Two weeks until Beating the Bounds is released! I’m pretty excited, and looking forward to losing a weekend to the rest of fairytales.com stories.
In this post, I wanted to supply some ideas of how Marlstrake, the village in BTB, looks. I didn’t have a particular village in mind, but an amalgamation of places seen while driving between one Roman ruin and another, nestled in the valleys of Northumberland. For those not fortunate enough to see those beautiful places, I wanted to share some images to help visualise the kind of place Jamie has moved to.
It’s very much the kind of place you’d expect to encounter a faerie. Don’t you think?
Note: I sourced these images from freefoto.com and they were taken by Ian Britton.
Bamburgh Village, Northumberland
A view of Hadrian’s Wall.
If you want to travel to Northumberland, and maybe meet some faeries,
Tam Lin is a ballad from the Scottish Borders, and there are many different variants, but I used Child 39 for Beating the Bounds. Well. With liberties (because if you’re not taking liberties, it’s not really a folktale). As I knew I wanted to write something about Tam Lin, it became a case of picking my favourite bits to corral a narrative that was recognisable as Tam Lin-adjacent, while abandoning bits I didn’t care for.
Among things I hastily abandoned: magical pregnancy, anyone?
Keepers: shapeshifting. The snippet below is a final bit of the ballad where Tam Lin changes shape approx a billion times. It’s a bit arbitrary – one of my editor’s comments was along the lines of ‘I don’t really get all the shapeshifting but’ – and that’s why I like it! Each of the changes below feature in the story (though not necessarily at the same time!).
They’ll turn me in your arms, lady, Into an esk and adder… They’ll turn me to a bear sae grim, And then a lion bold… Again they’ll turn me in your arms To a red het gaud of airn… And last they’ll turn me in your arms Into the burning gleed; Then throw me into well water, O throw me in wi speed. And then I’ll be your ain true-love
This shapeshifting climax drove me through the story. How might we get the characters to this point, where it (almost) makes sense within the context? How do you keep the non-magical character convincingly present in the scene without her screaming for her life?
Hot on the heels of WIKC, I am similarly (VERY) pleased to announce another forthcoming publication, from Less Than Three Press. The team at LT3 are awesome, and continue to put out spectacular works across the QUILTBAG spectrum. I’m a huge fan of the anthologies and collections and am proud to be part of the Fairytales.com collection.
Beating the Bounds is a f/f re-imagining of the Tam Lin story, with 100% less magical pregnancies and 100% more small town bureaucracy. Because a fairy tithe only counts if it’s noted in the Parish Council minutes.
Jamie has moved to Marlstrake, Northumberland, after a messy break-up, looking for escape into quiet country life. Instead she finds Lyn, a charming if slightly odd local, and sparks fly. However, Lyn’s ex—Margaret, head of the Parish Council—views Jamie as a rival. Curses, both literal and figurative, follow. So do cursebreakers, shapeshifting, and struggling to save one’s crush from being sacrificed as tithe to Faerie. Also there’s a talking cat.
I’d be utterly remiss not to mention the gorgeous cover by Aisha Akeju. I may have stroked the screen a time or two, trying to feel the embossed letters. It has yet to work but I keep trying!