Thursday, November 2, 2017

Homage to Peacocks

we once again meet that dashing adventuress from DEADLY DIAMOND. You know, the one who absconded from Egypt with a fortune in diamond and lapis jewels?

That's right: Lady Sarah Peacock - or whatever her real name is!

Well, Peacock by name (if the marriage was legal) and peacock by nature. Sarah may be using another name in Venice but she's keeping her signature style with a fabulous peacock blue beaded walking dress and what might be Europe's largest collection of peacock feathers on a single hat. 

Lady Sarah's inimitable style was fully in fashion in the real world as well as in Maddie's world.  

"The peacock feather, previously thought to be a symbol of bad luck, became an icon of the Aesthetic style. Its use as a motif confirmed Aestheticism's reputation for decadence."

I'll leave you to discover exactly where in the book that beaded suit and fabulous hat appear.

For now, enjoy this photographic tour of peacock imagery from fin-de-siecle Europe and America. Check out links where they appear, to take you to more information on the origins of the pieces and the photos.

The earliest of our collection shows that peacocks were already popular well before Maddie and Sarah began their lives, let alone their adventures.

Gemstone Brooch by Gustave Baugrand, 1865


A peacock feather brooch set with sapphires, diamonds and emeralds. French, circa 1883. By Boucheron. Believed to have been made for the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia.

Then there's this golden belt buckle by Eugène Grasset, a pioneer of Parisian Art Nouveau. Not traditional peacock colours but fabulous all the same. 

Enameled gold accented with carnelian cabochon. ca. 1900

The turn of the century is  where peacocks really hit their stride in jewelry.

Peacock Maiden Ring
Gold, with a central opal and emerald/diamond feathers.

By an unknown French artisan c.1900

The maiden and peacock....

Phillippe Wolfers was a Belgian working in the French Art Nouveau style. This pendant brooch of gold, tourmalines, diamonds and enamel was made around 1900-1902.

See more exquisite Wolfers pieces here

Lovely by Lalique: 

Right: Gold and Enamel “Two Peacocks” Pendant, circa 1897-1898

Below: Art Nouveau 'Peacock' Brooch/ Pendant: gold, enamel
I'm thinking of a new signature piece for Lady Sarah Peacock on her next reappearance in the Maddie Hatter adventures. 

As you'll find out, she's already re-purposed the Egyptian Collar necklace she acquired from Baron Bodmin in MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND. 

So why not give her some fabulous Art Nouveau jewels that help to distance her from the scandalous Egyptian episode?

Last on our list of jewels is the Peacock Egg from Faberge (even Lady Sarah surely can't aspire to a Russian Imperial Egg....?).

This one was made by Dorofeiev under the supervision of the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in 1908, for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

And now to interiors:

In America

American, 1835-1910
Peacock Window, 1892-1908

"At the time when America was emerging as a force in the international art world, La Farge stood out as a versatile artist and designer working in a variety of media. 

The Peacock Window, which simulates the vibrant coloration of a magnificent, exotic bird, represents La Farge's final effort in fused, or cloisonné, glass. 

Begun in 1892 as one of a pair of windows for the Washington, D.C., home of John Hay, the piece was not presented to the client, apparently because of difficulties encountered in the successive firings required to fuse layers of glass. 

Instead La Farge provided Hay with a window of the same design made of more conventional leaded opalescent glass (now at Museum Stuck-Villa in Munich). Several years later the artist returned to his original concept to produce this window."

In France:

 The amazing peacock room designed by Art Nouveau genius Alphonse Mucha for the Boutique Fouquet in 1900.

In Germany:

The Moorish Kiosk was purchased complete from the Prussian exhibit at Paris's Universal Exhibition of 1867. It was eventually installed in the grounds of pretty little Linderhof Palace in Bavaria.

Inside the Moorish Kiosk you'll find the Peacock Throne, a fantasy divan made of red silk and flanked by three painted peacocks with 1,400 gems in their plumage. "Mad King Ludwig" really loved his bling!

 I visited Linderhof on a school tour many years ago, and have dreamed many wonderful stories set in those delicate, beautiful halls and kiosks. Shall I write one for you some day? Perhaps I already have, without realizing from whence inspiration sprang.

 Here we'll leave the architecture and return to Maddie's world of fashion.  Marvel at the peacock-inspired GOWNS!

The Queen Kapiolani Peacock gown (below).

This one is a reproduction from the Ali'i Gown Reproduction project. Queen Kapiolani of Hawaii wore the original to the Golden Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria in 1887.

Note the rows of peacock-eye feathers around the train? That's what inspired the beadwork on the hem of Lady Sarah's Venetian walking dress. How I wish such fabulous gowns were practical for modern working women!

This gown is a Worth original, made for Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston. She first wore it in 1903, at the celebration in India for the coronation of King Edward VII.

"The gown was assembled from panels of chiffon that had been embroidered and embellished by Delhi and Agra craftsmen using the zardozi (gold wire weaving) method. It was then shipped to Paris, where the House of Worth styled the dress with a long train edged with white chiffon roses. The worked panels were overlapping peacock feathers that had a blue/green beetle wing at the center. Over time, the metal thread in the dress has tarnished but the beetle wings have not lost their luster."

But imagine how glorious its glitter on that first momentous appearance!

At the latter end of the peacock obsession was this magnificent silk, silk satin and lace peacock gown, made by Maison Weeks, Paris, circa 1910.

You would not want to trail this one through the mud and dust of Venice's campi and calli (squares and streets) which is why Lady Sarah wore her beaded peacock walking dress - a style that doesn't usually have a train but swings along just clear of the ground (or, more scandalously, as high as the ankles) - in TIMELY TAFFETA.

And what IS that daring young woman up to in Venice anyway? Is she using Maddie's real name again? Will her antics come to Father's ears? Will her extravagant bills be blamed on Maddie a second time?

Find out more in MADDIE HATTER AND THE TIMELY TAFFETA, newly out from Tyche Books and available at fine bookstores or online in all the usual formats.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Maddie's Amazing Venetian Carnevale Launch Party

Welcome, one and all, to the fabulous, amazing, fantastical Timely Taffeta Masquerade Launch Party!

The Maddie Hatter Adventures welcomed to our launch party another Tyche Books new release, Dying on Second, the fourth in the Marie Jenner mysteries by Edmonton author (and temporarily dead second-base narrator) EC Bell.

The thrilling choral performance by Double Treble Ensemble transported us to a Venetian palazzo!

Members of the Ensemble picking up their copies of

Many launch guests arrived in costumes worthy of the most extravagant Venetian Carnevale!

Solo Piratical Woman

Dashing Mother-Daughter Duo down from Edmonton for the event

This mother-daughter team came dressed as Emmy Gat and Cat Cheshire from

Moaning Myrtle made an appearance
A whole-family affair!

Altogether, there were four juniors in costume
The super Owls Nest staff threw themselves into the spirit of Carnevale

This man with the fabulous wrist-brace is using his sundial-wristwatch to find his way through the twisting tale.

The night's most elegant masquerader shone in gold and white satin against the blue dusk beyond the windows

The man who inspired Oberon O'Reilly attended with his charming lady-love

Calgary author and impressario Neil Enoch took home the coveted Timely Taffeta coffee mug.

Maddie's Fourth Adventure is officially afloat! Available at Owls Nest Books in Calgary and everywhere online that fine fantasy novels are sold.

Find out more about the book at this link

Find us on Facebook at The Maddie Hatter Adventures 
Tweet me @JayneBarnard1

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Maddie's Third Adventure Already!

It seems like barely yesterday I was dressing up in my black-and-purple Steampunk outfit for the launch of  MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND, and wondering privately whether anyone besides family and Tyche Books staffers would show up to find out about this debut novel from a relative unknown.
Yet it was two years ago last week. 
How time... or in this case, taffeta... flies!

It hasn't happened in isolation. Although I write the stories, their production is truly a team effort. My heartfelt thanks go out to the following stalwart supporters of Maddie's adventures:  Steampunks of SASS and The Airship's Mess Deck; fellow writers from Sisters In Crime and Calgary Crime Writers; the dedicated production team at Tyche Books who keep on the hop getting everything together in time for launch day; Super-Fans Lex Robertson, Cindy Bedford, and Karen M. Owen; my agent and cheerleader Olga Filina of The Rights Agency; and of course Kevin, who handles a lot of daily life for months on end while I live in Maddie's world with Tweetle-D and the other talking clockworks.

From the Book Jacket: 

Maddie Hatter’s third Adventure finds her in Venice on an all-expenses-paid assignment: report on the season’s most extravagant Carnevale costumes. Determined to land an inside scoop, she enlists the help of her half-Venetian friend, Lady Serephene, to penetrate Madame Frangetti’s Costume Atelier in disguise.

Serephene is pursuing plots of her own: training in secret for a career that’s forbidden by her family, and flirting madly with a low-born Scottish inventor in his airship laboratory.  When the inventor’s fabulous new fabric is targeted by industrial spies, Serephene risks not only her family’s displeasure but her own safety to protect him and his work.

Pursued through the floating city’s legendary canals and squares, Maddie must draw on all her hard-won survival skills to keep herself and Serephene out of the spies’ clutches. With the help of unexpected allies among Venice’s underdogs, the daring young ladies just might reach Carnevale’s grand finale alive.

If you're in the Calgary area, you're very welcome to attend our LAUNCH PARTY on October 23rd at 7 p.m. at Owls Nest Books in Britannia Plaza (149th St & Elbow Drive SW). Costumes welcome but not mandatory. There will be prizes! Check out the details on Facebook.

Pre-orders of MADDIE HATTER AND THE TIMELY TAFFETA are now available at:

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Rolling Through ThunderCon 2017

Thundercon 2017, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, was a whole lotta Star Trek fun for this speculative mystery writer. 

As a guest, I got to hang with other guests before and after: the amazing game-designer/narrator Ann Lemay, voice-of-Spock (and many other characters) Chuck Huber, Kevin Porter - YouTube's Batman and one of the kindest men alive - and more. 

I started the weekend with Robert Picardo of Star Trek Voyager (and latterly the Stargate franchise) fame and ended it watching Star Trek Discovery with a bunch of Klingons in party hats. 

Don't believe me? Check out the photos below.

 Okay, before the fandoms collide, I know this is not Star Trek right here. But R2D2 was cruising the con as much as I was. I challenged him to a drag race down the hallway, but he had already committed to break-dancing in the lobby.
 Neither are these Star Trek, but the one on the left is the ultra-competent captain of the Thundercon ship, chairwoman Heather Dickson (aka the fantasy author H. Leighton Dickson), and the other is not only Wonderwoman but Heather's daughter and right-hand woman, Brynne.

 Here we are: your first Klingon. Not the one in the party hat (yet). 

I asked for the photograph because our outfits' colour palettes matched so well. Hey - I write a fearless young fashion reporter; how could I not? 

Hi, Christina from Timmins! 

Someone out there has better photos of us but I didn't get his name and can't find his business card among the piles in my suitcase, and I wouldn't recognize him if I saw him without his Klingon face on.

Speaking of fashion, there were sufficient fabulous hats there to keep Maddie Hatter scribbling for a week!

In random order, feast your eyes....

From The Bunnydeer Hatbox 

From The Bunnydeer Hatbox


The girl with the fascinator may have been holding the book - Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme - but they were all bravely strutting their cosplay creations. 

 And one last hat: 

You can't say I didn't warn you.

Anyway, Thundercon was a blast and Maddie made some new fans. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

It's bookstores and libraries for this writer in the next couple of weeks, followed by Bouchercon 2017 - Passport to Murder (Toronto, October 12-15).

Whether you're home or away, be brave, be smart, and be responsible for your own safety. 

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Post-Festival Post

Photo credit to AJ Proc

What a wild and wonderful weekend! 

From finally shaking hands with Sam Hiyate of The Rights Factory (my agent Olga's boss) at his seminar on Thursday through to a last meal with friends from far away at Sunday suppertime, it was one ever-flowing meet-and-greet with eager readers and other writers. all  passionate about their work and their genres. 

There were many more panels and presentations than I had a hope of getting to, and many great authors I either didn't get to meet or only nodded to as we rushed past each other in the hallways. This really is an amazing festival-slash-conference-slash-freewheeling party; one person can never see, let alone participate in, everything. 

My fun with panels began with a hilarious set of mysteries plotted from audience suggestion at "Who Killed this Character" ably moderated by Mahrie G. Reid of Calgary Crime Writers. Tying together parakeets, goats, blackmail and an air traffic controller with a victim and a murderer in under 15 minutes was no easy feat!
Photo credit to AJ Proc

Presenting this season's books with other Tyche Books authors was a blast. Time travel and kidnapping, ghosts and baseball, deep-dark Noir to light-bright Steampunk, Tyche has reading for every taste and age. Check out Axel Howerton's FURR, EC Bell's DYING ON SECOND, Simon Rose's TWISTED FATEPat Flewwelling's upcoming HELIX: SCOURGE OF BONES   and of course MADDIE HATTER AND THE GILDED GAUGE.
Pat Flewwelling setting up her reading from her second HELIX book.
Later Saturday afternoon I had a howling good time debating all aspects of writing paranormal mystery with fellow panelists EC Bell, Erin Lindsey, and SG Wong: Ghosts and Fae, mythical and mystical dangers, magical systems and their limitations, and how to throw a challenging obstacle in the path of a character who can throw a fireball back. The audience of mainly mystery writers asked great questions and kept us on our toes. Panelists' personal ghost stories had us on the edge of our seats and shivering with the chill of the unknown.
SG Wong's latest!

Sunday's Elements of Suspense panel - featuring members of Sisters In Crime Canada West - was a real thinker. Old WWC hands SG Wong and Eileen Bell and me, along with newcomer Merrilee Robson, wrestled with the differences between suspense and tension and how to express them through our characters, plots, and settings. 
EC Bell, hiding her wicked wit behind a pale, cool facade

We all threw out examples of writers who do it well, and how we think they manage it. And we gave a collective whoop of delight at learning that the inimitable Deanna Raybourn will be coming to When Words Collide in 2018. #fangirling 

Photo credit to Constantine K
At the end of the day, Sisters in Crime Canada West presented Women of Mystery, moderated by the sparkling SG Wong (our chapter's president). We fabulous four presented our new books, told jokes, threw candy and gave away prizes. 

Look for SG Wong's  DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST and Merrilee's MURDER IS UNCOOPERATIVE as well as my second Maddie Adventure and Eileen's Marie Jenner mystery series (4th one, DYING ON SECOND, is coming out in September). 

The Maddie Hatter Adventures and I would also like to thank all the people who threw their coins and bills into my collection box for Girls Not Brides. The weekend total came to nearly $200 over just 4 panels, adding to the money raised at my Calgary and Edmonton book launches.
 Girls Not Brides empowers young women everywhere

Since Maddie herself was a runaway to avoid being pressured into marriage, it seemed fitting to collect for this very reputable organization that helps girls all over the world stay out of early/forced marriage and in school, learning whatever skills they need to become healthy, productive, independent citizens. I am thrilled that so many wonderful attendees at When Words Collide supported the cause, and wish to shout out to fellow crime writers SG Wong, Eileen Bell, and Erin Lindsey, who amplified my meager effort in word and in deed.

All in all, it was a marvelous weekend, one I'd happily repeat a lot sooner than this time next year. For now, farewell and happy reading/writing/listening to stories of your choosing.

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