Beyoncé has alter ego Sasha Fierce and I have Princess Olivia. No, I don’t have a split personality disorder, thank you very much.
While I’m in my element combing through library stacks, browsing bookstore shelves and investigating every bit of information possible regarding angels and birds of prey, I’m not comfortable conducting research outside of those parameters, thus Princess Olivia was born.
Without her, I would never have had the courage to take advantage of a wonderful research opportunity which serendipitously presented itself several years ago.
Princess Olivia has more cheek and nerve in the tip of her pinky finger than I do in my entire body. She happily agreed to assist a master falconer for three weeks at a large Renaissance fair, but it was more difficult than even she anticipated.
First, the princess was required to learn the falconer’s vocabulary which included terms such as hoods, jesses, creances, gauntlets, and mews to name just a few and then she worked sunup to sundown weighing, feeding, training, exercising, performing and even rescuing the occasional raptor that had flown the coop via radio telemetry.
It was demanding work and not nearly as glamorous as the princess makes it look. (Trust me, being trussed into a corset for ten hours a day is enough to make anyone cranky come nightfall.) Birds of prey demand constant attention and owning just one of them is a full time job.
Thanks to Princess Olivia’s efforts and expertise, one of my favorite characters, a red-tailed hawk named Simon now lives and flies about in the manuscript of Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom.