Paying Homage to Shadowtail

The Magnetism of a Great Leader

The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed  Stephen Biko 

Like any feared and respected leader, merely the image of Shadowtail in whatever form, grey squirrels are drawn to it like moths to a flame.

Book in Hand

I absolutely do not regard myself as an envious kind of person but I have to say this is often put to the test during low moments. On social media I (as the case for most people) am bombarded with seeing people I know traveling to the far reaches of the planet, doing exciting things, looking healthy and tanned, finding out that they have just ran the desert marathon, jumped out of a plane, sailed across the Atlantic or just built a bloody great house or their son or daughter has got into Cambridge. On a cold dark night in Helsinki when the temperature outside is bloo..y freezing my natural ability to ward off envy is at times taken to the limit.

So, in an age when they tell me that every Tom, Dick and Harry and their mothers have written books and had them published my achievement of getting my first book published may seem let's say, a modest one.

Although my story about the story is modest, I feel the need to share it. From having the idea to write something, to piquing the int…

Dark Themes in 'The Ghost of Crow Cavern'

After having the initial idea for writing a fictional fantasy story about squirrels, my intention was merely to write an exciting tale.

Did you know initially that the story would be dark?

In a way, the story developed organically. From the first conceptions I had a vague idea that these visiting grey cousins from afar were not going to be all that they initially seemed. How despicable they would become was at the time of writing unknown.

Did you know who the readership would be?

Having no idea that the story would become a published book I didn't really concern myself to any potential readership. This worked well in one way as it allowed me the freedom to write without any chains, I did not have to worry about the themes being suitable for any targeted readership. The flip side of this came once the book was considered for publication and Norman and I were trying to decide on the age group to which the story was most suited.

Which dark themes are in the story?

The story is lined wi…

A Murder of Crows: Choosing the Right Collective Noun

I have always found collective nouns in English interesting; everyone knows it is a 'pride of lions' but how about a collective noun for squirrels?

As I was working on 'The Ghost of Crow Cavern,' I found myself having to check collective nouns.

There is a scene in the book when the greys demonstrate their awe inspiring technology. In a pompous demonstration with the help of a device which they had stolen and adapted from the Cerebri, with the flick of a button they reap havoc on a flock of curious crows swooning around above them sending many to their deaths.

I knew the collective noun for birds is 'a flock of birds' so in theory 'a flock of crows' would be correct but then I thought to check what the collective name for a group of crows was and these are what I found:

a horde/hover/muster/parcel and my absolute favourite and the one I used, a 'murder' of crows.

Murder! Yes it is a 'murder of crows', wonderfully fitting for the story I …

Weird Things Can Happen During the Writing Process

One of the amazing things that can happen during a creative writing project is a complete escape into the fantasy world. Whether one is rich or poor, young or old, there always seems to be events or even the thought of future events which can cause stress and anxiety. Perhaps, it is just one of the human conditions.

Ok back to the book, the setting for this fantasy story is on an island called Nutshaven. Close to where I currently live in Helsinki there is a small island called Seurasaari (seura meaning company as in 'she was great company' and saari meaning island in Finnish.) Everyday during the writing of the story I would walk around the island in order to put myself directly into the book's setting. I would imagine the characters of the book and what they would be doing and where they would be.

As the story was drawing to an end on one particular day in autumn I was walking from my home towards Seurasaari-Nutshaven and I was in deep thought about how the adventure wa…

Who is Iku Turso?

There is a crucial moment in the story when after exuding such dominance over the reds, the greys are finally outwitted.  The riptide that runs just off the Nutshaven shoreline is given a name, Iku Turso.

For Shadowtail would have surely warned about Iku Turso, the demonic riptide that ran along these waters and made swimming impossible.
But where does this unusual name come from?

The story has some links with Finland and Iku Turso has a connection with what is known as the Kalvela.

The Kalvela was a project to write down and bring together in one set of works many of the ancient Finnish folklore stories which existed and were passed down from generation to generation. J.R.R. Tolkien was very interested in this national epic and he felt that Britain lacked such an epic and his creation of Middle Earth and all that was embodied within it was a kind of attempt to create one. 

Iku Turso is a malevolent sea monster which is mentioned in the Kalevala. Th…

What kind of a character is Skug Butcher?

Our main villain is Shadowtail but very often with sinister leaders have a sidekick and in 'The Ghost of Crow Cavern,' the sidekick is Scug Butcher.

Scug Butcher is the largest and the most brutish squirrel out of the grey invading troupe. He is no doubt thuggish and a complete bully. His physical size and the fact that he is so closely associated with the leader makes him very intimidating to his fellow greys and absolutely terrifying to the reds.

As a pup, Skug towered above the other pups of his own age and began to loom over his poor teachers at an incredibly young age. What got him so much attention at school was not his mind but his brutish strength. He did not have to be provoked to show thuggish tendencies. The only way to get him on side was to be one of his cronies but even that was a dangerous game to play as every so often his dark side would flare up, often without any provocation, and he would issue a beating to whoever was in his immediate vicinity or whoever ha…