Folklore and Fantasy: An evening with Melinda Salisbury, Samantha Shannon and Lise Lueddecke

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This event was held in Waterstones Piccadilly, London in October (whoops, has taken me a while to publish this!) and was a fascinating insight into the folklore and fairytales which inspired the worlds in the fantasy books written by these authors.

This was the first bookish event which I have attended since I started blogging, so I was a bit nervous, but I did meet up with a few familiar faces and even got my books signed!

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Both Melinda Salisbury and Samantha Shannon are very active at book events across the U.K. but this was Lisa Lueddecke‘s first event outside the U.S.

After clarifying the pronunciation of her name (Lu-deck-ah for future reference) she talked about her life growing up in various countries (14 countries and 5 states!) due to being an ‘air force brat’. In particular, her time in Iceland sparked the idea of what was to become A Shiver of Snow and Sky, her debut novel.

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I had a yummy dinner of ramen before the event, while enjoying Lisa’s book.

Melinda Salisbury then talked about how her grandmother’s stories had inspired The Sin Eater’s Daughter, especially the subscription to a magazine about unexplained mysteries. (Read more in this article: Was my Grandmother a witch?)

She also mentioned that she felt many island nations have very close relationships with the ‘wee folk’. As someone who grew up in rural Ireland, steeped in folklore and superstition, I can attest that many people follow old traditions even if they have forgotten the reason why or don’t truly believe in them any more. After all, why tempt fate / the fae? If it has worked for years you may as well keep doing it!

Melinda also listed her favourite fairytales as Little Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin and The Pied Piper, saying that astute readers of her trilogy will spot inspiration from all three in there.

When talking specifically about inspiration for The Sin Eater’s Daughter, she recounted a story she was told when visiting Bosnia. Apparently, a bridge there (was carpeted for Franz Ferdinand’s visit. As a result, he arrived in Sarajevo in time and was assassinated, sparking World War I . She admitted that she wasn’t sure how much of this story was true, but was fascinated by the idea that one small change could have such a large impact.

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The trio then moved on to talk about the oral tradition of storytelling, with Lisa saying that the runes in the caves represented leaving something behind to show that you had been there, making your mark on the world. Samantha Shannon mentioned the fact that there is graffitti in Egyptian tombs from some of the first visitors there – human nature to try to leave your mark!

The authors then talked about their main characters, with Melinda Salisbury revealing that Twylla first appeared in her head when she was singing ‘Reflection’ (from Mulan) in the shower. Samantha Shannon talked about lyrics in books and how she took them out after the first book as she tends to skim over them when reading. Then came the problem of the audiobook when she had to send the narrator a recording of her humming the tune she had imagined…

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Samantha Shannon said her Mime Lords and Ghosts are named after and inspired by fairytale characters.

Melinda Salisbury said that The Sin Easter’s Daughter is, at its heart, a retelling of Rapunzel.

Lisa Lueddecke said that A Shiver of Snow and Sky is not a fairytale retelling, but is informed by lots of traditional tales. She listed her favourite book as Ella Enchanted. I also love it as it gives a really interesting twist on the original story of Cinderella!

Finally the authors talked more generally about fairytales and their significance for people today. They said that fairytales can instruct, inform or warn, as well as holding a mirror up to your own faults and those of the human race. They can also help to make sense of the world around us and send the message that there are many ways to solve a problem and that, sometimes, the bravest thing to do is be kind and not ‘stab someone up’!


Overall, it was a fascinating evening and every one of these wonderful ladies was friendly and approachable – great for first-timers like me!


I will definitely be attending more events like this in the future and I hope you enjoyed my write-up for those who weren’t able to attend.


Have you attended any events like there?

Do you intend to?

Do you enjoy finding out about the inspiration behind your favourite books?


 

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