Friday, July 11, 2014

What is it about mothers?

From: Sally

This is more of a request than a question, actually! More Hild and more Aud, please!

Hild is so brilliant! I can’t wait for what happens next. It is such a beautiful book, so well written. You have a gift, your characters are so vivid. In your writings, while depicting a lot of violence and evil, you write with such love and compassion. In a time of small people you fill your books with super large people and lots of exciting action.

What is it about your mums? Both Hild’s and Aud’s are fascinating.

Aud is larger than life, her faults are frightening, she is so flawed but so lovable I think! Super Aud. She grows quite wonderfully in your trilogy.

I would love to know more about Aud’s mother, it is such a loaded relationship. You leave out and your reader fills in the spaces.

I love the way you bring science and nature into your books, reminding me of Robert Macfarlane’s wonderful books.

Thanks for your lovely books. I wish you well in your writing and in your health. God Bless.
Oh, there will be more Hild. I'm working on Book II now and researching for Book III. (Current reading: Nunneries and the Anglo-Saxon Royal Houses by Barbara Yorke, and Anglo-Saxon Art by Leslie Webster). One day there might be more Aud; I think of her now and again.

Hild and Aud do have some things in common: height, for one thing. And a concern for and attention to the physical world. They are bright, of course--I've never been interested in writing about people who aren't--but the body matters as much as the mind.

I've just realised that both, too, have absent fathers. Neither, though, has Daddy Issues. (Unlike 99.9% of Hollywood product. Don't get me started on The Lego Movie...)

The mothers of Hild and Aud are strong, smart, and accomplished. They're also political, ruthless, and occasionally selfish. And they love their daughters, though sometimes their daughters don't love them back. In other words, they're parents and they're human.

If you're going to have an interesting protagonist it helps if she comes from an interesting background. And the font of all background is family.

So the mothers of Aud and Hild are towering figures. Aud's is largely an absent one as she was growing up because that's the nature of modern diplomatic work. Hild's, on the other hand, is with her most of the time. Not always, though; I needed Hild to be able to find her own way, become her own person, and I suspect this isn't possible if a parent is constantly hovering.

I'm delighted Hild reminded you of Robert Macfarlane's work. I discovered his books not long after I started working on Hild and felt instantly at home with his appreciation of the natural world. His descriptions have the same sensibility. Last year, when he was chairing the Booker judges, I sighed over the fact that Hild wasn't eligible.

As for my health, it's good. Very good actually. But a truly terrible six months of iatrogenic horrors--November through May--has left me with some serious catching up to do. More on that another time because it will be a rant. Let me just put it this way: the FDA has been informed.

Now, though, I'm strong as a horse, engaged with Book II, and looking forward to the UK launch of Hild. Life is good.
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