Welcome back everyone. I’m happy to see you.
Today let’s discuss leftovers. How do you (or could you) use leftovers in any of your creative pursuits? Yes, it could be leftover food — and even better if you post a recipe about it! However, I mean leftovers in a much broader sense. Apply it to any craft or process or activity you choose.
Leftover Research — Blue John
My editor brain often serves me leftovers — leftover research. There have been more than a couple of times when I get so intrigued by a research topic that it comes back, not yet finished with me. One was the mythology I found while researching The Dead of Winter. (You can find a few old posts about that epic nestled away in this blog.) Myths from ancient Wales had little part in that novel, if any. However the leftover research inspired some characters in Atonement, Tennessee as well as the work in progress, Atonement in Bloom.
Then there was the little feast author Lord David Prosser provided when he left the gemstone, Blue John as one of the “things” for the original Three Things Serial Story. Of course I had to Goggle the name, and as research topics sometimes do, it stuck with me. (You can read the first episode involving Blue John here.)
Years later when I began a steampunk story, The Delta Pearl, as my 2016 National Novel Writing Month project, I needed several character names that were gemstones. That time Blue John gave me more than a name — it created an entire character. He even got the area where the gemstone is found as his home, not to mention his accent.
So today I thought I’d share a snippet that used this leftover research. I’m still working on the middle of The Delta Pearl, but here’s one the scene that includes Blue John, the First Mate of the Delta Pearl, and the heroine, Émeraude Perlezenn. It’s just a slice of life aboard the strange riverboat in this steampunk tale.
The Mate looked positively frazzled as he rolled charts and tidied up the bridge. Onyx, the clockwork owl perched on a sexton, and hooted at me as I entered.
“Who-who?” the owl vocalized.
I knew that was the owl’s version of “Who goes there?” At one point, Captain Cecil Perlog fancied teaching the owl to talk like a pirate. Granted, the normal rules of nature did not apply to clockwork creatures. However, the Mate and I managed to convince him that human-like speech was more the province of parrots than owls.
“Oh really, Onyx. It is not as if you don’t know who I am,” I chided the unrepentant owl.
“Who-who?” the owl asked again, but I ignored him. “Blue, are you all right?” I asked the flustered Mate.
Blue John Boulton had been the first mate of the Delta Pearl for as long as I had been aboard the riverboat. Born in Derbyshire, he still had the particular English accent of that area. His dialect produced more than a few unexpected and often archaic sounding turns of phrase.
Though his eyes were the most magnificent shade of blue that was not how he came by the name Blue. His parents named him for a unique form of fluorite mined in their area — Blue John. However he was usually called the Mate, or simply Blue.
Blue was typically cool and composed, but seemingly random events could sometimes agitate him. Some might even say he was paranoid.
“You know how the Delta Pearl can get finicky about such things as borders and boundaries. I don’t know why it should matter to her… But I’ve seen it a time or two, when she reacts strongly to crossing a line of demarcation, like the borders between states. And that’s nothing compared to how she gets with time zones.”
It was not the first time I had seen him in a tizzy. “When will we reach the boundary for the state line?” I asked.
“Right about dinnertime, all factors remaining constant,” the Mate told me.
“Well, there’s no need to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. There’s plenty of time. What can I do to help?” I asked with the sudden realization that the Mate probably took precautions of which I had been unaware.
“Is that another of your grandpa’s sayings? I love it when you talk like a southern belle,” he told me with a saucy wink, seeming more like the Blue John I knew rather than the frazzled mess that stood before me.
“Just make sure any artifacts,” he began but paused when he saw the perplexed expression on my face. “That’d be anything, any item, decoration, or furnishing onboard that you just knew was dodgy somehow. You know, anything that’s ever given you one of those strange feelings. Anyhow, make sure anything like that is properly secured.”
“You don’t truly think there is that much cause for alarm, do you?” I asked, trying to keep the incredulous expression off my face.
“Better safe than sorry, Émeraude. Better safe than sorry. That includes the clockwork creatures,” he replied.
Onyx gave a triple hoot of protest at Blue’s words. “Nen mate, now then old boy. I’m sorry about that,” the Mate told the owl. “It will only be for a short time,” he added consolingly before turning back to me. “Em, if you can possibly find Amethyst it would be best to store the spider somewhere safe and secure. I know she’s a hard one to find when she doesn’t want to be seen. So just give it a try.”
I turned to go, but Blue stopped me, his eyes wide. “Oh, and that portrait of the woman wearing the cameo like yours — make sure you cover it up! The whole thing, just hang a sheet over it, or anything you can get your hands on quick. That’d be the main thing right there. Cover that portrait. Thou art kind, Émeraude. I appreciate the help.”
Nothing exciting… as I said, it’s more of a slice of life aboard the Delta Pearl. However, I hope you enjoyed visiting the mystical riverboat. Have a wonder-filled, hug-filled weekend.
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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