If you haven't already heard, Cindy Pon is having a contest for an ARC of FURY OF THE PHOENIX, the sequel to SILVER PHOENIX. I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy at one of Kiersten White's signings, and also managed to finally track down (and buy) a copy of SILVER PHOENIX for my very own that night, which Cindy was awesome enough to sign for me as well.
Cindy asked her followers to enter the contest by telling her what they loved about SILVER PHOENIX in a creative way. I've been thinking about the contest and how I could be creative about this pretty much since she announced it on her blog, and only came up empty. I knew what I loved about SILVER PHOENIX, but I'm not an artistic person, so drawing, etc., was out. But just writing about it didn't seem like enough.
And then I got my brilliant (read: crazy) idea. I just spent the last nine months handcrafting everything imaginable for our wedding-- why not show Cindy what I loved about her book the same way?
Yeah, I made something to show what I loved about SILVER PHOENIX. But it's probably not what you'd expect.
What I loved about SILVER PHOENIX was, at the most basic level, the introduction (for me) to Asian mythology. This is an area that I feel is under-explored in Western culture. Sure, most of us are familiar with-- and fond of-- the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, but I will be the first to admit that there is a gaping hole in my knowledge of the East-- one that I would love to fill. Cindy does a marvelous job not only bringing this mythology to a place where it's accessible, but making it come to life with vivid imagery and a beautiful story.
When I was thinking of what to make, I tried to think of the place in the book that most summed this up for me My immediate answer also happened to be one of my favorite parts. Ai Ling (the main character), Chen Yong (her romantic foil), and Li Rong (Chen Yong's brother) climb on the back of a dragon and fly up to a mysterious mountain top where the gods await them. This was what I decided to portray.
Ladies and gentlemen, and Cindy! I give you--
The Gardens of the Golden Palace
I decided to represent the early part of the garden, including the five trees mentioned, because I loved them, and the detail that went into describing them. Here are my versions.
The Love Lost Tree (those red things are supposed to be human hearts):
The Eternal Berry Tree:
The Tree of Immortality:
A (horrible) close up of the panther. I unfortunately do not have the sculpting skills to have included all nine heads.
The Observant Tree:
And last but not least, the Tree of Life:
And here's some more views of the garden as a whole:
The murky mess in the back of the pagoda is supposed to be the scarlet river but it came out decidedly less scarlet than I'd hoped. I also didn't have time to build the rosewood table that's supposed to go inside. And I've just realized after a fiftieth re-read that the gates are supposed to be cinnabar, not gold. Ah well.
You can read about the gardens of the Golden Palace and the context behind my little diorama starting on page 155 of SILVER PHOENIX!