When author Virginia King was looking for bloggers to host her quirky blog tour posts for her Selkie Moon Mystery series, I’ll admit I did hesitate a little. I’m always looking for something new and a little different, but I did think this might be a little too far out of my comfort zone. But I screwed my courage to that post, signed up, and read the free ghost story – Laying Ghosts – that Virginia had sent as a “taster” (you can download your own copy further down the page). And I loved it – really well written, very different and highly original.
I immediately decided that I’d like to read and review The First Lie. I’ll be doing that in August. Should Laying Ghosts have the same effect on you, there are more details on the books and how to buy below. And, even better, The First Lie is currently on special offer at 99p/99c for kindle.
Until then, I’m delighted to welcome Virginia King to Being Anne with her quirky guest post, Barefoot with the Beast.
This painting, The Animal by Australian artist Cate Dudley, represents everything I’ve experienced about being a writer. The relationship between the writer and the story is the same as this little girl’s connection with the animal.
The little girl is innocent
Just like a writer comes to a story without knowing what’s going to happen, the little girl is heading out into an unknown landscape – in her best frock and no shoes – with no idea what she’s going to face. But with innocence comes wonder and excitement, as well as plenty of healthy fear. If the writer can maintain this rich cocktail of emotions, then the journey from the first line to the last will be inspiring – for them and for the reader.
The animal is big
The size of the animal is just as important as the innocence of the little girl – this creates the right state of balance in their relationship. And because of his size, the animal can see much further than the little girl. She doesn’t know where they’re going but he does. Her job is to trust.
Similarly, a story should always dwarf the writer. Like the animal, the story is huge, woolly and a little scary. If the writer gets control of the story it loses its magic – it should retain elements of mystery, of being unknowable to the very end.
There’s fear but also support
When the little girl gets up close, the animal is still scary and overwhelming but there’s kindness in those eyes, as well as strength and support. Once the writer overcomes the fear of the blank page and gets close to the story, all that wooliness starts to make sense. It’s not a barrier, it’s something to be enfolded in.
The animal has wisdom
The eyes of the animal show depth and understanding. He’s confident in the wilderness, comfortable in his own fur. The girl and the writer can draw strength from him as the journey of discovery unfolds. They’ll go together to the scary places, out into the wilderness to uncover its secrets. But even as they reach an understanding, she’ll always hold the animal in awe.
Bare feet are symbolic
In folktales, the soles of the feet are sentient. With her little bare feet the girl can feel things – small things like a pebble between her toes that might make her stumble on the path or big things like the footprints of her ancestors being replayed beneath her in the landscape. When a writer is sidling up to a big new story they come with humility, ready to deal with the pebbles and the ancestral roadmaps, and also the most important thing that bare feet allow – the ability to be surprised.
The landscape is dreamy and textured
Just like a story unfolding before the writer, there’s an invitation in the painting to enter the dream with all its texture and its secrets – to get lost for a while in the myth-like world of the imagination and to return again, changed for the experience.
Writing the animal
I didn’t know the animal when I sat down at a blank screen to write my psychological mystery series. I’d written a lot of children’s books so I came to my first novel with a mix of confidence and trepidation. One sentence came: All she had to do was jump. This applied to my main character, but I soon discovered it was also for me. I’ve now written two mysteries in the Selkie Moon Mystery Series with the third book underway – they’ve all been myth-like journeys, the mystery and me going to the scary places together and returning changed.
FREE Ghost Story – Laying Ghosts
I had a mini encounter with the animal with my haunted house story, Laying Ghosts. This modern tale evolved without a plan, bringing together elements from a Russian folktale, a murder ballad from the 1700s and lashings of imagination. It’s a 24-page standalone story, but also a prequel to the Selkie Moon Mystery Series. You can download your free copy here.
Giveaway of The First Lie
You could be one of ten lucky winners who will choose either a signed paperback or an audio book of The First Lie plus a $15 Amazon gift code. One grand prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift code. Enter here.
Prints of The Animal
I’m lucky enough to own the original painting The Animal, but quality art prints of it are available from Hat Hill Gallery, where you can also view and buy the magical artwork of Cate Dudley: here’s a link to their site.
Someone is trying to kill you.
When Selkie Moon flees Sydney to start over in Hawaii, it’s to live life on her own terms. But Life has other plans.
Though she tries to dismiss the warning as just another nightmare, it soon becomes apparent that someone, or something, is stalking her. Attacked by frightening visions and mysterious compulsions, she must piece together the fragmented clues before time runs out.
Virginia King effortlessly blends funky creativity and deep spirituality – with a dash of Celtic folklore – to craft a story of one woman’s fight for truth, and her discovery that the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous of all.
(The First Lie is the winner of a B.R.A.G. medallion, and is also available via Google Play, Kobo, iTunes and Barnes & Noble)
The Second Path
A rock ripped from the soil, a message scrawled in lipstick on the floor, a torn photo, a silver spoon … What do they all mean?
Only her subconscious knows.
When we last left Selkie Moon, she was running towards the source of her deepest primal fear: the sea. Now she finds herself naked on the beach, stunned that she has no memory of the past two weeks.
Recovering at a friend’s house, Selkie wakes up to discover a bizarre collection of items scattered across the floor. Items she apparently gathered in her sleep. Finding the ho’ohihi – the interconnectedness – between them will carry her around the globe, from Honolulu to Sydney to Paris.
A dark fairy tale journey filled with fear and despair, laughter and hope, The Second Path has Selkie searching for her place in the world, in her relationships, and in herself.
Searching for home.
(Here are the links to Virginia’s author page on Amazon UK and Amazon US.)
About Virginia King
When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.
Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.