Work in Progress

February 19, 2018

Joanne Harris recently posted this on her newsletter - its that nice!


THE BLUE SALT ROAD - is now reaching completion, with a view to publication in October, and Bonnie has already started on some of the smaller illustrations. Today's exclusive work-in-progress extract is from the opening of the book - and CROWS fans will see that once again, it's a story of the Travelling Folk. I hope you like it.


The ocean has many voices. It sings in the voice of the pilot whale; the voice of the dolphin; the waves on the beach. It sings in the voice of a thousand birds; it cries in the wind that howls through the rocks upon the distant skerries. But most of all, it sings to you in the voice of the selkie; those people of the ocean clans that hunt with the seal, and dance with the waves, and, nameless, go on forever.

The voice of the selkie is soft and low. At first, you may not hear it. At first, you may mistake it for the cry of a bird, or the bark of a seal, or the sound of the tide on the pebbles. But listen, and you will realize that each of those sounds is a story. The crunch of pebbles underfoot; the splash of a leaping mackerel; the cry of a sea-eagle hunting above the white rocky shores of the islands. Stories, like the travelling folk, never die, but always move on. There are stories everywhere; in the air; the food you eat; in the embers of the fire. And when you go to bed at night, and listen to the wind in the eaves, there are stories under the bed and hiding in the shadows. Stories of the Kraken, who comes from the deepest oceans; stories of sirens whose song can lure unwary travellers to their death; stories of mermaids, lighthouses, ships - and stories of the selkie.

This is such a story. Taken from a song of the Folk, taught to me by a gunnerman; which makes it just as true - or false - as those sweet siren promises. The Folk have a complex relationship with the clan of the selkie: hunting them for their hides and flesh; fearing them for their savagery. And yet they have always dreamed of them from the safety of their homes; and loving them for their wildness, have always sought to capture and tame the people of the ocean. Thus are they both sickened and drawn; bewitched and repelled; at war and in love. Thus do they weave their stories from the thinnest and most fragile of threads, thistledown by moonlight; like gleaming skeins of spider silk. This is such a story, as true or as false as the sound of the wind, or the flight of the herring-gull over the white-crested waves. This is mystory; the story of the land-folk and the seal-folk, a story of love, and of treachery, and of the call of the ocean. Take from it what you most need, and pass it on to someone else, for this is how stories – and selkie – move on; changing, unchanging, like the tides, taking with them what they can and scattering tales to the four winds, like seeds upon the ocean.



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Each picture on this website is meant to be an accurate depiction of the actual artwork, however colour variations may occur. This may be due to the calibration of individual monitors or computer screens and is in no way the responsibility of Bonnie Helen Hawkins.