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Whales and Magic Sinbad’s First Voyage: The other Odyssey

Sinbad the Sailor sets out over the sea to retrieve his fortune with all his remaining goods on board. They alight on a beautiful island – but no it is a huge whale who, awakened by their shouts, tosses Sinbad painfully into the sea. Magically rescued he is befriended by a great king, and his ship, with crew and full cargo wondrously returns. Sinbad returns to his beloved Baghdad, now a rich man – till the next voyage! A tale from the Arabian Nights, a collection of adventures parallel to Homer’s Odyssey. Like your grandmother told you.

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One is one, or green grow the rushes oh

One is one, or green grow the rushes oh by [Ruth Finnegan. Oliver cain, Oliver Cain]

One is One or Green Grow the Rushes Oh, by Ruth Finnegan and illustrated by Oliver Cain, is a lovely written version of the age-old song. Each of the beautifully designed pages contains a verse in the style of a cumulative story. As I read the song lyrics, I was immediately reminded of the days when I read The House That Jack Built to my own children. The beauty and simplicity of the song in a story-like format are touching and quite effective as a text.

Finnegan, responsible for the concept of this wonderful book, includes a helpful explanation of the song’s history for any readers not familiar with the meaning of the lyrics. From its earliest origins to the various versions and interpretations of the text, Finnegan covers all aspects of the song thoroughly in a quick read.

I am giving One is One or Green Grow the Rushes Oh, by Ruth Finnegan and illustrated by Oliver Cain, 5 out of 5 stars. Never having heard the song and intrigued by the book’s title, I was more than pleasantly surprised by this thoughtfully crafted rendering of the song and its many versions. I highly recommend Finnegan and Cain’s work to anyone interested in poetry or music history.

Pages: 35 | ASIN: B07GV29ZJY

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The Black Inked Pearl: A journey of the soul

This prize-winning epic romance opens with the young Irish girl Kate running away across the Donegal strand, panicked, from her young lover’s first (attempted) kiss, then, after a tumultuous reappraisal by the great Congo river, finds she must spend her life seeking.

Searching for him she encounters some very realistic people and situations on earth, but also must visit hell, where she suffers greatly, a dream-filled paradise, and Columba’s great heavenly archive.

At agonising cost she saves her dying love and to her utter joy they walk together toward heaven. But at the gates he walks on, forgetting her, and leaving her, distraught and alone, in the dust as the gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.

On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not vain, in the end something more was needed for she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.

The novel, poetic, riddling, multi-level, and born in sleep and dream, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another. The epilogue again brings out the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ever-puzzling ambiguity between dream and reality.

The first edition of Black Inked Pearl, the first published of Finnegan’s distinguished Kate-Pearl series and in its way both a stirring romance and a spiritual parable, has won many prizes and positive reviews (for which see the first edition). Its unusual style sets it apart – disliked (fair enough!) by those who prefer straightforward prose and a clear linear, account, but relished by those who warm to more literary, poetic and sonic expression influenced by such writers as James Joyce, William Faulkner, Gerald Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, and, extensively, Homer.

This second edition, revised, corrected and somewhat enlarged from the 2015 version, includes an extended account by the author of its unusual genesis.

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Voyage Of Pearl Of The Seas

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas by [Ruth Finnegan]

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an enchanting novel about two characters, Kate and Chris. The plot of this fantastic novel follows these two endearing character’s who travel on a ship that they built for an exciting adventure. On this adventure, they learn make sacrifices, gain wisdom, and develop a deep bond between them. This novel is a prequel to Ruth Finnegan’s award-winning Black Inked Pearl, however it was made after and the former and explores different themes and ideas. Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is a short novel but it still explores deep issues that we can all relate to.

Ruth Finnegan has created a unique novel with Voyage of Pearl of the Seas. The story excels above others in many aspects. It is written in a style reminiscent to that of poetry than a standard novel which is beautifully eloquent in most areas.

I enjoyed following Kate and Chris, and their dog, on a wondrous adventure. Both Kate and Chris are well thought-out characters, but the real beauty is in how they evolve throughout the story. We get a sense of who they are and why certain actions were taken, though they are kids and sometimes children’s actions, to adults, can be frustrating. The themes this novel explores are deep and sometimes dark, like abuse and abandonment. While not exploring both to the same degree, Voyage of Pearl of the Seas may not be as robust in the themes of abuse but it succeeds in  themes of abandonment. Finnegan explores abandonment expertly and I, as a reader, felt that this was where the novel was at its best. It skillfully displays a person’s feelings of despair and anxiety when they have been left behind by everyone they love. This is something everyone has gone through yet only few novels can portray effectively.

Ruth Finnegan has undoubtedly created a beautiful story and where it succeeds, it excels greatly. Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an intriguing YA fantasy adventure story.

Pages: 134 | ASIN: B079GPQMG1

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Voyage Of Pearl Of The Seas

Voyage Of Pearl Of The Seas is a magnificent fairy tale adventure of a girl and her two best friends who vow to travel the world in their boat. They’re determined to stick together and be the heroes of their adventure and go on a voyage together. I found this admirable in the sense that they stay by each other no matter the storm and through thick and thin, they will even fly together if they have to. This story takes the reader travel through time to enjoy the creative form of ancient poetry and literature borrowed from the renowned Shakespeare. Ruth Finnegan in her book Voyage of Pearl of the Seas smoothly harmonizes the essence of adventure, innocence and growth. Chris and Kate are two friends with different backgrounds who are joined by a deep friendship and together with their charming dog vow to be together in their adventure through the seas to create memories. Kate isn’t good with classwork but Chris doesn’t make her feel like the other mates do, and in her eyes he’s different.

Ruth Finnegan has created a work of art. She has an imagination that I have only rarely seen in fantasy novels. The integration of poetry and ancient reference is perfect for lovers of Shakespeare and lyrical literature. It’s mature for a children’s book but it will help expand imaginations. The style, ideas and story is magical. I loved the happy ending with gifts from the King and Queen, how sweet.

I thought that the story was a little hard to follow at first, but as you read more and more it all comes together and you get to understand the beauty of this adventurous book. The illustrations within Voyage Of Pearl Of The Seas were fascinating. My favorite is the tree with all the wild animals in it, the connection between children and animals is clearly described, we should be like little children, happy to help, ready to learn and joyous no matter the challenges they are facing. Like the classical folktale story of “The Little Hen”, the hen planted the seeds all by herself, while the dog, the cat and the duck couldn’t work with her, but came time to eat bread when they all want to enjoy it, the lesson is to teach children to be hardworking and persistent and respect everything around them. Voyage of Pearl of the Seas by Ruth Finnegan ends in a similar concept, hard work, respect and persistence.

Pages: 134 | ASIN: B079GPQMG1

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The Corruption of Power

Ruth H. Finnegan Author Interview
Ruth H. Finnegan Author Interview

The Fortieth Thief follows young Henry as he sets out to become a thief and learns a lot about life along the way. How did you uncover this fascinating story?

Well, like my other stories it just sprang up from my unconscious, or somewhere. So your ‘uncover’ is exactly right.

I now also see that, again like my other stories, it actually fits with my preconceptions and personality. I always like to think about the life of the underdogs – in a way the thieves were that, else why would they have been forced into that life? Like many people, alas, they probably had few if any choices open to them.

As an anthropologist too, I like to explore the lives of those (like taxi drivers, my next nonfiction project) that are not much noticed, possibly looked down on, and at any rate about whom we mostly know little. Since we can’t in practice do it for everyone in any particular category, we often focus down on a specific case or cases. Just like in this story.

So it happened that I started to wonder what those legendary thieves were like. We don’t know – where did they come from, what backgrounds, how recruited? were they all the same?

I went to sleep with those questions in my mind – and when I woke the story was just there. I can’t help feeling that in some other age or universe it did indeed happen just like this.

How did you set about bringing this story to life for modern readers?

I have to confess that at first I partly misremembered the story and thought that Ali Baba had been with the thieves all along. So I had to the change the start a little so as to explain that. I was happy to do so as it’s a familiar thing that power can go to your head – part of the moral (it happened to the thief leader too, can happen to us all).

All right the setting is in the long long ago – but what can be more contemporary than the bullying of powerless little Henry by the mighty gang or, all around us, the corruption of power?

I think the story was a morality tale, but also one of the natural world. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your story?

You’re quite right.

Well I suppose two, no three, main things.

First, at the start the idea that ‘power corrupts’. Yes, all around us.

Second, it takes me back to my core (not exclusive) discipline of anthropology, one that is now taking fiction seriously. Maybe it’s a case of the old saying that ‘fiction can be truer than truth’ – at least in a metaphorical or transferred kind of way.

From the story we can see, symbolically, that it is good to think with compassion and (same thing isn’t it?) understanding of those who, in a different way from ourselves seem to have gone wrong, even the biggily-yelling Thief Leader, let alone little loving Henry. And not just ‘thieves’ either.

And yes, nature. We are left with Henry’s gesture at the end of not keeping the jewels to himself or even his adored little sister but giving them (back?) to the sweetly flowing river, where (just to prove it’s true) we can see the signs of them still, glinting in the sun on the rocks. Like Henry, we need to recognise that the world’s riches are not for ourselves or for hiding uselessly away or for squandering but for returning to the earth from whence they came. Then heaven will look down, or the moon, or whatever, and keep our planet green and living and lovely. Quite a ‘green’, maybe even religious, message in fact, one with which, once a little barefoot Irish girl wandering with wonder through the trees, I wholeheartedly agree.

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Ever wondered what the thieves in the Ali Baba story were really like? Where they came from and how they were recruited and what exactly they did? And were they all the same? You don’t know? Find the amazing answers in the story of an ordinary little boy, a newly discovered version now for the first time revealed. An absorbing fairy tale for children of all ages, young or not, with an unexpected twist and an ecological and human ending.

The Fortieth Thief

In the long ago, there was a boy named Henry. His greatest love was his little sister, and his greatest desire was to be a thief. It was a passion as misguided as it was pure.

In the coming of age story The Fortieth Thief, author Ruth Finnegan tells the lively story of Henry as he grows up and tries to pursue his dream of learning to be a proper thief. Finnegan packs a lot of literary dazzle in a short and charming story. This fantastic tale gives a new and unique perspective to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves story. A folk tale of the natural world, and a morality story about selflessness and love. Henry can be forgiven for his ill-advised goals because of his innocence and youth, while at the same time we can all learn a little something from his passion and exuberance.

The Fortieth Thief is an adorable story that is a great addition to an age old tale that contains a great message for young children where adventures like this may be in short supply in the real world but never in our imagination, and Ruth Finnegan sets readers imagination on fire.

Pages: 43 | ASIN: B086SDJ9KT

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The Sea-Tossed Tale

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

The Helix Pearl is an enchanting book that retells the story from Black Inked Pearl but this time from the perspective of the sea. How did the idea for this novel come to you?

I really don’t know because like my other novels it just arrived with me in my sleep. So maybe it already existed in the liminal space that anthropologists talk about and the students of the Enchanted know so well, the in-between space when you’re not awake, you’re not asleep and dreaming, and yet you’re both. A very receptive place.

So I didn’t really plan it, but I suppose in a way. yes, it is just that the plan was already there in my unconscious or in, should we call it , in the tapestry of the Universe that’s been there since the beginning of time and always will be, something that I, somehow, somewhat tap into when I’m in that mysterious ‘away’ place.
But then I suppose in another way it comes from my literary background. Not everyone likes this because it’s not written in, for example, the kind of grammar and so on that you were taught as ‘correct’ prose at age 12 or so. The wording seeps up, somehow, from the depths, from my knowledge of poetry, from my learning of the rhythms of African storytelling which I think now infuse all my creative writing, and above all from Greek myth, and maybe too from the shared collective unconscious that Jung talked about (when I was younger I used to think thtvnonsense – no longer).

The novel also comes, more directly, from my reading ( aloud) of Homer’s wonderful epics – songs, really – specially the sea-tossed tale of the Odyssey. Homer knew what he was talking about! He knew well those violent storms of the Mediterranean, He knew firsthand the ways of the sea, p the tossing of the waves and the fury of Poseidon, the raging god of the sea.

In fact the subtitle is a direct translation of Homer’s epithets or the sea – wine-dark and garrulous, chattering, always always talking, never still – have you really known a really quiet sea? Peaceful at times, certainly, magical, but always murmurs from the tiny little wavelets. And wine-dark – I don’t think that means dark in the sense of gloomy, more glowing like deep red wine. Homer also calls the sea ‘ever laughing’, isn’t that just right? never ever totally still but always moving, roaming , rambling ( the Literary Titan review puts it well), sometimes sparkling and laughing in the sun, sometimes laughing violently in storm as it engulfs ships and holds monsters in its depth.

The other bit of background, very deep in me, is from growing up by water: in part by the Donegal sea and in part by a great river, the Foyle, that opens out to the sea by my beloved native city of Derry, Columba’s oak grove. These memories, these experiences, run all the way through the book and give it meaning for me.

When writing from the Sea’s perspective what were some themes or feelings you felt were important to capture in the character?

I think the themes and feelings I wanted to capture were exactly those I’ve talked about in answer to the first question – the laughing of the sea, its storms, the way it’s always there, eternally laughing, so that its view somehow puts the familiar, story and characters into – yes this above all – a kind of universal perspective.

Isn’t that the way, the role, of literature? to bring out the universal? I think I wanted to make that happen.

And remember – the double helix, the mystic spiral, the curl of the wave, is the sign of life, of eternity, infinity: ‘heaven in a wild flower’. That too.

Also, thoiugh in essence it just arrived irrespective of my conscious planning, I did also work at the research on water. I searched out the songs and poems associated with the great rivers (they all had at least one, amazing) the huge number of rivers tun under London, maybe also under or anyway through many of the great cities of the world. I marvelled at what I found.

I was also amazed to discover how much of the earth’s surface is water. I know in another book I (well, I in my maternal grandfathers name, David Campbell Callender) talked about the importance of grass, the weed that so miraculously clothes the earth. But that’s just the dry land. What, to my astonishment, I discovered Pin The Helix Pearl is that most of our planet’s surface is water. In the novel I wanted to convey not just that fact but the wonder of it.

So I wanted that to come out but also, and maybe above all, the fairytale quality of the story.

Another surprise, which then for me became a central theme, was that I learnt more about Kate – about the many sides of her nature – from the book. Even more important possibly, I discovered more about the male character.He has become more central, someone whose nature we struggle to. unlock (more so in later books). In Black Inked Pearl he is shown in quite a bad light, inexplicably abandoning Kate, and though he heroically goes back to find her he’s pretty curt with her when he does and is only redeemed (if anything could really redeem his earlier betrayal) by his offered sacrifice at the very end

In The Helix Pearl, I began to understand that there was far more to him than I had realised, and that he hadn’t abandoned Kate, rather she just hadn’t followed him, in this book because of her fear of the water, a central motivation for the tale. Quite a discovery on my part.

You’ll notice my vocabulary – I think of the book as something I ‘discovered’, magically already there, not planned or invented.And yes, that is the feeling I would like readers get from the book.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

Well, the things I’ve just been saying.

To be quite honest. I’ll have read it again, because I’ve forgotten almost all of it. It came so quickly in dreams or whatever. I don’t even remember the process of writing it.

I do know however this as with all my fiction and poetry and even a little bit with my screenplays and non-fiction. I wanted it to sound good. Here it is specifically the sounds of the sea and of water but always I want there to be rhythm and sonic echoes and cadences and resonancing. As with Homer and all ancient and mediaeval literary works it needs to be read aloud.

Do you have plans to continue to expand this story?

Well, as with all my writing I’ll just have to see what emerges.

But also yes, in the way, definitely.

In fact I have already expanded, or, rather, recycled, the story,
exploring its many dimensions in my own literary way. I know not all readers like my style, and that’s all right though I love it when people do warm to it and I get lovely understanding reviews (
Literary Titan’s for example!), but , really, I have no choice. That’s just the way of writing that’s been given to me.

So yes I’ll be re-doing the story. It will be a series that, once it reaches the full novel form, will go on being expressed in a poetic way steeped in implicit literary metaphors and associations, specially inspired by Shakespeare. Homer, Rumi and the Bible – and so much else from my life of reading and listening.

When you write out of sudden unsought inspiration, you don’t exactly have plans – all the same this is how I now see my ‘Kate-Pearl’ series eventually emerging.

Some are published, some already written and, in several cases, waiting for the illustrator, the fantastic Rachel Backshall. The final one is just a (very insistent) gleam in the eye – it will arrive when it’s ready.

So here’s the full.lst (double asterisk if published, single if written but not yet published, obelisk (!) if, for children, illustrated

Oh Kate! A block book * !
The magic adventure: Kris and Kate build a boat A picture book ** !
Kris and Kate’s second adventure: the Pearl-Maran A picture story book * !
The enchanted Pearl-Away A chapter book !
Voyage of Pearl of the Seas **! for young adults/adults
Black Inked Pearl **
The Helix Pearl **
Pearl of the Wind *
Thy Tears are Pearl

Let me explain. It is a projected series that, unlike most series, is not directed to a particular age group, set of interests or specific genre. Rather, as you can see, it runs through all ages (something like the British National Health Service is supposed do, ‘from cradle to grave’). It is all essentially the same story but told in a way suitable to its target audience, about, in the opening volumes Kate and a companion and her dog, Holly as their younger selves. After the first novel, Black Inked Pearl which for some reason was different, they’re all about setting out on the water in a boat that is in some way felt to be magical, and facing disaster – and coming through, strengthened and more mature.

The next novel will be Pearl of the Wind. It is complement not sequel to the earlier ones in that it is the same story but now told not in the third or first person, as with the previous two , but in the second, the vocative. Homer opened with ‘Sing oh goddess .., ‘, here it is ‘Sing oh Wind … ‘; and unlike the earlier focus on earth, then on water, it is the third element, air, that is invoked and that gives the setting.

The text of Pearl of the Wind is probably incomplete but I am not sure. It has an unusual origin. I was on a cruise, a ship in mid-ocean ( what more liminal … ) when I happened on an email about a competition to write a novel in 3 days – 3 days flat! You could have thought about it before (as I had, I’d just never had time to get it down) but the actual writing had to be done in just three days. A challenge! Well I did it, loved the process,and sent it off. Naturally I’ve heard nothing since but at least it’s there.

I can by now recall nothing – nothing – of its content ( some interspersed poetry about winds possibly?) just its POV – point of view. I guess it needs to be extended before going out – or maybe not. Anyhow time I looked at it again.

As for the final one – that will probably be the most complex and searching of the lot, so maybe not till my deathbed. It will of course be the same story – myth – again but this time bringing together the dimensions of the rest in terms of tense and person and material elements and love; and above all of the elusiveness of personal identity.

It’ll probably be called (I leave you to winkle out the Shakesoearean, as ever, allusion) ‘Thy tears are pearl’ , and though I already have quite a feel for the setting and perspective and central character I decline to say any more at this point. We’ll just have to wait and see (me too).

Till then my best writing wishes and thank you for reading this.

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Inspired variously by the Odyssey,William Blake’s cosmologies, Rumi’s poems, and Charles Kingsley’s stories foryoungsters, this novel embraces the magic of childhood imagining. Kate andChris, along with Kate’s loyal dog, Holly, swim and frolic on a summer shore. Aship built from driftwood becomes their vessel: Kate’s the queen and Chris isthe Man of Action, the one who saves them both from wind and water. At first,Kate’s fear of sailing the high seas causes her to abandon ship, but a terribleloneliness sets in, and she regrets leaving. The sudden appearance of amagician saves the day; she answers his riddles to regain her berth. In theirboat, the Pearl of the Seas, Kate and Chris pilot through treacherousrocks and come ashore in a welcoming kingdom, where they learn a version of theTower of Babel story, “the very disaster of our world.” In this hybrid book ofnarrative blended with verse and song, different ways of telling a story mayappear on a single page. The King of Names instructs Kate that “for the deepthings it is poetry.” Such wise lessons fortify the children, but even happydreams must end. Their parting gifts include a magic pebble-pearl that rightsthe broken mast so they may return to the shore of reality and family. Though thePearl of the Seas may not buoy them to distant lands again, theydetermine that Black Inked Pearl–the written record of theirtravels–shall be their legacy. As in the novel for adults, Finnegan’s (BlackInked Pearl, 2015) “fairytale prequel” for younger readers delights in theassociative wordplay of sound and sense. A moment of canine joy provides avivid illustration: “Still in gleeful flightful lightsome delighting delight.Barking, sparking, larking.” A handful of superb black-and-white drawings by Backshallcomplements the work’s whimsical vision.

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