Tales from the Hidden Grove

Tales from the Hidden Grove
"Amongst the finest short story writers in the UK right now" ~ Black Pear Press

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Legolas - 10 Years On


Yesterday, I went to see The Hobbit.  When I got home, I dug out all my old Tolkien fan fictions and re-read them, something I haven't done for years.  In among them was the very first - actually a fan poem - simply entitled Legolas and dated December 2002.  At the time I thought it was the first and last, a one-off expression of my feelings after seeing The Two Towers.  Little did I know then that it was in fact the spark that re-kindled my imaginative gift, and set me on my own "unexpected journey" through fan fiction and short story, to the point I am now, with my first novel Silver Hands due for release in April 2013.  So it seems only right to print the poem again, ten years on.  Thank you, Legolas.  I still love you.

Legolas

Under leaf and under tree,
Under moon and under star, 
Long you walked, before the sea
Bore you to the realm afar.

Too fair for man, too stern for maid,
As all that race whose days are long.
Sure of bow and keen of blade,
Clear of vision and of song.

For ever young in face, and in
The joy of life by branch and stream,
With starlit eyes of all your kin,
Reflecting centuries of dream.

Alas, I fade, I die, I age,
Hourly the sand runs from the glass.
Your beauty still runs unassuaged 
Over fern and over grass.

O Greenleaf, Thranduil's son,
Would that those eyes had turned on me
And timeless, ageless, we could run
Beneath the stars, beyond the sea.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Of Kirins and Unicorns

Nothing could have excited my imagination more than the Guardian's recent reports on the alleged discovery in North Korea of Kiringul (unicorn's lair), associated with ancient king Tongmyong who, according to Korean legend, rode on unicorns.



A king rode unicorns in Korean legend?!?  Why did I not know of this before?  I find this especially interesting because in the Korean graphic novel series Bride of the Water God by Mi-Kyung Yun there is a character called Lynn, who appears to be a unicorn.  In fact, he has two forms.  In one, he is a winged unicorn.  (He looks like a horse but with more of a cow's tail).  In his other form, he looks like a human, but with pointed ears and a unicorn-like horn in the middle of his forehead.  He is ridden in his horse form by another character, Huye.

According to the Guardian, Korean unicorns are called kirins or qilins.  They are described either as a 4-legged beast with a dragon's head (doesn't sound much like Lynn) or having the body of a deer, the tail of a cow, hooves and a mane.  (Now that sounds much more like Lynn, doesn't it?)

Interestingly, when I looked up kirin in the Encyclopedia Mythica, it had this to say:

 "Kirin.  The Japanese unicorn, an animal-god who punishes the wicked with its single horn.  It protects the just and grants them good luck.  Seeing a kirin is considered an omenn of extreme good luck - if one is a virtuous person."  (By Micha F Lindemans)

So the kirin is common to Japan and Korea at least.  Interestingly, in one of the Tales of the Otori books by Lian Herne, a giraffe is brought to Japan and they refer to it as the kirin.  

Any professors of East Asian studies out there?  I would love to know more...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Introducing... Margaret Rosewood


A master-mariner's daughter, looking for her place in the world

  • Born in Hollyport, a shipping town on the English coast, sometime in the winter of 1690.  Presently 16 years old.
  • Family: father, Isaac Rosewood, a master-mariner and ship owner.  Two younger sisters, Susanna (15) and Martha (10).  Mother, Mary Rosewood, is deceased.
  • Current occupation: managing her father's household and business accounts.
  • Skills: arithmetic, languages.
  • Interests: reading, learning new things.
  • An dutiful daughter, who has had to take on her mother's role at home.  Even though she's spent all her life surrounded by ships and sailors, she's never thought of herself as a person to travel or have adventures.  She is quite shy and reserved, but can argue with her sisters. She hates to be intimidated and will resist if forced into something.  Even though she is normally obedient, she will disobey if she feels threatened.


Friday, 9 November 2012

Sleepout 2012 - A Brief Encounter

Last night, I spent several hours with a very enthusiastic bunch of people who were doing a sponsored sleepout for the homeless as part of a national initiative called Sleepout 2012.  


 The group I was with were in the car park of a charity called Keyhouse in Bradford, but there were similar groups up and down the country sleeping for homeless charities, live-linked to London via the Community Channel, where celebrity sleepers included "Branson" and " Daisy" from Downton Abbey!  The Bradford group raised over £10,000.  One chap raised nearly £1000 on his own.  As some residents of Keyhouse were there, we could see for ourselves what a difference the money would make.

I was invited to read a "bedtime story", although I don't think anyone was remotely ready for bed at that point.  As I was there for several hours, I also wrote a flash fiction "in situ", partly inspired by a piece of artwork being created during the course of the night, courtesy of Participate.


She Walks like Beauty in the Night

She walks on silent feet.  The mosaic figure of antiquity.  I have seen her face on the stuccoed ceilings of Georgian grandeur.  I have glimpsed her form in the granite monuments of Victorian industry.  But tonight she walks where the movers and the shakers lie on the cheerless turf of the restless and the shiverers.  Tonight Charity sleeps in a car park.  Tonight Charity begins with the homeless.




Monday, 5 November 2012

Silver Hands - the making of an image


I don't yet know what the front cover for my forthcoming novel, Silver Hands will be like, but I'd like to talk you through the image I created myself for the Silver Hands page of my Hidden Grove website.

There are three images blended together in there.  (Can you spot them?)  The first is a drawing of the novel's main character, Margaret Rosewood.  (More of her in future blogs).  I drew that myself with pencil, pen and oil pastels.  I had a bit of help, copying the overall face shape from Miaka in the manga Fushigi Yugi, although I think she looks a bit like me as well.  (And a bit like Belle in Disney's version of Beauty & the Beast!  Not intentional.  Although an interesting coincidence).

The other two images are of places I went to research the story of Silver Hands.  One is of the frigate, the Grand Turk, when it was harboured in Whitby.  It was built for the TV series Hornblower (1998-2003), in which it featured as the Indefatigable.  It starred in other TV films as well, such as To the Ends of the Earth (2005).  I only found out today that it was sold to the French in 2010 and is now living in Saint-Malo, Brittany as the Etoile de Roy.  Almost like a real 18th-century ship, many of which were captured as prize ships in the wars between the English and the French.  I wondered where it had gone when I was in Whitby this year!  I went on board it twice when it was in harbour there, and it was really evocative of the Golden Age of Sail and life at sea.

The third image was taken on my guided tour of central Japan, this time last year (November 2011).  Looking at what order it comes in my collection, I think it's in the temple town of Koya-san, Wakayama Prefecture (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) which is up in the mountains and contains many temple dwellings.  The town was founded in 816 by the great Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi Kukai, who wanted a place away from worldly distractions for monks to study and pray. Pilgrims have come there for centuries, and visitors can stay in temple lodgings kept by monks.  It was chilly there, but a wonderful and unique experience, sleeping under a table heater (!), attending a prayer service, and quietly singing to myself in the garden under the stars the song I wrote for Margaret and Taro.  (More of him in future blogs too). 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hello and Welcome!

Hello and welcome to Hidden Grove Extra: a secret nook of the Hidden Grove where I will be dropping in from time to to time, to share character profiles, interesting pieces of historical or folkloric research, and anything else I think is relevant and interesting to my stories.

In keeping with the season, I feel this is a particularly autumnal part of the Grove, so here is a picture to match.


Things are currently moving on with the production of my novel, Silver Hands, so hopefully we will have a date for publication in the not very distant future, and then I can start introducing you to the characters.

See you soon...!