My very first draft of what would become Rings of Anubis was called The Glass of Anubis. This idea still exists in the book, as it is the name of the object through which Anubis judges the dead who come before him. This glass was always envisioned as something of a mirror, that opened various portals and time frames of a person’s life, upon which Anubis would gaze and judge.
There was concern that “glass” would confuse people in the title, given that Egyptians did not have glass as we know it, and certainly did not have the kinds of mirrors we know, either. However, the Victorians did, and since this mystical object was named by a Victorian woman, the apparent anachronism never bothered me, because the story would come to explain it.
Still, apparently I couldn’t let the idea of Egyptian glass go, because in plotting a novella-length adventure for Folley and Mallory, I came right back to the idea. Something ancient, something glass, something broken, something not entirely right.
Glass in Egypt
Ancient Egyptians did have glass, though not quite as we know it, of course. Romans had beautiful glass as well! The earliest glass was a byproduct of metal foundries, which resulted in many gorgeous colors you might not expect. (There is also Egyptian faience, which is different, but related, and gives us the color “faience blue,” which is striking!) Rings of Anubis leaves Folley and Mallory in Paris, and while browsing the Egyptian collection of the Louvre, I came across several artifacts in the Writers and Scribes room that got my brain to cranking. Scrolls and seals, scribes with their inks and pens. Where did pens come from? Oh, bird feathers. And who’s a pretty Egyptian bird god? Heya, Horus. Let’s talk, for where Anubis is real, surely the other gods are too. I wonder who else we might meet along the way.
The Mona Lisa
One of my favorite films is Ever After, though not for its historical accuracy. I always laugh when the Mona Lisa is unrolled from a leather case. Maybe it was an early sketch, but da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was painted on poplar board, not easily rollable canvas.The board has cracked and warped with time and a variety of weather conditions. When Folley and Mallory are in the Louvre, they pay the famous painting a visit, already nearly 400 years old by their time.
Les Catacombs des Paris
More than six million people are buried under the streets of Paris. 1889 boasted the most visitors to the catacombs of any year prior — 1889?! But that’s when Rings of Anubis takes place. Folley and Mallory in Paris that fall? How could I not take them to the catacombs? And what would our lady archaeologist think of all those naked bones under the streets? Arranged not by who they were — not labeled in any strict manner at all. What would she think of all those lost stories — and what might she do upon finding one?
Why did it have to be eels?
Victorians ate some excessively strange things — and they ate a lot of it from street vendors. An early version of fast food? Apparently eels were a hot property, and I thought how WEIRD, so naturally had to weave that idea into the entire series. It’s poor Auberon who loves them so — though I suppose he wouldn’t say he was poor at all. We’ve served them hot, jellied, and in pocket pies. Eel juice was often thickened with a roux, and some vague combination of herbs and pepper. Sometimes one even added vinegar — which makes me think of malt vinegar on hot fried cod and I can absolutely see how that might make a Victorian very happy indeed.
Saint-Rémy and beyond
I wanted an excuse to take Folley and Mallory out of Paris, to give them time upon an airship, to contemplate the world and their evolving relationship while they cut through the clouds. I wanted, very much, an excuse to take them to Saint-Rémy, the location of a moderately famous asylum. Who might be there, I wondered — though I already knew a quite famous occupant there in, oh look, 1889. But the location gave me the opportunity to unite Eleanor with another lady explorer (oh fictional alas, but I came to rather like her), one who has a unique view of the world and its treasures — including mummies. This lady hails from Ecuador, where the mummies are two thousand years older than even in Egypt. Extraordinary.
The Glass Falcon has landed in paperback, and is also now available through Smashwords. I am pretty sure it will be showing up elsewhere soon, but of course I’ll have all those details for you as soon as I know them! And I bet you can also order through your local bookstores, too.
And hey, add it on Goodreads! You guys are the best (I know you stuck around for the eels!).
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