People have commented on my dedication in the front of my book, Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1). It is there that I've dedicated the book, along with the research that went into the book, 'to those that have been forgotten with time.' While some individuals haven't necessarily been completely forgotten, I do think that what we are shown - and what gets talked of - is a result of careful selection. And because I'm tired of all these things dividing us (I actually have come to believe that there is much more in history that can bring us together, and we all have a lot more in common than we might think), I am sharing as much of these individual's stories as I can. Two such individuals are Dr. Luther Leonidas Hill Jr., a late 19th century/early-mid 20th century physician and surgeon, and Henry Myrick, a 13-year-old African American youth who suffered a stab wound to the heart. In 1902, Dr. Hill performed what is considered one of the first successful open heart surgeries on Henry, who was able to make a full recovery. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-2949 I will be coming to you with my newest blogpost soon. :)
Over the years, I have met many cool and unique individuals online. Author Francis Powell has been one of those individuals. After we connected via Facebook last year,he did an interesting guest post for this blog.Shortly thereafter, he invited me to be part of a Halloween blog hop he was hosting (I've also been part of a Christmas blog hop and most recently, the Love is Blind Valentines Day blog hop hosted by him). Now I'm bringing him back to my blog for an interview. So read and enjoy and check out his work, Flight of Destiny at Amazon and other retailers.
TA: For those discovering you and your work for the first time, tell a little about yourself and the kind of stories you write. How would you describe your works?
FP: I write short stories. My first published book is called Flight of Destiny. My publisher describes my stories as being “Dystopian” I usually describe them as Dark Fiction with elements of wit. A reviewer wrote, “They're a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell's own unique twists.” I think there is a lot of description and detail in stories. My stories are filled with quirky characters, odd balls, freaks, as well as tyrants and despicable characters. They are often surreal and dream like. I think they are quite British in character. I was born in Reading in the South East OF Britain. I grew up on a farm, but I was sent away to various boarding schools and had quite a tough childhood. My salvation was in the art room and I went to various Art schools once I had left school.
TA: Are there any particular writers/authors that influences your work?
FP:I met an author called Rupert Thompson, when I was at my first Art School, I really liked his work. When I was young I read a book by Roald Dahl, called “Kiss Kiss” a book of short stories, which has dramatic twists at the end.This book has really stayed in my mind and certainly influenced my style of writing.
TA: Describe your writing process.
FP: An idea for a story can come to me at any time, or I can be anywhere when an idea pops into my head.. I think about the characters, their names, their personalities. A simple idea can expand and grow into a much bigger idea.I live with my short stories in my head, and sometimes scribble ideas into my “black book”.With some stories it takes some research. I do a lot of editing and correcting. The endings of my stories are vital, so while I am in the process of writing I am often thinking about where the story is going and how it will end.
TA: What was the first story you ever wrote and what was it about?
FP: We are going very far back in time…There was a story I wrote about a Knight, that got published in the annual school magazine, reading it now would make me cringe, but I guess it was kind of cute.
TA: Now you have lived in a few different areas of the world. Do you have a favorite among them?
FP: I have lived in both Austria and France, I have happy memories of both.
TA: What sort of readers would you say that your most recent work is suited for?
FP: People who are “outsiders”. People who live in cramped dingy bedsits, who listen to dark morose music. People who want to discover an unknown writer’s unusual universe.
TA: And finally, what's coming up for you and where can potential readers and fans find you?
FP:I hope there will be a follow up to Flight of Destiny.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines/Singles Awareness Day.
Today, for the final day of this bloghop, I am bringing you episode 1 of my new webseries, The Parting of Veils. No Valentines Day would be complete without some wonderfully dark romantic poetry from the master himself, Edgar Allan Poe.
Greetings and Happy Valentines or Singles Awareness Day!
I apologize for this post going up a little late today, but I was feeling under the weather yesterday, went to sleep for a long time and realized that I forgot to schedule this post for today. But better late than never.
Today, I bring you what was episode 5 of my webseries, The Parting of Veils, where my good friend Chuck Owston tells an old Viking ghost tale about love gone completely wrong...
The Song of the Sorrowing Harp
And as a bonus, here is Loreena McKennitt's song, The Bonny Swans, which was one of many works inspired by the tale.
From now until March 1, you can get the ebook of my novel, Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) for free at Smashwords:
Because I have so much love for you all, I am giving you some free books this Valentines Day! First is the audiobook of my short story, The Cemetery by the Lake.
As a side note, check out two bloghop interviews with me, conducted by Deanna Dee and Francis H. Powell:
Valentines Day draw nigh which means that the #Loveisblind blog hop is on (running from Feb 12-15)!
For day 1, author Deanna Dee and I exchanged interviews. Read on for what she had to say and where to check her books out. And then hop on over to her site for her interview with me, coming soon at http://ddgeekwriter.blogspot.com :)
TA: What's your ideal Valentine’s Day? DD: Nothing fancy. I’m a hang out and watch a movie type of person.
TA: What's your favorite kind of candy? DD: M and M’s, preferably of the dark chocolate variety.
TA: Are there romantic elements in your stories? If so how is the romantic factor used? DD: There are, and I guess I’d consider my books sweet, fun romances. My characters go on dates that involve games and fun stuff.
TA: Do you find writing a good romantic scene easy or difficult? DD: Somewhere in the middle, depending on the scene. Tapping into the emotions isn’t too tough, but getting the words just write can be challenging.
TA: What type of romance stories do you typically enjoy reading? DD: I actually really like fantasy or science fiction with romantic elements, but I’ll enjoy a good fantasy or scifi romance, too.
*****UPDATE: Just to clarify, the title of this post is meant to take a stab at those who just believe historical myths without looking into them and then believe that somehow they 'weren't smart or enlightened' back in the day. While I appreciate comments and discussion, please ACTUALLY WATCH my "Death by Petticoat?" video rant before commenting. Thanks! :) *****
Forgive the bluntness of the title, but this is something that's been bothering me. Was "death by petticoat" really one of the leading causes of death for women in the 18th century? And what did they know of disease or putting out a fire? I answer these questions (or at least attempt to) in the following video.
I did mean for this to be a short little video, but my rant ended up going on for longer. Sorry! :D
Yes, either romance is in the air or the day is fondly regarded as 'singles awareness day' by some. And then there are those that are indifferent, single or not. The holiday itself is shrouded in mystery. Also known as St. Valentines Day, the holiday embodies both ancient Roman and early Christian traditions. The legends surrounding the person called St. Valentine are also pretty interesting (there are at least three known legends out there). In each legend, Valentine is shown as a romantic, heroic martyr who fought for love in one form or another. There are also theories as to why the holiday itself is placed in the middle of February. Some say this is the anniversary of his death (which likely occurred around A.D. 270) and others say it was an attempt by the early church to Christianize the pagan holiday Lupercalia (interestingly, a holiday dedicated to the gods of agriculture, though there was some 'marriage pairing' that took place at the end of the festivities). Lupercalia was later outlawed and Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentines Day, but it did not become a day associated with love right away.
During the Middle Ages when the notion of courtly and romantic love became more widely spread and accepted (when knights were fighting in the name of their lady), Valentines Day became associated with it (at least part of this was due to the common French and English belief that February 14 was the first day of mating for birds). But amidst all the Medieval love that was going around, discourse was also present. Especially if it involved erectile dysfunction.
The Middle Ages, its reputation, and history is rife with romance, from the music of the bards to the poetry written, from the knights that thought so highly of their ladies they referred to them as midon (which can translate as 'my lord'). Then there are the studies of Eleanor of Acquitaine and her "Court of Love" in Poitiers, where she and her daughter Marie supposedly encouraged a romantic culture of troubadours and courtly love. This was also said to be a couples counseling court of sorts (there are debates among scholars over whether or not this actually existed...still, it makes for interesting pondering). There may have even been a little gender wars going on (when you take into account the Querelle des Femmes or "The Woman's Quarrel"/"Quarrel of Women" and put it along side with modern gender wars). Some scholars believe the querelles were religion-based while others say not so much. Both sides have compelling arguments, which leads me to say that human history is one giant cluster fuck (both literally and figuratively speaking in the context of this particular blog post). But I digress.
Some believe that in the Middle Ages, women did not have the option of divorcing their husbands if they wanted out of the marriage for any reason. But some research suggests that this wasn't the case (though of course we have to take into account the likelihood of different areas being governed under different sets of rules). In fact, there are recorded cases dating as far back as the Middle Ages in which women would take their husbands before magistrates and bishops on the grounds of wanting a divorce or annulment over impotency. Even today this can still be grounds for divorce or annulment in some areas and like this day and age, impotency was considered a rather serious issue.
The article written for Medievalists.net deals with 14th century York:
‘Privates on Parade: Impotence Cases as Evidence for Medieval Gender’, by Frederick Pederson, a senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, analyses two cases where wives attempted to annul their marriages because they claimed their husbands were impotent. They are among six cases from the city’s records that deal with impotence that survive from the Middle Ages
Yes, we may chuckle at the idea of something being titled Privates on Parade (and I did take the liberty of borrowing it for the title of my blogpost...hope Pedersen doesn't mind), but this particular title isn't really that far off:
Pedersen notes that in the English cases the court would call upon a number of ‘honest women’ to perform a physical examination of the alleged erectile dysfunction. For example, in the case between Tedia Lambhird and John Sanderson, which dates from 1370, three women were charged with doing a physical examination of John, and reported back to the court.
There were even some instances where the man had to prove that he could 'get it up' in front of a panel full of people. Sometimes it involved the 'honest women' getting drunk in front of a fire with the man in question in the room with them before they started stripping off their clothing, rubbing on the man and trying to get him, well, aroused. And for those wondering, the court did end up annulling the marriage between Tedia and John. Within a few days, actually.
The Medievalist also mentions a similar incident with two individuals by the name of Katherine Paynel and her husband of (then) four years, Nicholas Cantilupe. This incident apparently led to the murder of Nicholas's brother, William in 1375 (and it seems Pederson likes the rather tongue in cheek titles, for the title of his paper concerning this case is Murder, Mayhem, and a Very Small Penis). The Medievalist also conducted an interesting interview with Perdersen on this very subject.
Now, fast forward to the 18th century. How was the female body viewed then verses today?
As someone who does work and costumed interpreting at a museum I do know a thing or two about womens fashions of the time. On one hand, modesty was encouraged, but on the other, many of the fashions did much to emphasize the woman's figure, particularly in the chest area. In fact, the very design of a stay (or corset if you want to go with the French term...stays is the English term) is designed to to just that.Abby Cox's well-written article explains how the societal views of "a lady's snowy bosom" has shifted throughout the centuries. Of how in the 18th century, society in general was more comfortable with the idea of emphasizing and (tastefully) exposing that part of the female anatomy as a normal part of everyday dress, as that part of the body was considered to be very beautiful and something to be celebrated. Cox writes:
"Young children to adult women could reveal shockingly (for 21st-century views) low necklines in the 18th century depending on what was deemed fashionable. To have a wide and low neckline flatters almost every female body and helps encourage the hourglass-like silhouette that is traditionally deemed the most attractive female shape. By having a low and open neckline it helps give the allusion of a broader and fuller bust, which then, helps create the illusion of a more narrow waist. The final addition of a false rump or hoops, which enlarge the backside and hips of the woman, complete the look."
Now, that doesn't mean that cleavage was always on display. Even at the museum we often wear neckerchiefs or tuckers (as many also did back then):
"Now, what is “appropriate” to wear in or around this low neckline depends...Especially in formal or very fashionable situations, it was expected that a woman wear a tucker vs. a kerchief, since, at times the kerchief might be deemed too informal for that particular social situation. So the rules of when to wear a kerchief vs. a tucker would change whenever fashion changed—which was very quickly. A kerchief is a large piece of fabric cut in a square or triangular shape that is tucked into the neckline of the outfit or even worn over top, depending on the fashion and woman’s preference. They too could be made out of a variety of materials including linen, cotton, and silk. They could be white or different colors, printed or woven with designs, trimmed in lace, or quite plain. It was up to the individual woman. It is important to note, that they are regarded as a highly functional garment commonly worn by working women to help maintain cleanliness and a fashionable appearance."
I do encourage you to read Cox's article in its entirety, as it does shed light on the fact that we might be more uptight about certain things than our predecessors were. And I will discuss the Empire fashions of 1789 in another post. :)