I feel a little like Huntley in this graphic, because sometimes I’m sure my family and friends think I’ve gone mad. I like to think that I haven’t, that I’ve gone rogue instead. I’m typically a pretty fast writer. Scenes are in my head and quickly are transferred to words on the page. The Spy Girl series is a little different because there is so much real world stuff that I’m constantly stopping to fact check. For example, there’s a scene in The Dauntless where Huntley is in Iraq. Having never been there before, it required a lot of research and it was also a very intense scene. It took me almost two weeks to write those six thousand words, something I can usually whip out in a day. We had some friends over and they were asking how writing was going (and probably wondering why they hadn’t heard from me in days) and I was like, “I’ve been in Iraq, and it was really stressful.” And then the next weekend, I was like, “I’m still in Iraq.”
So, you kinda have to cherish the people in your life who understand that you haven’t gone mad, you’ve just gone rogue and get what you’re talking about.
Another example is the ring in the series. I thought it might be fun for you to hear about the inspiration behind it as well as to see the actual piece that inspired it.
A few years ago, I was in London with my daughter, mother-in-law, and friend, Pam, at the Victoria & Albert museum visiting their amazing jewelry gallery. There is so much bling in that place, you barely know where to look first. Massive diamonds and gemstones in beautiful settings from throughout history. But in all of that, I find this obscure emerald ring. Most of the stone was covered with a design, and it stuck with me. During that visit the museum didn’t allow you to take photos. And I wanted so badly to take a picture because I wanted to remember this ring. So while everyone else was going around looking at all the other jewels, I’m obsessed over absorbing this random ring and its details.
Fast forward to this January. I’m putting the finishing touches on The Valiant, where the swirling marks of Lorenzo the Magnificent and his personal crest are seen in the Montrovian palace tour. And after a fruitless search of the museum’s online database, I can’t find this ring. So I message one of the curators there. Give him a description, tell him exactly where it was located in the museum when I was there. He messages me back, says there is no ring like that, and could I draw something to send to him of how it looked and maybe he can find it that way.
So I do. From memory.
My drawing, literally, looks like the same thing, but the problem is that he was looking in their database (not in the exhibit which would have been helpful) for a ring. Well, I was bound and determined to find this dang ring. So when I went back to London for the RARE signing in February, I FOUND IT, again. And this time they allowed photos. So I thought it might be fun for you to see it. (And the reason it couldn’t be found in the database is because it’s a pendant in real life, not a ring.)
What’s interesting about its history is that it was a discreet symbol of the Spanish Inquisition. (Which was horrible time in Spain’s history where they wanted to “purify” their country by driving out (or killing) anyone who didn’t believe in a certain religion.) In real life, the wearer could show this costly symbol and avoid persecution. In my book, it’s the symbol of a small group who throughout history have wanted to “gently” control the world.
Anyway, I thought it might be cool to share the ring and story behind my inspiration with you.
In case you missed it, THE DAUNTLESS released this week and I want to personally thank all of you who have purchased it. It’s because of you that I’m allowed to keep writing and doing what I love.
And don’t forget to enter THE DAUNTLESS RELEASE GIVEAWAYby clicking the link or on the graphic below.
Hope you’ve had a great week. Just remember, you’re not mad, you’ve just gone rogue!!
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Obviously, the first photo is my drawing. (Pretty darn close, if you ask me! LOL) The second is the front of the pendant. The black and white cross is that of the roman Catholic Dominican order in real life and the symbol of Lorenzo the Magnificent taking the Medici family crest And the third is something I discovered on my search of the database — although I couldn’t see it at the museum, there are more symbols on the back. This was made in Spain around 1620 (and long after the Renaissance period in Spy Girl) The enameled green cross on the back symbolizes the hope of repentance before punishment and is flanked by the olive branch of reconciliation and the sword of punishment.
In this photo, you can see the Medici Family Crest. (Remember that Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was a Medici in real life, is fictionally given land by his father and became the first king of Montrovia. In THE VALIANT, Huntley tours the Montrovian castle and sees the symbol that is on the ring. This is what she’s told. “Supposedly, that is the group’s symbol. While some believe it survives even today, historians and symbolists suggest that this was simply his personal signet. It’s believed that he took the five balls from the Medici crest and split them, symbolizing slashing the family ties. Over it, he placed bands in the form of a cross, defeating the circular or cyclical nature of the universe. Throughout history, all great empires eventually fall. Scholars believe that Lorenzo hoped to defeat that cycle and maintain a long-standing, peaceful society. Others suggest that the cross is the simple pagan Sun Cross, which represents the four directions, an early compass of sorts, tying into his love of the sea.”
Basically, I was able to fictionally have Lorenzo the Magnificent take the five red balls on the Medici family crest and morph them into the symbol on the front of the ring.