Writing Young Adults Novels That Break the Age Barrier

January 25, 2018 at 7:30 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Society, Ways of Living, Writing, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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Here is a comment that was made on my blog post, Tori’s Book Review

I’m writing a book for YAs that might extend the age of readers into their early twenties. I could use some tips on YA writing. Any suggestions.  Christine

 

I’m not sure I can give Christine, or anyone for that matter, much in the way of tips on writing a book for young adults (say 14 to 30 and beyond). What I will do is write briefly about my own approach to writing them and hope that will help.

Like Christine, I want my book’s readership to extend beyond teenagers to adults of all ages. One way I try to do this is by being as real as I can be. My current novel, Thursday’s Child, deals with a couple of difficult issues, issues that have always been a part of growing up, of finding our place in society, and of dealing with the bad things that happen as well as the good..

For me, the characters are paramount. Readers are looking for characters they can identify with – even when they live in a different time, as mine do. Teens, and adults too, have similar desires, needs, hopes and ambitions for their lives, as well as similar obstacles to overcome to achieve them. Each person will see and approach them from their own perspective, but the basic issues remain: among these, are love and loss; fairness and tolerance; acceptance and understanding; freedom and equality to pursue one’s goals.

I don’t write comedy or fantasy or satire. I write about the world as it is, or as it was at the time of which I am writing. I find that a character and an issue come together for me and then I write that character’s story. All the characters begin to ‘speak to me’ in such a way that I can do that.

I think authenticity is of major importance in writing for anyone, not just young adults. You must be true to and honest with your characters, your themes and your future readers. For me, authenticity comes when I draw from my own knowledge, experience and understanding of the world and of people to create a person of flesh and blood and everything else that goes with it. I want that character to live an authentic life with authentic experiences. When I am writing, I am living my character, I am there and I bring (in this case) her into the reality of her world. I may not have experienced exactly what she goes through, but I have lived and observed life more than enough to be able to write it.

If, in our writing, we create real characters in real situations, with real problems they have to deal with and joys they can experience, then I think that book  we write, although primarily aimed at young adults, will resonate with older readers too.

My first novel, Ben’s Challenge, was written for twelve to sixteen-year-olds, but I have received many comments from readers of ten to ninety years of age about how much they loved it.

Christine, I hope you can get a similar response to your writing. It is possible, so go for it.

 

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February. If you’d like to read Ben’s Challenge, click on the cover photo at the side.

 

© Linda Visman

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Thursday’s Child – Tori’s Book Review

January 18, 2018 at 7:50 am | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, high school, historical fiction, Nature, Reading, Ways of Living, Writing | 7 Comments
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I am writing a few blog posts to introduce the main character in my new Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child, which is set in 1960-61 Australia. Victoria Delaney is fourteen, in her second year of high school. She wants to become a teacher one day, but events conspire against her.

As part of their English subject, Tory and her class were asked to write a review of a book they enjoyed. Here is Tori’s book review:

 

*         *         *

 

My book is “Man-shy”, by Frank Dalby Davison. It was published in 1931 by Angus and Robertson, and won best novel of the year. The other part of its title is “A Story of Men and Cattle”.

I loved this story, even though I had a feeling it would not end well; after all how can cattle win when they take on men? The main “character” for the cattle in the scrub is the red heifer, who becomes the red cow. The main human character on the cattle station is the stockman Splinter. We don’t see a lot of either of them in the story, but they are strongly present through it.

The author Mr Davison seems to really understand men and cattle and that makes the animals and people real instead of made-up. He shows the difference between the docile cattle of the paddocks and the wild cattle of the rugged ranges. There is also a difference between the cruel owner who only sees cattle as “beef on the hoof” to be turned into profit, and Splinter who is more sympathetic. Splinter is still a man though, and still has to catch and brand them.

Mr Davison really makes me see the countryside and feel the feelings of both man and beast. I like his descriptions of the spirited red cow who only wants to live in freedom. I also love how he writes, sentences like: “The sun went down behind the range, drawing the light with it.”(p.92)

The character I most liked is the red cow, and I am on her side all the way through. It is sad when she is caught and branded, but then she is released. Then she is caught again, but escapes. I was happy for her then. But the cattle station is turned into smaller, fenced-off allotments and the wild cattle can no longer get to water.

I was glad when she and her calf escaped from the final trap. Then I realized that she had doomed herself and her calf to the waterless rugged ranges. However, her mates had all perished by violence, while she would at least die as she had lived – free in her beloved scrubland. And that was enough for me.

 

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February.

 

Thursday’s Child – Introducing my Main Character

January 15, 2018 at 11:58 am | Posted in 1960s, Australia, divisions in society, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, History, Reading, Social mores, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living, Writing | 4 Comments
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I would like to introduce the main character in my new Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child.

It is 1961, and Victoria (Tori) Delaney is in her second year of high school. Her class has been discussing social issues that affect Australia. Her teacher, Miss Bradshaw, has given the class an assignment to complete for homework.

Choose an issue that you think is important and write a one to two page essay on it.

This is what Tori writes:

*         *         *

Why are girls and women treated as if they are not as good as boys and men? Why are they not allowed to do the same things as they are, or given the same opportunities?

It surprises me that women are even allowed to vote. I am sure that if it hadn’t been for the Suffragettes, they would still not be allowed to. I think it is very unfair that we are treated as if we are inferior. Women have often shown that they are just as good as men, the most obvious way is when they had to step in during the Great War and again in the last war.

Women who had never even lived in the country joined the Australian Women’s Land Army so that farming could carry on when the men went off to war. They did everything that the men had done. They drove tractors and did the ploughing, the reaping and the carting of the crop. They cared for the animals, shore the sheep and milked the cows, as well as butchering them for meat.

Some women took over jobs that needed specialist knowledge and strength. They became mechanics, drivers, engineers and aeroplane builders, as well as producing guns and ammunition.

The Australian Army, Navy and Air Force would have found it harder to keep going without the women who joined the special Women’s Services. They drove jeeps and big trucks, piloted planes to be repaired and returned to service. They became radio operators and even observers and anti-aircraft gunners.

It was mostly the women at home who made the men’s uniforms, who went into danger to nurse the sick and wounded, and who took over from the male doctors when they joined the forces. And many of them did this as well as raising families, often on their own, and worrying about their husbands and sons who were fighting or imprisoned.

When the war ended, the men returned home and, of course they wanted their jobs back. Most women were happy to go back to the home life they’d had before the war, but more than a few thought they had earned the right to work at jobs they had done well for many years. They didn’t want to go back to being under men’s thumb again.

They had kept vital industries going, kept the country fed and the forces clothed and supplied. They had learned new skills, felt they could contribute something to society. Now the exciting days of responsibility and self-respect were over, they didn’t want to go back to household drudgery and lose what they had showed they were capable of. It must have been really hard for them

Many women and even girls like me resent that they are not treated as equal to men, and are not satisfied with a life of pandering to them. What hope is there in that?

 

Tori will tell us a bit more about herself in the next few posts.

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February.

 

 

 

 

 

What does the future hold?

September 22, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Australia, divisions in society, family responsibilities, Health, heritage, History, Mental Health, Politics, Religion, Social mores, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 10 Comments

 

I sat down tonight and just began to write. This is what came from my pecking at the keyboard:

 

All the news on the TV is bad. Nothing is positive. All we have is hatred, violence, intolerance, war and war-mongering, people being treated as cannon fodder. It is not a good world to live in – apart from local communities which support and nurture their residents.

 

One always must come down to the place where you live, where your family belong. Here in Australia, we have a reasonable lifestyle, though it is gradually and by stealth becoming more difficult for the ordinary person to make ends meet.

 

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, it seems we had a golden age, though things began to change in the 1980s. There was a decent level of employment, and when one talked about employment, it related to full time positions, not to those who work only a couple of hours a week so the government can ‘cook the books’ to make itself look better. The government wasn’t working too hard to transfer financial benefits from the less well-off to the rich. We actually welcomed refugees and gave them a safe place to make their home. After Vietnam, we were not a part of any major violence in other countries. We were trying to preserve our environment and even make it better.

 

We raised our children to be tolerant and considerate of others. In Australia, education was free and available to all who wanted to improve themselves, whether through the university system or through trades with the TAFE system. We actually believed that money flows from the people upwards, to the owners of industry – who even had socially progressive policies. And so did governments, who realised it was financially better to support the poor and benefit from the taxes they paid than to demonise them.

 

But now, everything is focused on money, on the financial gains that can be made from those who have the least. A social conscience is seen as a weakness rather than a strength. The focus is on  so-called ‘trickle-down economics, where all the wealth goes to the rich but does not, in practice, benefit anyone on the lower economic scale.

 

Education, health, income support, in fact any formerly government-run social enterprise, is being privatised to companies only interested in making money, not in improving the lives of their clients. The environment upon which we rely has become the resource, with destructive mining practices instead of conservation.

 

Refugees are seen as a threat, rather than as people in need of assistance. Their presence is regarded as a negative that will destroy our society. But we have, through history, seen the great benefits brought to many nations through new blood, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and from the efforts of entrepreneurs who are happy to be safe to pursue their ideas and to develop new ways of doing things that benefit all of society.

 

The poor are seen as bludgers on the common purse. They are treated as if they have nothing to offer. But so many of them have, in the past, brought freshness and enthusiasm to the workplace when they have been given the chance to work. Now, however, they are relegated to a cycle of poverty from which there is little chance of escape.

 

The selfish and heartless policies of too many modern government have led to intolerance of those who are different, to violence against a society that has become indifferent to their frustration, to hatred of the unknown. Here in my country, they have resulted in the loss of the tradition of a fair go that so many Aussies prided themselves upon. Now, the mantra is, ‘if you don’t do what we say, then get out!’

 

I despair at our modern world. Our hopes for a brighter future for all have been shot to pieces. I see that my grandchildren will have to fight for the human rights we once took for granted – unless they become brainwashed by narcissistic and power-hungry leaders to believe they deserve to be the dregs of society. Dregs who are not entitled to the benefits the rich accrue unto themselves.

 

I wish I could be more positive. I know things go in cycles – what was once seen as normal becomes abnormal, what was once a moral value becomes something to avoid, what was once ‘good’ becomes ‘bad’, and vice versa. I hope that what is now negative changes to become positive.

 

So, I hope that my grandchildren will not become that which is acceptable today. That, at least in their local communities, something will happen to show them it is better for them to respect others, to help those less fortunate, to bring out the best in people rather than the worst, and to strive for a world that sees real justice for all instead of the false and negative world we see today.

 

What do you think of the world today? Do you have concerns for the present and the future?

 

(c) Linda Visman

Information Overload

June 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Politics, Psychology, Reflections, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 8 Comments
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I just watched the first ½ of our ABC news programme and I’ve had enough.

 

information-overload

 

The avalanche of bad news, with a sprinkling of good, becomes too much. I often wonder how can we absorb so much information and remain sane.

We are constantly bombarded by information, options for belief or non-belief, decisions to make, people to assess from too little information, war-mongering and actual war, the hypocrisy of so many of our so-called leaders, the terrible conditions in which many people live, the intolerance and bigotry of religion and social attitudes, and much, much more.

We were never meant to take in so much so quickly, and so constantly.

 

brain- too many tabs

 

How are we supposed to process it all? I know many people who don’t even try. They take a slice of life and concentrate on whatever relates to that. They don’t look at anything else, even important things that may seriously affect them.

That, I believe is one of the reasons well over half of the population refrains from involvement in politics, in social welfare issues, in human rights issues, and even in potentially world-changing issues such as climate change and refugees.

They simply identify what they want to believe about an issue – something that reduces it to a slogan is the preferred option – and make that their ‘belief system’. That way, they don’t have to think through an issue – they can just chant their slogan.

They are the people who blindly follow autocrats who seem like they know what they’re talking about, or at least make a lot of noise about it. If they did take the time and the effort to open their minds and think about what that person is really preaching, they would turn away in an instant.

But they don’t, and that is how (almost always) men become dictators, leading their countries into totalitarianism, a complete regulation of life and destroying whatever freedom there may once have been.

I could point the finger now at several countries around the world where this is happening, but those of you reading this are probably thinkers (non-thinkers are too lazy to bother) and you will already know to whom I refer.

And isn’t that always the problem? We are all talking to those who already agree with what we are saying. There are so few who honestly consider at least a few sides of the problems we face (there are always more than two).

I read somewhere that human brains are wired primarily in two ways. Just under half – about 45% will lean towards conservatism and control; 45% will lean towards liberalism and freedom. Only about 10% will actually be fully open-minded and therefore consider issues on their merits.

 

Comparison -liberal or conservative

 

Several studies have been done on the differences between the brains of Republicans and Democrats. This one is interesting, and others show similar results. More study is needed of course, but if the differences could be taken into account and issues presented in different ways, there may be some small change.

But it will always be a battle, I think, to get general agreement on many issues.

So, I left the news programme to my husband and came to my study to write this post. That’s enough television for tonight. I think I will go and overload on Facebook instead.

 

 

(c)   Linda Visman

 

 

Re-telling the story

March 1, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Posted in 1960s, Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Mental Health, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 27 Comments
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For the last month or more, I have been re-writing my second novel, (its working title is Thursday’s Child, although that will probably change). It isn’t  complete – I had written about 62,000 words  but, about four-fifths of the way through it,  I had hardly written anything on it in the year until this January.

I was stuck. I couldn’t get motivated. I had no enthusiasm to get the story finished.  I also had a year in which depression played too big a part. I wondered if my book would ever get written.

Then, after reading a few teen/Young Adult novels at the end of last year that worked really well, I decided to change my story from past tense and third person to present tense and first person. So now, my main character is telling her own story instead of someone else telling it for her. It works so much better!

With my new-found enthusiasm and will, I have so far re-written and edited my manuscript to over 60,000 words. I have another 5,000 words to go until I get to the place where I almost gave up a year ago.

I am hoping – no, expecting – that when I get there, I will be able to carry the story to its conclusion. After all, it is so much better to be telling the story as if I am the main character than telling it from an outside perspective.

My main character, Tori, has become much more real to me in the process of re-writing, and at times, I can feel her emotions as if they are mine. They are raw and real.

My first novel, Ben’s Challenge, was written in first person past tense, and that seemed to work well. But this one does better written as an unfolding story in the present. That present being Australia in 1959-1960.

I simply must finish telling Victoria’s (Tori’s) story!

 

(c) Linda Visman

Some Memories of My Yesterdays

January 4, 2016 at 2:00 am | Posted in 1950s, 1960s, Australia, Experiences, Family History, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Memoir, Reflections, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 21 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

I have written just a few memories here in the form of an acrostic, using the above title. They are from my first thirteen years, and are limited by the letters I had available to me. They are also very brief, though I have already, or will in the future expand on some of them in other posts. It actually wasn’t that easy to do this self-imposed exercise!

 

School days at St Mary’s, St John’s, St Paul’s, St Mary’s & Dapto High

Oswaldtwistle, where I was born, and left when I was five

Making my own bows and arrows to play Indians

Entertaining ourselves with simple toys and games

  

Mowing the lawn at twelve

Easter rituals at Church and school

Mum’s green leather belt when we were naughty

Ordinary – that is how I saw my life; nothing special at all

Reading to find worlds of adventure

Ironing before heat controls or steam and burning my white school shirt

Earning a few pennies by opening & closing the railway gates for motorists

Singing old songs from England with my parents, uncle & Granddad

 

 

Odd one out – the middle child of five who didn’t fit anywhere else either

Finances always strained, with no money for extras

  

Milk – our milkman came around with a horse and cart

Yearning for I knew not what, but something more than I had

  

Yelling at my sisters & brother when I was angry – too often!

Eating Mum’s trifle at Xmas & New Year with Grandma, Uncle Fred & our families

Sitting at the kitchen table on stools that Dad had made

Taking Peter’s canoe onto the lake when I was forbidden to

Eating tough mutton chops & being unable to swallow the over-chewed meat

Radio serials like Superman and Tarzan that we listened to after school

Dad, David & Pauline hospitalised with polio

Accident, where I fell onto a joist when Dad was building an addition to the house

Yearly tests and trying to beat the two boys who were my main rivals

Songs from the 1940s, 50s and 60s that we listened to on the radio

 

What memories would you write if you did this acrostic exercise?

 

 

(c) Linda Visman

 

My Rose-coloured Childhood

December 21, 2015 at 1:00 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Leisure activities, Memoir, Mental Health, Nature, Philosophy, Society, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

I sometimes wonder whether my childhood memories are as authentic as I believe them to be. There have been times when my siblings have reminded me of  an event that occurred which illustrates an alternate version of those times, one that I may have pushed aside or interpreted in a different way.

I know that people can focus on aspects of their youth that colour and reinforce a version they have become used to. Sometimes, that version is a happy one, sometimes a negative one. I know of two brothers who see their experiences in a way that makes it seem they lived in different worlds – one seeing a society accepting of migrants and the other seeing discrimination everywhere. That has to be related to how their personalities have been shaped and to their natural optimism or pessimism I think.

Of course, there are some who really have endured awful family backgrounds,  situations that could  break them if that is what they focus on. And it does break some – but  paradoxically makes others, even in the same family, stronger and more resilient.

We had a pretty good family, where we were loved and cared for, but during which we also endured some pretty tough times. I do remember those hard times, but I also remember the good times. Perhaps I have created a world that was somewhat better than it actually was, but at least it helps me to focus on the good stuff. Here’s a poem I wrote that does that:

 

 

In spring, summer and autumn,

we walked along muddy creeks,

along lake shores and ocean beaches,

over expanses of sea-side rock,

dotted with crystal-clear pools,

our bare feet tickled by weed and grass,

salt water and sand.

 

We collected driftwood and shells

and wave-smoothed stones

and carried them home

in bright red or blue or yellow buckets.

We spent hours sorting them

by shape and size and colour,

and days making sea-drift sculptures,

shell borders for photo frames and mirrors,

shell pictures and maps.

 

We strolled through wetlands,

dense with melaleuca,

wary of spiders and biting mosquitoes,

through lakeside forests of casuarinas

with their wind-eerie sounds,

and through paddocks and gullies

studded with eucalypts & blackberry bushes,

wary of red-bellied black snakes.

 

We collected sheets of paperbark

to make three-dimensional pictures,

flexible green sticks to make

Hiawatha bows

straight-stemmed

dry reeds for arrows,

and bulrushes for spears.

 

 Our Christmas decorations

were made from strips of crepe paper

that twirled across the room;

the star on top of the tree was

a piece of cardboard covered in

silver paper from cigarette packets.

 

From the huge pine trees

that bordered our school yard

(long gone now)

we fashioned their thick bark

into serviceable pistols, or dolls,

and their pinecones sawn through

created wide-eyed owls.

 

Inside, on cold or rainy days,

a sheet of newspaper could make

a ship or a plane or a hat,

or a row of dancing dolls.

A block of wood

made great cars and trucks;

large circular off-cuts from

holes drilled in plywood

made wheels for them.

 

Making our own entertainment was normal,

a stimulus to creativity and independence.

Not for us the electronic wizardry

of television or video games,

of computers or mobile phones.

We made what we could out of what we had

and enjoyed a childhood

rich with stimulation and experience.

 

 

What was your childhood like? Are your memories pleasant or negative?

 

© Linda Visman

 

 

Share Your World – Week 42

October 21, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Philosophy, Ways of Living | 10 Comments
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Share Your World blog badge

Here are my responses to Cee’s  latest questions to get to know each other at Share Your World

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?

Night Owl  I am a night owl, so I find it both hard to go to bed and hard to get up in the morning. I know I get a lot of writing and scrapbooking done in the later hours, but I also miss seeing the sun rise and getting household tasks over and done with early.

I used to be up and about very early when I was teaching in remote Central Australia, starting at school about 6.30am, before anyone else arrived. So I know I can do it if I have to. But it is so hard to stop what I am doing at night!

  1. I think I will have to go with what my body clock tells me and do what I normally do – go to bed around midnight and awake about 8 or 9am.

If you could choose between Wisdom and Luck, which one would you pick?

If you rely on Luck, you put yourself in the hands of blind Fate. However, if you have Wisdom, you can more or less make your own luck. I would rather have the wisdom.

If you were given the opportunity for free skydiving lessons would you take them? Why or why not?Sky-diving

Most probably not. I like to be in control of my life as much as possible. Skydiving is a great example of loss of control. It might be good for me but I would say thanks, but no thanks!

Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass?

It depends what mood I am in. If I am very depressed, it is hard to see the glass at all. If I am a little depressed, I can usually persuade myself that the glass is half full. If I am in a positive mood, then the glass is usually running over.

What is in the glass? Love, friendship, good will, gratitude, empathy, happiness.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week: I am grateful to have had several days in which to finally chill out, after several months with a lot of activity, travel and responsibility.

This week: I am looking forward to planting more Australian native trees. Several lovely trees next door to us were cut down today (Monday), and my husband and I want to plant a tree to replace each of those we see cut down in our neighbourhood. Trouble is, we can’t keep up with them all! L But we do our best on our own little patch of ground.

(c) Linda Visman

Making a Spectacle 1: History of Fireworks

September 11, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Culture, History, Religion, Society, Special Occasions, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | Leave a comment
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Clipart fireworks

Bamboo Bangs

Fireworks of a kind were used in China over 2,000 years ago, well before the discovery of gunpowder.
These early ‘fireworks’ consisted of green bamboo thrown onto a fire. As air pockets inside the bamboo heated, they exploded, creating a frightening noise. They were used to scare away bad spirits, and it became part of a ritual to scare away the evil spirit Nian at the start of each new year.
Gradually, the green bamboo bangs because part of other celebrations like births, weddings and coronations. They were used thus for the next thousand years.

Heating bamboo

Invention of Gunpowder

There are several references to a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province, who is credited with the invention of firecrackers about 1,000 years ago. There are other stories of an accidental explosion when an alchemist was heating a mix of chemicals.
What is known however, is that somewhere between about 600 and 900AD, Chinese alchemists discovered a particular mixture of chemicals that ignited with a flash and a bang when heated over a fire. The records show that they were advised to shun this mixture of sulfur, saltpetre (potassium nitrate), honey and arsenic disulfide.
However, some alchemists continued to experiment with it.
They discovered that explosions resulted when the mixture was heated inside bamboo tubes, and that flames, smoke and sparks erupted when it was ignited in an open container. The more saltpetre added to the mix, the more violently it exploded.

Chinese soldier launches fire arrow

What we now call gunpowder became a useful as a military weapon around the 10th century, though initially it was only used to frighten and confuse the enemy. Later, it was it used also to inflict injury.
Bamboo was gradually replaced by thick paper tubes and fuses, made from gunpowder wrapped in long thin pieces of paper, were developed.
As well as for military applications, firecrackers continued to be used in China at important celebrations.

The main components of gunpowder and their ratios, developed over 500 years ago, are still the same as are used today:
1) Saltpetre 75%
2) Charcoal 15%
3) Sulphur 10%

Chinese wiring on black powder

Firecrackers go to Europe and Beyond

In its early years, the important part of exploding black powder was the light and sound that would scare off the spirits. Even when fireworks came to Europe and spread across the world, it wasn’t the colour that mattered. It is believed that Marco Polo brought firecrackers back to Europe from China in 1292. The Italians loved them. Three hundred years later, with the arrival of the Renaissance and the era of exploration and experiment, they developed a greater range of fireworks; especially skyrockets, fountains and spinning wheels.

The French and Italian Collections. Pen and ink drawing with watercolour wash from a treaty on fireworks. Late 16th century

The French and Italian Collections. Pen and ink drawing with watercolour wash from a treaty on fireworks. Late 16th century

These were refined and expanded over the years, and their use spread throughout Europe, where monarchs and other rulers used them (especially rockets) to demonstrate their power and majesty.
As exploration of the world proceeded during the 16th to the 18th centuries, the use of fireworks spread to new lands. Soon they had become a common element of major celebrations throughout the world.

Fireworks Become More Colourful

For almost 1000 years, the only colours in fireworks were orange and white (from black powder or metallic powder respectively).
By the 1830s however, knowledge of chemicals and their properties was greatly expanded. During that decade, fire masters in southern Italy were able to add reds, greens, blues and yellows by the addition of metallic salts and chlorinated powders. The discovery and use of electrical energy and hydrolysis meant that the chemicals could burn faster, hotter and brighter, and displays, especially aerial ones, became even more dramatic.
Fireworks can be classified broadly by whether they are used for ground or aerial display. Not until the last 200 years did the magical display of coloured sparks become the real focus of a fireworks show. Modern fireworks are also called pyrotechnics, and the experts who develop and stage them are known as pyro-technicians.

Fireworks

As well as science, there is and always has always been an art and craft to development and use of fireworks. Modern fireworks have a myriad of different effects depending on their chemical composition, strength and containment.

Fireworks on sale in a Chinese shop/

Fireworks on sale in a Chinese shop/

China is by far the largest producer and exporter of fireworks in the world. During the 20th century, the mechanics of mass production gradually brought their cost down considerably. Eventually, fireworks became cheap enough to be available to ordinary families, and they could be more personally involved in national, religious and cultural fireworks displays.

……………………………………………………..
Further reading
General history: http://www.pyrouniverse.com/history.htm
Use of fireworks by European monarchs: http://io9.com/the-first-fireworks-displays-were-terrifyingly-huge-1600541130
Depictions of fireworks in Europe from the 16th century: http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/06/25/picturing-pyrotechnics/

(c) Linda Visman

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