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 30 May 2017

Diary of an Apprentice Scent Hunter, Day 2

I’m back with more updates on my progress through the ranks of Throrian Scent Hunters. I’m still a humble Apprentice but I’ve finally progressed past the first chamber. The Scientists’ council has decided I’ve polished enough empty vials to get my hands on some fragrance-making tools!
Nothing too complicated (or delicate) yet, but I’m thrilled to be moving forward. Maybe in another hundred years or so I’ll even get to mix a couple of ingredients together.

My current task is distilling essential oils from the eggs of winged lizards.

This seemingly humble ingredient had profound symbolic value to the ancient Stratinites of planet Thror. The pure essence of the winged lizard egg was seen as a symbol of fertility and procreation and is still very popular for wedding perfumes and as a birthday gift for young Throrian ladies entering marriageable age. Understandably, there is a very high demand for this component and Throrian Scientists produce gallons of it every day.

The preferred method for obtaining essence of winged lizard egg is distillation - a process commonly used on Earth for plant-based material. The material to be distilled is placed in a massive water-filled cauldron-like contraption called a still and heated at a temperature just below boiling point. The vapors created by this process rise through cooled pipes where they condense back into liquid form. The resulting fragrant oil is collected in a flask.

The whole thing is enormously exciting in theory of course, but the process can take up to twenty-four hours depending on the substance being distilled. Hence, the unfortunate Apprentice is left alone in the dark with no companion but a steaming metal barrel while true Scientists go off to hone their exquisite senses over a nice lunch. And this goes on for days. Behold the grisly images that now haunt my nightmares:

The instant I close my eyes, I am violently jolted awake by the blood-curdling thought that my burbling still has overheated by fraction of a degree or that an errant tongue of flame has licked the bottom of the tank tainting the entire batch with with a burnt odor.

Turns out scent making is about more than delicate rose petals and provocatively-shaped bottles. It’s about blood, sweat and tears (just don’t get any of that into your freshly-distilled essential oils!)

Thursday 11 May 2017

Diary of an Apprentice Scent Hunter, Day 1

As a writer I have always had my own take on the infamous piece advice given to many aspiring writers - “write what you know.” Personally, I believe in knowing what I write instead. I may not know what it’s like to be an ancient Throrian Scientist, but I can sure find out.

This is why, as part of my work on the sequel to Digging in the Stars, I have decided to come back to Thror and become an Apprentice Scent-Maker in one of the most legendary scent laboratories in the Known Galaxies. I’m studying hard, hoping to make it all the way to Journeyman level. Unfortunately, I have yet to make it past the first chamber, where I am kept busy washing and polishing scent vials. I haven’t seen so much as a sliver of tree bark. Not worthy yet. This may not sound like the most exciting job in the universe, but it has its benefits.

The vials are magnificent, each more precious and elegant than the one before. Like Throrian scents, vials have their own meanings and symbolism and pairing a newly brewed scent with the right vial is a large part of the Scientist’s skill. Each vial is unique. The key moment  of the ceremony of ushering a young Throrian into adulthood (at the tender age of seventy-five) is the unveiling of his or her own signature essence, as unique as a fingerprint. The scent is presented in a custom-designed vial carved of rock crystal or semi-precious stone, cast in shimmering metal, or whittled out of polished sea-wood taken deep from the watery mantle of Thror’s frozen core. This scent will define the young Throrian for the rest of his or her life, announcing their presence, serving as an introduction and mixing with scents of conversation, command, entreaty, celebration or love.

These are some of the vials whose company I have been enjoying, all glowing from inside and shimmering with brilliant colors. I can’t wait until the day I’m deemed ready to know their meanings and feel the fragrances locked in their hearts. I hope my mentor will be that charming young scientist with the fuzzy rose-colored head tentacles and the timid smile. Everyone calls him Rosebud.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Digging in the Stars Releases Today!!!

Digging in the Stars arrives in the Milky Way galaxy today! Follow the Facebook party at and chack out my brand-new author website at for exclusive content on the book, details of upcoming events and signings or if you'd like to contact me. I'm always happy to hear from readers!

You can buy a paperback or Kindle copy at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and other online retailers. I will also be selling and signing copies in person at my upcoming events.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Stratum 1 - The King

The first and highest Stratum had only one member - the king. These images show King Loreval the Magnificent, the uniter of the Nine Strata and the most legendary ruler of Thror. He was responsible for Thror’s Golden Age, but his glorious facade hid dark and terrible secrets. His multi-layered robes and ornate golden mask combined materials imported from different galaxies. His tomb was known as the most glamorous and exquisitely designed in all the known galaxies. This is the tomb that Carter and her friends will risk everything to uncover. Read Digging in the Stars to find out if they do!

Saturday 11 February 2017

Stratum 2 - The Nobility

Members of the Second Stratum, the Nobility, held most of the wealth and power of Thror in their webbed hands. The Vizier was always chosen from among the Second Stratum. Their impracticably long, ornate beaks, flowing robes, and floor-length, iridescent cerata were a mark of their privileged position and life of luxury and leisure. They were all ambitious, competitive, and dreamed of occupying the throne.

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Stratum 3 - The Military

The third Stratum was occupied by the Military - the army of planet Thror. Their armor was designed to maintain the necessary level of moisture for long journeys on dry land, and was light and flexible enough for both running and swimming. Each of their sensitive cerata was enclosed in an individual sheath of pure Bjornium plates. Their scaly masks had short, sturdy, practical beaks. Their main weapons were poison darts and collapsible nets on long poles.

Saturday 4 February 2017

Stratum 4 - The Treasurers

The Treasurers were responsible for maintaining, calculating and increasing the wealth of the Nine Strata. They established trade relations with many other galaxies and were valued for their intellect, quick-wittedness and diplomatic abilities. One of the most famous Treasurers of ancient Thror, Vanadival, left behind extensive chronicles that are among our main sources of information about the Throrian Golden Age.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Stratum 5 - The Scientists

The Scientists created all the scents of Thror. That included personal scents, mood scents, formal scents for public speeches, and dark scents such as poisons and nose-clouders. Although they were among the Middle Strata their secret power was immense and they bore no fragrance of their own. As the Throrians say, “Silent of step and silent of scent, such is the way of the Scientists.” Always engaged in the process of creating and blending new scents, Scientists never traveled far from their lab without garlands of vials, sachets and portable burners. The nose plugs built into their work masks protected them from some of the more dangerous products of their trade.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Stratum 6 - The Artists

The Artists worked both the metals and minerals of Thror to create sculpture, relief carving, mosaics, architecture and textile designs. They were responsible for the sophisticated beauty of the Nine Strata. They designed the masks for all Nine Strata and used their own masks to show off their skills.