I’m on a fairy tale kick lately. It has long been my goal to reimagine some of my favorite old stories in new (and sexier) ways, and to that end I’ve got lots of ideas scribbled down. Two of those ideas actually evolved into complete stories — available for pre-order now, to be released on June 30th.
The first one I want to share is a blending of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ (yes, the depressing version, where after her deal with the witch the poor mermaid’s every step feels like a thousand knives, the prince dumps her, and her dead body disintegrates into foam on the sea… Scandinavians aren’t known for their happy endings!) and the Celtic legend of selkies, or seal-people.
I really got sucked into this story. It was a fun challenge to imagine this kind of magical creature, all woman on the outside, but somehow animal within. Selkies had the reputation of being excellent wives and mothers, but they always long for the sea. If they find the hiding place of their stolen sealskin, the selkie will not hesitate to snatch it back and return to the waves from whence she came. It’s such a sad and beautiful legend… the perfect match for our Little Mermaid of sea-foam fame.
If you’re curious, pre-order today! I think you won’t regret it. 🙂
Sometimes stories emerge from the merest whisper of a thought. How many of us have built a whole story around the refrain of a song, a particular setting, a stranger glimpsed on the bus? How many of us have grabbed hold of a fragile, timid idea, and taken it for a ride? Or, rather, let it take us for a ride; since all authors know our stories tell themselves. We are merely the vessels through which they travel.
I know that, like a parent, I really shouldn’t have favorite stories. However, I feel special affection for this one. It bloomed from the desert, survived many years of writers’ block, abandonment, and revision, and emerged into a beautiful romance. Though I have no proof that they actually lived, the characters in this story resonate with me. I hope they truly existed as I imagine them, and that their lives had a happy ending.
(Sources are listed at the end. Click on any image to link to its source page.)
To paraphrase the article: on the Iran/Afghan border, in 2007 or so, archaeologists discovered the tomb of an ancient woman. She was buried about 5,000 years ago. They guessed she was about 25-30 years old at the time of death; not bad for a woman of her time. However, a few details made her stand out from other graves of the period:
First, she was a strikingly tall woman. Nearly six feet! Women of our time rarely grow this tall, and generally people of the past were much shorter, men and women both. (This immediately got my writer’s brain churning, wondering how she would have felt to be so tall, unlike everyone else around her…)
Second, she was buried with an ornate hand mirror made of bronze. (Where did she get it? Why was it so important to be buried with her?)
Third – and most interesting – in one eye socket she wore a golden ball. Carved with lines flowing from a circle, like a sun with rays of light, it was made of some kind of paste and painted gold. A hole was bored through it, permitting it to be attached with a string. Impressions in the eye socket also suggest that she actually wore it in life, not just in death. (At this point my mind was racing. An exceptionally tall women with a golden eye? The character just appeared fully grown, like that! But then I started thinking… what would her job have been? How did she use her eye? And how did she get it in the first place? So many wonderful historical questions – that will forever remain unanswered, except through imagination…)
According to the article, archaeologists assumed she must have been some kind of priestess or soothsayer, perhaps using her shining eyeball to see into the future. In any case, she would have been a shocking character, and surely unique in her community.
Honestly, the rest is all mystery. My questions in italics weren’t answered, of course, and no amount of Google searching will make them appear. 5,000 years was a long freakin’ time ago; we’ll never know for sure, now, the truth of everything from way back then. We will just have to take this small, mysterious discovery and pack it away with all the other unanswered questions.
Except as an author I can’t stand for that! This character appeared, captured my attention, and demanded to be released. So I let her out.
Her story begins with a timid young girl, scarred by violence in an uncertain and dangerous time. Without a protector, or family, or friends to help her, she must grow into an independent woman. Like anyone in such a dismal situation, our ancient heroine must trudge through life alone… until she discovers the secret of her magic.
Magic sight – future sight – released by her pleasure, in the moment where the brain gives way to the raptures of the body, and conscious thought cedes place to instinct. The third eye opens; the eye she no longer possesses, sees again. She is a seeress. A prophetess. A feared and powerful priestess. But she is no longer a woman; not for them.
Until a chance for love comes into her life. For her to grasp, or lose. Either way, she cannot escape her fate – nor he his.
This is one of my favorite couples; I feel like they revealed themselves to me, rather than me creating them. I hope you will take the opportunity to get to know them through my story; and maybe find one of your own.
After all, with a mystery this ancient, only fiction can approach the truth.