Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Fiction Fridays: Imagining Path to the Peacock Throne

For this week’s Friday Inspirations, I’m reposting a piece from July 2011, where I first introduced some of the ideas and images that serve as inspiration for my NaNoWriMo novel, PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE. Enjoy!


Art by Susan Seddon Boulet

I’ve been nursing the idea about country founded and governed by women for some time now, and it was in April that I started to build the basic structure of the land I have since named “Vao Artan.”  The central organizing myth is that the realm was settled by seven sisters, siblings who were in the goddess’s favor and blessed with dominion over the land.  Each sister had a specific talent — the cultivation of land and livestock; hunting and martial prowess; music, painting, and the arts; scholarly research; mathematics and science; magic; and diplomacy and rule.  The descendants of each sister correspond to a specific strata or occupation within the society.

This is where things get interesting.  Each of the seven sisters is associated with a type of bird — swans and magic, owls and scholarly research, nightingales and the arts, etc.  The bird imagery continues throughout the duration of the society, to the point where the military’s headquarters is known as “The Falconry,” and the royal mage is known as “The Cygne” (cygne being French for “swan”).  Each queen takes the name of a bird to represent her personality/rule.  The current queen, Vaedyn, is known as the “Eagle’s Claw,” which symbolizes her status as a warrior.  My main character, Liandre, will take the peacock for her standard.

So with that in mind, I’ve been collecting all sorts of bird-related things to help me out with world-building.  I’ve been thinking about fashion, architecture, and decor, among other odds and ends. Today, though, I’m going to look at fashion. Luckily, the fashion world has been drawing on avian inspirations for ages now, so there’s a wide range of ideas from which I can draw.

Feathers will be integrated into this tale, from the crests that adorn the helmets of the nation’s soldiers and warriors and other accessories, like jewelry and belts, to elaborate gowns, cloaks, and other items of clothing.

Take, for example, this headpiece by Arturo Rios, which is elegant and dramatic, as well as a bit gothic.  It’s just the sort of thing the aristocrats of Vao Artan might wear.

Makeup by Mark Lim

I also love the idea of drawing inspiration for makeup and cosmetics from birds, like makeup artist Mark Lim did here, using this absolutely gorgeous peacock headpiece and choker.  (This is actually a look I’ve attempted with the bright blue and green eyeshadow, but I’m not nearly this talented!)

Necklace by Lucy Hutchings


Other pretties include these phenomenal necklaces designed by Lucy Hutchings.  They are apparently inspired by the Bowerbird, “who loves to feather his nest with lots of blue to attract an egglayer,” according to Trendhunter.  I’ve introduced a similar sort of necklace into the third chapter of PPT, which is worn by the witch (or “Mother Cygne”) Simone.  Instead of being made from stones of blue-green, it is a rope of egg-sized, rough-hewn amethysts.

The women of Vao Artan, I think, like their jewelry big and bold, their clothing bright and colorful, and their accessories noticeable.  They are women after my own heart. 😉

Finally, here’s one last gown, created by Indonesian designer Anne Avantie.  It doesn’t have any explicitly avian details, but the color scheme is absolutely perfect for a young woman about to assume the “peacock throne.”  The model also reminds me of the way that Liandre appears in my mind, which is an extra bonus:

Kebaya by Anne Avantie

And there we have it!  A wee peek into the world that I am attempting to craft for PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE.  For more pictures and ideas, you can visit my tumblr, where I organize my world-building ideas.

Where do you turn for inspiration when you’re crafting a new tale?  How do you organize your ideas — scrapbooking, collages, digital photo galleries?


  1. Wow, Lena, your world building is awesome, as are the pictures you’ve found to inspire you. This sounds like it’s going to be a great story!
    Sheila Seabrook recently posted..Location Location Location …My Profile

    • Thanks so much, Sheila! There’s so much I want to do with this tale in terms of world-building, and I’m just hoping I can pull it off. The WIP is going to require a lot of editing to translate my grand visions onto the page. 😀

  2. I’m guessing you’re a visual learner, Lena, and, as such, you earn an A+. The images you’ve selected are striking and lend themselves to a world that’s fresh and compelling.

  3. Lena … I LOVE IT! Fantastic world building and the images are so inspiring. I want to read NOW! What’s funny is that ‘in person’ I’m not really a bird person. I’m afraid they’ll flutter about me and poop on my head. But, that said, from afar, watching them fly and soar, I love them! So graceful and out of reach, (which is how I like to view them) which makes them mysterious.

    LOVE it!

    Ginger Calem recently posted..Thanksgiving or Grocery Derby??My Profile

    • I totally know the feeling! I’ve had a few close encounters with creepy/pooping birds (watching Hitchcock’s The Birds all the time as a kid didn’t help), but ever since I started this tale, I’ve become attuned to all the birdlife in my neighborhood. My desk sits under the window that faces the street, so I get a great view of the ravens, hawks, and other birds that soar past — definitely great in terms of inspiration.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. Lena,

    You are so talented! I love birds but I like Ginger flinch when they flutter nearby.

    Love the fashions! What an inspiration they are. With all you’ve had going on, you must be anxious to write this story.

    Hurry up! LOL
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Trains, Rails and Puppy Dog TalesMy Profile

    • Oh gosh, Karen, you have no idea how anxious I am to get this tale finished. I keep telling myself that it’s a process and that it’s going to take time to build, but…. I want it now, lol.

      Thank you for swinging by and commenting!

  5. Now I finally understand the story behind that gorgeous peacock image on your blog! I’ve always liked it and now it appeals to me even more when I’m learning about your novel.

    The world of Val Artan sound so sophisticated and rich in details – like a beautiful fantasy movie. I love the images you selected as your inspiration – very creative. Now I want to read this book!

    • Yes, that’s right! I chose the peacock header when I thought that I would be writing about was this novel, but even though I’ve branched out, I love it too much to get rid of it. Peacocks mean a lot to me, on many different levels, and so I keep the picture around. 😀

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. What a creative idea for building a new world! Birds are so cool (except for the mourning dove that took up residence outside my bedroom window for a summer…I hated THAT bird!). I love the peacock imagery, and the fact that women are intelligent enough in your world to found-and run-a world. 🙂
    Kristy K. James recently posted..To Brave the Black Friday Crowds…or HideMy Profile

    • Ack, what is it about mourning doves? There was one in my neighborhood a few months back, and the noise… ugh.

      Oh gosh, the women of this world are something else to contend with. They are fierce, strong, and some of them are incredibly bloodthirsty and aggressive. Whenever I start brainstorming a novel, I always know who the male love interest is going to be… but not here. Honestly, I haven’t even quite known where the men were, period, which is incredibly unusual for me. So yes, I think Beyonce’s “Run the World Girls” song would be the perfect theme for this tale. 😛

  7. So cool! Those images are stunning and your research is amazing. The book sounds very intriguing. I totally want to know more now!
    Tameri Etherton recently posted..A little time for family…My Profile

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