by Lillian Csernica on April 10, 2019
Today let’s talk about our creative instincts.
A lot of the creative process takes place on the intuitive level. I sit there in the creative trance, groping for the right word, waiting for my mind to zoom through all the possibilities until the word that feels right arrives. That one I grab and write down. There are times when I have to go look something up, especially if I want the foreign language equivalent of that right word.
Sometimes we come to a fork in the road. Which project do I pursue now? There are several business factors that will influence that decision such as contractual obligations, marketing, and agent advice. Many times it will all boil down to that intuitive push.
I once stood at that creative crossroads, torn between a medieval romance and a contemporary romantic suspense. I chose the latter, which prompted me to track down a martial arts star purely for the purpose of finding out where to get some of his promotional photos. (I like to work from photos of real people who resemble my heroes and heroines.) That led to a phone conversation that resulted in two screenplays.
It’s essential to feed the mind a strong and varied diet. If you’re going to have a compost heap in your imagination, you have to build it up, aerate it, turn it over, and let the natural processes achieve the decomposition. Only then will you get the transformed substance that will help you grow those prize roses or melons.
My latest short story release is The Badger Epidemic in Next Stop on the #13. The key elements in the story are badgers, cholera, and steam trains. What could badgers and cholera have in common that could possibly bring them together in the context of Japan’s Industrial Revolution? Steam trains and telegraph lines.
Because I read so much, because I feed my mind so much history and folklore and strange news items, all of those ideas came together in a single short story.
Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, creativity, Fiction, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, publication, steampunk, Uncategorized, Writing
by Lillian Csernica on January 25, 2019
I am delighted to announce the release of Next Stop on the #13, the fourth steampunk anthology featuring stories by the authors of Clockwork Alchemy.
In The Badger Epidemic, Dr. Harrington is forced to ride a train bound for Osaka through a region afflicted by a cholera epidemic. The Japanese workers needed for building the railways and telegraph lines believe the cholera is spread by the new technology from the West. The British officials insist Dr. Harrington ride the train and prove the superstition is nonsense.
What awaits Dr. Harrington out in the darkness on those lonely train tracks is a danger even greater than the threat of cholera itself.
Join us for Clockwork Alchemy 2019. Get your copy of Next Stop on the #13 and have it autographed by the authors of each story, including the master of alternate history, Harry Turtledove!
Filed under Conventions, doctors, editing, fairy tales, Family, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, publication, steampunk, travel, Writing
by Lillian Csernica on April 19, 2018
The Quack Doctor by Charles Green
Dr. Harrington has begun to realize that by bringing Western medicine to the Far East, he also has an opportunity to learn how the Far East has been keeping people alive and healthy for several thousand years.
At this time in Victorian England, some impressive strides were being made regarding the causes of cholera epidemics and tuberculosis. However, general medical care had yet to fully embrace Pasteur’s discoveries regarding germs and the spread of disease. The wealthy could afford what passed for good health care. The poor, living in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation, had little if any recourse to serious medical care.
Enter the quack, who promised this or that powder, pill, or colored syrup would bring the miracle cure everyone needed.
From The Online Etymology Dictionary:
“medical charlatan,” 1630s, short for quacksalver (1570s), from obsolete Dutch quacksalver (modern kwakzalver), literally “hawker of salve,” from Middle Dutch quacken “to brag, boast,” literally “to croak” (see quack (v.)) + salf “salve,” salven “to rub with ointment” (see salve (v.)). As an adjective from 1650s. The oldest attested form of the word in this sense in English is as a verb, “to play the quack” (1620s). The Dutch word also is the source of German Quacksalber, Danish kvaksalver, Swedish kvacksalvare.
Were there quacks in Kyoto? Probably. The world was changing very quickly. Japanese people were eager to try the wonders from the West. Some of those wonders could be truly mind-boggling in their defiance of all reason and sense.
Anatomical head. Edo period. Wax. 19thc-artworldwide.org
If you’d like to know more about medical quackery in this time period, I recommend The Quack Doctor, a site created by Caroline Rance. There you will find much that will both shock and amuse you.
Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, doctors, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, hospital, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, research, steampunk, therapy, travel, Writing