such different times. But my great-grandmother was a poet, a writer, a guitar player, and by all accounts a remarkable person who always saw the good in people. I also have two of her yearbooks, and I will scan some pictures of her later; I look quite a bit like her! Though she was Swedish, she was dark-haired and dark-eyed.

3361045574_c706339a87_mThe pin was given to my great-grandmother by my great-grandfather, while they lived in Italy (he was a painter). It’s a miniature mosaic, and I think it’s a Japanese beetle. The Victorian aesthetic loves the bug, and this particular fellow is just so brilliant. Such remarkable treasures! I feel quite lucky.

I explained to my great-aunt what sorts of things I write, and I think she understood what I was trying to say better than most. Funny how that works…

Think like a blacksmith. That’s been my motto the last few days as I’ve attacked a chapter (that was originally twelve and is now… well, something like twenty four or so) that I originally finished by writing: <eventually insert detailed gun creation here when I do more research and can pull it off instead of sounding like I know absolutely nothing about guns, since I know absolutely nothing about guns at the moment>

Since most of the fantasy fiction I’ve written before is firmly rooted in a time and place of its own, adhering to no particular restrictions, I’ve never really had to worry too much about accuracy. But this time around, delving into fantasy steampunk–well, I guess technically I don’t have to have it 100% accurate, yet it still requires a considerable amount of research.

Since I’ve decided to edit the book through each POV, I’ve been in Brick Smithson world lately. Brick’s a blacksmith’s kid (hence the last name) who ends up as a page to one of the most renowned and slightly notorious knights in the realm, Sir Gawen of Fenlie. His talent as a smith is an extremely valuable asset in this world, as those who have technology can often have the upper hand. While Brick spends the first half of the book dodging bullets and learning the ropes of being a page, he finally comes face to face with a forge.

I was able to visit a late 19th century forge at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville a few months ago, and even got to see a blacksmith at work. Aside from television, I’d never seen or heard the process. What got me about blacksmithing was the noise, the music, the percussive rhythm that comes as a result of the hammer. A skilled smith really turns the work into a song. Needless to say I came home with a keychain made by the aforementioned smith, but it took a great amount of convincing for me to actually leave.

So, now, I’m writing this scene again with Brick at the forge for the first time. Earlier in the book we don’t get a chance to see him at work (though I may change that slightly). One of the important elements in my story is in regard to the talents and abilities (magic, middling magic, and mucho magic) that my characters possess. Though, on the first glance, one might not think that a keen ability to understand smithing would be much of a magical ability, I want to challenge the notion that magic has to be wrapped up in silver orbs, blasts of energy, telepathy, and the like. I wanted Brick to represent the Hephaestus/Thor ancient magic. And so he does.

Blacksmithing is a fascinating craft, as its sister gunsmithing. But the learning curve is steep. I’m admittedly having fun doing the research, but the writing is going super-slow. I’m trying not to worry about the details too much (the metal is like copper, for instance, but not exactly copper) but it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to channel my energy the last few days in getting through the actual smithing scene. I finished it last night, but now I have to move on through the rest of the narrative without letting the other characters interrupt my train of thought. It’s new, this approach, but it does help me focus.

If you can’t stand the heat, get outta the forge, right?