Today I’m delighted to welcome to my blog author Jacey Bedford, author of the Rowankind trilogy. The publisher is also giving away two copies of the Rowankind novels (US/Canada only). To enter, use the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the page.
What is a Fae? Or should that be: who are the Fae? What’s the appeal of the Fae to writers and readers?
Definitions first. Wikipedia has everything listed under ‘fairy’ with alternate names: fay, fae, fair folk and defines a fairy as: a type of mythical being or legendary creature in European Folklore, a form of spirit often describes as metaphysical, supernatural, preternatural.
People have told stories, painted pictures, written books, plays, movies about fairies/spirits for as long as there have been stories.
Sometimes the word fairy is used to describe a variety of magical creatures, including goblins and gnomes. At other times it describes spirits. The concept of fairy as we know it today, comes from a combination of Germanic elves, Celtic and French folklore with an overlay of Victorian invention (fairy stories). Fairie originally meant enchanted, but by the Elizabethan period the term elf and fairy had become interchangeable.
Originally I thought that the mysterious magical race in my Rowankind trilogy (beginning with Winterwood and continuing with Silverwolf) would be elves, but thanks to Tolkien and Peter Jackson, everyone knows what an elf looks like, so I wanted to distance myself from the pointy-eared folk of Lothlórien. Yes, the Fae in my books are both beautiful and unearthly, but they are not immortal – though they are very long-lived.
They live in the magical land of Iaru, known as Orbisalius to some human scholars, which is a kind of parallel dimension. They can (and often have done) isolate themselves from the human world entirely, living on in the mundane world as stories. Iaru and our world do have points at which crossings can be made. Think of the two worlds as two loosely rolled-together parchments which touch at random points.
But the Fae have one major problem. They don’t reproduce well or easily. A Fae child of two Fae parents is regarded as a miracle. So a few thousand years ago the Fae solved this problem by creating the rowankind, a race of beings created from rowan trees and Fae magic to be helpmeets, servants and the mothers of future Fae. The Fae gave the rowankind intelligence, gentle spirits and a magic all of their own, imbuing them with power over wind and water. Rowankind look almost human but their skin is the colour of carved and polished rowan wood, silvery ash-grey, with grain markings.
The Fae can also interbreed with humans and are known for beguiling away lovely young women to live with them in iaru for a time, to bear their children. A Fae child of either a rowankind or a human is entirely Fae.
The Fae have magical powers, of course, though no one has ever tested the limits of them, but they are reluctant to interfere in the human world (unless they really have to). They don’t like human cities, especially since the Industrial Revolution has caused massive pollution in and around major cities and industrial centres. They can only set foot in large cities like London or Birmingham with the greatest of difficulty. And the pollution in those industrialised cities is bleeding through into Iaru, creating desolation in the corresponding places. The Fae council are understandably worried about this pollution.
The Fae are not deliberately cruel or kind to humans. They are careless towards them, not really valuing them as individuals. On the rare occasions they interact with humans in the human world they can appear to be imperious and demanding because it never occurs to them to be otherwise. They treat their human paramours in Iaru with polite kindness, and they are skilled and charismatic lovers, but they rarely get emotionally involved since a human’s breeding life is short. Twenty human years of bearing and raising children is gone in a flash. To the Fae, human lifespans are like that of mayflies.
They have a rigid sense of honour. If they make a promise (or a threat) they will stick to their word – literally – even though they can see that the situation has changed and that their original promise or threat may no longer be appropriate.
In Winterwood the Fae have charged Rossalinde’s ancestors with a task that has (so far) been impossible to complete. As far as they are concerned the task passes from parent to child. Two hundred years down the generational lines, that task falls to Ross with the cooperation of the Fae children of several generations of Sumners.
In Silverwolf, Ross and Corwen are able to (occasionally) call on the Fae for help via Ross’ half brother, David, the child of Ross’ mother and the Fae lord, Larien. The Fae owe Ross a debt of gratitude, which they don’t like, but their sense of Fae honour won’t allow them to ignore it. Ross and Corwen are given Fae-bred horses and allowed to travel through Iaru, which means they can take magical shortcuts. Unfortunately the relationship runs both ways and the Fae charge Ross and Corwen with a task that they can’t possibly do without political help. That task is still hanging over them as Silverwolf ends, ready for the third book in the series: Rowankind, still some way in the future. 2018 maybe?
About the Author
Jacey Bedford is a British writer from Yorkshire with over thirty short stories and four (so far) novels to her credit. She lives behind a desk in an old stone house on the edge of the Pennines with her husband and a long-haired, black German Shepherd – that’s a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany. She’s the hon. sec. of Milford SF Writers’ Conference, held annually in North Wales.