Today I'm very lucky to participate in the Shadowplay blog tour, celebrating the wonderful second installment in Laura Lam's fantastic Pantomime series. Pantomime was one of my favourite books of 2012 and I loved it for its unique and magical story and Shadowplay definitely didn't disappoint. Laura Lam's guest post today focuses on the story behind the 'Shadowplay' title and the origins and history of shadow plays. Enjoy!
SHADOW PLAYS & SHADOWPLAY
Shadow plays are one of the oldest forms of entertainment. We all know rudimentary shadow plays we put on as children – folding the fingers against the light of a lamp to make a dog’s head, or a bird, or other animals and people to tell stories. However, it’s also very popular in Southeast Asian countries, with puppets made of wood or leather. I’ll go a little bit into the history, and then discuss how it ties into the themes of the sequel to my first book, Pantomime, Shadowplay.
According to good old Wikipedia, “Shadow puppetry originated during the Han Dynasty when one of the concubines of Emperor Wu of Han died from an illness. The emperor was devastated, and he summoned his court officers to bring his beloved back to life. The officers made a shape of the concubine using donkey leather. Her joints were animated using 11 separate pieces of the leather, and adorned with painted clothes. Using an oil lamp they made her shadow move, bringing her back to life.” It became extremely popular in China, and eventually spread to other countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Iran, India, and eventually France.
As with its beginning, shadow plays can still often be linked to the dead and the departed. Some of the words for the puppets or masks can also mean “phantom” or “spirit.” Many words for “mask” can carry the same connotations. Many plays were venerations to ancestors or ways to remember older spirits, tell history, and illustrating religious stories and myths.
The sequel to Pantomime underwent many potential titles (some of which were very, very bad) before my friend Shawn helped me come up with Shadowplay. But it fits on so many levels. The book now has a brief shadow play scene, where Micah & Drystan wander into a city square and see part of a performance of a political fairy tale, The Prince and the Owlish Man. Yet it works on a larger scale, too. The books at spiritualism and the ghosts that still haunt us after they’re gone. The whole book is centered around the theatre, with the main characters living in a run-down playhouse that used to have grand illusion shows every night.
Lastly, it’s a book of manipulations, where you slowly find out who’s pulling the strings. So it ended up being a perfect title.
Info for putting the post together:
Pantomime page (including ordering links): http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/pantomime/
Shadowplay page (including ordering links): http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/micah-grey-2-shadowplay/......................................................
The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.
He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus—the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he's perfecting...
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
THE AUTHOR: LAURA LAM