Ask any author and they’ll tell you – when you write books you will sometimes end up going to the strangest places and doing the oddest things while you write your book. For one thing, you become intrigued in the things your main character is passionate about. Why do they like doing something so much? Why does it take over their lives?
Sometimes, it’s because you, the author have the same passion – it is easy to transfer that to your main character – like Ellie Honeywell in my first book, Secrets of Eromanga. She is passionate about hunting for dinosaur fossils out in the Queensland outback, and some am I.
But in my second book, the just released, Princess Clown, Belle is crazy about clowning, coin tricks, acrobatics and juggling. Clowning is not my passion, and to tell you the truth, I find clowns a little creepy when they are costumed adults with white painted faces and wide, red lips. Possibly a hang-up from Stephen King’s scary movie, It.
I do, however, have an interest in juggling – it grew even more as I wrote Princess Clown. And as usual, I research the history of juggling pretty heavily. It is a fascinating subject.The earliest record of toss juggling comes from the Egyptians of 1781 BC. There’s an Egyptian wall painting and yes, they are definitely juggling balls and even doing tricks with them.
Even the ancient Greeks got in on the act. Between the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. juggling was considered a form of recreation in Greece and many of its practitioners were women. Jugglers were depicted in Greek art, usually as pottery decoration. Of course, what the Greeks did, the Romans had to have a go at too – they were fond of manipulations with weapons and shields. One Roman, Tagatus Ursus (53-117 A. D.), claimed on his own grave inscription to have been the first to juggle with glass balls.
Every civilisation throughout history has used juggling in some form – from religious ceremonies to entertainment, right down to modern times.
I just came across a thesis paper, Combinatorial Aspect of Juggling, written by a Victorian mathematician who linked up juggling and maths – I’m not going to make a fool of myself trying to explain it, but if you are intrigued by how vectors and juggling balls connect, check it out.
Juggling has been linked to the development of the brain – like any muscle, use it and it improves and grows. In the brain juggling requires a left/right crossover as well as processing and storing information about how we perceive and anticipate moving objects. Children learn juggling to improve their learning ability as well as to entertain. The FLIPSIDE CIRCUS in Brisbane is one example.
This brings me to my topic…. Princess Clown and juggling. I have always wanted to learn to juggle, but gave up many times. Since starting to write my story, I did something about it again. I now have my own set of three professional juggling balls – they are the correct weight and size for my small hands. Improvement has happened – to the stage of one set of THROW, THROW, THROW, but it’s that fourth throw that stuffs up everytime.
It’s like a major shift is trying to happen in my brain, but it’s ploughing through molassas. My excuse? A cross-laterality problem. Yes, the old LEFT – RIGHT business. Failure to develop this part of the brain can have a consequence for the rest of your life. I still can’t do Star-Jumps with the correct cross-leg arm pattern. Not that I have cause to do star-jumps very much. And remember when we had to march into school correctly? I was the one with the weird left-leg, left-arm, right-leg, right-arm march, and the little hippity-hop as I tried to keep in time with the other kids.
I won’t give up until I can juggle past those three throws! I would have liked to show off my fine juggling skills at Princess Clown‘s book launch in a couple of weeks, but that won’t happen. Maybe I should bribe the little kid up the road to do it instead.
Check out this video of master-juggler, Chris Bliss. Freaky! Amazing!