I’ve landed in the midst of the taxidermy trade while working on my next manuscript, The Nighthawk’s Nemesis. I’ve never been comfortable with specimens that fill museum dioramas or trophies in hunters’ lodges. Those glass eyes follow me about with their haunting stare, and a loud part of my being simply wants to bury the dead.
When I researched taxidermy for this manuscript, it was an absolute eye-opener. The practice, which began in England in the early 19th century, is a scientific art that is still overseen by The Guild of Taxidermy. Like the Mason’s Guild, this peer group monitors and accredits professionals within the craft. Taxidermists take multiple courses, work apprenticeships, are heavily regulated by laws, study anatomy in depth, and receive credentials based upon mastery of taxidermy skills. Some raise the craft to a form of fine art that is now displayed in high-end galleries. While the number of licensed taxidermists is decreasing, its popularity as an art form and use as modern décor is increasing.
Check out Polly Morgan Taxidermy.
Intriguing, yet icky.
I walked away from this bit of research feeling enlightened, relieved to know that a vast majority of specimens are the end result of roadkill, flying into windows, or natural death; that British laws protect even dead wild creatures; that taxidermists file formal documents on all specimens with government agencies; and that a license is required to sell any taxidermized creature save game birds shot in season. I have a much clearer view of taxidermists (no, they are not ghoulish) and a profound appreciation for their artistry.
Still, I simply want to bury the dead.
This blog is where I post my inspirations for each book in the Barrington Bay series as well as behind-the-scenes tips, pics, and other tidbits. Feel free to click 'Read More' for in-depth posts.