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Something New and Magical

I see to my horror that it’s three months since I last posted here – apologies to all. Readers who follow my Facebook author page and/or my Instagram will have seen this picture already – it represents an unexpected turn in my ideas for a new project. I’ve had  the best part of a year off writing for various reasons, and it hasn’t been easy getting back into the swing of creative work. I’ve spent many hours drawing up first one, then another plan and synopsis for a new book/series, only to set them aside because I couldn’t quite believe in them. If a story plan doesn’t feel authentic and exciting to me, it’s unlikely to thrill my agent or publishers. So, starting once again …

I wrote a short story about the Cailleach (Hag) of Scottish folklore earlier this year – you’ll find it in an anthology called Relics, Wrecks and Ruins – and the old women in traditional stories have been on my mind since then. Baba Yaga, the powerful witch of Slavic folk tales, is a magnificent, fierce character about whom hundreds of stories exist. It came to me that Baba Yaga was not always old and hideous. Once she was young. Where did she come from, and how did she become the much-feared woman of the tales? How is it that some stories show her as generous and wise, and others depict her as a horrifying eater of children?

A conversation with a young family member really got things going for me – this person is great at brainstorming, as well as having insights into what works well in a YA/adult crossover. So I am researching (a) Slavic folklore, especially related to Baba Yaga, and (b) a broader range of old women in traditional stories. And I’m doing background reading about the history and culture, geography, flora and fauna etc of the general region where such a tale might be set.

Readers have responded enthusiastically to this idea on my social media, which makes me happy. It’s worth bearing in mind that before this becomes a real project the following need to happen:
1. I finish writing the proposal (introducing the concept/idea/theme, and including a complete story synopsis)
2. My agent reads this and believes it will work
3. He shows it to publishers and they like it enough to do a deal

And then:
4. I complete the research and write the book (it usually takes me 9-12 months.)

That means even if all goes brilliantly, such a book would be unlikely to reach publication stage before early 2023. So, no new book next year unless I work three times quicker than usual – unlikely. But I am feeling positive about this project, and hope I’ll be posting more about it in the future.

Photo credits:
Baba Yaga statue: Photo 153348873 / Baba Yaga © Konstantin Pukhov |
Hut on Hen’s Legs: Photo 47251764 / Baba Yaga © Tornnero |