Sunday, 15 May 2011
The tale of a talisman
In each of my Stravaganza novels (five so far) the teenager from our world who travels in time and space to 16th century Talia does so by means of a talisman. So far there has been a marbled notebook, the model of a flying horse, a blue glass bottle with a silver stopper, a leather-bound spell book and a red velvet bag of silver mosaic tesserae.
The Stravagante in City of Swords is Laura, a self-harmer. I knew from the beginning that her talisman would be a paper-knife in the shape of a small sword with a cross-piece; I had it vividly in my mind's eye and all I had to do was find it.
For each of these books I have tried to find a representation of the talisman to show them on school visits and photograph them for PowerPoints etc. They're not all perfect but close enough to what I imagined. So I thought it would be easy to find what I was looking for this time in Italy. But no luck. After searching the shops and the markets, I came home in April talismanless.
But at Easter, which was close to my birthday this year, my sister, after giving me lots of lovely presents remarked casually that she had something else for me. "I think you said you were looking for a paper-knife like a sword?"
And there it was! The one I had held in my mind all that time - not an invention but a memory. I used to holiday with my parents in Spain when I was a young teenager and apparently they had bought two such paper-knives. They have been dead many years now and my sister had kept both of the little weapons. "You can have this one if you want it," she said, holding out my perfect talisman for City of Swords.
So thanks, Mum, Dad and Big Sis; now Laura can get where she needs to go.