Friday, January 4, 2013

Writer Rambles

Today is a glorious work-free day - after I finish vacuuming  I have the rest of the day to tackle Draft 2. Right now, I have Chapter 25 to finish, and it is timed to occur just after the 1st of November. The Battle of the Alma and the Charge of the Light Brigade have happened, and the Horizon witnessed both campaigns, not exactly the safest of ventures if you are dangling from a steam-filled canvas balloon. She survived, and Roberts and crew will soon be flying a load of desperately ill/injured soldiers down to the military barracks in Scutari where they will run against the indomitable might of Florence Nightingale.

As I revise, it is astonishing how many little things demand attention. Yesterday I was reading Bill Bryson's peerless At Home: A Short History of Private Life when the topic of soot arose. It dawned on me that I had never considered the fact if the Horizon's anthracite-fed boiler produces soot from the coal dust it burns. I would assume that would be a yes, but before I make a decision, I have to research to check my assumption. I do know that anthracite burns essentially smokeless but if the boiler will produce soot or other byproducts, then I have to tackle the question of what the Horizon does with all its soot. I also realized that my engineers, by default, are permanently covered with coal dust and need to work that into their description.

I'm also wondering if I need to touch on scurvy, the plague of sailors until people figured out that it was caused by dietary deficiency (Bryson covers this in his book). However, airship flights are much faster than marine ship sailing, so perhaps airships touch down in port often enough to access fresh food? Or I could have my on-board surgeon Harding be an innovative soul that has worked out the link between nutrition and health and insists that the crew eat properly. Also, a steampunk world would probably have better standards of medical knowledge than the historical 19th century. Bryson states that several medical researchers figured out that scurvy was caused by a vitamin C deficiency long before the Navy began to supply their sailors with lime/lemon juices. Many medical professionals thought that scurvy was caused by too hard work, unsanitary conditions, constipation, etc. In fact, one commander encouraged his sailors to rinse out their mouths with their own urine in attempts to combat scurvy - yuck!

Now that Draft 2 is nearing completion, I am starting to think about cover art, illustrations, and advertising media. I've talked with a few artists and there are a number of possibilities out there. So far, I have a fairly good idea in mind for what I want as the front illustrations, and I am hoping to have a diagram of the Horizon on the flyleaves. The anime series "Last Exile" is a good model for what I want: each DVD cover has intricate diagrams of the different airships inside the cover, and these help give great detail and scale for the ships.

I haven't quite worked out what the Horizon looks like, and in my head, I have been playing with 125 feet for her length. What I need to do is find an unbroken stretch of snow, a tape measure, and a friend to help me sketch out in the snow what the circumference of the Horizon's gondola should be. I figure I can bring a spray bottle of colored water to help mark in lines and create a canvas on the snow. I'll definitely take pictures of this so you can see the crazy things I do for accuracy and concept.

And at is a picture of Erasmus for general "awws" and morale-boosting!

1 comment:

  1. That's a great idea - colored bottles and lots of snow. It'll be interesting to see!