Fiction | 15 October 2015BLOG TOUR: Author Jackie Morris on THE WILD SWANS Share article facebook twitter google pinterest 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 wings. 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 ReaderBuzz Review Friday, October 23, 2015 Jen Funk Weber Q&A and giveaway Saturday, October 24, 2015 imagination soup review 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 Author: Jackie Morris Format: Hardback, 176 Pages ISBN: 9781847805362 Age Range: 8 to 12 Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books Published: Oct. 1, 2015 Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.