The Wolf’s Sister: a Tale of the Holtlands is available now from Samhain Publishing Ltd., and it’s turning out to be quite a day. I even got “Paperback Writer” played for me on our favourite radio station Dublin City’s Live Drive programme – we’re big fans and tend to text in a lot. What an amazing feeling to hear the presenter talking about my novella, and telling people to go and buy it!
Many things inspired this story. I’ve always had a fascination with wolves, their social structure and the way literature and culture has largely vilified them. Dublin zoo has a wolf pack. In their large enclosure they can be quite difficult to see but occassionally you catch glimpses. One corner in particular, up opposite the gorilla enclosure if you’re ever there, offers a particularly good view. However, we did discover something about the wolves in Dublin zoo. Clearly the sound of keys means food, because if you do jangle a set anywhere near them, the one or two animals you thought you could see suddenly becomes nine or ten! They melt out of the landscape, suddenly alert and waiting.
Also in Dublin zoo there is a very elderly snowy owl. My fascination with this bird began when I read David Edding’s Belgariad as a teenager. Maybe devoured might be a better word. I read them all in about two weeks. Polgara was the first female figure in fantasy literature who I remember being thoroughly impressed by. There was no doubt that she could handle whatever was thrown at her. And the owl was soon a firm favourite along with the wolves. Imagine my delight when, at the stage of saying Dada and Mama, I took my little girl to the zoo and standing in front of the same aviary, looking at the same bird, she came out with “Owl”.
Another thing I associate strongly with The Wolf’s Sister is a song. It wasn’t around at the time I was devouring any Eddings, Feist and Brooks I could lay my hands on. But when I was reworking this story in its current incarnation, I came across it and it was like the final piece of the puzzle snapped into place. It’s the soul of The Wolf’s Sister. It’s called “Nature’s Law” and its by the Yorkshire band Embrace.
Excerpt from The Wolf’s Sister: a Tale of the Holtlands
She skidded to a halt where the trees descended into a gully, hoping the edge might offer an advantage. She grabbed a hefty branch from the ground and faced her pursuers. Five of them, all men.
“She’s waiting for her Fair One friends to drop out of the sky and save her!”
The wind stirred the leaves overhead.
Drop out of the sky, Shan. Please! Do as he says and save me!
Nothing happened. She heaved in a breath.
“Leave me alone.” She clenched her teeth, her knuckles white where she gripped her makeshift weapon.
Their laughter roared in her ears. They couldn’t imagine that anything could hurt them, least of all one small woman, so outnumbered. The first walked forwards, a knife in his hand. The irony of it twisted in her stomach—Jeren, sister of the Scion of Jern, heiress to River Holt, killed by a bunch of drunken louts from a hole like Brightling’s Dale? It wasn’t going to happen. She would not allow it!
Jeren lashed out. The impact of the wood on his arm jarred through her. His bone shattered.
She didn’t pause. They weren’t going to line up and politely attack her one by one. The other four scrambled forwards, a ragged pack who, sensing danger, would rely on their numbers. She crouched low. There were too many, despair told her. The foremost caught her arm and she saw the flash of a knife. Pain exploded in her side.
An unearthly shriek came from above her and something white plummeted into the face of the third man, beak and talons rending his flesh. He fell beneath the screeching owl, flailing wildly. Anala hurtled into the one with the bloody knife, her whole body her weapon. They tumbled down the gully, man and wolf, a cacophony of screams and snarls.
The other pair faltered. They were staring at Jeren in horror now, their faces pale with dread. No, not at her…past her, above her…
Shan unfolded silently from the tree branch and dropped to the ground, his sword already drawn.
“Run away,” he told them. His voice rippled like the breeze through the leaves. “Run away now.”
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of The Wolf’s Sister:a Tale of the Holtlands why not pop a comment on here to tell me about the things that inspire you, the things you love or even your favourite animals?