Tidbits of Cinders #1 – Exploring Blackbird Castle
It’s raining, I’m holed up in my lil’ brick house in the Dutch-lands, and it’s time to bloooog. Instead of Tidbits and Interestings, which is where I talk about unrelated things that delight me, I’m going to do a blog-series called Tidbits of Cinders in run-up to the release of Cinders and Sparrows in October. I’ll be sharing music, artwork, news, reviews, deleted scenes, flattery, calumny, and various other bits and bobs, including a project!
During revisions, one of my editor’s notes was that Blackbird Castle felt like ‘a moving banquet’ (which is a nice way of saying ‘it’s unclear’) and that I should make a floorplan. So I sketched out a rough one, and then said to myself, “Weeeeee, what if other people could see this floorplan and explore the castle the way Zita does, and visit the Vestibule of Blood and see where exactly the Orchid Room is in relation to the Tiny Queen’s Throne Room?” to which I answered, “Yes, what then, Stefan?” to which I also answered, “I don’t know, but I shall do it.”
And then my mom, who is excellent at these sorts of things, made it look like something one would actually want to look at. (Thanks, Mom!)
I won’t show you what it will look like when it’s up, but it will be snazzy. You’ll be able to click on rooms and view little anecdotes about various hauntings, and see spot-art of spooky phenomena, and get glimpses into Zita’s adventures.
Fun fact: I used to be obsessed with floor-plans as a kid. I wanted to be an architect, and I remember filling entire notepads with floor-plans of imaginary castles and mansions, most of them impossibly large and impractical.
2nd fun fact: When I realized being an architect hardly ever entailed designing impossibly large and impractical mansions and mostly entailed fitting boring concrete blocks into oddly shaped plots of land, I stopped wanting to be an architect.
3rd fun fact: All of my books contain at least one bizarre and labyrinthine house. In The Peculiar it was Nonsuch House, the home of Mr. Lickerish, the faery politican. In The Whatnot it was Piscaltine’s house, with its painted, ever-shifting stage walls and pulleys. In A Drop of Night it was . . . everything. The whole setting. And in Cinders and Sparrows it’s Blackbird Castle.
I blame The Secret Garden for this (When Mrs. Medlock said, ‘The house has over a hundred rooms. . .” I felt that) and maybe also Beatrix Potter’s kitten stories, where the kittens wander this enormous farmhouse full of cupboards and staircases, before one of them becomes bored, climbs a chimney, and is almost turned into a roly-poly pudding by rats. (If you haven’t read The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, you should. Read it to yourself. Read it to your kids. Read it to your cats. It will teach them never to climb chimneys, give them a healthy fear of rats, and also illuminate the very important differences between a British pudding and an American one.)
4th fun fact: though we’ve only made floorplans of the first and second floors of Blackbird Castle so far, I’m guessing the castle has about five floors and 150 actual rooms, as well as countless antechambers, vestibules, corridors, cellars, dungeons, and attics, most of which are odd or haunted in some way. The game is going to have descriptions of about twenty of those rooms. Maybe more will come later.
Anywho. Someone who is very clever with the language of code is going to make it interactive, and hopefully it’ll be up in a month or two, closer to the book’s release. Huge thanks to my mom for all the lovely artwork.