Guest Post by Crispina Kemp, Author of The Spinner’s Game Series
Spliced with dark material, sprinkled with the mystical, Kerrid journeys through the timeless first days… and into the Spinner’s Web. Cursed, friendless and shunned, fraudulent seer Kerrid, born of a fisher-hunter clan, holds two beliefs. That in her psychic abilities and exuded light she is unique, and as Voice of the Lady she’s exempt from an arranged marriage. Both convictions are shattered when nine boats arrive from the east carrying the ancient Chief Uissinir who wants her for his wife, and five of his sons who emit lights and share tricks like her own. Forced to make an unwise judgement, a trail of death follows.
But questions plague her. Why does she dream of babies dying? Why does a voice in her head taunt her: Suffer the loss, suffer the pain? And what is she that no matter how lethal the wound, she does not die? What is she to kill with a thought?
The five books of The Spinner’s Game, set in the between-time, when hunter-gatherers turned to settled agriculture, when spirits and demons morphed to gods, takes Kerrid’s story across continents and weaves through ages fraught with floods and droughts to become the prototype of our most ancient myths.
In the Beginning, its first working title, grew from a single volume, to a trilogy. By then I’d realised that an unknown writer with a trilogy set in the mists of prehistory hadn’t a chance of acceptance by a traditional publisher, and as yet KDP was still in its infancy. In November 2012 I decided to post the trilogy, now renamed Feast Fables, to blog. Meanwhile I was writing additional stories set in the same milieu and sharing some of the characters.
It took three years to post that trilogy. And I still wasn’t content. It was ‘out there’, but it wasn’t widely seen. I took a deep breath and plunged into prepping for Kindle publication. In the process what had been the Feast Fables trilogy became the five-books of The Spinner’s Game – The Spinner’s Child, Lake of Dreams, The Pole That Threads, Lady of First Making and The Spinner’s Sin.
On the Matter of Names
As to The Spinner… I love word-play and have a passion for textiles. I liked that The Spinner might be a spider spinning its web or she might be the person who spins thread from the fleece. If the latter, that spinner spins a yarn… i.e. a tale. If the former, that spider spins a web to entangle, delay, hold captive, and ultimately to devour. I liked that the Spinner might be both creator and destroyer. The word ‘web’ too is loaded with imagery. The Spinner’s Game is woven through with this imagery.
The Mythological Framework for The Spinner’s Game
What’s the difference between a fable and a myth? A myth is a story, a fable is something said at the time of the feast. At Christmas we talk of Santa, his flying reindeer, his helpful elves, but there is no story. At Easter, we say of the Easter Bunny hiding its eggs. At Halloween, we speak of witches and goblins and the awakening dead. While these have roots in ancient rituals and beliefs, they are not myths. They are feast fables. And so too with Kerrid’s people. Everyone knew the Lady’s sons had cut up their mother to make the world, but few knew the underlying myth.
Before the belief in the gods, there was a belief in an all-pervading ‘Spirit’, a belief that today is regaining ground in the West while it never really diminished in non-industrialised societies. For Kerrid’s people that belief includes the notion of agency in which Spirit, now coalesced into discrete entities, is able to act of its own volition. With the relevant gifts, these discrete entities – divines – might be made to act on the donor’s behalf. But who knows which gifts might oblige them? While knowledge of the more common gifts – e.g. a slop of brew for the Lady of the Hills will keep her sweet and not convulsing – anything out of the ordinary requires a specialist. Those specialists – call them shaman, witchdoctors, wisemen – while feared, were also revered. As The Spinner’s Child opens, Kerrid is acclaimed a Seer; this keeps her safe, for the alternative is she’s demon-possessed. And the role of a demon is to destroy. As Kerrid says, it’s what they do. They cause disease and rot.
Plans for the Future