Intro Text

"Camilla: Indeed it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
Stranger: I wear no mask."
- Robert W. Chambers, The King in Yellow

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Language of Scents

Blaze Publishing, Jennifer Malone Wright and I are throwing a party for the official Digging in the Stars Cover Reveal January 11 and 12, 2017! It will take place on Facebook so you can join in the celebration from anywhere on Earth (or anywhere in the Milky Way, or any other galaxy with an internet connection): 

There will be all kinds of entertaining games, quizzes, giveaways and guest hosts, as well as some exclusive details about the characters and world of Digging in the Stars. It’s going to be almost as enlightening as a trip to planet Thror, only without the mind-numbing spaceship journey and occasional asteroid collisions.

Prizes will be involved and I want all of my guests and fellow Stardiggers to have a chance at winning. I’ll be sharing some hints, tips and resources on this blog to help you on this journey. Do your homework and you won’t leave the party empty-handed!

Clue #1: The culture of ancient Thror was profoundly “scentient” - that means scents, smells, fragrances, perfumes, essences, odors, aromas, and miscellaneous redolences played an immense role in the way Throrians viewed their world and expressed themselves. Scents were the main method for constructing one’s identity; they could be used to convey moods, show feelings, make specific statements, seal agreements, issue commands, connect with one another, celebrate special occasions and create atmosphere. The following diagram represents only a small fraction of the vast range of ingredients used by the Throrians to brew their scents, along with some examples of scent burners, vials, scent-bearing jewelry, and other important scent-related equipment. The shapes, colors and textures of scent vials always corresponded with the purpose and meaning of the substance contained within.
In preparation for the party, think about some of your favorite scents. What are they made of? What do you think they say about you? What do they mean to you? What do you keep them in and/or how do you disburse them? Join the party to find out what your personal scent signature would be on Thror!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Sea Slugs and Hairstyles

Now that I’ve shared some of the preparations for my journey, I believe it is time to reveal more about the civilization that I am actually exploring. I am planning a series of in-depth posts about the species that inhabit Planet Thror, their appearance, their cultures, food preferences, traditional costumes, art and languages.

Today’s transmission is all about the Stratinites, an ancient culture that inhabited Thror for centuries and left behind a wealth of mysterious subterranean chambers, beautiful art and some very dramatic historical records. But today we will not be talking about revolutions, brutal assassinations, and horribly disfigured corpses.

This post is about hair, or lack thereof. Instead of hair, the Stratinites had something similar to the cerata of Earthian sea slugs or the external gill rami and filaments of axolotls. The cerata of the Stratinites were just as vibrantly colored and sometimes phosphorescent and they could also absorb oxygen and nutrients from air and water.

As the Stratinites were much larger than our sea slugs (just taller than the average modern human), their cerata were far longer and more powerful and could operate on land as well as underwater.


Fragile and vulnerable, but also beautiful and surprisingly agile, Stratinite cerata were equally a source of vanity and anxiety. They could change color in moments of danger or strong emotion, much as a human face can grow pale or blush. As cerata are much thicker and more sensitive than human hair, Stratinites avoided sharp or constricting ornaments, preferring loose styles and light but bold details.
  

Much thought and effort was lavished on protecting one’s cerata. The Military (left) even wore specially designed armor - each ceras was individually plated with flexible tubes of impenetrable Bjornium metal. The Tunnellers (right) who worked in harsh conditions, digging tunnels and passageways in the planet’s frozen core protected their cerata from flying shards of rock and sub-zero temperatures with thick leather “head aprons.”

           

Some of the busier Stratinites, like Treasurers and Scientists, found innovative and practical uses for their muscular cerata. The cerata of the Treasurer below seem as delicate as those of the sea slug beside him, but they are dexterous enough to hold on to his most precious and secret keys at all times. He never has to let them out of his sight (or head).

 This Scientist has cleverly woven nose plugs into his front cerata, always ready to block out a poisonous or foul-smelling chemical. On Thror, it’s always best to prepared for a poisonous gas attack.


The length, color and condition of one’s cerata are also a mark of status. The higher up a Stratinite is and the less he is exposed to danger and hard manual labor, the more he can allow his cerata to grow long and flow freely. The Grand Vizier (below) takes great pride in the sophisticated blue-rose hue of his fine, floor-length cerata. They are almost translucent like those of this gorgeous sea slug beside him and every bit as decorative. Of course he can’t get far trailing those around after him.
          

Come back next week to find out more about Throrian fashions and the unconventional native materials they use. You never know when you may be summoned to a Grand Council meeting only to find that your ceremonial robes are all out of fashion.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

How to Be a Stardigger Part 2

I am very pleased to announce that  the flying lizard colony clogging up my satellite dish has been safely and successfully relocated. The eggs are just beginning to hatch and watching newborn Throrian lizards learning to fly is a nerve-wracking and heart-warming experience at the same time. We are all confident they will acquire the necessary skills in the end and will shorty be attacking our field lunches with great acrobatic vigor.

This development also means that I can now bring you Part 2 of my transmission on stardigging tools! If you missed Part 1, you can catch up right here: PART 1

I hope you have enjoyed this two-part presentation on my essential stardigging tools. What tools, equipment, or important personal possessions would you bring with you if you were preparing for a dig in outer space? Let me know in the comments below! 



Monday, 22 August 2016

How to Be a Stardigger, Part 1

Firstly, I must draw your attention to the successful creation of my “About Me” page. After a few hours milling about the spaceport and volumes of advice from the locals (Throrians have an unerring and unfortunately misguided belief in their brilliance with computers) have finally led me to victory. Now you can peruse my brief but thrilling biography at your leisure!

As you can see in this picture, I am toiling away in the corner of an ancient structure we have just uncovered, applying my prodigious archaeological skills to reconstructing a carved seated figure from many small fragments. My new Throrian friend Tumac, has observed that my artistic abilities would be more fruitfully employed in carving “saffonir stuff” (souvenirs) to sell to tourists. This proposal is most tempting, but I fear I must decline. My stardigging duties are far too demanding at present.

Are you curious about what it takes to be a Stardigger? You’re in luck. Today’s transmission is all about the tools you will need to follow me on one of my intergalactic archaeological expeditions.. With the help of some truly arcane cinematic equipment (Thror’s atmosphere is hostile to modern technology) and some steady-handed (and very friendly) Throrian tribesmen, I have even managed to bring you a video all the way from outer space. Please pardon the uneven sound quality, the sound waves may get garbled slightly as they pass Earth’s atmosphere. All I had to do in return for the favor was buy a few handmade mugs to give out to my “spicy friends” and “future Throrian husband.” I would post some pictures, but I’m afraid the mugs are a little too “spicy” for general consumption. I like to keep my blog PG13.

This is Part 1 (Part 2 will become available as soon as I manage to chase a colony of flying lizards out of my satellite dish and establish them in new nesting grounds). Watch and listen closely before eagerly sending in your application. Only the best and brightest will be selected to join our team at Planet Thror’s very first Intergalactic Archaeological Institute.

*Quick note: It is taking more time than I had anticipated to transmit this video and I really can't spend any more time at the spaceport. I must get back to the site, and if I have to watch one more tourist posing as a seductive ash mummy in the photo booth I will be sick. Keep watching this page. If the Essences of the Nine Strata will it, the video should eventually materialise beneath this message.


                        

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Messages From Outer Space



Staring thoughtfully at the title of this blog, you may want to ask: “What on Earth is a Stardigger?” Good question. To begin with, I am not on Earth at all. I am currently on an expedition to the distant Planet Thror, countless light-years away from our small green planet, traversing the desert wastes on my trusty quadspacerover in search of lost ancient tombs. I am an Outer Space Archaeologist. Romantically put, that means I “dig in the stars”. You can read all about it in my Young Adult Science Fiction novel, Digging in the Stars, upcoming from Blaze Publishing in the Spring of 2017. (The cover has not been unveiled yet, but you can check out the Goodreads page here or the official Blaze page here for a full synopsis and other details.)

I have vainly attempted to add an “About Me” page, but have so far been unsuccessful. The internet here on Planet Thror is almost nonexistent. The strongest signal is available at the spaceport but I can’t hang around there all day. Too many unsavory types. In the meantime, I have added an outrageously clunky sidebar to the left so that you can get some idea of the person behind the protective space helmet. I promise to remedy this as soon as I return to my Earth-based office in the Archeology of Outer Space Department. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

I am making many exciting discoveries on this little-known volcanic planet, getting to know the locals, and learning a great deal about ancient Throrian art and history. I will be continuing my transmissions from Thror on a regular basis, sharing tales of my thrilling and perilous adventures and posting images of the inspiring, mysterious and sometimes downright terrifying things that I encounter. If I manage to return to Earth in one piece (which is not entirely guaranteed) I will also be posting information on online and in-person events as the book launch for Digging in the Stars approaches.

I hope you will join me on this journey!
Katherine Blakeney, Stardigger