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Posts Tagged ‘Mermen’

 The saying goes: Faeryfolk live in old oaks. And I love faeryfolk. Maybe it’s because I adore oak trees and made tea party place-settings from acorn tops when I was little. Maybe it’s because I wove huge daisy chains and danced every chance I got in mushroom rings. But ever since I was old enough to hold a book, I’ve been fascinated with fairy and folktales and the creatures who populate those stories. And though I adore the butterfly-winged fairies that sail the breezes and ride mouseback to great celebrations in the deepest parts of the forest, I like lesser-known and darker members of Faerie, too.

Trolls are one of my favorites. The under-the-bridge troll of The Three Billy Goats Gruff is fearsome indeed, but the trolls of the northern woods of Scandinavia are often viewed as nature-helpers. These trolls are responsible for tending plants and animals. I decided to make the trolls in the fourth tale in my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, non-threatening. In fact, they’re comical in appearance and quite fond of snow, unicorns, and playing chess.

Another one of my faeryfolk favorites are stray-sod pixies. Stray-sods have grass growing from their backs. They settle in a meadow or other grassy spot and wait for the unwary pedestrian to step upon them. As soon as a person steps on its back, a stray-sod twists, turns, and confuses the careless hiker. Stray-sods are one of the faeryfolk I’ve included in a novel-in-progress I’m working on.

I’ve included a kelpie in a poem. A kelpie is a waterhorse who waits in moving water for a foolish or curious person. Climb onto a kelpie’s back and you’re likely to be at least dunked if not drowned and eaten. But there’s also something touching about a horse with a shaggy forelock partially hiding its wide set eyes poised at the edge of a stream begging to be petted. Perhaps the kelpie is truly lonely and not just hungry.

And what of the swan-maidens of Celtic tales? Healers and were-creatures of great beauty and shyness, I’ve often wondered under what circumstances would they be bold and vengeful. That bit of speculation resulted in my short story, Blood of the Swan, due to appear in a soon-to-be-printed anthology.

Even goblins make appearances in my writing. I have several varieties of the much-hated goblin race in my looking-for-a-publisher YA novel, The Enchanted Skean. Though there seems to be little to love about them, the main character, Beck, wonders if the goblins also have names and families. And spriggans, rude and obnoxious cousins of goblinkind, appear in one of my short stories currently “out” awaiting a publisher’s decision to accept or reject.

Mermaids are sometimes portrayed as sirens luring men to their death. I played against that type in my eShort, Sideshow by the Sea. Still, I didn’t discard the death-by-merfolk idea all together. Though the protagonist, Dusana, is a sweet girl – the mermen in the story carry knives with sharp, curving blades.

So as spring arrives, sit under an oak, read a fairytale, and look for the lesser-known faeryfolk. Perhaps they’re peering at you from behind a shrub, dangling from a branch above your head, or skulking in your cellar way. Just beware, all fairies are tricksy!

Learn more about Vonnie’s writing at www.vonniewinslowcrist.com

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mermaid Reincarnation is defined as the “rebirth of the soul in successive bodies” (Standard College Dictionary).  But rather than the rebirth of a soul, I’d like to discuss the rebirth of an idea in successive bodies!  By now, some of you are scratching your head and wondering what in the world I’m talking about.  Let me explain.

Often, I begin writing with an idea like: “there’s a real mermaid not far from a jetty off of Ocean City’s shore.”  Hmm.  I decide I spot the mermaid while walking along the beach.  When I see her, I admire her beauty and allure.  Then, I worry about what would happen if my sons came under her spell.  Would they follow her into the water, perhaps to their deaths?  I write a poem about that dark mermaid moment called Ocean Lure.

Next, I decide to write a story about a woman under an umbrella on the beach who watches her husband and children playing in the ocean.  She both admires and fears the deep water, warned by her own mother that the sea will take someone she loves.  On the day written about in Pacific, the woman’s children return to her from the water.  In an uneasy ending, from the safety of the sand, the family watches dolphins leaping from the water like question marks.

Next, I consider swimming in the ocean and write the poem, Water: “Water is the mirror we sink into/ slip to the other side of…” where we “dream of the drowned/ whose bones rock on the bottom/ wear away to sand./ Sand that catches in clothing,/ hides between skinfolds,/ and comes with us/ when we come out of water.”

Another poem follows called Sea Children.  It is written as a series of cinquain (a 5-lined form of poem) that undulates down the page concluding with: “high tide/ cold, hungry green/ swashing the sunbathers/ shivering, we flee its sharp teeth/ sharkwave.// water/ salty moonchild/ rushing from birth to death/ our blood answers when she beckons/ Mother!”  Full poem was printed by SeaStories, and can be read on my website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com

Finally, filled with appropriate amounts of wonder, magic, and darkness — I consider how I’d feel if a merman came on shore to carry away my daughter.  Horrified was my initial response, but what if going with the merman was for the best?  What are the circumstances that would make if the right choice for a daughter to go with the merman to the bottom of the ocean?  And that’s where I began when I started to write story, Sideshow by the Sea, published in Volume 5 Issue 3 of “Tales of the Talisman” http://www.talesofthetalisman.com and later as an eShort.

That first idea of something beautiful and seductive lurking in the Atlantic has been reincarnated in several bodies.  Whether the idea wore the skin of a free-verse poem, a poem written as a series of cinquain, a short story with a touch of magic, or an urban fantasy — it was still the same idea.  And I suspect, I’ll reincarnate that idea again.

But I am not alone.  If you examine the stories and verse of many authors and poets, there are certain ideas and themes that they repeat in their work.  And by discovering what ideas and themes a writer returns to again and again, a reader can better understand the person behind writing.

Update: Pacific was revised and re-titled, Shoreside, and appears in my book, The Greener Forest. Updated versions of both the poem, Ocean Lure, and the story, Sideshow by the Sea, appear in my book Owl Light.

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