Pushy and I are excited to bring you an interview with Jane Ellsworth, the heroine from Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey. We reviewed this fantastic book earlier this week, and will be reviewing the second book, Glamour in Glass, next week. Now without further ado, here’s the interview.
Heather and Pushy: Jane, thank you so much for joining us for tea this afternoon. It’s an amazing pleasure to have such an accomplished glamourist here with us today. We hope that you’re well.
Jane -You are too kind. The tea is lovely and you have exquisite china.
We were wondering if you could tell us some of the things you’ve learned about glamour in your studies? We and our readers are not adept in the art of glamour and would love to hear your thoughts on it, both artistic or scientific.
-I should be glad to share what understanding I have. I have long felt that a familiarity with how the art of glamour is performed can lead to a deeper appreciation of the effects wrought by it. Chief among the things I wish that were more widely understood is that glamour is but an illusion. Though I can pull a fold of glamour from the ether and create the semblance of a sunbeam, that ray casts no more light than might a painting of the sun. Too often, I have seen women crowd their sewing table with glamours of candles, which serves only to make the room seem darker. The eye answers the illusion as though it were real by tightening the pupil. What this art does, for all its beauty, is lie to our senses.
How old were you when you first learned to manipulate glamour folds? When are young ladies traditionally taught the basics of the art?
-I blush to admit that I do not recall a time when I did not work glamour folds. To be certain, those first glamours were no more than balls of light such as any child might make. My nurse taught me the first rudiments of glamour, beginning with the red cone that forms the basis of so many early lessons. I received my first lessons from tutor when I was ten, the year my sister Melody was born.
As far as you know, is it possible for someone to be self-taught in the arts of glamour? Do you think such an autodidact would be able to achieve any level of sophistication in the art?
-Certainly, though it is the harder path. My husband, for instance, was largely self-taught until he came of age. He watched his sisters lessons but was forced to pursue his interest on his own. While in the United Kingdom of Netherlands recently, we met a folk glamourist who created charming tulips in a manner unfamiliar to me. Her work wanted sophistication but I believe that was due more to the fact that she did not have time to pursue more detailed work than to any innate failing. Glamour, like any of the arts, takes time and energy to master. A good tutor can guide a student down easier paths so that one does not waste so much energy to duplicate the work that has gone before.
You and your husband had a bit more than just an adventure on the continent while away on your honeymoon. Do you think you’ll want to stay at home in England for the foreseeable future or do you feel a sense of responsibility to travel where ever your combined work takes you?
-For the time being, we plan to remain in England. Indeed, we have just accepted a commission which will take us to London to create a glamural for the Earl of Stratton’s ballroom. I am certain, however, that we will revisit the continent in the future. We have discussed, after we complete this commission, a trip to Murano to study with the glassmakers there.
Have you had any time to catch up with your sister since you’ve returned home to England? Do you have a sense for what might be awaiting her in the future? Are you planning to have her come and visit you and your husband for any period of time in the near future?
-Thank you for your kind inquiry about my sister. We did have the opportunity of spending some months with my family in the neighbourhood of Dorchester. Our sincere hope is that she will be able to accompany us to London. My husband and I are, in fact, looking to let a house with that in mind.
Do you plan to continue your work as a glamourist? Or are you looking forward to being a wife and mother?
-I shall continue to work as a glamourist and consider it my great fortune that this is not a conflict with being a wife. My husband and I have a very clear understanding on that point.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! We are such avid fans of your and your husband’s work. We hope that you might honor us with a visit in the future should you have any more adventures. Have a lovely day!!
-Best wishes to you and yours as well.
Huge thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal for doing this character interview, it was a ton of fun! We hope you enjoyed it too.