Today is my stop on the blog tour for Sealskin by Su Bristow and I have a great guest post from the author for you all to read. As always though, I’ll give you the bookish info first!
About the book:
What happens when magic collides with reality?Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous …and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence?Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.
Out in paperback on Feb 15th, click HERE to pre-order your copy!
About the author:
Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.
And now I’ll hand you over to Su with her guest post…
The Selkie Legend
There are variations on this story around the coasts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and across the North Sea in Scandinavia too. All over the world, in fact, you get stories of animals taking human form, and marriages between human and animal. I think it’s the same impulse that makes people want to own dangerous creatures like lions or crocodiles, train hawks or make friends with wild things. We’d love to somehow ‘own’ that wildness for ourselves. But the stories never end happily; it’s not a problem that has a solution.
In some versions of the selkie myth, they can change back and forth at will, but there’s something about the purity of the version I’ve used that appeals to me. You can imagine some storytellers trying to resolve the problem; in one variation, the fisherman sees his former wife – as a seal – in the sea, and she ‘puts out her head’ and tells him she loves her seal husband more than him. I don’t buy that! Part of the strength of the story is in its sadness, its inevitability; once she’s gone, there can be no return.
The legends don’t go into a lot of detail about how the marriage between the fisherman and the selkie actually worked, except to say that ‘from time to time, she would look out to sea and weep’. But that’s what really interested me. How could you build any kind of relationship on such a terrible start? And what kind of a person would the seal-woman be? I decided to make her playful, just as seals are, and able to learn, but never to speak. Whether that’s by choice or not, who knows? And I gave her a little magic, too…
*Many thanks to Su for stopping by Bibliophile Book Club today! Make sure to follow the blog tour: