The Key, the Glove and the Stars.
I like symbols. Metaphors are the heart of poetry, and of stories too. Often when I write a book I have a magic object at its centre, an object that can not only do amazing things, but which holds a secret symbolism just because of what it is. The major symbol in my novel INCARCERON was pretty clear to me from the start. The one object you would never find in a prison is a key. So when Finn comes across the crystal ‘artifact’ he is the only one who knows what it is. A key is the ultimate symbol of escape. Of unlocking, opening up. Getting out.
In the sequel, SAPPHIQUE, I needed a new object, something that could be worn. I settled on a glove, because I’ve always found gloves rather sinister. Collapsible hands that you put your own hand into. I once wrote a short story about a pair of red opera gloves with a murderous mind of their own.So the Glove that was once the Prison’s, and then Sapphique’s, becomes the way of joining them both again. The other image that glitters through both books is that of the stars. For the inmates of the prison, the stars mean everything good, remote, unreachable. They’ve forgotten what the stars look like, only knowing they are Outside, and they shine. When Finn sees them he is overwhelmed with joy.
I borrowed this symbol from Dante’s stunning poem The Divine Comedy. For him the stars are the ultimate symbol of love and good. He ends each of his three parts – Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso with the word ‘stellae’- stars. Which is why I ended Sapphique (almost!) with that word. And why I quote Dante’s final line at the front of SAPPHIQUE.
After all, even writers should pay their debts.
Thanks for the wonderful post, Catherine! To win one of two hardcover copies of SAPPHIQUE, leave a comment on this post by midnight New Year’s Eve (MST). I’ll announce the winner on Monday, January 2. Sorry, this contest is open to US only. Many thanks to Penguin for providing the books!