Today is Ada Lovelace's birthday!

Monday, December 10, 2012

And she got a Google Doodle in honor of it! I couldn't be happier - this woman is one of the reasons I'm able to type this blog and post this image in the first place. Thanks, Ada!

If you're unfamiliar with Ada, read up on her right now!

The Londinium-Writing Playlist

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'd make Dustin write this post, but there's some modern music on here, so I'll take care of it so he doesn't have to.

Anyhow, when you're writing a certain story, sometimes it helps to have a playlist of songs that make you think about the project. Londinium has a playlist of its own, of course:

Some of the songs are a bit surprising on there - the Spice Girls and Morning Musume songs are more jokes from my senior year of high school than anything, but that was when I passionately threw myself back into this project for the first time. Sometimes it's the place in your life that you think of when you hear a song that calls forth memories of what you were working on at the time. We writers are strange people sometimes. 

Also, any Mozart or Liszt on this playlist that you see (including Liszt's famed Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2) are songs that Dustin enjoys playing. Just ask him and he'll feel free to tell you all about why.

Letters From An Old Etonian: Letter 3

Monday, November 26, 2012

I have to admit that I was rather reluctant to post these here at first, as my instructor Herman Bagstock could have probably sued me for libel if he found these. However, he's very fortunately dead, so this can go on the internet and I don't have to worry about a thing.

This is the third of a series of stories I wrote when I was a schoolboy at Eton. They've been dubbed 'the Dirty Schoolboy Papers' because they're extremely inappropriate because when you're around that age you think that sort of thing is hilarious.

All names, including the surnames of my friends, have been changed because when I wrote this I didn't want to get in trouble.

Letters From An Old Etonian: Letter Two

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I have to admit that I was rather reluctant to post these here at first, as my instructor Herman Bagstock could have probably sued me for libel if he found these. However, he's very fortunately dead, so this can go on the internet and I don't have to worry about a thing.

This is the second of a series of stories I wrote when I was a schoolboy at Eton. They've been dubbed 'the Dirty Schoolboy Papers' because they're extremely inappropriate because when you're around that age you think that sort of thing is hilarious.

All names, including the surnames of my friends, have been changed because when I wrote this I didn't want to get in trouble.

Letters From An Old Etonian: Letter One

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I have to admit that I was rather reluctant to post these here at first, as my instructor Herman Bagstock could have probably sued me for libel if he found these. However, he's very fortunately dead, so this can go on the internet and I don't have to worry about a thing.

This is the first of a series of stories I wrote when I was a schoolboy at Eton. They've been dubbed 'the Dirty Schoolboy Papers' because they're extremely inappropriate because when you're around that age you think that sort of thing is hilarious.

All names, including the surnames of my friends, have been changed because when I wrote this I didn't want to get in trouble.

Christmas is coming...are you ready?

Friday, November 23, 2012

As the holidays kick into gear, I kick into gear too. There's Victorian imagery everywhere around Christmas - the Victorians loved Christmas as much as modern-day Christians do, and they helped transform it into what it is today. This, naturally, makes me write like a crazed person.

I also tend to draw the cast more, which is nice because drawing them makes me write about them, too. Here's an updated Huddleston Players image because I can.

I'll write an inevitable Victorian Christmas post down the road - sometime this month, for sure - but for now, let's remember that the Victorians at least understood the holidays were about spending time with friends and family and not rushing out at midnight to buy things and trample people as soon as Thanksgiving's over.

(Besides, you all should've been watching Punkin Chunkin instead.)

I've been bitten by the Downton Abbey bug...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

So I'm finally getting around to watching all of Downton Abbey, and my parents have joined in with me on this venture. We finished Series 1 today and are planning on starting Series 2 as soon as Dad returns from a business trip. It's quite a good show, actually, and what I'm most fond of is that it's historically accurate. It's always nice to find a series that actually gets things right for a change - I'm not sitting around complaining the entire time.

I also may or may not have a bit of a crush on Branson because I like people who drive things. Ignore me.

Can you blame me, though? No, you can't, you silly person.

Anyhow, this whole thing got me thinking about costume dramas/historical TV shows, and I'm wondering why Downton is succeeding in the United States where other series have failed. Almost everybody watches Downton Abbey here. I'm not sure what's working for it that other series don't have, but the plot is extremely gripping and the characters are so lovable. I have this sinking feeling that the belief that history is boring had a lot to do with the lack of historical dramas in the United States in the past, although I'm starting to notice that they're picking up here (Boardwalk Empire, the three-part Hatfields and McCoys TV film series, etc.). It's really quite refreshing to see something I care about so much becoming something other people enjoy, as well.

Also, a special thank you to Downton Abbey for reminding the world that World War I did happen. People tend to forget about it because it was overshadowed by World War II. I enjoy reading about WWI, especially since an ancestor of mine fought in it, so having an entire series of the show focused on WWI ROCKS. Thanks, Julian Fellowes!

I really should get back to writing Londinium now, but I just wanted to be excited for a moment over a show that both gets history right and draws in millions upon millions of people each week. The world is a better place for it.

So the Georgians had laughing gas parties...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I watch game shows quite often, generally because the completely random things they ask the contestants from time to time give me ideas for things to look into. Today I happened to hear a question regarding the early use of nitrous oxide, so I looked into it...and found this.

Namely, in the 1790s, aristocrats started using nitrous oxide recreationally at parties. They referred to these as 'laughing gas parties' and basically all gathered in rooms and breathed in the gas until they reached a euphoric state. It sounds an awful lot like getting high with your friends, only with less harmful drugs and more gases that work as anesthetics. I can't speak from experience on either front since the only drugs I've ever taken at the dentist are modern anesthesia and Novocain and the only recreational drug I've ever used doesn't really count since it's the caffeine in my soda (although I am trying to curb my addiction, which is a story for another time), but I think it's a fitting analogy.

I did a little research on these 'laughing gas parties' because it sounded like something Nigel would stumble onto in his research and have to experiment with because he's Nigel, and here's what I found:

By the 1860s, nitrous oxide was being used as anesthesia for dentistry, but until then it was relatively uncommon and hard to come by, so these parties were generally reserved for the wealthier set. That being said, Nigel has access to both scientific research and money, so he'd be able to grab some for himself easily to see if it both kills pain and makes people euphoric and giddy. Which means he needs test subjects. Which means the domestic staff should run very, very far away because he tends to experiment on them.

And then there's his deadpanning big brother - Basil's involvement in this could be pretty darn interesting. I'll be filing this one away to see what I can do with it at a later time...

Using The Right Terms For Victorian Photography

Monday, April 23, 2012

This is easily the most random post I've ever written, but after messing around with the 'time machine' filters on Paint Shop Pro too much tonight I realized how much I hate when people just apply the terms 'daguerreotype' or 'tintype' to EVERY SINGLE PHOTO they see from the 19th century. There were a bunch of different photography techniques in use throughout the century, and many, if not most, of them overlapped. Let's talk about those now just so I can get this off my chest and fall asleep soundly.

To demonstrate the use of some of the more common ones, I took a drawing of Dustin, did some strange things with it in Paint Shop Pro, and then applied the time machine filters that were applicable to it.

Trashed Londinium Ideas: The Post

Monday, April 16, 2012

I don't quite know what inspired this post, but there have been quite a few trashed Londinium ideas over the years, and I can share them now since they won't appear in the books at all. I started this book as a sophomore in high school, when I was young and stupid. I'm older and slightly less stupid now, so my ideas are significantly better than they were seven years ago.

Seriously, Londinium is going to turn eight years old in December. That's kind of scary to think about.

Anyhow, I'm going to go through trashed ideas year by year, starting in December of 2004 when this project was first conceived. There are a lot of terrible ideas in my little green ledger. It's very pitiful.


  • Charlie was raised in an orphanage/workhouse, not the brothel his mother worked at. This was deemed too similar to Oliver Twist and was therefore dropped.
  • Basil is originally listed in my notes as being the "intern to a banker." Yeah. About that...
  • Dustin only cleaned chimneys - no mention of his musical talents. He also often longingly looked at a rich "lady in the window," with whose world he was fascinated and knew he'd never reach.
  • Annabell Simmons and Basil originally stopped dating due to another man. This changed within one day.
  • 'Guvmate,' the one thing retained from the earlier notes, dates back to 12/15/04, but it's been rewritten what feels like upwards of ten times. 
  • Monty Houghton first appears in my notes on 12/20/04 as a much more violent, angry person than he is now.
  • Dustin's original height was 5'8". He's now 5'2".
  • Sullivan, the man Dustin was apprenticed to when he was learning how to clean chimneys, was a jerkface, for lack of a better word. The only surviving image of him that is even slightly presentable is from my old deviantART account:

  • There are legitimate notes regarding something called "Londinium the Musical." There are even some song attempts in existence. I should probably light those on fire.
  • Robert Sheldon was actually diligent at work. Now he's a clock-watcher.
  • First mention of a poet on 1/10/05. Back then, the idea was supposed to be meaningful. This evolved into Kynaston Jordan, whose poetry was so bad that Basil and his friends used to do competitive readings of it at Eton. I like this better than the idea being meaningful.
  • Ironically, Sir Norwood Linsay and Gib Merton both appear in January 2005 and are essentially the same people, although their backstories are deeper now.
  • Monty was a sadist. He also spoke French, German and Russian and enjoyed saying "Au contraire, klavier!" which roughly translates to "On the contrary, piano!" 
  • Crispin Arlie existed. He was a crossing-sweeper that Gib semi-adopted. Once Gib's two little sisters entered the picture, Arlie was dropped.
  • Rescuing orphans - Dustin would save children impressed into being climbing boys and girls. He, Gib and Charlie also plucked an abandoned little girl named after an Enya song (Isobella) from the street and delivered her to an orphanage where Dustin brought all of his rescued children. At one point in the first draft, out of spite and anger Sullivan burned this orphanage down and the children and caretakers all ended up in Basil's parlor.
  • Kynaston Jordan was originally a traveling actor who wrote bad poetry.
  • Dustin ended up becoming a stage actor and went into performing Gilbert and Sullivan operas as he got older. Yeah, nope. He's better with the piano than his own voice now.
  • As late as 4/14/05, Basil was described as being "not very imaginative" and "a bit boring." Not exactly how you want to describe your lead character, that.
  • Rebecca Hillman. Basil was going to try courting her in the second book, but she never developed as a character.
Amazingly, there were no bad ideas in 2006, partially because other projects were taking up most of my time and my few notes from 2006 are research-based. The Cheese Beggar emerges as a character, as does Emily, Basil's former fiancee.

  • Basil and Dustin are finally themselves, at least. It's the little things like proper characterization that make going through all my bad ideas so worth it.
  • Except that Dustin was still 5'7.5". He had some shrinking to do.
  • Basil's family was originally low on money because a cousin of his had gambled it all away, which forced him into working in the bank. This was only recently changed because I had a more realistic and generally better idea.
  • Jasper Leggett, Philander Midgeley, Gifford Hoadley and Royden Stagg. Look at their names. Take their initials (JL, PM, GH, RS) and it makes it easier. They were an opera quartet of young men who toured Europe and America performing arias and the like, with young women swooning at their feet as if they were Franz Liszt. ...yeah, they were meant to be a Beatles parody. How did you ever figure that one out, I wonder?
Look at how darn clever I thought I was.
 Fortunately, since 2007 I've been in a massive rewriting process, and these bad ideas have generally been either changed into good ideas or removed from the plot entirely. This just goes to show you that writing is a process - your first draft won't necessarily be your final one, and your characters will grow and change as you write them and get to know them better. That being said, don't let this deter you from writing altogether, because sticking with it is how you actually get to that great story you're trying to tell. You'll have to sift through a lot of bad ideas before you hit upon the good ones, but in the end it's worth it.

To me, Londinium is definitely worth it, even with all of this horrible crap here. I'm glad I've stuck with these characters over the years and worked with them to tell their stories. I can guarantee you that if you stick with your cast and work together with them, you'll tell great stories, too.

Reconciling Steampunk With History

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nigel, Basil's little brother, dabbles in every science possible.
I personally greatly enjoy steampunk. It fascinates me to see speculative history - namely, what the Victorians would have done with our technology, albeit with their versions running on steam and other available power sources from the 19th century. In fact, I think it would be awfully fun to write a steampunk story at some point down the road. However, here's my problem - Londinium is strictly historical fiction, and I do a ton of research to make sure I get all of my details right. There's no place for science fiction in Londinium...

...or is there?

Turns out what I can do is include science fact. The easiest way for me to do that is, of course, more research. See the fellow in the post here? That's Nigel Remington, Basil's younger brother. Nigel explores everything. He dabbles in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, ancient civilization, and even Babbage's difference engines (computers - really). Above all, Nigel's dream is to achieve powered flight, and whilst he won't be pulling that one off (some folks from Dayton, Ohio beat him to that in 1903), he tries every possible solution available to him in 1863. He's taught himself how to read hieroglyphics from other scholars' research, making him one of the few individuals in Britain at the time who can read them, and he eventually earns himself a position at the British Museum due to this skill. (He's the younger son and doesn't inherit the estate - Basil does - so he needed a job.)

Nigel wasn't going to be a very important character initially, but when I realized what I could explore with him he became much more prominent in redrafts. It's Nigel's brain that gets the cast through difficult situations a lot of the time, namely because he's so off-the-wall brilliant and thinks outside the box. If Londinium does well enough, I might even consider giving Nigel a Jules Verne-style spinoff series of his own just because it would be fun to write.

Nigel is perhaps the character who best embodies Victorian society's progressive, optimistic attitudes: as far as Nigel's concerned, science can get things done as long as you stick to it and keep exploring. Steampunk as a genre takes these attitudes and propels them in a science fiction direction, allowing the Victorian world to evolve into a mirror image of our modern society were it powered primarily by steam and not electricity. However, when you look at the things the Victorians were actually doing during the 19th century, steampunk really isn't too far off as a possibility. I mean, look at this thing:

This is Henson's Aerial Steam Carriage, also known as Ariel, in a painting from 1843.
Henson's Aerial Steam Carriage was patented in 1842. By 1848, a small mockup of the thing made successful flights in a hangar. Powered by steam, the machine was designed to ferry passengers like jet planes do today. Unfortunately, it was too heavy to properly lift off, much less carry people, but it was a step in the right direction. Oh, and this thing is real. Ariel existed. It looks a lot like something out of a Verne book, doesn't it?

There's plenty more examples out there, definitely. I won't put them all in one giant post, but they're out there. Basically, the point is that steampunk is closer to what actually happened than most people think it is - there's a ton of genuine history that is essentially 'real steampunk.' And that's the kind of steampunk you'll see from me.

Let's Talk Victorian Cartoons

Friday, March 9, 2012

This is Will Conrad. Will is a 19th century cartoonist.
Cartooning as an art form is a relatively recent development. In the Western world, cartooning emerged from the lithographic print, an art form that was wildly popular in the 18th century. 18th century lithographic prints were often grotesque caricatures of people and events, serving as a social commentary of sorts, much like political cartoons do today. I have an entire book on them in my personal library called City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London. It's one of the most-bookmarked resources I have regarding the history of humor. The lithographs contained within are graphic, scatological, sexual, and basically inappropriate. Today, we'd probably label them NSFW. In the 18th century, you could find them hanging in shop windows for all to see, however - people would gather around them, point and laugh, and discuss them. By the 1820s, however, the censors began to rear their ugly heads, and these prints disappeared off the market forever, with what would evolve into Victorian family values winning out. (Of course, there were still prints - they were just cleaner. That doesn't mean "not racist," "not sexist" or just plain "not wrong," but there's no sex or scat anywhere.)

By the time Londinium takes place in 1863, cartooning has evolved into a way to poke fun at society without being too offensive. Even the cartoons appearing in Punch aren't exactly hard satire anymore - they're just little commentaries on how strange fashion is or how odd it is that people take arsenic to look pale when it's actually going to potentially kill them. The perennial example, of course, is this one:

Arabella Maria: "Only to think, Julia dear, that our mothers wore such ridiculous fashions as these!"
Both: "Ha ha ha ha!"
That couldn't be further from what was being drawn just fifty years prior. It's much gentler. Satirical writing, too, had become much gentler, which is something that Basil constantly lamented about as a teenager at Eton in the 1850s. Basil's best friend at Eton, Will Conrad, was his illustrator. In order to rebel against comedic writing going soft, Basil wrote some very hardcore satire based on a rumor involving a teacher at the school who was strangely affectionate towards his horse. Although the 'Dirty Schoolboy Papers' were never published, Basil got his start as a satirical writer by penning them. In turn, Will, whose dream as a boy was to be a cartoonist, set out on his quest to be published by Punch.

Will doing what he does best: drawing porn.
By the time 1863 has rolled around, Will is working in London as a stockbroker, but he's still freelancing as a cartoonist in his spare time. He's also found a very grown-up way to rebel against the social mores of his society: collecting and parodying pornography. Will's fondness for the hilarity of purple prose combined with his enjoyment of going against the grain have turned him into something that most people would deplore in public, even though Victorians' private lives were far more sexual than anyone realizes. That's a post for another time, though.

Today, we use cartoons to make a statement, just like we did in the 18th and 19th centuries. What's considered appropriate to publish has changed over the years, certainly, but cartooning's purpose hasn't changed very much: it's there for us to say things that we can't always articulate with words. Pictures are supposedly worth 1,000 of 'em, after all. The only thing that's really changed is the techniques people use to draw and the things that we deem okay to show to the world. Cartoonists today can still get in trouble, of course, because there are certain lines you can't cross (remember the Danish cartoonist who drew Muhammad and what happened there?), but generally, things are more open today than they were in Will's day. We're probably not going back to the 18th century, mind you, but at the very least, artistic expression isn't something that gets censored very much anymore.

Will himself would be very, very proud.

Sketch Cards!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I get to pimp the boys out in a public place on Saturday, March 17th, on which date I'll be at the Blick Art Materials in Paramus, New Jersey (it's on Route 4) doing an artist sketch card swap. Everyone participating got two cards each, so of course I ended up drawing Dustin and Basil on mine.

(This is the first time I've ever done sketch cards, so forgive me if they're not very good.)

I'm going to do a post on Victorian cartooning at some point soon since I've been back into that lately, so stay tuned! That will likely star Basil's school chum, my fellow cartoonist Will Conrad.

Londinium Art has a web home!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today I read the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy. It took me 5.5 hours. Specifically, it took even less time than that because I took a roughly 45-minute break for dinner. I'll be reading the next two soon, as well, because Suzanne Collins has an incredible grasp on how to pace a book to keep the reader hooked. Basically, I need to make sure you're all hooked on Londinium the same way. I sincerely hope I do my job and that ends up being the case...!

Anyhow, silly art that I draw relating to this book and its planned follow-ups now has its own internet home on my Nabyn account, so go check it out by clicking the picture of Basil and Dustin, won't you?


Technology Causes Setbacks

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So my computer crashed and I didn't have access to it for three weeks. It's back now, but I lost some of the new draft I was working on for Londinium, so I'm going to have to rewrite that. That would happen, wouldn't it? Augh.

Now I wish I'd used a typewriter, because then I wouldn't have lost anything at all. This is why I generally write my chapters by hand first and then type them up later - you get a foolproof copy of your work. Basil never loses anything he writes, after all. Lucky jerk - he doesn't have to worry about computers.

Anyway, I'll be getting back to writing now, so this was more or less just a quick progress update - or lack thereof.

New Character Art: Sir Norwood Linsay

Monday, January 9, 2012

Basil and Dustin's favorite person to make fun of in the entire world. Seriously, ask them.

I really have no explanation as to why he became a running joke for the two of them, but he's a generally antagonistic person and they're not so that might have something to do with it. They also write a song about him in the second book, which I'll share with you all when the time is right. (You know, when I publish the book and you can go out and buy it and read it.)

New Character Art: Henrietta Mansfield

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Do you know how damn hard it is to draw someone whose face you describe as 'having no personality' and 'plain-looking?' It's harder than drawing someone who is really good-looking or really ugly, seriously.

Every historical story needs at least one society person with no real personality behind them, after all.

New Character Art: Sebastian Montcourt

Saturday, January 7, 2012

This should more accurately be titled 'Sebastian Montcourt as a popsicle stick.' He ended up coming out on a really weird angle and it just doesn't look right to me. I scanned it in anyway.

He's one of two nemesis bankers in Londinium. We'll get to the other one later. You know, the one that's been around a little longer as a character.

New Character Art: John Horner

Friday, January 6, 2012

An old friend of Basil's father, John Horner allows Basil to earn his family's money back by working at his bank. Aristocrats typically didn't work in finance, so Horner promises to keep Basil's job hush-hush. (Basil takes the job because it's the fastest way for him to reestablish the family fortune - military service and posts in the House of Lords were more typical aristocrat jobs, but they weren't really designed for people actively trying to make money, if you know what I mean.)

New Character Art: Sybil Bannister

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sybil is one of the newest editions to the Londinium family, so I haven't fully developed her yet. I'll be working on that as I rewrite the earlier chapters of the novel, however.

Also, Blogger has a new interface for writing blog posts and I can finally do cut text here. That's good news because it means I'll be able to share Londinium short stories with you all that don't make it into the books!

New Character Art: Everett Lawson

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This one is involved in a pretty major plot point in the second book, so we're not going to go into too many details on him, but what I can tell you is that he was a prefect at Eton at the same time Basil was, so there's a semi-rivalry there already. He's not a villain - not by any means - but he does play a pretty big role, so keep an eye on him once the second book is ready!

New Character Art: Annabell Simmons (and Clara)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Here's one of those things where I went and explored Victorian sexuality. I'm just fascinated by it. These two are one of my forays into the subject.

Annabell and Clara are lesbians in a time period that doesn't really even have a word to describe them. There's a lot of scholarly work out there regarding Victorians and homosexuality due to the existence of Oscar Wilde - the fact is that gays and lesbians existed and had a presence, and that presence threatened the Victorian ideal of hearth and home. I'll cite Jan Marsh, since she explains this better than I do:

Although heterosexuality was held to be both normal and natural throughout the period, the later years also witnessed a visible increase in homosexuality, mainly in men and especially but not exclusively in the intelligentsia. While largely clandestine owing to laws prohibiting 'indecency' in public (the artist Simeon Solomon was one of those so prosecuted), private male homosexual acts were not explicitly and severely legislated against until 1885, when gay sex behind closed doors was made a criminal offence. This led, most notoriously, to the imprisonment in 1896 of Oscar Wilde, playwright and poseur.
Reasons for the emergence of a distinctly gay subculture within 1890s' Decadence movement include the promotion of 'Greek' or Platonic relationships by some university dons; the extended bachelorhood that resulted from prescriptions of financial prudence and sexual continence; and a counter-cultural defiance of orthodox moral teaching, which gave added allure to the forbidden and deviant. The supremely Decadent drawings of Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98) vividly evoke the atmosphere of this moment.
At the very end of the century, questions of sexual identity were also subject to speculative and would-be scientific investigation, dubbed sexology (1902). Writers such as Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) attempted a detailed classification of 'normal' and 'perverse' sexual practices. This led to the identification of a 'third' or 'intermediate' sex, for which Ellis used the term 'sexual inversion'. Writer and social reformer Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), who lived with a younger male partner, adapted the word 'Uranian' (1899) to denote male and female homosexuality, and around the same time, Lesbian and Sapphic came into use as terms for female relationships. Apocryphally, these were also due to be criminalised in the 1885 legislation, until Queen Victoria declared them impossible, whereupon the clause was omitted - a joke that serves to underline a common, and commonly welcomed, ignorance, at a time when lurid, fictionalised lesbianism was often figured as an especially repulsive/seductive French vice.
Today, the best-known lesbian relationship in Victorian Britain has become that of Anne Lister of Shibden in west Yorkshire and her partner, with its distinctly erotic as well as romantic elements. Other couples include poets Katherine Bradley and her niece Edith Cooper, who wrote collaboratively from the 1880s under the name Michael Field, and the Irish writers Edith Somerville and Violet Martin. In the Victorian period itself, American actress Charlotte Cushman and French painter Rosa Bonheur were well known for their openly 'masculine' independence and demeanour.
This was basically the best attempt I could make to tackle this subject. I know it's also a sort of parody of Fingersmith, too, which is an extremely popular book series/television program regarding Victorian lesbians, but I was a lot more interested in exploring Victorians with regards to homosexuality...well, that and keeping Basil single for longer. (Go ahead, fujoshi types, slash him with Dustin. I know you're going to do it.)

New Character Art: Emma Holloway

Monday, January 2, 2012

Emma's the barkeep at the Holloway Inn. She's one of the very first characters I created for Londinium, actually. Her brother, Hal, runs the books at the inn, so there's a little doodle of him off to the side there.

I've always liked Em, namely because she's the girl next door. That and that she's not afraid to beat the crap out of customers who get too rowdy. She's an expert at broken bottle combat, can throw an empty bottle all the way across the bar to knock out patrons by hitting them in the head, and, according to Gib, throws a mean hook. (I like to think that this is what Gib admires most in her.)

Now the only question that remains is how to get her and Gib together on the side since they're both "not interested" right now. Hmm...

New Character Art: Nigel and Arabella Remington

Nigel and Arabella are Basil's younger brother and sister, respectively. Nigel's 23 and as the younger son has been taking on various academic posts and traveling the world and all that jazz. By Book Three, we find him working for the British Museum, which is a dream job for him. He's always trying to experiment and invent, as well, and he's kind of sort of obsessed with flight.

Arabella, on the other hand, is only 19. She's a very talented painter, so her sketchbook travels with her often. She's of marrying age, so she's officially on the market. (Imagine the irony if she married 26-year-old William Conrad, also an artist, but...well, a very different kind of artist.)

Oh, and the reason Will's now listed as being 26...I've retconned Basil and Co. to be a little younger. I'm not sure why, but I just felt like it worked a little better for some reason.

Classical Music For The Muse Enthusiast

Sunday, January 1, 2012

So you like Muse or some other musical group that has some piano backing. I mean, Muse is the obvious example that comes to mind, but there's plenty of musical groups that use piano in their music, so. Anyway, here's the point of this: today we're going to talk about the music that influences people like Muse (and myself, but that's beside the point here).

First off, I'd like to start this off by saying that classical music is not boring. If you think it is, you should be punched in the face. Well, maybe not punched, but you should at least learn to appreciate it. If it didn't exist, your music today wouldn't exist, so it's really important that we have it. As I mentioned earlier, it's inspired a ton of today's musical artists. So without further ado, here is The Official Romantic Piano Playlist For The Muse Enthusiast, compiled by yours truly.
  1. La campanella in G-sharp minor (from Paganini) - Franz Liszt. The fact of the matter is that Liszt makes pretty much every playlist ever because he's my favorite. Anyway, this song here is usually played a little bit slower than it is in the example I found, but you can play Liszt at any speed you want because he's brilliant.
  2. Fantaisie Impromptu in C minor - Frederic Chopin. There's a very strong influence from Chopin on Muse, definitely. I mean, you can hear it really strongly in this piece, which is probably my favorite of Chopin's to play. It takes a lot of technical skill, though.
  3. Minute Waltz - Frederic Chopin. This isn't actually one minute long, but it's fun to try to play it within a minute. It's really closer to two minutes. Of course, Victor Borge had to try.
  4. Liebestraum - Franz Liszt. Yeah, more Liszt. But that's 'cause Liszt is so damn good.
  5. Fur Elise - Ludwig Van Beethoven. It's an older piece, but it wasn't found and published until 1865, so to me it was a new thing when it first came out. It's also a classic of early romantic piano...and pretty much everyone recognizes it, too.
  6. Piano Concerto No. 3 in A Minor - Sergei Rachmaninov. The version I've linked to is actually Rachmaninov playing - it's a really old recording, but you get to hear the composer playing his own work, something you don't normally get with older musicians. It's a nice treat. You might also want to hear his more famous Concerto No. 2.
  7. Clair de Lune - Claude Debussy. This is one of the most relaxing songs you'll ever hear in your life, seriously.
  8. Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major - Franz Liszt. Again, Liszt is better than you.
  9. Mazurka in A Minor - Frederic Chopin. This is another quieter one, but then again, Chopin was a quieter person. Liszt was far more dramatic.
  10. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 - Franz Liszt. I had to finish with this because it's my all-time favorite piece of music. It's fun, complex and beautiful, and playing it is proof that you're a true master of the piano (or you're like me and are just really, really good at playing back what you hear).

So there you are, some pieces that you ought to listen to if you're interested in where Muse's ideas get their basis/inspiration from. Maybe next time I'll do a discussion of arpeggio or something else piano-related, since I actually feel pretty comfortable talking about piano stuff.

New Character Art: The Mertons

There are three of them, and I adore all of them. We've got a different backstory here now, though...

Basically, the Mertons' parents were like many costermongers: constantly arguing. As soon as he could, Gib set up shop on his own and took his sisters with him, thereby raising them himself. As a result, he's fiercely protective of the two of them (Kate's the older one, Sally's the younger one).

Kate's more fashion-forward, whilst Sally, who's about Charlie's age, idolizes her big brother and tries to dress like him (she even wears corduroy pants under her dress). Part of me almost thinks that when she and Charlie grow up, they'd be cute together...hmmm...