Writing the Pre-Raphaelites in Slow Seduction

They say sometimes fiction becomes real. I’ve had the experience numerous times that something I cooked up in my imagination turned out to be real.

For example, in the BDSM novella I wrote for Entwined, Dear Girl, our heroine is intrigued by the small leather book she sees a man holding in his hands. Is it a small Bible? An address book? She later discovers it’s a cell phone case made to look like a tiny leatherbound book. About a year after I had written that story I was browsing Amazon.com and what did I find? Smartphone cases that look like small leather books! (Yes, I bought one immediately.)

The most recent example, though, of my power to make stuff up only to have it happen was during the writing of Slow Seduction. When the book opens, Karina has gone to London for the summer. A curator at the Tate Britain has brought her there to lead tours of a special exhibition of art never-before-gathered-in-one-place. In book one of the series, we learn Karina wrote her thesis on Pre-Raphaelite art. This exhibit is to be the first time so many pre-Raphaelites were ever exhibited together.

I totally made that up.

Except then I went on a trip to the U.K. (for the IASPR scholarly romance conference in York, England), which was going to give me one “tourist” day in London. And when I looked around to see what there was to see, I wondered if maybe a few of the pre-Raph paintings I talked about in the book might be on display.

And I discovered that a huge exhibition of never-before-gathered-in-one-place Pre-Raphaelite art was going to be opening at the Tate Britain shortly before I would arrive.

I even had the museum right.

So, of course I had to go see the exhibit! Which was marvelous. The Burne-Jones paintings I had picked out as Karina’s favorites while writing Slow Surrender were the finale at the end of the show! I spent several hours there, until hunger and thirst drove me in search of afternoon tea.

In the course of writing Slow Seduction, I was able to set many scenes in the gallery and in the museum.

What follows are photos of the gallery and museum with some of my descriptions on where they fit in the book. It will not be spoilery if you have not yet read the book, but if you have read it, here’s what the art I couldn’t show in the book looked like!

The day I arrived it was raining and I was there when the doors opened. Here's the entrance.
The rain made everything slick. I wasn't sure if this is always the entrance or only during the massive renovations going on.
The actual door. Perhaps that sign says something now?
From the ticket-buying area one goes up a wide set of stairs under a skylight.
View from the top of the stairs looking down. Very modernist, though this was at Tate Britian, not Tate Modern, which is a different museum.
At the top of the stairs, I went through another set of doors...
Across another gallery...
And then caught sight of the banner of Rossetti's Astarte! With arrow pointing "this way"...
Putting you directly into the Pre-Raphaelite Gift Shop. (Which was also the entrance to the exhibit. I didn't photograph the velvet-rope queue.)
Oddly, the thing you look at while in the queue to enter the exhibit is what? An unfinished painting by Edward Burne-Jones, newly discovered?? And it has a love-triangle/love unrequited theme? Perfect!!
The exhibit was in a series of linked rooms, like many exhibits of this type. Here's one of them.
The "brotherhood" included women like Christina Rossetti. A book of her Goblin Market, illustrated by Dante Rossetti.
And a book illustrated by Burne-Jones. I wondered why there seemed to be so very little of his stuff as I went through the rooms...
Here's another one of the galleries. The really mind-blowing stuff was all in the last room, though.
All the Burne-Jones paintings but a few were in the "wow" room, the final room in the exhibit. Here's Perseus and Andromeda, the only nude in the exhibit.
Burne-Jones's paintings overall were much more emotional and concerned nearly always with lovers, like this one. (Which made the stark portrait of his wife, not pictured here, an interesting psychological study...)
And finally to Karina's favorite painting, and mine, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, an ancient Cinderella-like story. This painting is huge, ten feet tall? Or more?
Detail showing the amazing textures in the gold stairwell in the painting.
And that was about it! Here's a selfie of me in the gift shop, where the light was way too bright!

ctan
Writer, editor, baseball fan, bisexual, eastern healing therapist, etc...

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