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Annie helping me write

Apparently, it was Mark Twain who said « Write what you know ».

He also said « I have never let my schooling interfere with my education »,« It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. » and « If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first. »

I think I would have liked Mark Twain.

And I think he was right about writing what you know, which is I why I wrote about elemental spirits, dragons, alchemists, magic, trees and animals.

What you know isn’t just the day to day mundane minutiae of your life, it’s all the worlds and lives you’ve conjured up in your imagination. People so often dismiss the imagination, « It’s not real ». Real? REAL? A myth written down, or passed down orally, or a story that resonates, can touch a person centuries later. The world formed in Tolkein’s imagination, is more powerful and alive today than the day that he put the final full stop to Lord of the Rings. He’s dead. The so-called ‘real’ stuff, like what he ate for breakfast on a certain day, a painful tooth, the love he felt for his wife… all just momentary, transient things. The creations of his imagination, however, live on. So, which is actually the more real?

Anyway…back to writing.
When I’m writing a book, I live inside it. This works on two levels.

Tell me more!


The first, is simply that I enact scenes in my books. You know those deranged looking people who walk along the street talking to themselves? That’s me. It’s fine normally. I live in the middle of nowhere, and my dogs are non-judgemental. I talk through scenes as I walk them in the morning, playing all characters, trying out different versions of the same scene until it sounds right. If a stranger, lost in the forest, were to stumble upon these morning walks and hear me, especially the bits where I laugh out loud in the manner of e.g. a cackling hedge hag, then he might jump to wrong conclusions. But it doesn’t happen. No strangers venture this far into the wilds!

I do, however, occasionally have to venture into the land of humans…which is something I find very difficult. In order to cope with the horror of a supermarket -the hideous strip lights, buzzing aircon, chemically smell, nasty piped music and row after row of garishly packaged poison that no one actually needs- I retreat into my books.

So…I’m walking along the coffee aisle. My basic survival instinct guides me to the coffee that I want. But my self-protection mechanism has sent me off to the Arivala Isles in Bryah, where on a beach of rainbow coloured sand, Arin is offering the Scorpion child a song in exchange for his freedom. I speak the words…My face betrays the fear felt by Arin…and then the haughty entitlement of the Scorpion child. I begin to sing Arin’s song………..

The second level, is that I immerse myself in the world I’m writing about. So, for example, for the fourth book, I needed to live as much as possible with the Air element. I read and researched like never before (air element…thinking, mental acuity…), I played with sylphs, got to know the Fool card of the Tarot, (those of you who’ve read ‘The Wakening of the Sword’ will have seen the Fool in there), surrounded myself with airy things: lavender, feathers, yellows and sky blues, strengthened my friendship with the Birch Tree, and since the guide in that book was a bee and bees played a vital rôle, I plunged into bee-dom. I ate pollen pellets, honey, propolis, royal jelly, drank mead, and followed the bees from flower to flower, danced the bee dance…dreamt of bees…dreamt I was a bee…

The Fool from the Tarot of the Sidhe

So, when my hero was saved by a bee in the Garden of the Seed, where the bees dance the dance of new life, I wrote what I knew.

« …The boy opened his eyes slowly. Around him all was dark. He waited, calmly, unafraid. This wasn’t the darkness of a nightmare. It was a warm, safe darkness. He could hear a deep, low humming, a humming that seemed to begin inside his head and then spread out in ripples into the darkness beyond. Then gradually he became aware of light. Very slowly, as the humming spiralled down through him, the darkness took on a deep amber glow. He couldn’t move, but it didn’t actually feel to him at that moment as though he had a body to move anyway. Later, when he tried to explain to his friends what had happened, he skipped over this bit. There weren’t words in his vocabulary to describe the sensation. The closest he could come was that the golden, amber light that rippled with rhythmic waves of humming, was now inside him. As though instead of looking out through his eyes at it, he was looking in. » ~The Wakening of the Sword.

Coming soon… The Mousefather: A terrifying tail. (sic)

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