{Illustration from Page 1 of Phoebe Spanier’s Mirror Sense.}

I don’t recall how I happened upon it; what I do remember is the joy of discovery. 

Mirror Sense, by Phoebe Sanier, is a delightful illustrated novel, coming to us Dickenesque week-by-week on the Net. It’s original, it’s illuminating, it’s … enchanting! 

The novel is still “in process” at this date — but I believe it fair to say that it’s about the intrigue required by the Court of Louis XIV to gain access to Venetian mirror technology. 

One of the things I love about Mirror Sense is how the author-as-researcher weighs in with each “page” of the story. 

The other thing I love, most of all, is how original it is: Phoebe Spanier is as adept at writing poetry as she is at making art as she is at story-telling. What a combination! 

Phoebe, a U.S. citizen now living in Tel Aviv, has been a Marketing and Media Manager, a Book Scout and Editor.  She has been kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

What got you interested in the 17th century?

I started reading about 17th-century France for a project I developed with Hachette Livre jeunesse in Paris a few years ago. (My background is in children’s book publishing, though I’ve jumped jobs and countries quite a bit.) The period just fascinated me and I began thinking about a novel set in the late 17th century. I’ve really enjoyed the research, both textual and visual … 

I love the mix of art, poetry and history. I love how the story is one part, and your historical/research notes are another. How did you conceive of this unusual format? Do you imagine that you will ever offer it in print form, or as an e-book?

Webcomic artists usually blog alongside their comic posts, which I enjoy as a reader. I wanted my story and notes to be side-by-side to really encourage people to read both, and also to accommodate a vertical-scroll reading experience (as on the “Read from the Start” page on my site).

Luckily a very patient programmer friend was willing to help me set this up. I would love to offer this project as a printed book and/or an ebook… one day when it’s completed. (For now I’m taking it a page at a time!) I’m not sure how I would incorporate the blog, though.

I love the illustrations. Are you an artist? A poet? (Clearly: both.)

I’ve enjoyed writing and drawing ever since I can remember, and I like thinking about how words and pictures can fit together on a page or screen. I’ve always been most interested in picture books — this is my first time trying my hand at an illustrated novel.

You tell a story in a minimalist way I find enchanting. Do you cut a great deal?

Yes! I guess it’s my strength and weakness. Revising is almost synonymous with deleting for me! 

Thank you so much, Phoebe!  I look forward to seeing how this story unfolds. 


Phoebe quotes Martha Graham in one of the posts. It was a quote I found quite moving, and I quoted it myself on this blog. Phoebe said about this quote:

“… I want to use this post to remind myself of the importance of creativity. I don’t mean creativity in the grand, masterpiece way. I mean it in the small ways that enhance all our lives. Baking a cake. Sewing a doll. Coming up with a new idea at work. Or creating an eccentric, flawed illustrated novel…”

Hardly! Do have a look at this delightful creation