My inspiration for The Elder Throne came from a lie I told my oldest niece, Issy. Aged five, she was having behavioural issues that were driving her mother (my sister) around the bend. I decided to help out…
Issy loved all things magical and glittery at the time. Nothing seemed to be working in the ‘reasonable and adult approach’ category of curbing her behaviour so, as a last-ditch effort to curb her mounting temper tantrums, I told her that every child has an opportunity to grow fairy wings when they turn thirteen… as long as they’re well-behaved.
And it worked. You see, the wings grew very slowly and, every time a child was naughty, they shrank. If a child was too naughty before they were thirteen years old, they would never get their wings.
Issy believed me for about half a year. Every time she saw me, she’d show me her shoulder-blades and ask if I could see anything growing. Depending on how good she’d been that week, I’d tell her there was a bump, or that they were smaller than the previous time I’d seen her because she’d been a pest.
Say what you will about lying to children, but she grew out of her temper tantrums very quickly. She obviously knows the truth now (and has kindly forgiven me) and is a very smart, well-behaved young person.
Around the time this was happening, I was reading a book on Celtic mythology and inspiration sparks started to fly. I devoured the myths and legends about the Fair Folk of Ireland and started wondering how the old stories could find a place in today’s reality. I didn’t have a story arc yet – or a main character – just an idea of a summer’s day in a suburban garden being the jump-off point of the book.
Three weeks later, I met a young toddler called Emma, who had Amniotic Band Syndrome. Due to ABS, Emma had been born without a left hand. She had a lovely smile and seemed very happy, so it frustrated me to overhear some of the surrounding adults whispering that they were ‘so sorry’ she was going to have a tough life because of her limb difference.
I have Incontinentia Pigmenti and Syndactyly, and I’ve grown up with different people telling me what I can, cannot, should and shouldn’t do because of the way I was born. Yes, there are some limits in my life, but everyone has those, right? People learn to live within their circumstances and how to stretch beyond them if they’re raised with the belief they can. My immediate, gut response to Emma was wanting her to grow up knowing she didn’t have limits because of ABS, and to identify her body with strength, capability and success. So, like lightning striking, my protagonist Anna Squires was born…
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