LAST WEEK I spent some time talking to the delightful, extraordinarily nice people of the WROTE podcast about the new release of Winterwode, writing life, subtext and research and many thought-y things. Hey, they didn’t even threaten me with duct tape!
As I said, Vance, Angel and Baz were very nice folks… and very patient interviewers. 😉 Check it out! WROTE podcast with J Tullos Hennig
Celebrating Re-releases, the Collective Unconscious, and the Eternal Return of Legends
It’s in the water, right? Must be.
But it’s not always that simple. In fact it’s staggering–and humbling, really—how creativity channels itself. Not only in our hearts and minds, but in that undeniable cogency oft known as the ‘collective unconscious’. Things really do bide in the ether, surface for breath in the waters of the subconscious. And as of late, a certain Notorious Outlaw is making the rounds again.
Thankfully, that Notorious Outlaw makes those rounds on a regular basis. You can peer back through history and see nice, fat clusters of storytelling. It’s brilliant, in every sense of the word. Because those of us who are fascinated by something, who study it and obsess over it, love, live, and breathe it, are always willing for more. People who crave a well-told story will visit—and revisit—that story again and again. Each incarnation gives us new cause for either shattering insight or groans of utter dismay, brings new adventures and causes… all with which we can ponder the outlaw Robin Hood.
And there is so much to ponder. So much to explore and discover. He’s in the water, all right: a water horse, a kelpie who’ll cozen you to back him then throw you in to drown. Or even better, a pwca, a trickster who’ll give you that wild ride but perhaps relent, share some advice and goodwill to see you back home on wobbly legs.
You see, it was about thirty years ago when I wrote and nearly published my own first invocation and incarnation of Robin (or Robyn, even as the books have always been called Greenwode and Shirewode). England’s greatest archer was popping his wolfish head above the water then, too. Some amazing novels came from that particular surge—Parke Godwin’s retelling being amongst my all-time favourites of any genre. There were also movies: one so-so, one not-so. A man who was to become my friend was, unknown to me and across the pond, working on a very magical Robin Hood at nearly the same time as I was working on mine. Both of these were (and are) akin in their mix of historical tradition, high romance, and old magic. His went on to be an award-winning (and breathtaking) television series; mine was not so fortunate, though it did nearly go to contract twice before ending up in a file drawer as the cycle waned.
Such are the hazards of publishing. Yet bad luck can hold its own share of fortune. Those books that almost were thirty years ago now are. I’m a better writer than I was, and the Wode books are better than they were. (Now with DSP Publications, a third in the series is slated to release Autumn of 2015.) Even more gratifying, when I dusted off an old manuscript several years ago and decided upon a total rewrite and restructure, it seems Robin was also dusting off the old longbow and taking aim back into the collective mainstream. There’s even talk of a new movie—definite cause for hope and dread and even perhaps a gnash of one’s teeth. 😉 It’s happening again: new tales and retellings, little wildfires popping up here and there… quite apropos to a firebrand archer.
I’m sure the signs have been there for a while, but admittedly I’ve been spending more time larking my own ‘swete greenwode’. Amidst my larking I’ve shaped a story which is garnering some loyal readers and critical acclaim; a satisfying debut for a world that has been poking at my back brain for… well, for much of my life, really. A strange thought, perhaps, to spend so much time in creation when our modern existence extols “hurry, put it out there, now!” But I don’t find it strange, not at all, and it is my sincere hope many others will find my books, sit back… breathe… and enjoy the ride as much as I have.
Robin Hood (aka Robyn Hode), more than perhaps any other figure from myth or history, is discontent to merely bide in the depths of history. In a very real sense he challenges it, both flaunts and mirrors those changes history and society would choose to reveal. How fitting that a figure often connected with the Green Man would be so wrapped up in the spiral of the Eternal Return, both mythic and prosaic. For someone whose historical existence is ever in doubt, Robin has the ultimate extant power: he sparks stories in those of us who are compelled to tell them.
And I was right. It IS.
Awesome, in the true sense of the word. Thrilling. Humbling. Those are your words. Someone arsed themselves to speak them aloud, tell them. Greenwode is on audiobook, and I’m finally getting to listen to it. In another month, Shirewode will be joining it, and yours truly will be in auditory bliss. The narrator–I prefer storyteller because, well he IS–Ross Pendleton, is fabulous. I sincerely want to share the auditory squee!
So, in aid of this, I want to invite you to visit the Dreamspinner audiobooks Facebook page tomorrow, (Saturday, 22 Feb) where I will be helping to host a giveaway of an audio copy of Greenwode. Come on over, say hullo, enter to win this fabulous audiobook. I’ll be checking in pretty regularly throughout the day to chat and answer questions: DsP Audiobooks on Facebook
I’m reading another book whilst listening to Greenwode. This in itself not unusual–there are books piled all over the cottage, half-read or being read, much of them research for the next projects because, well, everything eventually comes back around to the writing. But this book (The Guardian of All Things: the Epic Story of Human Memory by Michael Malone) has a particularly strong correlation:
“It was the increasingly complex demands of daily life, combined with consciousness and this irresistible call to meaning and purpose, that drove language forward toward realisation. We learned to talk because we had things to learn, and stories to tell.”
Written words can give one a shiver, like that passage did for me. The written word can be life-altering, uplifting, damaging, diverting; a power its own existence. But telling the stories, listening to the stories; this is something even more primal, buried deep within our consciousness. A storyteller is what I have no choice but to be; to hear one of my stories told–passed on–by another is something truly to leave one, temporarily at least, without words.
I’ve been meaning to put up extra scenes, bits of bits and shorts from the Wode books. Well, after spending several weeks beneath the influence of Plague (or the nasty not-go-away head cold bronchitis version of it), many things I intended to do have not been done. Like writing. Or putting new goodies on the website. (Thinking with some cogency and breathing freely have been compromised, too. ) :/
Anyway, intentions were to have this little Offering on its own shiny new page on the site… which is coming. But not waiting any longer, so here’s a teeny thing for those who have expressed interest. (And if you sign up for the mailing list here on Musings, you’ll receive notice direct to your mailbox, as well as other planned extras.)
This first Extra is from Greenwode; it’s a true ‘drabble’ in that it is neither an incomplete or excerpted scene–and is meant to tell its own mini-tale in a precise 100 words, no more or less. These sorts of exercises are immense fun for me, challenging by the very nature of such strict limitations. This is the beginning of a small series of assorted extras, and I hope you enjoy these bits as much as I enjoy doing them.
Preen. Ruffle. Shudder. Sharp profile lifting against motes of sun, then it dips, collects and stretches, sideswipes digits through ebon then across the tilt of clever-cruel jaw. Head cocking sudden, eyes gleaming dark-bright: game spotted. Then the crouch, the intensity of imagining the stoop, the quivering smoulder of tension: awaiting the loose.
Gamelyn is unassured whether his fascination centres upon the tiercel perched, trammelled wildfire upon his gloved fist–or the rangy, graceful melange of raptor and wolf treading beside him.
“Rob,” he murmurs, and Rob, arrow on string, growls back, “Shut t’bloody fuck up, Gamelyn; you’ll scare the game.”