Forging the lodestone

by M.J. Hearle

Readers of Winter’s Shadow should be familiar with the term lodestone. It’s the green crystal–thingy that Blake gives Winter in the Velasco Place. For those who haven’t read the book, imagine a mystical necklace that operates a bit like a mobile phone only with slightly better coverage and no monthly charge. I spent the past Easter weekend searching for just such a piece of jewellery.


I’ll get to that – for now all you need to know is that I spent the better part of Easter Saturday scouring my hometown Port Macquarie for an object like the one in Winter’s Shadow. I thought it would be reasonably easy to find one. In the back of my mind was a vague memory of being a teenager and buying something similar from a New Age-y place called Secrets of the Orient or Oriental Express – I can’t remember which?

(The reason behind this teenage purchase was a desire to look like Bodhi from Point Break. At the timehe seemed to be the sort of guy all the girls at my school went for – bronzed surfer type, prone to speaking in buddhist platitudes. While I remember successfully buying a crystal I have no memory of it actually benefitting my image in this way. Probably, because crystal or no crystal I’ve always been about as zen (and bronzed) as a tumble dryer.)

I moved away from Port Macquarie after I left school and now only return for family get-togethers like Easter and Christmas. I’m always surprised how much the town has changed when I return for these visits. There always seems to be new businesses starting and old businesses closing. Despite this, I was confident Secrets of the Orient / Orient Express still existed. I can’t explain this confidence. It’s not like New Age-y stores are uniquely qualified to weather the economic storms which frequently blow through developing towns like Port Macquarie. I suppose you could say I was optimistic but it would be more accurate to say I was stupid.

After searching for a couple of hours it slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for. Most likely the store hadn’t existed for a decade or so. If I wanted a lodestone, I was going to have to improvise. Luckily, there was a jewellery place in Port Macquarie that sold un-refined clear crystal shards. I bought one of those and some emerald glass paint from Spotlight and after some mucking about (not to mention the creative efforts of both my mum and dad) I had something that didn’t look too bad.

For a guy who never managed to make the macaroni stick together during arts and craft time I was pretty proud of myself. So, the question remains – why go to all this trouble to replicate the lodestone from my book? The answer is, I needed it for a prop.

Before Winter’s Shadow was published I’d entertained the notion of shooting a book trailer to promote it. Nothing too extravagant, just a little scene to give readers an idea of what to expect from the book. This trailer never materialised because I was far too busy to pull something together in time.

Not so, this year. I actually had a few free days over the Easter Break and decided to make a trailer for Winter’s Light. After all the book is hitting stores in less than a month (May 1st – put it in your diaries). If I wanted to generate some publicity the window to do so was quickly closing. So I sat down and tried to figure out what would be something I could shoot quickly and most importantly cheaply. The concept I settled on revolved around Winter and her lodestone, hence my desperate search and eventual Macgyver like improvisation. I had my prop, now I just needed my Winter.

The casting requirements were simple – a red haired, teenage girl. Unfortunately, this isn’t the sort of thing I can post on Facebook – ‘Does anyone have the phone number for a pretty red headed teenage girl?’ You can imagine the sort of responses I’d get. Not to mention the abuse I’d suffer at the hands of my fiancée. Not for the first time, my Dad came to the rescue by recommending a girl named Genevieve who’d worked with him at his pharmacy. She was in her second year of university, loved acting and most importantly had red hair. I called Genevieve and she was keen to help out.

I had my lodestone, I had my Winter, now I just needed to shoot the damn thing. Stay tuned for the next post to see whether I succeeded or not.

M. J.