Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jess Faraday Guest Blog

When I was asked to write a guest post for Creatively Green, it took me a few minutes to think of a suitable topic. There are lots of blogs about books, and many that address green living. But how many of them combine the two? And yet the two ideas go together well. Readers and writers are thoughtful people--as are people interested in green living. Surely they must think about the same things sometimes.

I write historicals, which means that in addition to writing stories, I read an awful lot of history. It's amazing how the smallest cultural or technological shifts can cause huge differences in the way people live. My latest book, The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, is set in late Victorian London--an age of enlightenment, but not typically one associated with ecological awareness.

And yet, the Victorians, as it turns out, were amazing recyclers.

Take clothing. In our disposable-everything culture, if something becomes worn, gets a hole, or simply becomes boring, it often goes straight to a landfill. It may be donated or handed down, but certainly not as often as when I was a child. People rarely take the time to mend or darn. Not so for Victorian garments. In Victorian London Street Life in Photographs, Adolphe Smith describes the life cycle of clothing.

After passing through various owners and becoming well worn, a garment would go to a "clobberer," a person who would clean and mend it for resale. Clothes beyond the clobberer's help would go to a "translator," who took the garment apart and created new garments from it. When worn to rags, clothing found one of two fates: it would be reduced to "wool dust" and either mixed with new wool and transformed into new fabric, or the wool dust would be used to fertilize hops fields-- and, as Smith says, "thus are old clothes converted into foaming beer!"

The lack of indoor plumbing in Georgian and Victorian London led to some creative recycling as well. The flush toilet, though invented in the 1500s, didn't find its way into common use until the late 1880s, when indoor plumbing became more widespread. Today's society gleefully goes through not only gallons of precious drinkable water every time we flush, but also wastes (or so to speak) a valuable source of nitrates--a source that Victorian and Georgian farmers depended upon to fertilize their crops.

Until 1870 (when cheap bat guano from South America became available), human waste, or "night soil" was carefully collected from homes, transported to drying yards outside the cities, then sold as a rich fertilizer. And it was organic, too!

How many more things do we throw away that could be put to better use? Bottle and can recycling are a start, but I can't help but think of all of the things buried in the landfills of the developed world or dumped into the ocean, which a more resourceful culture than ours would find new uses for, again and again. One day, perhaps our descendants will realize the trove of treasure buried by people of an earlier, more careless age.

Which gives me an idea for a story....

The Affair of the Porcelain Dog

Author: Jess Faraday

Pages: 240
Pub Date: June 2011
ISBN 10: 1-60282-230-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-230-6


London 1889.

For Ira Adler, former rent-boy and present plaything of crime lord Cain Goddard, stealing back the statue from Goddard's blackmailer should have been a doddle. But inside the statue is evidence that could put Goddard away for a long time under the sodomy laws, and everyone's after it, including Ira's bitter ex, Dr. Timothy Lazarus. No sooner does Ira have the porcelain dog in his hot little hands, than he loses it to a nimble-fingered prostitute.

As Ira’s search for the dog drags him back to the mean East End streets where he grew up, he discovers secrets about his own past, and about Goddard's present business dealings, which make him question everything he thought he knew. An old friend turns up dead, and an old enemy proves himself a friend. Goddard is pressing Ira for a commitment, but every new discovery casts doubt on whether Ira can, in good conscience, remain with him.

In the end, Ira must choose between his hard-won life of luxury and standing against a grievous wrong.

The Affair of the Porcelain Dog has been short-listed for a Lambda Award in the category of "Gay Mystery."

Women of The Dark Streets

The Trickster Codex by Jess Faraday

Author: various authors
Edited by Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman
Pages: 336
Pub Date: March 2012
ISBN 13: 9781602826519
Genre: lesbian paranormal anthology


Enter a midnight world of the supernatural—a world of vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, and demons. A seductive world limited only by your imagination, full of dark fantasies, hidden desires, and sexy women who rule the night. Edited by award-winning editors Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman, Women of the Dark Streets presents all new tales of the paranormal from your favorite Bold Strokes authors.

About the Author:

Jess Faraday is the author of one novel, three book translations, a handful of short stories, and numerous nonfiction articles.

She is a graduate of the University of Arizona (B.A.) and UCLA (M.A.). Since then, she has earned her daily bread in a number of questionable ways, including translation, lexicography, copyediting, teaching high school Russian, and hawking shoes to the overprivileged offspring of Los Angeles-area B-listers.

She enjoys martial arts, the outdoors, strong coffee and a robust Pinot Noir.


BSB Author Page


Facebook: Jess Faraday


Roxanne Rhoads said...

I knew I loved the Victorian age for a reason other than the fancy clothes :-)

Wenona said...

Thank you for sharing all that. I knew the Victorians and most generations before us were all thrifty and full of ingenuity, it wasn't until the 20th century that everything became disposable.

Very sad to see so much go to waste.