The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.
So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.
The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?
Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.
The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.
One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.
Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.
The introduction of the book lays this out:
- Into a land of fantasy
- With haste we cast them all aside
- No tearing if you cannot see
- That is what we all make-believe
My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.
Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?
I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.
I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.
In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.
I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.
A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.
But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.
Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.
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Cradle Gift follows Maité as she discovers the origins of her gift and the meaning behind her ability to move in and out of dreams. What were some new ideas you wanted to expand on in the second book in the series that you didn’t, or couldn’t, get to in the first book?
Here are a few of the things I wanted to explore with Cradle Gift:
- I’ve always been fascinated with Lucid Dreaming, so to continue expanding my knowledge on that subject was very satisfying. Although I put it to my readers as acradle-giftedability, Lucid Dreaming is something you can develop and perfect through practice… maybe not to the astral projection level Maité achieves, but it’s as close to having wings or gills as we can get.
- I wanted to establish the 200-year gap between Celeste and Maité, and plant the seed of curiosity over what happened with the family during those 2 centuries.
- I wanted to highlight “adaptability” without denying the suffering and struggle it takes a person to achieve it. I agree with Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Maité is strong, intelligent, adaptable and therefore, a survivor.
You were able to craft a world that was equally as beautiful as in book one. What were some lessons learned in book one that helped you write book two?
Book 1 was my first full-length novel and through its production I learned a great deal about the technical aspects of publishing, but more than anything, that is where I began to develop “my voice.” Faery Sight became my go-to document for Cradle Gift because locales had been established there along with coordinates for the Faerie Realm—I was so glad that I kept my drafts, maps, and notes! I took with me a briefcase stuffed with all my papers when I traveled to San Sebastián, Spain. I stayed there for one whole blustery week in March to round up my research.
Maité continues to be a dynamic and intriguing character. I find that authors are sometimes exploring their characters when writing just as much as readers are when reading. Do you find this to be true? What kind of exploration did you do with Maité’s character in this book?
The women and girls in my family are the inspiration behind my stories—the series really is a family affair.
The girl on the cover of Cradle Gift is my niece (my older sister’s first born), some of her character traits and astrological attributes account for a big part of Maité’s personality.
FYI: My younger sister’s first born is on the cover of Faery Sight, and my daughter is on the cover of Nahia.
Nahia is the third book in your Faerie Legacy series. Where can readers expect the story to go in the next installment?
Nahia is a common denominator whose story covers the 200-year gap between books 1 and 2.
I consider this novel is a philosophical-fiction of sorts because it is about Nahia’s journey to know herself, to find her place in the world. She’s willful and stubborn, she’d rather ask for forgiveness (grudgingly) than permission, but when the weight of the realm is thrust upon her, Nahia, accepts the challenge, realizing that the time for her to grow up is at hand.
Her strengths and weaknesses lead her to change the genetic footprint of humanity, and to a bitter sweet victory.
At seventeen, Maité’s mortal world is torn apart with the tragic loss of her parents. Uprooted from the only home she’s ever known and isolated in a foreign country, the young woman struggles to make sense of her new life. But the conflict in the realm of Faerie is about to bleed over into Maité’s reality. She finds herself in the middle of an ancient struggle between Nahia and the Beautiful One as they furiously clash for control over the realm.
Through her Cradle Gift, Maité uncovers the extent of the Faerie Realm’s involvement in her life, and in her quest to come to terms with it, Maité has the help of best friend Emily, and David; a young man whose interest in genetics illuminates possibilities that will change her identity forever.
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If you’re new to the Fayborn series, grab yourself a copy of Her Unwelcome Inheritance to get started – and DON’T read on until you do, because the Sneak Preview below contains ***Spoilers***
Sneak Preview: A First or Final Mischief
Her aunt’s been abducted.
Her mother is missing.
Her enemy is waiting.
And the person she counted on for help is dead.
Too late to free the Faerie Queen, Petra Godfellow and her allies face a terrible choice: Either Petra surrenders and swears to serve James Oberon, or he will torture her Aunt Penny.
If she agrees to James’s demands, the Faerie kingdom will be restored… with James on its throne, and Petra condemned to eternal servitude. Any alternative abandons Penny to torture and her mother to an unknown fate.
Unless, of course, the Cat chooses to intervene…
A First or Final Mischief is available from Amazon here.
About the Author
Aleksandr Wootton is a self-confessed bookworm (“hoards books in shelves and spare rooms; likes to sleep surrounded by them”), fairytale enthusiast, and poet. He pretends to chair the Folklore department at Lightfoot College, but much prefers writing, gardening, & long conversations accompanied by a well-brewed pint.
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Epiphany, written by Sonya Deanna Terry, is a two-part novel that explores the beginnings of currency through a magical adventure where the forgotten past collides with the future.
Book One: The Golding, introduces us to Rosetta, a woman of many talents, ranging from tarot reading to organizing book clubs and being a mother to a sultry teenage girl. The past is then uncovered through a novel Rosetta reads, bringing to life a world of elves, faerie clans, body kings, and potions. Soon it becomes evident that the elves have a message for the people of the future and from here begins an epic adventure where love, life, and fantasy come together for a modern day fairy tale.
Book Two: The Silvering, explores The Global Financial Crisis and the impact it has on the people of the future. Rosetta and her book club friends stumble into a quest for “The Silvering” where letters from the past give clues of the future. What is the Currency of Kindness and will it return in the lifetime of Rosetta and her friends?
Epiphany is a novel with an epic story line involving financial struggles, intimate relationships and a book filled with elves and mystery by a mysterious Lillibridge.
The book alternates between Rosetta’s current life and the novel she is reading, weaving the two stories together in a package of magic, elves, and fantasy. As you enter the world of prehistoric Norway, you can’t help but be entranced by the magical world portrayed through vibrant colours, beautiful oaked woods and most importantly, elves who are between reality and the Dream Sphere. The switch to the modern day brings about relatable issues such as family problems, relationship woes, and moody teenagers. The two worlds then collide, creating a modern-day fairy tale, filled with magic and consequence.
There are also letters which help establish clues and meaning to some of the characters. These letters are vital to the story line and give us an insight into people’s personalities and real-life problems. Some of the problems are eerily relatable, from financial stresses and relationship woes, leaving the plot line feeling almost as if it could genuinely be real life.
Pieter of the Brumlynds is an elf who ventures into the Dream Sphere to help someone in the future. Pieter is a deep thinker, analyzing his destiny while also getting frustrated at the simplicity of humans. Malieka, Pieters mother, ventures into the Dream Sphere, sometimes meeting strange and beautiful creatures who are determined to pass on important messages. Throughout the novel we watch the characters grow in both strength and courage, as they venture into the unknown world.
The imagery conjured by the author is both beautiful and enchanting. The colours, descriptions of nature and the Dream Sphere leave the reader imagining their world with a tinge of fairy dust and sparkle. Phrases such as “emerald tinged blackness” or “hair like lava, eyes of black stone” are just a few examples of the magic the words bring to life on the page.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fantasy novel with a dash of romance, magic and a modern-day twist.
Pages: 1095 | ASIN: B01NCNFS6F
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Lavender is a guarded and reserved young girl who loves to explore. Is there anything about the character that came from yourself or your life experiences?
I think when you’re writing something, a little of yourself goes into everything. With Lavender, however, that’s a little complex. On the surface, we resemble each other little. I live in a city, and grew up in a far bigger one. My comforts are big chairs, warm fires, and books big enough to use as keystones, rather than being out exploring a forest off on my own. But, like Lavender, I think you’d find no shortage of people who might call me exceptionally guarded and reserved – and we share an abiding love for chocolate in all its forms. At the same time, I’ve always joked that I do have a character that represents me in the book – Erkin, because we share our bumbling and our self deprecating humour. But it’s equally true to say that I’ve my fair share of Aria’s snottiness and Kerren’s anxiety. I haven’t divided myself up into those characters, but I’ve certainly drawn on myself, and countless other people, to shape them into who they are. Lavender is no exception.
The Faeries in the book I found to be creative and interesting characters. What was your inspiration for them and how did you create them for the story?
My first real guiding thought for the Faeries was simple. I wanted a utopia in the forest. A lot of fantasy tends towards the gritty, grim, bloody stuff, and don’t get me wrong, a quick look at my bookshelf would tell you I’m definitely a fan! But there’s an almost complete absence of utopias. Where Lundel is a grey, foreboding, oppressive place, I wanted its opposite. Where people are guided by kindness, a desire to work together and share what they have. It’s a simple contrast, but I feel it’s one that had to be made. If the city wasn’t so much better than Lundel, then Lavender wouldn’t be pulled between them! As for the faerie characters, they were the only people who could inhabit such a place. By and large, they’re big hearted, open, outspoken people, and each of them had their own inspirations, based on their place in the book. Because of the way I write (which is to have the kernel of an idea, and just run with it until it’s a year later, I’m out of breath and there’s a story behind me) the basic outlines of many characters I have are very sketch like! I prefer to take those sketches, and drop them into situations. Whatever comes out the other side is the character. Aria, for example, her core inspiration is that she is annoying and very quick. Berry’s inspiration was equally simple. A kind city needs a kind queen. This way, everything we see of Berry, or Aria, or Pel, or even Caeda, tells us who they are. There’s no way around it.
How do you think Lavendar and Erkin would relate to each other if they were ultimately forced to marry. What do you think their compromises would be to make the marriage work?
I think in that situation, it’s a nightmare for both of them. As Lavender sees it, Erkin has leverage over her that he can’t ever be rid of. There’s nothing he can do about that, because the inescapable fact of his position is that at any time, forever, he can go back on his words to her, and she has no recourse. Every time she feels that ring bite down upon her finger, she’ll be reminded of it. That sort of suspicion is poison for a friendship. As far as Erkin goes, he’s pretty self sufficient. He’s been managing apprenticeships, cooking meals for him and his father… he knows that she loves the forest more than she loves anybody but Kerren. Lundel as a village has already made up their mind that Lavender’s unusual, so I don’t think there would be too much pressure on Erkin to try and change her behaviour, and he can already look after himself. Ultimately, I can’t see how they’d be anything other than miserable together. Marriage would only make Lavender even further withdrawn – and both of them would lose each other as their best friend. As sad as it is, such an outcome could never end happily.
I really like the cover art for Lavender. It’s colorful and really gives that wonderland feel. Where did you get the art for the cover and how did you decide what to go with?
It’s wonderful, isn’t it? I commissioned the illustrator Hannah Christenson and she drew me a cover which really knocks it out of the forest. As for what I went with, I’d always had a couple of ideas in mind. For a long while, it was going to be a very realistically depicted cover – a tunic emblazoned with a lavender emblem folded atop a sparse wooden table, and on top of it, the two rings that Lavender wears throughout her story; Her betrothal ring, and the Promise, gifted to her by Berry. Ultimately, I decided I wanted something that emphasised the mysterious nature of the forest (and in particular, the pathway), and the way Lavender is drawn to it, rather than a piece of symbology only people who’d already bought the book might appreciate the significance of. I’m glad I did.
Will there be a book two? If so, when will it be available?
There most certainly will be! Current plans for book 2 (as yet untitled, as titles are my sworn foe) is to finish it within the next few months and have it released roughly halfway through the year. Whilst book 2 is considerably longer than Lavender, I’ve contemplated dividing it up into book 2 and 3; hopefully this wouldn’t impact a release date considerably, as the work then would be more making it so that book 2 isn’t simply the first half of book 3. It is my hope, however, that the story can be told in 2 books, not 3.
All her life, Lavender has wandered the forest outside her home, climbing its tall and ancient trees and following its brooks. Yet now her father has betrothed her to a boy in her village: Erkin, son of the village Elder. For Lavender, who hates being stuck indoors, has no knack for cooking, and would far rather be exploring the high branches of the forest, marriage is a fate worse than death. But fate is rarely so simple, and a chance argument reveals a secret at the heart of the forest that could change everything she thought possible.
Posted in Interviews
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Lavender is a guarded and reserved young girl who loves to explore and doesn’t want to be held back my anything like marriage. Unfortunately, her father Remy, arranges for her to be married to Erkin, the bumbling smith’s apprentice. Lavender is determined to never live a life like her mother where she is nothing more than an apathetic servant. Erkin, in a bid to befriend Lavender, takes her on a forest excursion. Lavender soon finds herself lost in a Faerie world where she is taken on wild adventures that gives her the inspiration and strength to save her mother and herself. As she struggles to fight for the things she cherishes, she is caught in a desperate fight to save her village. But she may not end up being the hero readers expect her to be.
Lavender has a captivating story arc. It has a strong Alice in Wonderland feel to it, although this story has a lot more twists and turns. The plot was the strongest element of the story. Lavender was able to simultaneously balance two worlds, the real world and the Faerie world and combine those worlds in unexpected ways. The plot is developed in such a way that it keeps the reader engaged as they are trying to balance the worlds just as Lavender is.
The characters, particularly Lavender, Erkin, and Kerren, are complex and interesting. The in depth development of the characters combined with the emotional roller coaster Lavender is on makes for an interesting read. Sophie Welsh does a fantastic job of capturing the passion and despair of the characters. There are so many secrets in the story that Lavender is trying to balance that kept me intrigued. She devises a plan to save her mother and also finds that she is more like the Faeries then she thought. Was she going to be able to keep things a secret?
While the duality of the worlds was interesting, the logistics of the Faerie world was hard to understand. The story mentions that Lavender becomes smaller, yet the Faeries themselves call her a giant. The story left a lot of things unanswered and I kept asking myself; how does Lavender interact with the Faeries, how does Lavender enter the Faerie world, how does she get out of it? Why does Lavender “sprout”? Is she a Faerie or was she exposed to something? Is this somehow tied to her mother, whose past we never fully know? The book only suggests that Lavender’s mother Kerren may be somehow tied up with this.
All these points are frustrating only because other things in the novel are clearly explained and I begged to know more. I’m hoping that all the loose ends are cleared up in future works as the world that is created is fascinating. While the novel was enthralling and detailed, the loose ends make the ending bland. Readers will celebrate Lavender’s mother Kerren’s final moment of triumph as she emotionally breaks free, but I feel that it is muted because instead of a resolution, it’s more of a hint, which left me wanting more. Which I suppose is a great tactic because when you have such a fascinating world coupled with unanswered questions, it leaves me asking: Where is the next book?
Pages: 488 | ASIN: B011ZJOA46