Author August: Peadar O’Guilin – Wonders And Terrors

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

Every ancient people that ever built a campfire loved to pass the time with stories that have long since faded into the mists of time. But Ireland is different. A string of remarkable people over the centuries actively worked to hold onto its folklore.

The Call - coverFirst, there were the monks of the middle-ages, who delighted in recording the myths of their pagan predecessors. They wrote it all down: the violence, the monsters and even the naughty bits. They were followed in Victorian times by enthusiasts like Lady Gregory and the superstar poet, W.B. Yeats. And finally, in 1935, the Irish government set up the Folklore Commission, sending enthusiastic people throughout the country (and also the Isle of Mann!) to record precious stories that were on the verge of dying out.

These efforts and others have left us with an impressive body of work. I like to think of it as a giant box of wonders and terrors that writers can dip into whenever our readers grow tired of yet more vampires and zombies.

Among the many delights on offer, are characters such as Balor of the Evil Eye; creatures such as giant worms, and tiny dogs trained to eat larger animals from the inside out. There are monsters and magical kingdoms; love and laughter and… fairies.

Beware that last word! Irish fairies don’t lounge around on toadstools in diaphanous dresses. They are the descendants of those who were driven out of the country — or possibly *under* the country — by the ancestors of the people who live there now. Growing up, I used to wonder, “What if the fairies were real? How would they feel about us who stole their homes? What would they do to us if they could?”


The answer I came to, wasn’t pretty. My novel, The Call, is the story of the fairies’ revenge. In this world, every adolescent on the island of Ireland knows they will be Called — stolen away to the hellish Grey Land to be hunted down by those we displaced so long ago. Nine out of ten don’t survive, but a lucky few, if they’re clever, and above all, fast, get to come home again.

But what chance do you have if you can’t run at all?

Nessa, the main character in the novel, is lame. Everybody has her written off. But she has different ideas.

I borrowed a lot of Irish mythology in order to tell Nessa’s tale, but I altered it too. I hope my ancestors aren’t tutting at me and rolling in their graves over this sacrilege. But I doubt it! Who among them, sitting around the campfire long ago, didn’t exaggerate just a little? It’s where all great stories come from, after all.

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin is published by David Fickling Books on 1st September, price £10.99 hardback.

My personal thanks to Peadar for taking part in Author August!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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