Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Art and Photos that inspired The Oathbreaker's Shadow

Art and photography have always inspired my writing, in a multitude of ways. In 2006, when The Oathbreaker’s Shadow was just an idea floating around in my head, I headed down to an achingly hip part of Toronto known as The Distillery District, a pedestrian-only zone lined with the converted Victorian industrial buildings of the old Gooderham and Worts distillery.  It’s packed with art galleries and amazing coffee shops (head to Balzacs immediately if you’re searching for good coffee in Toronto), and a fabulous place to spend an afternoon.

That day, I stopped off in the Gibsone Jessop gallery, which features contemporary modern artists from around the globe. In that gallery, I found an artist whose work seemed to display on the canvas the very beginnings of this little novel I had umm-ed and ahh-ed about writing but hadn’t yet committed to the page.  

I’ve written before that the inspiration for Oathbreaker came from my Medieval literature and Chinese history lectures blending and muddling in my brain. The idea of fealty in particular was fascinating to me – as in, the pledge of allegiance from one person to another – and how important that idea became in both Western Medieval Europe medieval Genghis Khan-era Mongolia (and others). The concept of The Oathbreaker’s Shadow sprung from that: what would happen if that pledge, that oath, was taken to the extreme, and the consequences for breaking that oath became physically embodied.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one interested in juxtaposition between West and East, and in the artist Kiron Khosla I found a sort of kindred spirit. His art (and in particular this painting, with its European knights on a Chinese-style background) inspired me to start putting those words down onto the page.

'It's like this' by Kiron Khosla

After that, other art that inspired me includes David Roberts, a 19th Century Scottish painter who travelled to places like Jordan and Egypt creating detailed lithographs and paintings of places that most people could never hope to visit themselves. Although I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of those places in person, I still find his artwork (and the depictions of those ancient sights as they appeared almost two centuries ago) really inspiring.

'The Royal Tombs' by David Roberts

For more art and photos that inspired The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, please head to my Pinterest board!  


Amy McCulloch is a girl of many publishing hats: author, editor, and reader. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she currently lives in London, UK. Other than books, she is addicted to travelling, running and Starbucks coffee.

Her debut novel THE OATHBREAKER'S SHADOW is due Spring 2013 from Random House Children's Publishers. Find out more on her blog or feel free to say hello on Twitter


  1. Very cool when a painting can reach your soul like that.

    1. I know! I've never been hugely into art (when it comes to paintings and such - books obviously another story!), but that's one moment when I've truly appreciated its power.

  2. Very interesting and inspiring images. Love the Kiron Khosla one

    1. I know - that painting was like a revelation! It was even better in person, kind of mixed media.

  3. I love the title of the Kiron Khosla painting. Interesting post, Amy.