Juliet Marillier is a bestselling author known for her Sevenwaters series – a collection of fantasy books that expand classic Celtic myths and legends into full-length tales. And while I have enjoyed all of her works, this time I want to write specifically about the first book of hers I ever read: a stand-alone novel titled Heart’s Blood.
In this story, young Caitrin takes a job as a scribe at Whistling Tor, a haunted fortress belonging to the crippled chieftain, Anluan. During her time at Whistling Tor sorting through family documents, Caitrin not only must learn to face the horrors from her own past, but she must also unravel the mysteries of the past and help Anluan conquer his own ghosts – literally – in order to break the curse surrounding Whistling Tor.
I admit, one of the things I loved about Heart’s Blood was the fact that Caitrin was a scribe :-P. I felt a sort of kinship with her: it’s not often that I find characters who share my particular passions or vocation, but when I do, I get excited! I realize “scribe” and “author” aren’t quite the same thing, but they both relate to writing, so it’s close enough! I figure I have to take what I can find ;-).
Aside from the sweet romance, the mysterious backstory filled with curses and magic and ghosts, and the main character’s profession, there was a particular element of this story that stood out above everything else, and remained with me long after I have finished the novel. There is a very minor character – a ghost child, only five years old – who is restored to life during the breaking of the curse. She’s not involved in any major part of the plot except as a participant in the undoing of the spell, and she doesn’t even have a name – so Caitrin gives her one, naming her after Anluan’s deceased mother, Emer.
Yes, you guessed it – this is where I got Emer’s name. I found myself fascinated by this side-character, this little ghost-girl brought back from the dead; what would the rest of her life be like? In a way, I finished her story by giving her name to one of my own characters. But this book wasn’t my only source of inspiration. As I was writing The Heart of Everything, I took the time to look up the name Emer for some background information. When I did, I discovered that “Emer” was in fact the love interest of the Irish mythological hero, Cu Chulainn. To my surprise, there were several similarities between this ancient warrior and Jesse! So the story Alex tells Emer about her namesake is in fact based on actual legends. It may only be a small detail, but it just goes to prove that all good stories are connected – and inspiration can be found even where you least expect it ;-).
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.