Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Story That Started It All ...

Those of you who have been following me for any length of time know all about my love for selkies. This mythical creature of ancient Celtic folklore has fascinated me for years, and so it only seemed natural to me that if I were to ever write a fantasy, they would be the creatures I chose to weave my story around.

In the fall of 2012, my mother was going through a cancer scare. She had already collected a series of serious diagnoses over the years, and still had lots of unexplained health problems. She was just barely in her fifties, and I was facing the idea of losing a mother who was already too sick to battle something as scary as cancer. She had to go through a bunch of testing, including a PET scan, and each new step was terrifying for her, for me, and for our family.

It was around that same time that I was exchanging life stories and writing ideas with a friend of mine. She was a phenomenal writer, and I'd been pushing her for some time to take her writing to the next level, but she was very introverted and preferred to keep her writing as something just done for pleasure, though she did tell me once how she longed to see her writing on a bookshelf.

Anyway, we had a conversation one day about taking the old stories and remaking them - the fairy tales, I mean. I tossed this idea around in my head for a while; I thought about what I might be able to do with Cinderella, or Hansel & Gretel. I thought quite a bit about taking one of those old tales and giving it a more modern twist (which is now being done often, actually). I'm not sure I even remember now how I made the journey from Cinderella to selkies ... maybe it was somewhere along the route of fairy tales to Disney movies, which would have taken me to the Little Mermaid, which perhaps took me on to the Celtic selkie, which I had heard of many times and always felt a particular attraction to. Either way, once I stumbled on that idea, I was off like a rocket, and I spent every spare moment that I had forming that story.

It was in the time of writing that adventure that I climbed out of the proverbial box I had always lived in. I always knew I was a writer, and I always knew I wanted to be an author. But I was a romance reader, and I wanted to be a romance author. "Write what you know," right? And after all, how could a straight-laced girl like me be a fantasy writer anyway? I haven't even seen Star Wars! And I don't like Star Trek. I wasn't that crazy about Lord of the Rings, either (although I did like those a bit). See, I'm really just a girl with a soft heart who loves a good love story.

But then I thought of another similar creature, one that I also love - the werewolf.

Dogs are my spirit animal, and there's no friend quite like a dog, so I can relate to the recent fascination in the book world with creatures that are so dog-like, even if they are often the wildest version of "dog-like" that we can imagine. And really, what is a seal, if not the dog of the sea? It is only fitting then, that when asked what a selkie is, I just grin and say, "The ocean version of a werewolf."

I think when I sat down with that idea and let it take over my world in the way that it did, I was running emotionally, from the prospect of losing my mother. We've never been close - many of you know that her second marriage was an abusive one and that my witnessing of her marriage is a large part of what led me (later on) to write Fighting For Freedom. Her marriage has had a lasting impact on our entire family, on who we are and how we relate to each other, as well as how our bodies and minds changed in response to our experiences. I was very young at that time, and very strongly impacted by the things I saw and experienced - and I think for a long time, a part of me took my mother's marriage personally. I harbored a lot of resentment for her choices for a long time, and I was angry that she didn't (or couldn't) protect my brother and I. But close or not, she is my mother, and she's the only one I'm ever going to get.

It was in the days of the cancer scare that my relationship with my mother began to lose some of its strife, and we learned a new way to interact and relate to each other - and since then, I have had my mother for four more years. Not that it's always peaceful, mind you, and I'm still watching her health fail at a dizzying speed - just in these last few years, she's broken her arm, her ribs, her collarbone, her hip, all due to complications of congestive heart failure. But despite those things and the stress of her circumstances, we work now in a way that we never did before.

Back then though, before we reached the point we're at now, I needed nothing so much as I needed an escape. Everything was changing, and not for the better - and I needed a place to let those things rest for a while, because they had begun to occupy my every waking thought.

Meeting Annie Jacobs, the heroine of the Selkie Trilogy, changed me forever. She changed my entire life, the path I was on, and the places I could see myself in. She gave me a career I never imagined actually having, and a sense of personal independence that I hadn't had before she came along. She gave me pride and vision and inspiration. She gave me courage and power to change the way I saw myself and the way I saw the people around me.

To Love A Selkie was my first novel, and I cried when I held it in my hands for the first time, hiding in the kitchen of the little apartment we lived in so that my family wouldn't see my emotion and tease me over it. But the emotion was there, welling up inside me in a way that could no longer be held back. To Love A Selkie was a first for me, the first completed work. That book was the solid, tangible proof that I could do it. That I could accomplish a goal as lofty as writing a whole novel. That I could live my dream. And that in watching me do it, my children would learn that they could dream too, under the belief that dreams are not only dreams.

November 1, 2016, the story continues, and with it, this dream that I've been living for nearly four years. November 1, 2016, Annie's story continues, and I hope that her story will continue to enrich mine. November 1, 2016 ... Selkie II goes live.


28 comments:

  1. So great to know more about my fav, Selkie! Can't wait to read part two! You are always so insightful!!! I love your posts. They make me feel like I'm closer to you! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so sweet, and I'm thrilled with how much you loved Selkie! I'm glad you like my posts, too ... I have lots of fun writing them, and I love that they allow me to reach out to my readers.

      Delete
  2. I can't imagine what you went through with your mom.
    It seems like your life is on the right path with writing! It's always nice when someone finds their passion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely makes a difference, having found such a great outlet.

      Delete
  3. I love reading your words - the part where you say writing was the adventure that got you to climb the proverbial box. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writing is so much of a release for me - it's therapy, adventure, support, friendship. It's anger and love, sadness and joy. It's in my soul.

      Delete
  4. I've never heard of a skelie! I'm not in to mystical things so that's probably why ๐Ÿ˜ŠThis was interesting though!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Awesome, I look forward to it! I am sorry about your mom though. I can't imagine going through a cancer scare like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah it was pretty bad - thankfully she's still kicking, but she's declined quite a bit since this post was written.

      Delete
  6. Oh wow this is exciting for me as I love reading about selkies - so fascinating and mesmerising! I love all things mystical.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome! I hope you enjoy it if you decide to pick it up!

      Delete
  7. Never heard of a selkie before. lol so sorry your mom has been through so much. Sending her (and you) best wishes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people haven't. They're my favorite mythical creatures, though. Thank you for your comment.

      Delete
  8. That is so amazing that you followed your dream and wrote a book! I've toyed with the idea for years, but I've never quite found a story or taken the plunge. I'm glad you have been able to heal your relationship with your mother a bit in the last few years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took me a long time for a story to finally tell itself to me from beginning to end - I wrote a lot of half-stories before Selkie came along.

      Delete
  9. The way in which you talk about your life and your writing it's special. Writing is your life! It helps you in all the though moment

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's nice to know that the rough times you've had with your mom led you to be an amazing writer now. And oh, I'm glad to know I am not the only one who hasn't seen Star Trek and Lord of the Rings! Thank you for introducing me the selkie, honestly I didn't know about it until I read this post. I will check it out, it sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem! I hope you love the story if you decide to pick it up, and in the meantime, *fistbump* on the no Star Trek thing. I have seen SOME of LOTR, though, so I'm not a total purist on that one.

      Delete
  11. That's exciting that you are getting to write a followup novel to the Selkies. I will have to do some research about them as I do not know too much about them. I should. I know with my background I should have more extensive knowledge about them. As far as parents, I totally get you on what's going on with your mother. I have a father who is similarly in declining health, and watching him go downhill and not having a real relationship with him has been pretty hard. I hope things do change, but I just don't know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah it's definitely hard juggling that, especially when you're tripped up by having to wedge yourself into the caregiver role (or dealing with resentment from having to fit into the caregiver role since you were a child, like me).

      Definitely check into Selkies though - they're amazing!

      Delete
  12. Congratualtions on the new novel. You're a great author. Can't wait to read what happens in the next chapter of this story.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My mother and I are not that close either but then I am grateful everyday that she is still alive. She has diabetes. She used to work a lot because my parents own a small business. I am relieved that they have taken things a little bit easy.

    I have watched Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. I love the Harry Potter movies the most because they looked more fascinating to me. I read all the books too.

    I am not familiar with selkies. Then, I searched on google images and found out that they are half-seal and half-human. Right?

    Iza Abao, Two Monkeys Travel Group Writer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, that's right - the Selkie in traditional lore is a creature that is a seal when living in the ocean, but can shed it's sealskin and live as a human on land. Like the ocean version of a werewolf.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Delete
  14. Congratulations on your new novel. You and I share the same interest - Celtic folklore. I really need to learn more. xx

    ReplyDelete

Like this post? Leave me a comment - and don't forget to check "notify me" so you'll get an alert when I reply!