I’m tomorrow night’s guest on the Modern Romantic podcast – their goal is to inspire others to follow their dreams and stay strong while pursuing them! The live stream, which begins at 7:00 p.m. Central Time, can be heard at www.twitch.tv/themodernromantic. You can ask questions or make comments during that time. Afterward, it will be available on most podcast outlets, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. I hope you’ll give the interview a listen. I plan to be encouraging and entertaining!

Serendipity or Destiny? Here’s how I met Mary Philpott.

This will be the image on the cover of "As the Deer Yearns" Queen Margaret of Scotland. It is a tile created by the magical artist, Mary Philpott.
Courtesy of verdanttileco.com

This image, “Medieval Bestiary Deer: Deer in a Rowan Bower,” is a tile created by artist Mary Philpott. It will grace the cover of the first book in my trilogy about Queen Margaret of Scotland. I couldn’t be happier with this magical deer, or more amazed that I found it. Generally, the internet seems as destructive as it is interesting, but occasionally it connects people who would never meet but for electronic surfing. That’s how I found Mary. I don’t remember exactly what I clicked on that brought up her work, but what I saw made me stare at the screen in joy. It felt like destiny.

Garden of Poppies by Mary Philpott.

I clicked my way to Verdant Tile Co. (verdanttileco.com), Mary’s company, and discovered the extent of her talent. These hand pressed porcelain tiles are contemporary, yet feel historical. She’s got a Medieval soul, for sure. I’ve already chosen two other tiles for the 2nd and 3rd books in the trilogy, but you’ll have to wait a while to see them, (just for the suspense). Mary’s been most gracious and generous, and as it turns out, she has numerous facets to her art, personality and lifestyle. I had to share her with you, so here goes:

Mary Philpott lives out in the countryside in Uxbridge, Ontario, surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest, “part of which we are stewards of and maintain paths, keep bees and report to the government on wildlife.”

Mary attended the University of Guelph to study Art History and Archeology. Her goal was studio art, but she fell in love with history, especially the Medieval era. After studying Anthropological Archeology, she enrolled in Sheridan College School of Craft and Design for textile design. Once she discovered clay, she’d found her calling.

Mary Philpott is an internationally exhibited artist.
She is a Master member of the Roycraft Renaissance Artisans.

I asked her some questions about her work. Her palette is unabashedly rich, and she described much of her inspiration as from Provence, France.

Mary: “I think the clouds of Provence are found in the textiles of the region. They are that sunny, deep ochre type yellow that the sun shines through. My yellow is like that and (also) like the honey I find, and the green is that deep, rich emerald type green. The blue is also found in (Provence) textiles. The colours are also similar to the early 1900s Majolica ware found in France, Italy and Portugal.”

Fox and Hare, by Mary Philpott.
Courtesy of verdanttileco.com

More recently, Mary has discovered a love of sculptural ceramics, and I think her delightful forest animals vibrate with character! She says she’s always loved animals. I think she sees them in a unique way.

Says Mary, “Although I am Agnostic, I feel like there is an Earth Spirit who inhabits the trees and the animals that is very special, and holds so much meaning for me and for the world. In this way I find myself drawn to Celtic Mythology and the earth spirits like Cernunnos.”
(Cernunnos is a Celtic god associated with animals – Lisa)
Image courtesy of withinabrightwood.com.

Thank you, Mary, for letting me share the wonderfulness that is you!

Lisa Di Vita: Historical Fiction

"Shattered Peacock" follows the story of Iran's Persian citizens
after Shah Pahlavi's downfall and the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini's
theocratic government. Remnants of 1979's cataclysmic event 
continue to make Iran dangerous even today.

Writing "Peacock" was an opportunity to step into a foreign culture,
an ancient culture in a dire crisis. Consider that true Persian dynastic
rule began with King Cyrus, known as Cyrus the Great, who was born between
590-580 BC. This wise man can be found in the book of Ezra in the Hebrew
Bible (or Old Testament), where he is lauded as a just ruler.
It wasn't that Cyrus didn't conquer cultures and peoples, but that he did
allow them to keep their land, their customs and religions, which restored
hope to the Jews who were living under oppression.Image result for king cyrus of persia
Many rulers came and went for more than 2000
years. Persia's fortunes waxed and waned. Then
in 1979, a great upheaval swept Mohammad
Reza Shah Pahlavi from the Peacock throne.
The Islamic Republic was born beneath
the thumb of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini,
and the world was unalterably changed.

Throughout history, it's usually the poorest 
citizens or specific ethnic groups who are
forced to flee the persecution they face in
their countries. However, in 1979, it was
the educated, the pro-Western and the wealthy
people who had to run for their lives. The greatest minds of Iran
emigrated to the United States and Europe, leaving behind a vacuum in what
was a storied civilization. "Shattered Peacock" explores this phenomenon.
If you enjoy history, you'll savor the accuracy of "Shattered Peacock."
If you enjoy a personal, exciting and thought-provoking book, you'll 
discover one that's ripe for discussion in a book club.