Taleweaving: Teaching Tales

A guest post I did for Nimue Brown’s  blog Druid Life

Folk and fairy tales have come down to us through the ages. They continue to be birth themselves today with modern authors like Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife, and Patricia Wrede’s Talking to Dragons.

What is a folk tale? They can be hard to describe but one thing they all seem to have in common is that they’re teaching stories. They all have a point and teach how to be and work with otherworld through the actions of the characters. They show us how the world, the universe and everything works and have done since our ancient hunter-gatherer told tales and to help their younger folk to learn the ways of the world. They show us ordinary folk (show not tell!) how to be and behave when we meet otherworld.

And this is what I write, magic/mystery/romance. The novels are set in the present and involve ordinary people and revolve around a female protagonist. They also have an important male second-lead who also has to learn how to be with otherworld. Both the woman and the man have a relationship that needs lots of work from both of them if they’re going to make it. They have lives, problems, wants, needs, frustrations, all the usual stuff of life that we all have, but they also have connections to otherworld even if they’re not quite convinced about this! Sometimes they reject this otherness … and then have to backtrack in order to go forward. They find themselves asked to do something they don’t understand but which grabs them by the heart and the gut so they have to follow, do it.

My first two novels, Owl Woman & Moon Song, do just this. Both have female protagonists who both have to stretch themselves beyond their limits in order to achieve their quests. Both women have difficult relationships that they have to “grow into” … and so do the men! They have ordinary, everyday difficulties as well as otherworldly ones. Their challenges happen in both thisworld and otherworld at the same time, for this is how it is in real life! Magic intermingles with our everyday life but mostly we’re afraid to look, afraid to see it. Both Vicki in Owl Woman and Isolde in Moon Song manage to do this. They’re human, funny, annoying, daft, brave, and full of grit, guts and determination, they are strong women. They show you how to work with otherworld.

I’m working on the third novel – Whispering Bones – with another female protagonist and her difficult relationships with her father and lovers. She and they have to learn how to be, how to work with otherworld. It’s what our stories do and how we learn best for we are Taleweavers and we love to listen to them, hear them, and learn from them.

You can find out more about Elen and her books over at http://elensentier.co.uk/


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