Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Not Your Sister's Unicorn

When I first started writing Screwing Up Time, I spend a lot of time planning and thinking about the time travel elixir. I wanted it to be a very natural, plausible, even scientific recipe. But, it needed a special ingredient. Something rare, something that bordered on fantastic, but not quite impossible.

Unicorn horn seemed like the perfect ingredient. Except, at the back of my mind, I saw all the silly unicorns—the stuffed animals with rainbow hued spirals, a kind of My Little Pony of the mythic world. And that gave me pause.

Historically, unicorns were powerful wild animals. Everyone from the ancients Greeks to Marco Polo spoke about them with respect. And ancient alchemists believed their horns (made up of alicorn) could be used to cure poisoned water and heal the sick.

Since Screwing Up Time was set in the Middle Ages, it only made sense that alchemists (and other ancient peoples) would use unicorn horn as an ingredient in a time travel elixir. And so, I decided to ignore the rainbow stuffed animals, trusting that my readers knew that unicorns were dangerous, unpredictable animals. Just check out the image below—it’s picture of a tapestry from the Cloisters museum in NYC. (I actually got to see the unicorn tapestries up close during a visit to the museum.) This ferocious beast is not your sister’s unicorn.

File:The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestry 5.jpg

When I visit Paris later this spring, I plan to visit the Musee de Cluny where they have more unicorn tapestries. If they let me take photos, I'll be sure to post them here.

One more bit of excitement. This week, Smashwords is celebrating "Read An E-book Week," and Screwing Up Time is FREE when you use the coupon code, RW100, at the checkout. Enjoy!


  1. Kinda makes the whole "only can be tamed by an innocent" thing a little more understandable. Why would you need to tame a creature that's already cute and cuddly?

  2. Unicorns are such potent, magical creatures in mythology, it makes perfect sense that they would be sought after for all kinds of things. Good choice for your time travel elixir :)

  3. I like the choice. Have fun in Paris, it's so awesome there.