Monday, 24 October 2016

Beneath The Skin by Sandra Ireland - Blog Tour Guest Post

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am happy to be the first stop on the Beneath The Skin by Sandra Ireland blog tour and I have a wonderful guest post by Sandra about myths and legends in fiction.

Myth’s & Legends in Fiction
By Sandra Ireland
Mark Twain famously claimed that there is no such thing as a new idea. “It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations...”
This is bad news if you’re a writer! We need new ideas. We need to be fresh, authentic, original! Readers want that too. They don’t want to read something that’s stale and re-hashed.
But Twain offers a tiny ray of hope; “We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages”.
But still...coloured pieces of glass? That actually sounds creative and rather cool! We just need to think about where we can find the best, most vibrant pieces of glass...
Look no further than the world of myth and legend – something that inspires my own writing greatly. I love to re-imagine some of the myths and tales that fascinate me. Sometimes, just a few words or an image might find its way into my work. The wren, for example, the subject of many Irish myths, features in my debut novel, Beneath the Skin as a way of showcasing my character Alys’s passion for taxidermy and her undoubted intellect.
So what exactly is a myth? Well the official definition is: A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people, or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. OR any invented story, idea, or concept.
I also love to add some folklore into the mix. Folklore tends to be much more specific. It is shaped by a particular landscape, culture or indigenous belief system, and it is attached to that landscape, and to us, as a sort of collective memory. This is why folk tales remain very emotive for us. In Scotland, for example, the tale of the Selkie, or Seal People, is a common theme in our writing. One brilliant example is the novel Secrets of the Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford or how about my favourite poem ‘At Roane Head’, by Robin Robertson.
Whatever inspires you, whatever story holds a place in your heart, there are myriad ways in which to give it Twain’s kaleidoscope treatment. First of all, there are a few clever decisions you need to make.
Which character is telling the story? If we take a common fairy tale as an example- Cinderella, perhaps- we can think about using a fresh viewpoint. I once re-imagined this as a contemporary teen story narrated by a very cynical and ungracious ‘ugly sister’! It was subsequently published in a popular women’s magazine.
For a fresh slant on things, it’s important to choose your starting point with care. Sometimes it’s more immediate to begin the narrative at a critical point. Perhaps just after the Wolf has eaten Grandmother! You can always use flashbacks and a non-linear approach to fill in the rest of the story but it’s crucial to engage the reader from the first word.
Myths and legends do not have to remain in the Dark Ages. Many contain a very timely message and can be updated easily. Most lend themselves to fantasy and sci-fi genres- think Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin’s novels owe much to real historical events such as The War of the Roses, but are heavily inspired by the Viking Sagas and similar mythologies.
So whatever you choose to write, or to read, this week, let’s hope all the coloured pieces of it sparkle in a new and curious way!
Sandra Ireland’s debut novel Beneath the Skin is out now in paperback and ebook.

Beneath The Skin

Taking a job in the studio of an Edinburgh taxidermist probably isn’t Walt’s wisest decision. Suffering from combat stress and struggling to outrun the demons from his past, he now finds himself confronted by the undead on a daily basis.

His enigmatic boss, Alys, and her sister, Mouse, have their own uneasy relationship with the past. Someone doesn’t want to let them go. Can Walt save Mouse’s eight-year-old son, William, from becoming the next victim? And can he save himself?

Deliciously disturbing, this psychological thriller peels back the skin of one modern family to reveal the wounds no one wants to see. It deals with the effects of trauma and how facing up to vulnerability is sometimes the only way to let go of the past.

About Sandra Ireland

Sandra Ireland is an award-winning writer, poet and artist. Born in Yorkshire, she was brought up in the North East and lived for many years in √Čire. Her work has appeared in various women’s magazines and publications such as New Writing Dundee, Dundee Writes and ‘Furies’, an anthology of women’s poetry. Beneath the Skin is her first novel and was inspired by a love of all things curious and unseen.

And finally, don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! 

No comments:

Post a Comment