My guest this week on the Showcase is a master of many disciplines. Please welcome Tracey Norman.
Tracey is an actor and author living in mid-Devon with her husband, daughter and a feline trip hazard. She writes in several genres – children’s, horror, historical fiction and fantasy. She is currently working on the first in her fantasy series The Fire Eyes Chronicles, as well as a non-fiction title; leading on from her historical drama WITCH.
I have always been a storyteller. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting for hours at a time, acting out stories, which I always told aloud, with voices and sound effects. I still do that today, except now, it is my job. As well as being one-third of Circle of Spears Productions, an indie audio production house and theatre company, I also narrate audiobooks freelance on Audible and write in whatever time I have available between jobs.
There is something truly magical about creating a world for people to lose themselves in. There is so much to consider – the landscape; the people or creatures who live in it and how they interact with each other; politics, both local and world-wide; whether they use magic and, if so, how; communication and transport systems, technology… the list goes on. One thing I like to do is to weave something familiar into the unfamiliar when I am creating a world.
For example, my recent release, The Septillion of Hheserakh, features a number of familiar folkloric characters in rather more unusual settings and situations. There are creatures from Sweden and Cornwall mixed in with the dragons and elves, trolls and goblins, as well as parallels with Dartmoor lore. Many of the names have a strong Old Norse flavour.
The Septillion is a collection of fictional myths and legends from the Hheserakhian Empire in Koreswen, the magical world in my fantasy series The Fire-Eyes Chronicles. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read, but will also be a companion book to the series, providing the reader with the same depth of knowledge as the characters in some instances.
The Chronicles follow the story of feisty young elf Aamena, who, faced with a dull, uninspiring future mapped out by her parents and clan custom, strikes out alone to find her place in the world. She realises soon enough that she has no idea what she is looking for. Her search takes her through much of the Empire and, eventually, to the island of Qalend, home to Koreswen’s last surviving dragons.
The Septillion features the stories Aamena would have heard as a child and, as a result, many are set within Hheserakh’s Great Forest of the North, which she used to call home. Here is an extract from a tale which she would have known well – The Musician and the Candle-maker, or How the Elves got their Pointed Ears.
One day, Zentha was in her workshop as usual, stirring her vat of hot wax, humming gently to herself and thinking about the designs for the batch of candles she was planning for the Temple. The workshop was attached to her house, with a door at the back which led into her living area and one at the front, which her customers used. The whole place smelled pleasantly of candles and there were shelves all along one wall which held examples of Zentha’s fine craftsmanship. There were windows in three of the four walls, so it was a beautiful, airy, peaceful place to work. She had placed a trio of chairs near the front door, so that customers had somewhere to sit to discuss their needs and so that she could enjoy a cup of nettle tea with her friends when they passed by and stopped to chat. Every now and then, Zentha would look around her and give thanks to the Great Bál and the Benevolent Frodleikr that she was successful in her work and had the means to live so comfortably.
All of a sudden, she heard a high, sweet melody from somewhere in the forest behind her workshop. She paused in her work, fascinated, for she could not identify the instrument and had never heard the tune before. It was light, airy and magical, twisting and turning like a woodland breeze and it captivated her. She carefully moved the vat from the fire, leaving it close by so the wax wouldn’t solidify, then went outside, removing her apron. She unfastened the scarf she wore around her head to keep her long red hair from accidentally falling into the wax as she worked. Hanging the apron on a tree stump by the door, she walked around the side of the building, head tilted to one side as she listened to the music, trying to work out where it was coming from.
Not far from the house, there was a small stream which, at one point, dropped over a ledge about as tall as Zentha and landed in a bubbling pool below before continuing on its way through the forest towards the coast a few miles away. Zentha and her closest neighbours collected their water from this pool and washed their clothes downstream of it, and Zentha often sat next to the pool in the evenings, sipping nettle tea and enjoying the tranquillity of the forest around her.
Her feet took her down the familiar path and, as she approached the pool, she could tell that the mysterious musician was somewhere nearby. As she drew nearer, she could feel the music inside her, swelling in her chest, caressing her head and tickling a spring into her step. By the time she made her way past the giant flowering shrub which hid the pool from the path, she was almost dancing.
Sitting atop the ledge next to the water, one leg dangling over the edge, was a young man of about her age. Like many of her people, he was tall and slim, with long dark hair and large green eyes which twinkled at her above the unusual instrument he was playing. She stared, trying to work out what it was, for it looked like a straight, pale stick.
Seeing her curiosity, he winked at her and ended the melody with a flourish before rising to his feet and bowing to her. He moved with a fluid grace and she found herself blushing and peeping up at him from beneath her eyelashes as she dropped into a curtsey.
“Good day to you, fair maid,” he called. His voice was deep and melodious and sent a thrill through her. “I am Jonik, of the Clan of Three Oaks.”
“Good day to you, sir. I am Zentha of Dragonheart,” she replied.
To find out how Jonik and Zentha’s story is connected to the elves’ pointed ears, you can pick up a copy of the Septillion from www.thefolklorepodcast.com
My Lovecraftian-themed short horror story Dark Words can be enjoyed in two very different anthologies. For Secret Invasion
(a charity anthology raising money for MIND), visit http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/6597041-secret-invasion or, for something a little less horror-based, you can also enjoy it in Fairy Tales and Folklore Reimagined
My children’s book Sammy’s Saturday Job about a little dragon who wants to be a firefighter, is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sammys-Saturday-Job-Tracey-Norman-ebook/dp/B0736DL7KP
My historical drama WITCH is available as an audio play at https://www.circleofspears.com/store/p37/WITCH_%28Audio_CD%29.html
Follow me on Facebook @TraceyNormanAuthor
Follow me on Instagram @aamena2019
If you enjoy audiobooks, check out my work at www.circleofspears.com
Thanks, Tracey for a great post. I hope you all enjoyed it. And if you haven’t downloaded The Septillion, you really should, it’s full of brilliant stories
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Don’t miss next Thursdays Showcase post, and my musings every Monday, next week, I’ll be telling you about my preparations for the annual ritual that is NaNoWriMo.
Have a great week,
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