Monday, August 29, 2016

The Mermaid and the Unicorn - a photo inspiration

This is a post for those of you who have already read the book. Over the past four years I have been saving photos on Pinterest that inspired this book, and I would like to now share some of those photos, and the reasons behind the inspiration, with you all.

I will try to keep from revealing any MAJOR spoilers in this post, but I have to say that you'll enjoy it a lot more if you read the following after finishing the book.

(Below are snips from my Pinterest Page. For the full photos and credits, view the whole Pinterest Board here.)

Left: The Opera House! One of the earliest decisions for the book was that I had to have a scene at the Paris Opera House. I was able to visit the building myself in 2005 and it was a tremendously cool experience. Since Daphne was in Paris much longer than I was, I could send her to an actual performance.

Right: To walk by the river in Paris, you have to go down to a lower level sidewalk. This is one of the inspiration photos I used to keep this in mind when writing scenes with the Mermaids.

I looked at a lot of different mermaid art to figure out what my mermaids would look like. I knew that I wanted them to look more human than the scary creatures in "Harry Potter", but I didn't want them to be 'cutesy' either.

Although I visited the Louvre, the Basillica and Notre Dame myself in 2005, I needed to reference photos to get all of my details correct. I loved these not only as reference photos, but also for capturing the mood of the book.

The Unicorn Tapestries at the Cluny Museum made a huge impact on me when I saw them in person. When I chose Paris as the setting of this book, I knew immediately that it would focus on a Unicorn, and that the tapestries would play a role.

More mood photos. Water, the Eiffel Tower in Winter, and Paris in the rain and Night. Yes, it really is a beautiful city, and I worked hard to capture that beauty in the novel.

Versailles is so ornate, that it is difficult to fully describe without a degree in architecture! I did my best, but there really is nothing like looking at actual photos to understand the excess of ornamentation.

Lourdes is a very iconic and well-known pilgrimage site for most Catholics--but I would never have heard of it without my Catholic friends' references! I needed a LOT of reference photos, and also first hand accounts from friends.


Being a costumer myself, I thought a lot about the clothing that the characters wear in the book. I wanted to have something very specific in mind when I wrote about Daphne's gala dress, and when I came across the pale aqua dress on the right, I KNEW this was the one.

On the left is a dress very much like I could imagine Amelia wearing.

I also had great fun sourcing inspiration photos for imagining the rooftop garden!

Mermen are pictured far less often than mermaids. I was thrilled to find a few very cool photos that helped me think about what my mermen looked like. The one on the left is very, very close to how I envision my main merman. (There was an actor I envision when I'm trying to imagine how Luc speaks and moves, but he is dark haired and my merman is blonde, so I struggled with a solid image until I came across this painting. It helped a lot.)

Pinterest helped me organize my thoughts well, and especially served to inspire me when I had trouble with scenes or characters. I highly recommend it as a good way to pull together a sort of playlist of pictures!

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