I’m super excited to be hosting Sharon Gosling on my blog as part of the FIR book tour, run by Stripes publishing. I’ve never read anything like Fir, a truly wondrous books that’ll have you sleeping with the lights on. A first for me, and I liken it to Grimm Fairy tales, and the ending will have you on the edge of your seat and questioning everything! I can’t wait to read more books by this fabulous woman (she already has a few published already!).
With that being said, I’m excited to share with you awesome readers a blog post on the dark side of Hygge and Sharon’s scary nightmare that led to her research for Fir. Enjoy!
Making a myth
Authors often get asked where their ideas come from – a question for which there is usually no clear or easy answer. (Where do ideas come from? I wish I knew. How amazing would it be to go down to that orchard and pick a few whenever inspiration fails to strike?) When it comes to my new book, FIR, my answer to this question is a little different. Because while I still don’t really understand where the idea itself came from, I can pinpoint exactly when it struck. I had a nightmare, one that scared me so badly that it woke me up. In the dream I was stuck in a snow-clogged forest in northern Sweden. Something was stalking me, watching from between the thick darkness between the tree trunks. I saw Polaroids showing that this had happened before, to someone else that I did not know and could not name – there was a jack-knifed truck poised over a black split of thick ice over a lake; the claw marks of a fire that had burned up a wall; a violently smashed windscreen.
As I lay there in the wake of the fear left behind by that narrative, I realised that the nightmare wasn’t fading as dreams so often do. I remembered it clearly – it was vivid and more than that, it was linear. It wasn’t disjoined nonsense, as most dreams are. It seemed to me to be part of a story, one that had somehow just fallen into my head. So I got up and I wrote it down – and that was where FIR began.
When I came to actually fleshing the dream out into a story, it seemed to me that the feeling I’d had while experiencing the night terror – the sense of isolation and claustrophobia, of an otherness I didn’t understand watching from beneath the dark trees – was the central aspect that I had to keep. The fact that it was in Sweden also had to stay – the story needed the darkness that goes with the long northern winter. I still didn’t know what had been lurking beneath the trees, though, so I began to read about the myths and legends of that country. As I did it struck me how many of these are about the human struggle to co-exist with a natural world that was around long before the first settlers moved into these areas – not surprising, I suppose, considering the surroundings those early peoples must have encountered. There are men who turn into bears, people who become wolves, water spirits, invisible sprites, trolls, cunning creatures and speaking beasts. I also read about the taiga, the huge boreal forest that once stretched right across the northern hemisphere but that is now disappearing fast. The notion of humanity clashing with nature fitted with the feeling of that initial nightmare: the idea of being dwarfed by a huge, unknowable forest that may be hiding a separate world, one we simply do not grasp.
The mythical aspects of FIR are another version – my version – of a classic aspect of Swedish folklore. It is a re-telling with additions, which is how myths are made, after all. It makes me wonder how many of those myths originated as nightmares in the dreams of early settlers as they lay beneath the branches of a forest older than humanity itself. As for exactly which myth I’ve incorporated into FIR – well, I’m not going to give that away here. That would come under the category of too many spoilers! But if you work it out after reading the book, I’d love to hear from you…
You can follow Sharon on twitter and be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour!