Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for E. Kaiser Writes’ series Thaw! The first two books are already available and the third will be very soon! As part of the tour, she has stopped by for a guest post on a very important crown in the series.
The Crown of Noran from Thaw Winter Queen: The making of
As an artist/writer I am very visual, so when I write a description of something in my books, I tend to have a mental picture of it very distinctly.
But on the flip side of the coin, as an artist, bringing something like that to life is tough, because I'm my own worst critic!
Since very few things make the transition from the written word into a visual representation; it just doesn't matter too much.
But with this series we went ahead and did a lot of art work for it, and so I was able to bring to visual life many of the pieces I'd described in the books. This was a lot of fun, and also a challenge, because I wanted to make sure to "hit the nail on the head" perfectly!
One of the major pieces that has a lot of importance in the culture of Noran, (but regrettably doesn't get a too much lengthy focus in the book!) is the Crown of Noran.
This is more than just jewelery, of course, since it carries with it the weight of power and centuries of tradition. I also wanted it to be uniquely beautiful, and not duplicating what is usually "Accepted Fashion" in crowns.
As a jeweler and historian I have long been particularly intrigued by old-to-ancient examples of precious metal working... and crowns are a great example of that.
But there was no historical crown style that fit my idea, and so I invented it completely.
The back-story on this crown is unique, in that it was not made by mortal hands, but instead pulled from the very mountain's depths by the nearly-mythical Stone King as a symbol of the joining of the first royal couple and their right to rule.
“The Stone King twisted his hands and out of them sprang a crown of Noran silver, spotted with the blue of Noran water sapphires, and then he passed his hands across once more and between each blue jewel there sprang up the soft pink gems of the Svesser homelands."
(Note on the Stone King: Although trolls are a staple in Norse legends, they are usually bad, and also linked with "dark magic" which I didn't like at all. So I took a slightly modified take on the idea by following Tolkien's example in his Ents -as opposed to the Greek tree-spirits of very heathen origin - and I made Stone Ents. Basically. The old ones speak slowly and are very wise, whereas the younger ones, at merely a couple hundred years old, are much more quick, and also foolish. I didn't invent a new name, but went with a generic "Stone Folk", since it seemed logical the people of the area would suffice with something simple.
In the scene were Girta first meets them it is evident that she has heard of Ents, and likens these to that elusive folk. The reader is thereby free to assume that the story loving Girta may indeed have read the tale of the One Ring somewhere in all her library of folklore.)
The Stone King played the matchmaker in the long ago union that started Girta's line; and did an extremely quick job of it, since being non-mortal he has other abilities to call on then most hopeful matchmakers.
Anyway, to form the crown I researched my "based on countries" of Norway and Sweden, and drew inspiration from their mineral resources. The blue Iolite found in Norway is sometimes called "water saphire" and due to it's crystal structure and clarity is reputed to be the "sunstone" Norse mariners used to find their way in a fog. (Not sure exactly how this works, but from my preliminary research it has something to do with ascertaining where the sun is, the crystal concentrates the faint light enough that a sailor could tell which derection the ilght was coming from. Still a little hazy on that one!) The pink is kunzite, a lovely soft colored gem that is native to Sweden.
(You can see some beautiful examples of these stones here on the Winter Queen pinterest board!
I wanted a very organic feel for the silver as well as the gemstones. So it was clear from the first that the gems should be rough, uncut by jeweler's, but in perfect crystal shapes they come in.
I was a little stumped for reference on the silver base until I came across an ingenious Etsy seller who casts precious metals in molds form from twigs she gathers. (Here are two pieces I loved the look of; ring1 & ring2.) I nearly hyperventilated with joy as I stared at her earthy-inspired creations, and I really tried to reduplicate the look of her pieces with the strands of silver.
In the end, the Crown of Noran is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry ever... if I could have one "prop" from the Thaw: books it would be that.
About the Author
E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.
She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and... authoress!
You can connect with her blog:http://ekaiserwritesablog.blogspot.com/
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/E-Kaiser-Writes-Author-Illustrator/308540109167073
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/E.-Kaiser-Writes/e/B006RY1L2E
and... Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ekaiserwrites/
Thaw: Winter's Child: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RUDQMXO
Thaw: Winter Queen: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RWUVZQO/