Now the #Witches Chase Us in This #Podcast: Begone the Raggedy Witches by @Celine_Kiernan

Jean Lee's World

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! October has come, and with it the joy of reading tales deliciously eerie on chilly autumn evenings.

So let us break for a wee spell from the lovely indie fiction to venture down paths dark and mysterious. I’ve got some fun frights recommended to me by other neato book reviewers as well as some spooky stories by authors I’ve not had a chance to taste before. Today, the witches chase us on in Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan.

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

I was honored to interview Celine back in 2018 about her art and writing.

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Fran the Apples, and the Lady Nana

 

I thought I’d read a chapter or two of Resonance for anyone who fancies an audiobook in these strange times:

Chapter Three: Fran the Apples and the Lady Nana

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Resonance Chapter Two: The American Chap

I thought I’d read a chapter or two of Resonance for anyone who fancies an audiobook in these strange times:

Chapter Two: The American Chap

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Resonance, Chapter One: The Fading God

I thought I’d read a chapter or two of Resonance for anyone who fancies an audiobook in these strange times:

Chapter One: The Fading God

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A Little Promise Witch Wren

So the first of the Promise Witch drawings are complete. @bridportbooks little Wren is on her way ❤ (Fenifur’s tardigrade and Tudor’s fox will follow asap )

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This got me right in the heart ❤

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Long Journey Back to the Start

The following is an essay I wrote back in 2018, for CBI’s wonderful Bold Girls project. (You can find a related essay here)

….

The main thing that occurs to me, is how much I could have done with something similar to the Bold Girls project when I was a child. Well, not quite a child – as a child I was actually quite well catered for. I can recall quite a lot of ‘bold girls’ in the stories I read back then. There were brave, competent, interesting rabbits, teddy-bears, dolls and toys in the books and comics that I read as a toddler. There were brave, competent, interesting girls in the books and comics I read as a young girl.

But after a certain age, the girl characters that I found most interesting (IE – those who were not connected to romance story-lines; those who got to have physical, adventurous lives; those who had some modicum of independence) were almost always connected with British boarding schools. No matter how hard I wanted to, this working class Dub could never quite connect with that particular setting. I tried – lord knows I tried – but they weren’t for me. Then I got older and even those scraps dried up as the ‘girl’ stories I found myself presented with began to revolve almost exclusively around romantic relationships.

I’ve nothing against romance but I wasn’t interested in those kinds of stories.

I was a girl who wanted to read about ghosts, about spaceships, about monsters and other dimensions. Once I’d left Enid Blyton, and the Twinkle and the Judy behind, I found nothing to cater to my tastes except comics and books that were populated almost exclusively by male characters.

For a brief glorious few years in my pre and early teens there was a comic called The Misty and I got my first and practically only glimpse of girls and young women inhabiting the kind of stories that I grew up thirsting for. Stories where that main character got to go on the type of adventures I wanted to go on. Most specifically stories in which the MC (a girl!) had to Fight Monsters! Overcoming Supernatural Threats! Fly Spaceships! For a brief, glorious moment I got to enjoy that thing which boys take for granted every time they pick up a story – a protagonist having a cracking adventure in which their struggles had nothing to do with their gender.

Then the Misty went under and I was left bereft.

I wish I’d had the Bold Girls project back then to pick me up and point me in the right direction, because if these stories existed elsewhere I certainly didn’t know where to find them. And worse, I never really noticed that these stories had been stolen from me. No-one explained to me that girls had been removed from my interior landscape. No-one pointed out that my heroines had been erased and that a boy had been put in their place. And so, I just took it for granted that girls didn’t existed in the kinds of stories I loved to read – that they had no place in those kinds of stories.

So what happened for me was that, at a very early age, I soaked up the idea that these kinds of adventures were simply a thing that boys did. I soaked that up and I went on reading the kinds of stories I loved, but this time with no girls (or none to speak of; occasionally someone would need rescuing, or explaining to, or falling in love with. Girls seemed to fit quite nicely into those roles – ie the bits of the story I wasn’t interested in. The bits I’d usually skip)

I stopped looking for girls in my stories at all. In fact, I actively avoided stories with girls in them. Why? Because they weren’t the stories I was looking for, of course!

When I read, I read about boys. As a consequence, when I started writing, I wrote about boys.

Why? Because boys did the things I was interested in, of course! That’s just how the world was! If there was a girl in the story, she’d have to spend the whole time justifying why she deserved to be there! Hah. Imagine wasting all that time explaining how you’d managed to go to space-ship school while also being a girl! Imagine wasting all the time constructing some excuse as to how a girl happened to end up also being a cowboy. Or how a character managed to become an exorcist while also being a girl. Boy stories were interesting. Girl stories were boring. That’s just the way it was.

God.

The time I wasted having to undo all this stuff in my own head, just to get to the point where I could write a female character into the type of story I wanted to read. I’m still struggling with it, because the world is still struggling with it. Despite all the very many progresses we have made, women are still having to justify taking up space in stories that don’t specifically orbit around their ‘femaleness’ or their struggle to prove themselves ‘as good as’.

But what would have helped, what would have got me there sooner, was something like Bold Girls. A bright, honest, positive voice in my ear which would have told young me ‘you know there are women scientists, right? Just because the comics and books don’t show them to you, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.’ Or, ‘you know there are and always have been women who fight to protect victims of injustice, right?’ Or ‘you know a woman character can be the centre of her own story, right? And that story can be anything – right? – anything at all. Just like for boys.’

Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to travel so far just to get to the starting place. The place where I understand that every story can have a woman at its heart, and that the horizons of a girl’s possibilities are limited only by her own imagination.

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Reading from The Promise Witch

The Promise Witch is out in June, can you believe it?

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Promise Witch bookplate

Oh look, a bookplate for The Promise Witch! If anyone received a review copy and would like a signed bookplate to go inside, just let me know ❤

Many thanks to Jess Courtney Tickle for the beautiful illustrations from which this is assembled.

Posted in Begone the Raggedy Witches, Bolinda Audio, Brilliance Audio, Candlewick, Illustration, Little Grey Girl, Mup and Crow, Walker Books | Tagged | 2 Comments

1984 vrs The Poison Throne

Last week, year twelve student, Millicent Duncan, emailed to say she had written an essay comparing the human experiences in The Poison Throne and George Orwell’s classic dystopia, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I am, of course, thrilled to have Moorehawke examined in such a thoughtful, in-depth manner and in such a context. Thank you, Millicent, for agreeing to share your essay here, and best wishes for your future.

See next page for Millicent’s essay:

Posted in Allen and unwin, Elise Hurst, Hyene, Kate Rudd, Moorehawke, O'Brien Press, Orbit, writing | Leave a comment