Here in the northern hemisphere, autumn is wiping its muddy feet on the mat, stippling trees in the beautiful hues of their decay. Night is claiming the hours of dawn and dusk abandoned by our hot, bright star. And winter is waiting out there, lurking on the horizon.
Which means …
… it’s almost time for curling up with a hot drink (or a glass of wine) and a good book. Escaping into fictional world. Forgetting about the leaky roof and broken boiler (sigh) and other tediously practical daily concerns.
It’s a time of year when I’m drawn to stories that speak to my inner child. ‘The Box of Delights’ by John Masefield, the Moomins hibernating – and, of course, ‘The Snow Queen.’
I’m also drawn to write my own little stories – of mystery, magic and hope in the world.
If you’ve been with me for some time, you may remember ‘Three Winters’ Tales of Darkness and Light.’ Well, the lovely picture which adorns this post is taken from – tantara – a hand-crafted, 36-page booklet containing not just those three tales but six beautiful little illustrations in black and white.
I don’t really like the ‘tantara’ bit of selling my wares, so I’m delighted that, thanks to Siân Bailey – a children’s illustrator partial to fairy tales and mythology – I can proclaim this booklet beautiful!
Siân has worked for many of the major publishing companies, such as Random House and Puffin, and I was delighted when she agreed to interpret my words. Even more so when she chose to do it with little scraper-board illustrations. My father was something of a scraper board artist, once upon a time.
I also had the pleasure of working on it with Ken Burnley at the Museum of Printing in Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool. Ken hand-trimmed all the pages, hand-typeset and printed the cover, hand-applied the detail of one of Sian’s illustrations to the front – and then surpassed himself by sewing the thing together.
Ken turned a mere pamphlet into something for which there isn’t a good enough word (or if there is I can’t find it). Watch the little video and you’ll see a craftsman but hear a writer (which he is) at work.
The text was perfectly printed on just the right paper by Rufford Printing Company in Lancashire.
Me? Well, I wrote the tales, which have gone down well with test readers, but if you just want something good to look at – perhaps to give as a present – you won’t be disappointed.
It’s a limited edition of 250, I am numbering them individually – no cheating!
The tales are for sale through my revamped online shop, click here to find out more:
Cosi & Veyn (go to ‘Short Reads’)
If you are outside the UK please ask me for a postage price if you want more than one copy and I can send you a link for tailor-made payment. Otherwise, you may pay online by credit or debit card.
And, on another note:
I hope you have all stayed safe and well through this trying year. I suspect many of you, like me, have been reassessing what’s important in your life. For me, that means writing. Poetry, mostly. Though the Covid crisis has wreaked havoc with my muse.
Like many people, it’s also been a time for reconnecting with old friends, virtually. And how important they were when my husband was in hospital for five days last month, (not Covid-19). Then I experienced first-hand how awful it is to have to leave a very sick person at the door and not be able to see them again until they are safe to leave.
We must all do our best to keep this trickster C-19 at bay. It doesn’t only affect those who suffer it, the tentacles reach everywhere, into the fabric of our society.
As we ride our second wave, here in Britain, I wish you, wherever you are, peace, comfort and health.
Congratulations Mary! I love your Winter Tales! And the black and white illustrations are just right. I feel like I’m being drawn into your concave world!
All the best to you and all of your readers.
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Thanks, Thel. Yes, all those other let-downs were the path leading to the one!
How wonderful to see your beautiful book of short stories illustrated, and know that there has been something nice happening in your life to balance out the awfulness of covid and the not so good stuff. Siân’s illustrations are amazing, as is Ken’s craftsmanship. Well done all of you ♡