Friday, 14 October 2011

Tricks of the Eye and a Book Giveaway - The Crimson Shard by Teresa Flavin

tall tales & short stories is delighted to welcome back Teresa Flavin,
author of The Blackhope Enigma 
and The Crimson Shard.

Teresa talks about the artistic inspiration behind her latest book, The Crimson Shard, and if you enjoy exciting adventures involving time travel, art, and sinister characters then...
read on for a chance to win your very own copy of The Crimson Shard.

Tricks of the Eye

It seems like only yesterday that Tall Tales and Short Stories hosted one of my very first interviews as the author of The Blackhope Enigma. I’m delighted to be back to talk a bit about the inspiration for the follow-up novel, The Crimson Shard, on the last stop of my Blog Tour.

The Crimson Shard has many characters, lots of plot twists and plenty of action, but the inspiration for the story was quite simple. Like The Blackhope Enigma, which put together Renaissance painting and labyrinths, the new book began with an art idea and a historical period I wanted to write about. The art idea was trompe l’oeil, a French term meaning “fool the eye”, and the historical period was 18th century London, otherwise known as the Georgian era. In the book, a deceptive trompe l’oeil door in a private museum takes teenagers Sunni and Blaise back to 18th century London against their will, into a dangerous situation where nothing is what it seems.

So what is trompe l’oeil exactly? As I wrote in my Notes at the end of The Crimson Shard, it refers to paintings of scenes and objects so realistic they deceive the viewer into thinking they are three-dimensional. Some trompe l’oeil murals date back to ancient Greek and Roman times, and there is even a story about two Greek artists, Zeuxis and Parrhasius, who competed to paint the most convincing illusion. The grapes Zeuxis painted looked so real that birds flew over to try and eat them. Thinking this had surely won him the contest, he told Parrhasius to pull back a pair of curtains to reveal his painting, so it could be judged. But the curtains could not be moved because they themselves were painted: Parrhasius had made them so convincing that they even fooled Zeuxis.

One of the earliest trompe l’oeil paintings I found dates from 1504 and is called Still life with Partridge and Iron Gloves by Jacopo de Barbari

Like many other trompe l’oeil still lives, it features a note stuck to a wall, which gives the artist a chance to show off his skill in making an object look like it’s popping out from the background.

One of the most superb examples is at Chatsworth House. It’s the illusion of a violin painted onto a door in 1723 by Jan van der Vaart. This mural could have come straight out of Starling House, the private museum Sunni and Blaise visit, which is filled with trompe l’oeil illusions.

For a nice slide show of trompe l’oeil paintings through the centuries, check out The National Gallery of Art website.

There are contemporary artists who specialize in trompe l’oeil paintings and there is even a Trompe L’oeil Society of Art

One of the brilliant things about trompe l’oeil is its sly humour and playfulness, especially in contemporary examples. There are some digitally made murals that are printed onto tarpaulins, ready to stick to your garage door. Or wallpaper for your home.

But what I enjoy the most are the original architectural murals that “hide” on the sides of buildings, masquerading as windows. Paris is a particularly great place to see these, and this website features a photographic collection of them. I remember being astonished by painted-on windows during my first visit to the area around the Pompidou Centre, and thinking how cool the Parisians were for filling up blank spaces with inventive window paintings.

I find these windows so inspiring because they leave me wondering what’s going on inside that other world. Who owns that cat sitting on the balcony? Who left the French windows open? There is just enough to suggest a story and my imagination does the rest...

A tall tales & short stories interview with Teresa Flavin


WIN a copy of 
The Crimson Shard

 During what seems like an ordinary museum visit, tour guide Throgmorton lures Sunni and Blaise through a painted doorway into eighteenth-century London. 
When Throgmorton demands secret information from the pair about their Blackhope escapades, they attempt to flee, encountering body snatchers, art thieves and forgers in this gripping time-travel adventure.

The Crimson Shard is a sequel to The Blackhope Enigma but can easily be read as a standalone book.

It's easy to enter the competition!
Here's what to do!

  • Leave a comment on the blog, say hi and give me your name. If you want to leave your email address that's great, if not, I'll be announcing the winners after midday on the 23rd October, UK time. So make sure to check in here and on twitter.
  • Or retweet the competition details on twitter. You'll find me at @TABwrite

All entries go into a hat and one winner will be chosen at random.

Sorry, but this competition is open to UK entrants only.

Competition Deadline:  Midday, 23rd October, 2011, UK time.




Anonymous said...

This sounds fun! I'd like to be included in the draw!

Sue said...

Can't take place in the draw as I'm non-UK but the interview was fascinating with all those great links. Amazing what effects could be achieved before technology made everything so easy-peasy - the violin on the door is amazing...

whispering words said...

I'd never heard of this author before but this book sounds awesome. Please count me in, Sarah :)

Nikki-ann said...

I loved reading The Blackhope Enigma and would love to get my hands on a copy of The Crimson Shard!

An interesting post. Thanks :)

Nikki-ann said...

P.S. - My email address is: nixtee [at] gmail [dot] com

happyfox said...

I love the concept of time travel and you seem to have come up with a completely new take on it :) Looks like a fascinating read.

Diana Cotter
givinganswers [at] googlemail [dot] com

Kulsuma said...

I would love to read this! It sounds great, just my cup of tea!


Linda said...

I must read this book! Please include me in the draw.

Shirley said...

I love stories set in this period hope I win the book it sounds exciting.

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