Saturday, May 22, 2010

Myths and Emily Brontë

The lovely children's author Lucy Coates - with whom I spent a most pleasant summer afternoon in London a couple of years ago - has recently been running a weekly series of interviews on her blog Scribble City Central, in which she asked different writers about what myths mean to them. They're all worth reading, but I'm rather egotistically posting about it, because this week's instalment is with me. They were fun questions to answer, and interesting to think about.

On another note, a couple of weeks ago I finished the first draft of Black Spring, the novel on which I've been working since last year. That's kind of Wuthering Heights, set somewhere in an alternative 19th century Eastern Europe, with vendetta and wizards... It turned out a bit stranger than I thought, and the last month of writing was really difficult because, well, difficult things happen to the characters, as you'd know if you've read Emily Brontë's book. In a way, the book is for Emily, for whom I've always had a strong fellow feeling. One of my earliest poems, written when I was 16, is about her. Here it is:

Emily Brontë

The bell of my loneliness
Is a note so high and pure
It leaves you breathless.

These windy slopes are shorn
of the things that make life comfortable:
broad trees, broken bread, the swell

and supple curve of a lover's back.
These come only in dreams,
fade achingly before the besom dawn

sweeps away sleep's comfort. I
can sit here in my window, catch
the rough sweet scent of heather in my nostrils

and write of death and love entwined
like adders together. The poetry
lies wild in my veins, the poetry

of windy slopes stabbed by rocky outcrops,
the giving spring of turf, the taste
of solitude like aloes on my tongue,

the bare, unchanging moors, which take
my sisters and myself with mute indifference
and conquer under soil all our passion.

(From The Common Flesh, New and Selected Poems, Arc Books UK).

The novel manuscript has now been sent to my agent, which means that it's dropped out of my head. Until I have to start work again on editing, of course; but I like editing.

Right after finishing the novel, I also finished a music theatre script for young adults, Night Songs, that I've been co-writing with my husband Daniel Keene for the Bell Shakespeare Company. And after that, I had unusually busy couple of weeks of journalism - four theatre reviews and a couple of big articles for the Australian. And I've driven myself straight into the ground.

As a result, I've caught a bad cold and have been feeling a bit sorry for myself, which is never a good look. And the problem is that I can't blame anybody - it's all my own fault, dammit!


SierraSkyeGordon said...


First off, I want to say you are an amazing writer! Your books have me endlessly thinking of The world of Annar and all of the magic that is in it. So I must ask, will there be any more books with the setting of Annar? Or any more books at all by you?

thanks for your time!

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Sierra

Many thanks - and there is talk about a book of short stories set in Annar and surrounds. I haven't got around to it yet. And yes, as I say above, I've just finished another book.

Anonymous said...

A cold's going around at the moment, Alison. I'd say bird flu, but I've heard that's gone out of fashion. I'm with you though. Rug up and stay warm, and enjoy that fuzzy feeling from having completed another -- I am assuming -- brilliant novel!

Hope to see you at another signing?

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks Shadowhunter... Maybe it's from a swine ... or my son...

I hope you're right in your assumption!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison!

Your poem is beautifully written, you are really talented!

Looking forward to your new book, and to the collection of short stories in the world of Edil Amarandth! (is the spelling right? I always got it wrong lol)

Be well soon and drink of lots of water, that'll help to your cold. And do not stress yourself too much. Make a time for relaxing and meditating. I hope that helps!

Anyway, God speed and God bless on your new book(s)! I know (it)they would be as meaningful and as awesome as your first fiction: Pellinor Series! <3

Alison Croggon said...

Hi OrangeFruit - just an extra "t" in Amarandh! (I don't know why I used such a complicated word for something so simple... but hey).

Working on it all...

And thanks.

CArLy said...

I loved reading that interview! I'm also very interested in mythology, specifically Greek and Norse, but I don't know where to start! Do you have any suggestions for me to start with?

Alison Croggon said...

The classic collection is Robert Graves' retelling of Greek myths. Still well worth a look! There are some good translations of the Edda, the poems which tell all the Norse stories, and which are also well worth the read.

Abigail Vawter Fitzsimmons said...

Ha, Alison, you can blame us for your head cold. If it wasn't for your fans you might not be pestered so to write all these novels. ;) Can't wait to read Black Spring! I never read Wuthering Heights, but I think I shall have to, now. Thank you!

Alison Croggon said...

It's well worth the read. Though it's not compulsory reading for Black Spring, I'm sure it would make it more interesting, as it is - among other things - a kind of dialogue with Emily.

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Anonymous said...

Hi, I've just discorver your blog and I love it :D
I firt read (I'm french so excuse my bad way of writing) The Gift when I was 16 (it was my second book in english after Harry Potter)and after I love it so much that I order the others ones in France. Now I'm reading The Crow, late beacause I was a little bit of upset of not following Maered again :/
But I love to read again you way of writing.
Anyway I'm going to read again :D

And thank you for your books again (translate them in french will be a graet idea if you want my opinion ...) :D

Lys Lys said...

First off congratulations on finishing the first draft of your new novel, I can't wait to read it.

I love the poem, you are such a talented writer.

And I know how you feel with the cold I've got one too, and it's my own fault as well.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks all - and sorry for the late moderation on a couple of these comments. I've just moved house and most other things went to pot! Thanks for the kind words - and I hope you like Hem as much I did by the end of The Crow, Matilda! Don't worry, Maerad returns...

nicole.n said...

HI Alison!
Im writing this all the way from Hong Kong and i looove your books! i find myself constantly thinking about the world of Annar, and having dreams about being a Bard..hmm... :)
Im so excited to hear that you're going to be writing short stories set in Annar, and i'd love to know more about Cadvan and Saliman's early life or maybe Maerad and Cadvan's life after the Singing. I've read the short chapter about Saliman and Cadvan's earlier friendship and i would love to read more!! :D youre the best :)

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Nicole - lovely to hear from HK! (Thinks: I'd maybe better start thinking about those stories...)

writerchick224 said...

Hi Alison!
I live in the USA, and I am an 8th grader and I absolutely loved the books of Pellinor! I had The Naming sitting on my shelf for ages, and I had never had a chance to read it. I went through my bookshelf looking for something new to read, and I ended up starting on The Naming. It becamse my new favorite book, and I just finished The Singing 2 days ago. Once I finished the singing, I almost started crying because I was sad the series was over!! Anyways I just had 1 question. I was wondering if there are any plans of a movie being made out of the books of Pellinor.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Writerchick - thanks so much! It's always great to hear from readers who enjoyed the books. No, there's no plans for a movie, to my knowledge anyway.

Anonymous said...

I finished Crow last month and I love it of course, less than the first volume which is my prefer of all, but love it especially at the end.
Well now I have The singing and I will bring it to Paris in my flat (because of my studies I need to move in the capital, poor me), to be sure to have it whenever I will want to read it.

I'm sorry for my writing, but it's late and I am a little bit tired ...

Alison Croggon said...

HI Matilda - thanks, and I hope you enjoy The Singing too!

Dan said...

Hello Alison Croggon!
I just wanted to say how amazing your Pellinor series was! I am going to print that short story that youve written. I can't wait for more Pellinor short stories! I am going to reread them, and I must say that I have, as yet, never found any books good enough to reread!
You're one of my inspirations to write:)
And it's nice to see someone vaguely close to NZ be so talented!

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Dan, many thanks. That's a huge compliment, and I greatly appreciate it!

Alison Croggon said...

Aaargh! I pushed the wrong button and deleted a comment instead of publishing it! So sorry, Stephanie, especially as it was such a lovely comment. I deeply appreciate what you say, and thanks so much. While I'm here, I might as well say that BLACK SPRING is heading towards interesting developments, and I'll let you know as soon as there is any news.

And here's the missing comment -

From Stephanie Smith-Waterman:

Hi Alison
I've read the Pellinor series multiple times-underlying and revisiting themes and feelings over and over again-you've obviously done a lot of work yourself about identity and individuation. Your work is inspiring and amazing! Can't wait to see the new set of stories! Please know how much of an impact your work is having on the world-lucky people who find your work. I also love that you respond to people-it makes the world feel like a much smaller place. What a gift.

huntressofnostalgia said...

Hi Allison, I just found your blog through goodreads. I just finished the first book of Pellinor, and am ecstatic to have found an author like you! I look forward to reading all your books:)

Alison Croggon said...

Many thanks! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series. This is a sadly neglected blog at present, the victim of time poverty, so apologies for that...