Heretics’ Places

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Organian Citadel or Heretics’ Shelter?

Ft St Elme Languedoc Roussillon

I showed a good friend the Bone-mend and Salt cover work by Lisa Tilton, and he immediately claimed it was the Organian Citadel from the Star Trek “Errand of Mercy” episode:

“Yep:  Season 1 – Episode 27 aired March 27, 1967. This is the one where Kirk et al. try to convince the Organians to side with the Federation because the Klingons are really really bad. I call this episode “Why the F are we in Vietnam?”  It is so blatantly about the Vietnam war.  In that context, the dialog between Kirk and the head Klingon dude really stands out. When Kirk and Spock beam down, there is a shot of an “ancient” buildings, and it’s obviously a stock shot of some castle. And if you are really into TV production trivia, look for the “alien” purple goat (have to watch one of the restored prints). First use of a new consumer product for the 60s youth: spray-on hair color.

But no, the Errands of Mercy footage is a stock shot of the Citadelle Laferrière in Haiti.

The cover of Bone-mend and Salt features a stock photo of Le Fort Saint Elme in Roussillon, protecting Port-Vendres. The overall structure was built in the mid-16th Century. However, the tower dates from the 9th Century, and therefore is much more likely to have sheltered heretics than the Organian citadel.

Read about Le Fort Saint Elme on the city’s web site at
And learn more on Le Fort Saint Elme Facebook page.

Association des Parcs & Jardins du Languedoc-Roussillon:
See the APJLR web site for more Fort Saint Elme pictures.
I wouldn’t get any work done if these landscapes were the view out my stone-framed, arrow-loop of a window. And I can’t get much work done now, since I have to stop and look at these beautiful pictures on the Association des Parcs & Jardins du Languedoc-Roussillon site.

And here’s the Bing translator from my friends at Microsoft Research, so that you can dig into the details:
February 2013

Geographical Synesthesia

When I saw this happen in the wild, it was a red-tail hawk and (likely) a garter snake:
Aquila Pennata - booted eagle“A booted eagle drifted upward on the morning breeze as Isabella paced along the parapets, wishing she too could soar over this edge of the Pyrenees, floating down over the Corbières hills. The eagle circled the upper garden in search of vermin, its claws out to strike; then it swooped to attack, missed, and rose to dive again. This time it caught its prey, and a sharp aieee echoed up from the garden. A viper in the eagle’s claws struggled to bite its captor as they soared up to a perch beyond the castle.”

Because I went to school in Southern Oregon, I hiked the Siskiyou Mountains for many years. And I continue to be charmed by how much those hills resemble the granite and limestone outcroppings in the Pyrenees foothills where the Accidental Heretics wended their way through adventure and catastrophe.

In the Siskiyous, the oak trees have differently shaped leaves and the sugar pines stand taller than what the adventurers find in the Languedoc. The shrubby undergrowth bakes in the sun at the same height, the granite soil crunches underfoot in the same way, the rain falls at the same time of year.

And, it seems, some Oregon vintners are finding some similar enough terroir and microclimates as Languedociens, though I personally prefer the southern Oregon aspirations to learn from the other side of the Pyrenees.

It’s your guess, below, whether you smell manzanita or genévrier.

Wooded Foothills

Credits: Aquila Pennata from Wikimedia Commons, offered under GNU v 1.2, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
Landscape copyright E.A. Pearson, per this site’s guidelines.

Favorite guides for writing about flora and fauna:
March 2013

Heretics at the Beach? Holiday in the Languedoc?

Sitges Harbor
Last night, several readers told me they were packing Bone-mend and Salt to read on vacation. Two said they’d already read Bone-mend, and just downloaded Trebuchets in the Garden, eagerly anticipating the chance to read on the plane flight or first day in a beach chair.

So excited to hear that—because it’s why I wrote it. Over an earlier decade, I waited for the next installment of Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolò series, or a new Outlander title, so that I could be immersed in another world on the first few days of vacation. Nothing like a fat adventure to get work out of your mind so that you’re ready to play.

If you read any of Accidental Heretics while on vacation, please let me know if the book performed as it’s supposed: Mind now empty of work? Senses filled with the Languedoc countryside?
June 2013

Crossing La Mancha

La Mancha

In the upcoming Crux Lunata, Book 3 of the Accidental Heretics series, each chapter is a place in the journey across Spain during the Reconquista efforts of 1212. So I’ve spent all week crossing La Mancha with 200 men, including:

Hideous travel conditions
A raid by false “saracens”
Quarterstaff battles and broken ribs
A Lataste’s viper
Grassland wildfire 3 separate apparitions of saints
Branding of another bonfraire in la Confraria de la Crotz

I feel parched and dust coated, and that I should shower from smelling of horse and sheep.

Photo from, under Creative Commons license.
July 2014