Today I’m excited to welcome Ruth Nestvold, a fellow WIPpeteer, to my blog. Ruth released a new book, and I’m so excited to share it and her inspirations with you all.
The vagaries of inspiration
I love to travel, and more than once, a cool place I’ve visited has made its way into my fiction. A business trip to Taipei led to a short story I sold to Asimov’s, “Feather and Ring”; a short story inspired by a holiday in Egypt, “Woman in Abaya with Onion,” appeared in Fantasy Magazine; and “The Shadow Side of th Beast” (Apex) takes place in a near future Berlin. The initial inspiration for my newest novella, Island of Glass, also came from my travels, a trip to Venice I took with my daughter almost ten years ago now. We stayed on Murano and visited the Museum of Glass there, and I learned about how the glassmakers were forbidden to leave Venice for fear that they would reveal trade secrets. How perfect a setting is that for all kinds of built-in conflict?
Another thing I enjoy is writing alternative fairy tales. Glassmakers trapped in the Venetian Lagoon and Cinderella didn’t immediately come together in my mind, but when I started brainstorming glass, one of the things that ended up in my spiral notebook was “glass slipper.” Since I also like to turn things on their figurative heads, and I knew my protagonist would be a young female glassmaker, it occurred to me that it would be cool if the glass slippers were for a prince rather than a princess. In the baroque era, men too wore fancy high-heeled shoes. Glass slippers for a prince would be perfect if I set my story in a fictional 17th century.
From there, I soon had the fairy godmother, the helpful birds (which bring something completely different than decorations for a gown), and other motifs which helped me flesh out the plot. I wrote the first version, a short story of a little under 5000 words, in about three days.
But while I was quite happy with the story and got a big kick out of the twists I’d given to the Cinderella motifs, the workshops I ran it through all had one major recurring point of critique: in places it reads like a plot summary, it has to be expanded. I resisted. I had too many full length projects on various back burners already. I was telling it like a fairy tale, where there is a lot of authorial narration. Besides, I knew it didn’t have the substance for a complete novel. And novellas are notoriously hard to sell to short fiction markets. So the story went out as a short story — and collected nearly a dozen rejections before I shelved it.
Then along came e-publishing. And a pre-made cover that looked so perfect for my story that I had to tackle it again. While novellas might be hard to sell in traditional markets, my experience at that length with ebooks was good. At the longer length, I was able to add more elements from the fairy tale, like the step-sisters. And while I worked on it, I noticed how right my critics had been. The additions gave it more depth, more conflict, more emotional credibility.
So these are the vagaries of inspiration for Island of Glass: a trip, a fairy tale, a pre-made cover, and changes in the publishing market. I hope readers enjoy the result.
Island of Glass (Book I of The Glassmakers Trilogy)
Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.
When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.
Island of Glass is now available for a special introductory price of only 99c!
Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:
Web site: http://www.ruthnestvold.com