Where to buy Traci Robison's books

Buy The Taking at:

Buy Tangled at:

Buy Gates the Hours Keep at:

November 21, 2014

SPARK inspires

dulce et decorum est
from SPARK collaboration with Caroline Davies

What is SPARK?
A participatory, inclusive creativity event….
that’s SPARK, and we want you to join us!

Open to writers, musicians, and visual artists of all kinds, SPARK takes place four times each year.

During each 10-day project round, participants create a new piece of work using someone else’s art, writing, or music as inspiration. All resulting work is then displayed online, alongside the piece that inspired it.
I've joined two rounds of SPARK--once, as a writer and the second time, as an artist. Next week I'm jumping in for a third round (again as an artist). Each time I've taken part, I experience the same excitement--hoping I can rise to the inspiration piece's challenge and knowing I have no other choice.

The day-to-day work of writing is, more often than not, a solitary act. Collaborating in SPARK, I become part of a creative conversation, inspired by another's ideas.

The effect of inspiration lasts long after the project is complete. And, each time I have come away with new knowledge. Last November's pairing with poet Caroline Davies introduced me to the poetry of Wilfred Owen and to Caroline's own vivid poems. I'm forever chipping away at my irrational fear of poetry (let's call it poemaphobia). Finding poets whose work I connect with helps me grow as a reader and a writer. I have SPARK to thank for that.

If you're a writer or artist, come join me in the next round. Registration is open until November 22. There's still time!

And, whether you choose to participate or not, pop on over and take a look at the creative collaborations from previous SPARK rounds.


November 15, 2014

Into the fray

It's snowing in Nebraska, but I'm off visiting Etruscan places--in my imagination, anyway. A perk of fiction writing: daydreaming is part of the job.

Right now I'm writing Tales of Malstria, Book 4. It's set in tumultuous 3rd and 4th century BCE, when many Etruscan cities were facing off against Rome's expanding power. Here's a sneak peak excerpt from the work in progress:

My troops followed the river south and east along the base of the hills. Bog reeds, willows, and birch clogged the marshland on the riverbank, but farther out the valley opened in broken oak groves and pastureland. An hour's march in bough-strained moonlight brought us within sight of our enemy's camp. 
We formed up. The light infantry--men with swords and throwing spears--took the far right flank near the river and amongst the dense-growing trees. My own guard, Aplu's chosen, lined up four rows deep, and on our left the remaining hoplites filled the valley to the hill's base, forming a wall of spear-wielding men. Silent, we waited only moments before our archers rained fire on their tents. 
The enemy scrambled, men half-dressed grabbing swords and shields; trumpets blaring and signaling formations. A ragged band, they might have been twice our number but had less than half our skill. Men charged uphill in imperfect lines as their cavalry mounted.
"Forward!" I shouted, and our trumpeter blew the call.
We ran into Vetluna's half-formed lines, and as my spear hit the shield opposite me, I lost sight of the larger battle. Tents burned, making one dark silhouette of the phalanx facing us. Somewhere beyond them, horses screamed and men bellowed like beasts.

I'm using NaNoWriMo as encouragement to keep the rough draft rolling. So excited to see this story unfolding. (I always encounter surprises as I write. Comes from using a broad outline, I suppose.) Now back to work for me!

November 5, 2014

Tapestry tales

The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle (from the Unicorn Tapestries, Met Museum)

Tapestries tell stories. Beyond the primary image, small details add layers of meaning. Violets might symbolize saints. Wild strawberries indicate desire. A rabbit, fertility.

While writing The Taking, I was studying medieval iconography. I became so caught up in the symbols I was learning about that I created an entire series of tapestries for Amarys' walls--each one filled with plants, animals, and figures that revealed hidden aspects of the novel. In the course of edits, most of the tapestries were cut out, but symbols inspired by medieval art appear throughout the text.

To explore these inspiring images, take a look at The Lady and the Unicorn and The Unicorn Tapestries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met's site is one of my favorites. It includes clickable detail views, providing information on the symbolic meaning and practical function of each item.