BLOG TOUR: Author Jackie Morris on THE WILD SWANS

Today is the first stop a new QuartoKids Blog Tour.  We welcome world-renowned author Jackie Morris to talk about her latest book from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books: The Wild Swans!

Check out the rest of the tour below (after today’s guest post)!


Some years ago I wrote East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Seven years after writing the book it found a publisher with Janetta Otter-Barry Books and Quarto. Published in a small format, illustrated this book is now in its 4th edition. It was a story that had haunted my dreams for years and part of the reason I worked on a new telling of the book was to try to understand it more clearly.

Wind the clock forward. Now East of the Sun is joined by The Wild Swans. Both retellings, both with strong heroines who drive the story. So, why did I write The Wild Swans? It has many themes that fascinate me, but one that runs through its heart is about communication, misunderstandings and what happens when silence is dominant. And love. Always love.

Eliza is the centre of the story, and when her brother’s are turned to swans by their stepmother the task falls to her of restoring them into their human shape. She has to work, picking nettles, spinning yarn and knitting shirts for her swan brothers, and all the while she knits she must keep silence. For if one word should fall from her lips it will be a dagger to her brothers hearts.

While working on the story the character who really grew in my imagination is the stepmother. She has something I so desire. Small fur slippers that she keeps tucked beneath her bed. When she puts them onto her feet she can transform herself from a woman into a wild white hare. Neither bad nor good, she does something unforgivable, but why? Why does she turn the boys into swans? Even now that the book is finished and published, in shops and in readers hands I return to that question, and I may have to seek the answer in another book.

Winding the illustrations through the text was a pleasure. In childhood retellings of this tale the number of swans varied. Three, six, seven or eleven. In some stories they are ravens. I often thought it would have been easier with less, but loved painting the swans. I went to Slimbridge in England to draw and watch swans. Such elegant birds.

But the piece I loved working on most was the one which show Eliza changed by the stepmother who works charms and ties witch knots into her hair so her father won’t recognize her. It is supposed to make her ugly, but loving the wild as i do I found that she became more beautiful with spiders and mice in her hair, and a necklace of dragonfly

In this book the children are banished from their homeland and wander, as swans, as strangers, in foreign places. They cannot speak, cannot tell people of their troubles. Somehow this ancient tale has become more relevant as refugees flee for safety around the world. Eliza is viewed with suspicion and eventually hatred as she has no voice, her ways are strange, she is simply different. And this is what makes this an important story for our modern world.

We seldom spend time in silence these days. With so much social media and tv and film and blogs etc. Since finishing this book I have been knitting. Sitting, knitting, quietly, thinking, as Eliza does in the book. When people ask me what it is I am knitting I say, “a shirt for a swan.” We are losing this quiet handwork from our culture, this simple act of making. I sit on cliff tops while seals sing in coves below me, knitting, thinking. At my feet sits Ivy. I painted her into the book as Eliza’s mother’s dog. A week after I did the first painting Ivy came to live with me. Sometimes, in books, you can find magic. I hope that’s what you find in The Wild Swans.



Follow along for the rest of the tour:

Friday, October 16, 2015              

Children’s Book Review 

Q&A And giveaway


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Curling Up with a Good Book  

review and giveaway


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Dream within a Dream    

guest post And giveaway

Open Topic


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

From the Mixed Up Files   

giveaway only


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Little Red Reads

guest post And giveaway


Thursday, October 22, 2015




Friday, October 23, 2015

Jen Funk Weber

Q&A and giveaway


Saturday, October 24, 2015

imagination soup 



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Midnight Bloom Reads  

guest post And giveaway


Monday, October 26, 2015

Pamela Thompson’s Blog    

review and giveaway


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rockin Book Reviews

review and giveaway


The Book Wars 

review only


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Genuine Jenn       

guest post and giveaway


Friday, October 30, 2015

Prose and Kahn

review and giveaway


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Live to Read

Q&A and giveaway



The Wild Swans by Jackie Morris

The Wild Swans

Format: Hardback, 176 Pages
ISBN: 9781847805362
Age Range: 8 to 12

Published: Oct. 1, 2015

Buy from an Online Retailer






  • John Francis Ward

    Two excellent books (and beautiful too) but the most interesting thing is how perennnial these stories are – they will always strike some resonance, even if it is different in each generation.

    • Jackie Morris

      Thanks John. I dn’t think of them as children’s books. Just books. For all ages.

  • Karin

    Thank you. A beautifully written blog post by Jackie Morris. I loved both these stories, as a child with the original tellings and as an adult the reworking of them so artfully done by Jackie. They make your heart sing with words and illustrations.

    I was saddened to see that at the bottom it links to Amazon. Jackie works so hard to promote independent bookshops and always recommends them as the way to buy her books. It seems odd to then find a link to Amazon on her blog.

    • Jackie Morris

      Indeed. Thanks for this. Makes me feel rather sad.

  • John Francis Ward

    How curious: the comments here seem to come and go. I wonder if regretting links to Amazon can have anything to do with that? Surely this site is not being censored to curry favour with huge tax-evading enterprise-stifling corporations at the expense of independent bookshops? That would be sad indeed.