Anne Renwick discusses the original opening for THE GOLDEN SPIDER, taking you behind the scenes for a glimpse of her Gross Anatomy experience and what crept into her first book.

THE GOLDEN SPIDER – PUBLISHED

The day began much like any other day.

Lady Amanda Ravensdale, daughter of the Duke of Avesbury, took a bite of buttered toast and a sip of cold tea before returning her attention to the femur resting before her on the polished mahogany dining table. A practical examination approached, and she had her heart set on achieving a perfect score. She scanned its surface, murmuring anatomical terms. Greater trochanter, medial epicondyle, linea aspera

A grinding of gears and a gentle bump against her chair drew her attention. “Thank you, RT,” she said to the steambot, lifting a china cup filled with fresh, hot tea. The roving table reversed course and whirred its way back toward the kitchens.

“Must you!” Olivia shrieked from behind her. “The horrors I endure each day as a member of this family. I will never forgive you for caving to such a base desire to mingle with the middle class in an anatomical theater. My sister in medical school. It’s a social nightmare.”

Amanda smirked at her sister’s tantrum and twisted in her chair. “And I will never forgive you for the hours I’ve lost enduring soliloquy after soliloquy about the difficulties of obtaining an ice sculpture come June.”

“I’ll have you know planning a proper society wedding is quite an undertaking.” Olivia pointed her nose in the air, and golden ringlets bounced about her face. “Carlton will one day be Viscount Bromwich.”

“Children,” Father warned from the end of the table. He lifted the morning paper higher. On the front page, headlines proclaimed the latest indignity: A German Imperial Fleet zeppelin had attacked what was, the British Navy insisted, a mere merchant’s vessel.

“At least a wedding is a suitable pursuit for a lady,” Olivia persisted as she stomped over to the buffet. “Carlton says women have no business pursuing a career.”

Amanda rolled her eyes. She was thoroughly sick of hearing her future brother-in-law quoted, so she stuck in the proverbial scalpel and gave it a sharp twist. “Carlton simply wants nothing to distract you from your duty as brood mare.”

THE GOLDEN SPIDER – ORIGINAL

 The day began much like any other day.

Lady Amanda Ravensdale, daughter of the Duke of Avesbury, took a bite of buttered toast, then unhooked the skull cap of her study specimen to peer inside. She allowed herself a small, self-satisfied smile. Glinting in the faint morning light that streamed through the breakfast room’s windows, the thin gold wire she’d used to trace the path of the facial nerve emerged from the internal auditory canal. Just as expected.

She leaned back in her chair and sipped cold tea, returning the stare of the empty sockets of the human skull that rested on the polished mahogany dining table. She knew the names and locations of every bone and every suture. Every crest, protuberance and process. Every foramen and fossa.

Would that Olivia would arrive that she might delight in her sister’s screams of outrage. Why else bring a human skull to table?

Many of her classmates still struggled to prepare for the approaching practical examination, but would they accept the help she’d offered? Allow her to tutor them? No. She was a mere woman, her assistance automatically dismissed as inferior.

Abandoning breakfast, she lifted a femur and scanned its surface, murmuring the names of its features. Greater trochanter, medial epicondyle, linea aspera…

Amanda replaced the bone and lifted a humerus. All its features were familiar as well. She was only going through the motions. After years of self-directed anatomical study, medical school had yet to offer a challenge. Not a single question on today’s practical exam would give her any difficulty. Frustration, these hoops she must jump through before she could qualify to join a research laboratory.

A grinding of gears and a gentle bump against her chair drew her attention. “Thank you, RT,” she said, lifting a china cup filled with fresh, hot tea.

 

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT: An Origin Story

(00:01)
Hello, I’m Anne Renwick, steam punk romance author taking you behind the scenes of the elemental steampunk series in my podcast into the laboratory. You can find episode show notes, at intothelaboratory.com or, for more information about my books and free short stories, visit annerenwick.com. That’s Anne with an “e”. Welcome to my laboratory.

(00:26)
Hello, this is Anne Renwick, steam punk romance author. Welcome to into the laboratory. I’m often asked about where I get a lot of my ideas for my books, where they’re coming from. And the answer of course is very complicated. Sometimes they come from past experiences as a biologist. Other times they come from Internet searches, papers I’ve read. In any case, I thought I’d start this podcast to discuss some of the science, some of the biology, not just biology, but the science and biology behind my books. And one of the very first questions I always get usually pertains to how did you get started in steampunk, steampunk romance?

(01:05)
What was the idea behind The Golden Spider? Well, that has sort of an interesting beginning. I was writing but not steampunk. And I have a good friend Josh Day, who’s also an author and we were in Gmail and the little chat box. She’s at work. I’m at work. We’re chit chatting back and forth, brainstorming for our both of our books. I was trying to convince her to do some kind of story related to a spider. I’m googling mythology here and mythology there and I keep shooting little bits of spider facts and mythology at her trying to come up with something that might inspire a plot point for her. And she finally reached her breaking point and she said, Anne, write your own spider book. Her words were a little stronger, but we’re going to keep this podcast PG so I won’t repeat exactly what she said to me.

(01:52)
In any case. I said, fine, I will. And took my computer and got away from the house and I drove down to the local Barnes and Nobles and I sat down and I started playing around with ideas. Fine, I’m going to write a spider. I’m going to do this steampunk. What can a spider do? Because my background is biology, well what’s like a web nerves? Nerves look like a web sometimes, so why couldn’t we have some sort of clockworks spider that could weave nerves? And that was the very sort of beginning of where the golden spider came from. So I sat down and started thinking of plot points. Immediately, I went to, well, of course there’s going to be a dead body. So you know, that’s sort of a thing you’re going to find in my books. If you’re reading my stories, you are going to find at least one body in every story.

(02:42)
Right, okay. I think there’s one story where there’s not an actual dead person, but we’re pretty close.

(02:48)
In any case, I sat down and started to plot out the basics of how I wanted this book to go, and a natural sort of opening for me was to look back at my own past. How would I opened a scene? What would I have, might I have been doing if I were going to have a clockwork spider that wove nerves, what might my sort of daily morning have been like? And that served as the original opening for The Golden Spider as it is now. We meet Thornton first in chapter one. There’s some very important action happening there, but when we finally cut to Amanda our heroine, we meet her at the breakfast table. She’s sitting there, she’s sipping tea, she’s eating toast, she’s studying bones.

(03:32)
Oh, in the published version. She’s studying one particular bone and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today. I have a little bit of a cut bit from the original novel. It ended up being edited to sort of jump right into the plot a little bit faster. But let’s take a look at what the original opening looked like compared to the published opening that you can buy today. So I have cut and pasted it here and I will include a link if you go to online to the show notes for this episode where you can actually read it for yourself. But if you’re driving or otherwise doing something you can’t read right now, it’ll be there for you later. So let me read you the current opening. The Golden Spider as it is published, begins chapter two like this. The day began much like any other day. Lady Amanda Ravensdale, daughter of the Duke of Avesbury took a bite of butter toast and a sip of cold tea before turning her attention to the femur resting before her on the polished Mahogany dining table.

(04:30)
A practical examination approached and she had her heart set on achieving a perfect score. She scanned at surface murmuring anatomical terms, greater trocanter, medial epicondyle, Linea aspira, a grinding of gears and a gentle bump against her chair to her attention. Thank you, RT, she said to the Steambot, lifting a China Cup filled with fresh hot tea, the roving table reversed course and word its way back towards the kitchens. That’s the opening as you would read it. Now, if you were to go back and look at the original opening for The Golden Spider, as I had it to start, you would find that there was more than just a femur on the breakfast table. But that as mentioned with ended up being cut in terms of getting the plot rolling. So what was there originally? We’ll come back to that. Before I get to that though, I’d like to back up and tell you some stories from my own background, how it got there on the page.

(05:27)
So as a biologist, I have a degree in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, but it didn’t just start there. I started loving biology. I took all the general introductory classes and a lot of them included dissections. You learned anatomy all the way back in high school. My really wonderful high school teacher, Mrs Campbell, she had us, you know, dissecting all sorts of things. In 10th grade you’ve heard the stories about the boys who threw bits and stuff in the cafeteria. I don’t remember anything making it to the cafeteria, but they certainly threw things in class. In any case, she had us dissect the worm. Perhaps you’ve been there. Nasty things. Not a fan of worms. We also had to dissect a grasshopper. That was odd. She had us do the usual the frog and I’ve got a very clear memory of being handed a clam to dissect exactly a raw clam.

(06:22)
We had to find the gills, we had to find the foot, we had to find the siphon, different bits and pieces. That is quite possibly one of the hardest dissections I’ve ever had to do. Finding those parts and pieces when you didn’t know what you’re looking at. Very difficult. In any case, we moved on and I was thrilled to come back around her senior year for biology, for biology AP and in that class, yes, I was looking forward to it. Spring semester we got to dissect a cat. So you know my lab partner and I, we had our cat, very scrawny little wet damp preserved thing and we of course named it Fluffy because we were all all about being funny high school students then, and these are memories. I grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania and when we did this dissection, all we got was Vaseline and a razor blade because for budget reasons, I suppose. There were no gloves, there were no scalpels.

(07:19)
So the Vaseline was designed to keep some of the preservatives smell from sinking into your skin. And the razor is much like the kind you would have used, uh, you know, um, a screw to put on a men’s razor, not a straight razor, but you know, clothes in any case. Yeah. So the, that alone we went through all the anatomical systems. We learned them in great details we dissected. But the crowning project that we had to do was we had to reassemble the skeleton to reassemble the skeleton means first you need to get all of the soft tissue off, so there was um, boiling, scraping any case. Yeah, we did it all. All lab groups in the class, we did that, we boiled down the bones and then we had to glue them back together. So you can imagine some class periods in high school, these students, we put the glue on one one joint and would sit there and hold it together. And you’re waiting for the glue to dry. It sounds, it was exactly like, it sounds like it was ridiculous. Someone was sitting there trying to hold the knee joint together. So I complained to my father who happens to build and fly model airplanes and he hands me this airplane glue. This was really huge for us, um, for my partner and I. So we get the airplane glue and you put it on and you hold the joint, let’s say the knee joint together and then the partner has this chemical, you spritz it. It’s an instant chemical dry. So it wasn’t quite like putting legos together, but it was really close. We started, you know, putting the bones together and you know, quickly became the envy of the other, the other cat, you know, laboratory partners.

(08:52)
In any case, I lost the coin toss to get, to keep the skeleton. She got to take it with her, you know, I’m still feeling it today, decades later. Any case, I went on to college, majored in biology there, and I’ll talk about some classes as they come up. One of my absolute favorite classes was comparative vertebrate biology. I took it my senior year. We of course did dissections. We did lamprey eel. We did a shark. We had, um, of course, um, we had, uh, was an axiotle and a cat. So this is where I’m going to talk about a practical exam. I remember when I was reading to you from that opening page, Amanda has a practical exam coming. What’s a practical exam? If you’re in the biological fields, you have taken one. If you’re not, what I’ll tell you is that basically you’re doing these lab experiments and at the end of the semester, sometimes midway as well, the, the TA or the or the professor will set up what’s called a practical exam.

(09:50)
They’ll take dissections or they’ll take perhaps a model. Say you were studying the eye and you had a plastic eye. They’ll take the eye and they’ll label part of it. And the question will be like, what is this? What does it do? How does this relate to something else? So they put up what they call stations. Say there’s 20 kids in the class, they’ll set up maybe 25 and it’s basically like a giant game of musical chairs. And you get two minutes, maybe say at a station, depends on your class period. And you’ll have two minutes. You sit down, you look at whatever’s there, and then you answer the question. You write it down on your paper, then play musical chairs. Everybody stands up, moves to the next station. So you go round and round, you go. That’s a practical exam. Well, this is where I first ran into a little bit of fun in college.

(10:37)
I’ll never forget it, forget his name. Greg. Greg was our TA and he was really funny. So he would lay out something that would make us laugh, break the stress a little, make the exam, maybe not quite as horrible as it had to be, and I’ll never forget our final exam. We had a lot of kids who were going to go into or wanting to be physicians, so they were working on their applications senior year or they were already into medical school and so he put out, someone had not wrapped up and put away their dissection specimen quite right. It was dry. It was tough, it was disgusting. He put it out there and he said, this is an example of, and I believe there was a couple of choices, a perfect dissection, you know exactly what you should be advertising on your application to medical school for your surgical skills.

(11:24)
It was silly, but um, we all laughed and moved on. It was sort of a give me a question and I ended up carrying that sort of idea forward into my own teaching career years, years later. And Greg was great. He was, he was, he was missing half a finger and he spent the semester making up stories. It was a shark attack. It was this, it was that by the time we finally pressed him at the very end of the course, he was like, oh yeah, it was a farm accident and I lost it to some farming machinery. Well, did he? He spent so much time making up stories. Nobody’s really sure. So I’m left wondering, you know, 20 some odd years later as to what the story was. In any case, time passes and I head off to graduate school. I didn’t go straight into biological research.

(12:10)
Instead, I took a little bit of a detour. I ended up pursuing a degree in anthropology, physical anthropology. I wanted to study evolutionary development of humans, looking at Australopithecines, Homo erectus, that sort of thing. And so off to New York City to study this. While I was there, one of the classes I really enjoyed taking was gross anatomy. Where do we take it? We took it with the medical students, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. So the first year I took it and since we were graduate students, we were tapped to teach it the following year as TAs. So working into why she’s taking a practical exam in human bones. Right. So a little bit about gross anatomy before we go further. Um, it’s the room in which the dissections take place is officially declared a graveyard and the bodies that are present have been donated by the person.

(13:08)
Okay. That nobody just donates a relative’s body. It has to be donated by the person before their death. And we were given a very stern lecture. This is there is to be respect only, no silliness in here or there will be consequences with a capital C. So in any case, this gross anatomy class was absolutely fascinating. Here was a chance to learn on the real thing. And I will say that for if you’re just, if you’re just studying just to learn the information, there’s, there’s no reason you shouldn’t stick with digital or plastic or some sort of simulated anatomy program. In any case, if you’re going to be a physician or you’re going to study the human body or primates as the case may be in great detail, you actually need to study the real thing because there are things called anatomic variations from person to person.

(13:57)
We’re not all the same. Shocker. I know for example, I can remember very clearly working on the body and we were studying one of the nerves that emerges, you know, around the arm pit travels down and around the elbow or so it was supposed to branch into two new nerves and continue on down towards the hand. Well, we spent way too much time, half an hour. We’re looking for this and we have got two nerves, we can’t find the branch. Along comes an older gentleman who had been teaching gross anatomy forever and he very quickly did some dissection things and said, here, it’s split up here practically in the armpit. So you need to know as the surgeon, say you’re working on arm nerves, you’re going to want your surgeon to know, hey, that’s a possibility, right? You don’t want them scratching their head while you’re under, under the knife, you’re asleep with anesthesia in any case.

(14:46)
So I feel very strongly that this is, you know, in favor of medical students who are studying in great detail need to be working on the real thing. This will come up as I talk about the opening chapter and any case in gross anatomy, you work in groups of about five or four, um, to a body. And you’re also issued at the time you’re assigned your particular specimen. You’re also assigned a box of bones. And these are real bones, the entire human skeleton in a box. All four of us had to share, and I come to this because if you look at a plastic specimen, plastic skull, which might be fine for learning the very basics and you turn it over and you look at the base of the skull, the big giant hole where your nerve cord comes through the foramen magnum, if you look around it, there are a number of holes through which blood vessels and nerves will pass.

(15:41)
If you’re working on plastic, there’s a good chance that the molding process filled it in with slag I guess. But slag is usually a metal term but slag and that’s sort of um, another problem with it is when you’re working in plastic, the same process sort of blurs the surface details. So it’s fine for the basics. It’s not really good if you really want to learn the detail. And since I’m in gross anatomy, we were going to to be quizzed and were, we were expected to learn and then be quizzed on every little bump, every little crest, every hole in that skull. We needed to have the real thing. So we took turns borrowing it to study. And again, big flag here, you know, don’t lose these bones or else treat them with respect. If we find anyone doing anything funny, there will be consequences.

(16:34)
Nobody, nobody broke that rull in any case. Um, I’m gonna pause there since we’re talking about skulls and take you down a little side story back to college. Um, while I was in college, I started to get interested in this anthropology thing, which is how, of course I ended up in graduate school for it. Not only did I major in biology, but I ended up taking a lot of history classes, a lot of ancient history classes and this, dropped me in an archeology class, which dropped me in the anthropology department and I discovered they had human evolution, which is really biology. So I started taking some classes there. Um, one of them was Paleopathology. We had someone who was, um, x-raying mummies. So I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. And if you know anything about that, they have a very, um, they have an anthropology museum there with amazing things, um, all sorts of collections.

(17:28)
So I started taking some classes there. One thing led to another and I ended up becoming involved in a repatriation program. The University of Pennsylvania has a, an archeological anthropological museum. And at some point in the distant past, there had been collection of human skeletal remains from the wild as they thought at the time. And of course those human remains were Native Americans. So at this point there was um, a decision had been made to return all of the skeletal material to the tribes for a proper burial. In any case, we needed to sort through all the bones that were in these boxes that had been collected by people a hundred or more years ago. And they were mixed in with other bones. Sometimes it was easy just to sort of pull out the human from — you could look in and you knew when you had something that wasn’t human.

(18:21)
Clearly it wasn’t human. I mean, we get would get rid of those, but here’s a strange, bizarre fact. The flat bones of the pig skull look a lot like human skull bones, the flat, the part where you’re, you know, up top where your hair would grow. And so I volunteered to help sort out these bones, loved my professor, and I got involved in this room where we would have shoe boxes full of this and we would sit with books and we would study every bump, every groove, every blood vessel impression on the inside of the human skull bone. And then we would look at these fragments and try and decide human or pig. So we, the undergraduates would sort them into piles and a professional anthropologist would make the final call. But in this room and bookcases sort of bookcases along the wall where all these skulls, a lot of them were going back, but there were a number of them that would be staying.

(19:13)
And of course you get tired, your eyes start to cross doing all this bone work, you get up, you walk around, you go look at the skulls. So on the shelves there were a few that were really,, really awful what was going on there. Well I ask, of course, and I’m told, oh, that’s end-stage syphilis. That’s a syphilitic skull. Eww. Basically, if you look at the skull, those flat bones, again, up underneath your hair and towards the back, those flat bones had like these like pock marks, like something had been eroding them. Yes. In fact, there’s a spirochete that was living in there. The spirochete, that causes the syphilis disease had gotten into this bone and it was eroding it. They were absolutely horrible to look at, made your skin crawl. If you’re curious, have a look in the show notes and I’ll give you a link to at where you can see an image of this, but again, I’m warning you not pretty. If you’re squeamish, you’re not going to want to take a close look at this. Just bypass it and move on.

(20:14)
This brings us to the original version of The Golden Spider, so looking at how that chapter originally began, I’ll read it to you. The day began much like any other day. Lady, Amanda Ravensdale, daughter of the Duke of Avesbury, took a bite of buttered toast, then unhooked the skullcap of her study specimen to peer inside. She allowed herself a small self satisfied smile. Glinting in the faint morning light that streamed through the breakfast room windows. The thin gold wire used to trace the path of the facial nerve emerged from the internal auditory canal. Just as expected. She leaned back in her chair and sipped cold tea returning the stare of the empty sockets of the human skull that rested on the polished Mahogany dining table.

(21:02)
She knew the names and locations, every bone and every suture, every crest, protuberance and process every foramen and fossa. Would that Olivia would arrive that she might delight in her sister’s screams of outrage. Why else bring a human skull to table? Many of her classmates still struggled to prepare for the approaching practical examination, but would they accept the help sheet offered, allow her to tutor them? No, she was a mere woman. Her assistance automatically dismissed as inferior. Abandoning breakfast. She lifted a femur and scanned it ssurface, murmuring the names of its features. Greater trochanter. Media epicondyle. Linea aspira. Amanda replaced the bone and lifted a humerus. All its features were familiar as well. She was only going through the motions after years of self-directed anatomical study. Medical school had yet to offer a challenge, not a single question on today’s practical exam would give her any difficulty, frustration, these hoops she must jump through before she could qualify to join a research laboratory. A grinding of gears and a gentle bump against her chair. drew her attention. Thank you, RT. She said lifting a china cup filled with fresh hot tea.

(22:13)
So that, that, that has a lot in there. So we’re going to need to unpack it. To start, I should probably explain a few of these terms in case you haven’t run in to them before. Um, I mentioned a suture suture in the skull is where two bones are going to join and they sort of have a zig-zaggy sort of appearance to them ’cause they’ve sutured or gotten sew. Perhaps you’ve had hopefully not a trip to the emergency room, but you might’ve heard the term search suture. If someone has an injury and it has to be sewn back together. So a suture in the skull bones almost has a sort of look to it as if someone has sewn the two bones together, hence the term.

(22:52)
So I also say every crest protuberance and process. What does that mean? While we’re talking about the details on a bone. So a crest is sort of a raised long narrow line a protuberance. You probably heard that in other situations. That’s a bump or a lump. What’s a process? That’s a really large bump or lump that’s big enough that it’s special, that it does something, we’re going to name it something else. So then I say every foramen and Fossa. What’s a foramen? A foramen is a hole through which something will pass. A fossa is sort of a depression, a groove, it can be long, can be short. Something else is sort of passing through this sort of groove. It’s made a trench for something to move through. So I’ve mentioned all of that and then she talks about picking up a femur. So that’s the thighbone right?

(23:46)
And she’s looking at its surface and she’s sort of chanting to herself the names of its feature. She’s studying for her practical exam that’s coming up, so on the back of a human femur, you’re going to find something called the inea aspira. This is a line, linea or ridge. It’s on the posterior side of the shaft, the long bone part that goes down to your top through your thigh. So this is what is this, this linear diaspora. This is where a number, and there’s quite a list. There’s a number of leg muscles that attach, and I’ll, I can read you the list. There’s the Vastus Medialis, the Vastus lateralis, the abductor Magnus, Gluteus maximus biceps femoris, adductor brevis and longest illiacus and pectineous. Yes, that’s a lot, but we don’t need to worry about what those muscles do for the purposes of what we’re discussing here. But you should know that that line, that ridge develops because these muscles, as you walk, as you use your legs are exerting a force on the bone and so it’s sort of developing this ridge.

(24:47)
That’s what’s forming the linea aspira. So she’s memorizing a particular term for that Ridge. On the back. It tells you whether or not you’re looking at the front or the back of the bone, amongst other things. Also, she meant it mentions the greater trocanter. What’s that? That’s where you find the insertion of a particular muscles tendon. The muscle is the gluteus medius and there’s four other muscles. This time I won’t read them off for you. You can look them up if you’re really seriously interested. And at the other end of the femur she finds a structure called the medial epicondyle. This is another location of a muscle attachment. In this case it’s a tendon for the adductor magnus, another leg muscle. Then Amanda picks up yet another bone. She picks up the humerus. That’s the upper arm bone that’s mentioned and the original opening also got cut for the published version.

(25:43)
So we’ve looked at the femur, we’ve looked at the humerus. The femur is the part that stayed in the book. What about that earlier section I read to you where she’s looking at a skull and she’s staring at this thin gold wire that is tracing the path of the facial nerve. What’s going on there? Well, in this case, she’s coming back to the skull. She’s needing needing to know the paths of all the cranial nerves. Again, there are 12 pair of them, one on each side because we are bilateral, two arms, two legs, two eyes and so on. So the facial nerve is cranial nerve number seven. It’s a what we call a mixed nerve, meaning it has both motor fibers and sensory fibers. So the motor fibers are the kind of nerve that allows you to control your muscles. In this case, the facial nerve is controlling, surprise, the muscles of your face, so your facial expressions wrinkling your forehead, bearing your teeth or frowning or squeezing your eyes shut, puffing your cheeks or pursing your lips to make a duck face.

(26:48)
All of those are controlled by your cranial nerve number seven. In terms of sensory, that’s information coming from the outside world and being pulled back into your brain for interpretation. The sensory fibers in this nerve give you your sense of taste from the forward anterior, the tip, the tip, the anterior, two thirds of your tongue, and there’s also like a tiny patch of skin in the back of your ear that it will innervate for sensation. But mostly in terms of sensory, it’s your sense of taste. So how does this facial nerve get from, in this case, the brainstem, something called the pons out into these muscles for innovation. It passes through an opening in your, the base of your skull called the internal auditory canal. It’s also called other things like the internal acoustic meatus, the internal acoustic canal. In any case, it leaves from the, from inside your brain through this passage way and it takes a couple of twists and turns through something that’s known as the petrous part of your temporal bone.

(27:55)
If you stick your finger beneath your ear, behind your earlobe, and you find that little indentation where your job meets your skull, that’s about where it’s going to exit. That bone beneath your finger is called the petrous part of the temporal bone, temporal bone being your temporal lobes. Temporal as in time. If you think about it, one of the first places people tend to go gray is right at the temporal lobes showing the passage of time. In any case, this temporal bone, the petrous part, petrus another word root in there. Petrus from rock. This is sort of a thick, hard part of this particular bone and through it is going to pass this facial nerve. It’s going to twist and it’s going to turn and it’s going to exit out of something we call the stylomastoid foramen. Remember foramen and means hole stylomastoid.

(28:49)
There’s the stylomastoid process on the base of the skull, so if you have a skull and you turn it over and you’d see the stylomastoid process even in a plastic skull, you will find right behind itm moving towards the back of your head and opening, foreamen. That’s the stylomastoid foreamen. The facial nerve is going to exit through there and then branch off into various directions to innovate the vast majority of your facial muscles. In any case. If we go back to the story, she sitting at the breakfast table, Amanda is, and she’s got a gold wire and she’s trying to make sure that she has found the stylomastoid foreamen and that is passing through this canal and that it’s opening into the skull at the internal auditory canal. She’s tracing the path of cranial nerve number seven as she studies.

(29:41)
This is something I did in gross anatomy as I was studying all of these cranial nerve passageways, so which links back to of course, why is Amanda sitting at the breakfast table? She’s preparing for her practical exam. In my mind, I figured she sort of had a box nearby with all of the human bones in them and she was sort of sitting there lining them up on the table, having her breakfast and studying, even though she really didn’t need to. She’s a bit of a, you know, she’s a bit of a geek. She’s wants to make sure she’s perfect. She has something to prove, so she’s going to study hard for this test even though she already knows everything. On top of that, if you’ve read the story, you know that she had this sister Olivia and they have a little bit of an antagonistic relationship. So if you’ve got a squeamish sibling, what better way to get their goat than to spread your human bones on the breakfast table and wait for them to arrive?

(30:34)
And that is the backstory as to how this original opening scene made it intoThe Golden Spider. It’s gone now, but if you check the show notes when you have a chance, when you’re not driving, when you’re not walking, you can get to a computer. I will put in a link that will take you to a post where you can read the two openings, both the one that’s published and the one that almost got published side by side and you can take a look at that. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed hearing about how The Golden Spider crept into existence and about how the original opening first found its way onto paper.

(31:09)
Next time I’ll be talking about biological light, bioluminescence, and how I’ve used it to provide elimination at various points in my stories.

(31:19)
Thank you for listening today. I hope you found it interesting. If so, you can find my backlist episodes and show notes@intothelaboratory.com where you can also contact me with any questions you’d like answered or simply let me know what you thought about the show if you’d like to try my books. The Tin Rose is a short story available everywhere. Rust and Steam is an exclusive short story for my newsletter subscribers. You can find both at annerenwick.com forward slash free hyphen books. Remember that’s Anne with an “e”. If you’d like to connect, you can find me on Facebook and in my readers group, the Department of Cryptobiology. See you at the next laboratory meeting.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
jQuery(function ($) { //open toggle on button click $('a.open-toggle').on('click', function(event){ $('#toggle3.et_pb_toggle_2 .et_pb_toggle_title').click(); }); });