currently playing on my iPod: Romany Dagger by All Them Witches
Recently, I picked up a pack of repro 16th century French playing cards at the Renaissance Faire (Whatever. It’s completely rad. If you don’t think so, you haven’t been.) and was reminded of how important it is for writers, actors, and illustrators to blur the line between fiction and non fiction.
Between real and not real.
With those cards in my hands—all sharp edges, matte faces, and one-dimensional artistry—I was one step closer to knowing what it was to play a hand way back when.
If you need some inspiration, the museum is a great place to get your hands on objects that hail from days past and/or cultures far away. If you can’t touch the actual Lewis chessman, buy a repro. Run your fingers over his curled beard and carved throne. You should leave the paintings fingerprint-free, but you can take home a postcard (so cheap!) of the piece to remind yourself of that one deep red color you hadn’t expected to see.
Step into the world you’re trying to create. Wear jewelry reminiscent of your world. Listen to their instruments. The internet is busting with people playing ancient ouds and fantastic horns we never produce these days. Lie on your back and close your eyes and feel the earth under you. Imagine sleeping on it, if that’s what your characters would do.
I’m currently working on a YA middle eastern fantasy, inspired by the Mamluk Sultanate of Cairo and the Jewish agriculturalists that were conquered. I was lucky enough to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and get my eyes on turkish blades and a seal with both Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions. On their site, you can check these items out along with a carnelian ring set in silver from nearby Iran. It’s everything to a fantasy writer. I can fully develop their world—weapons, jewelry, language—with the help of real objects.
Blur that line between fiction and non, and your writing will blossom.