Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Scent of Amber

Amber - many stonesImage via WikipediaThere are many reasons why I chose amber as a part of my book title, but the first is probably scent.

Wikipedia: The term “amber” is loosely used to describe a scent that is warm, musky, rich and honey-like, and also somewhat oriental and earthy.

"Oriental" and "earthy" are key for me, although I suppose "warm" is important too.

How do you get that scent? You burn the stone. In fact, the name for amber in Germanic languages is litterally "burn stone".  In Polish it's burstyn. (I grew up surrounded with burstyn. Who knew it would be so important to me one day?) When you heat amber, the stone softens and eventually an oil is released, leaving a black residue behind. Flame unlocks the essence, if you will.

The flame is also important to my djinn (and to Zoroaster). Fire represents the life force and connection to energy. Energy is one of the properties people associate with amber too. Perhaps that's because amber is smooth and warm to the touch, almost like the life blood of the tree still remembers how to live in the stone.

Of course, many authors have referred to amber's trapping abilities. (Dragonfly in Amber anyone?) It works for me too. Like any good heroine, Sybil gets stuck in a bad situation. The difference is, for Sybil, the amber is key to (How much can I tell you? Me thinks I'm too close to spoilerdom here. Sorry!)
Vanadis/Freya - who just decided to show up as a facet of my MC - wears a necklace of amber (Brisingamen), cries tears that turn into amber, there's even an invocation to her about it that I use in the end.

There are many more attributes to amber in folklore and I can go on, but I'm getting away from the purpose of the post. The evocative scent of amber. Go get some! :)

I hope someday an editor appreciates the thought I put into this...

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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wouldn't that be cool if it became a cologne?

Sarah said...

Wow! I actually had no idea about this property of amber. I guess I just thought of it as a kind of rock, which seems silly after reading this post. This was so interesting!

Old Kitty said...

Amber conjures up heady scents, beautiful burnt orangeness and lush warm scenery!! I think it's also such a beautiful name! Yay for amber!! And yay for you for doing such indepth research!!! Take care

Deniz Bevan said...

I had no idea amber had a scent! It sounds lovely. And isn't the Outlander series the greatest? :-)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

fascinating post. I didn't know that about amber. How cool!

Missed Periods said...

My grandmother wore some beautiful amber necklaces.I didn't know amber was a scent. said...

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