Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

...I wrote a book, by accident, about Leonardo daVinci.

To clarify, I didn't write the book by accident, I wrote it on purpose. It was the second installment in an adventure story about a girl and her friends and her time-travelling dog, Delaney. When I started the book, SECRET OF LIGHT, I knew it was going to be set at some point during the Renaissance, but not much more than that.

One day, I was writing a scene where the main character, a girl [who, incidentally, has only one leg] fell, along with a couple of her friends, through a hole in the fabric of time. [This happens a lot near Eagle Glen School. In fact, I would hazard a guess that if the fabric of time really was an honest-to-goodness piece of material, the bit wrapped around Eagle Glen was pretty much made up of cheesecloth. Or Brussels lace.]

Darrell ends up somewhere entirely unlike where she started, with has a wicked case of time-sickness and is well and truly disoriented. She makes her way through a darkened room, only to discover she is not alone. On the far side of a very untidy table emerges the chalk-dust-covered head of a brilliant, talented and arrogant fourteen year old boy.

And thus Leonardo walked into my story, and my life.

Now, I had never inserted a person who had actually taken breath into one of my stories before this time. The beauty of fiction is the whole make-believe part of the gig. But faced with this interloper, I did what I had to do -- research, and a lot of it.

In the way of these things, further study into the life and times of Leo made him eerily perfect for the story. Common knowledge places the man firmly into humanity's cultural zeitgeist as an artist, but to his contemporaries, Leonardo was so much more. He was a renowned weapons-inventor. He designed toys for the crowned heads of Europe. And he even aspired to build a time machine. All of this [and many other wonderful and weird coincidences] fed my muse until she was fat and happy and writing up a storm.

A big part of my job as an author was to give my _character_ of Leonardo as much shape and substance as the man himself. And so, today, [courtesy of one of my favourite blog sites, Boing Boing] when I stumbled across this TED lecture, it spoke to me -- just like the face of that fourteen year old spoke to me more than five years ago when he walked into my manuscript -- and my heart. And if you ever read SECRET OF LIGHT, you can now evaluate whether I got it right ...or not.

Hope you enjoy this musing on what Leonardo really looked like.



Tan said...

I love the TED lectures. I always find out I'm interested in things that I didn't know I was interested in. Can't wait to read the Leonardo book!

kc dyer said...

I've only just discovered the TEDs this year. I love 'em, too!


A Novel Woman said...

That was AWESOME! Love the TED lectures. In fact, I have one on Lexicography squirreled away in my files somewhere. I must haul it out for my blog. I know, I know, big geek....

kc dyer said...

Dear ANW,

I saw your lexicography post today! TED rules, man.