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.


Stroppy Author said...

Perfect! What a great story! My mother has a paper-knife sword that she got in Italy in the 1950s or 1960s. Obviously they were a cool thing to have then!

Jan Jones said...

Oh, how fabulous, Mary.

Katherine Langrish said...

How lovely - what a perfect solution to the quest; and so personal. Marvellous.

Marjorie said...

How lovely! I'm glad you found it, and in such a nice way, too!

I look forward to reading all about Laura and her talisman, in due course. (I'm currently re-reading all the Stravaganza books)

Mary Hoffman said...

Thank you, Marjorie! I'm halfway through and though I know there'll be a lot of revision, I think it should not disappoint.

Thanks for the other comments too. It's funny how sometimes we externalise our concerns into something like the hunt for the perfect object!

Unknown said...

Will we ever get more Stravaganza stories??

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