Tag Archives: Faerie

The fay can be tiny shining sprites or enormous, lumbering woodkin.

What makes The Fey Man a Faerie Tale?

So I’ve written a blog post about why The Fey Man is full of elfs and not elves (TL;DR the word ‘elf’ came first and it feels right). But a discerning reader on Twitter made an excellent point: in the very same post, I called the Fair Folk series a ‘Faerie tale’. Why didn’t I call it a fairy tale?

There are two possible explanations. The first is that there are no fairies in the Fair Folk series. They’re called ‘fay’ instead, and that’s because the word ‘fairy’ actually comes from the Latin word ‘fae’, the singular of ‘fata’ which means ‘the Fates’.

(This, by the way, is pretty well known to fantasy writers, so you’ll often see fairies called ‘fae’. However the spelling ‘fay’ comes from Middle English, and was also used as a word for ‘faith’, which I felt was rather fitting for the Fair Folk series.)

Faerie, on the other hand, is the land of the fay. Usually an otherworldly realm, it’s the place where the fay live. Much like England is the place where the English live, the words are similar, but not the same.

So why did I call The Fey Man, and the Fair Folk series as a whole, a Faerie tale? Well, I wanted to evoke fairy tales, largely because some of the inhabitants or stories themselves can be found in the series. It’s also a hint as to the focus of the series; there’s a lot going on in Tir, but some of it is more important than the rest.

And, last but not least, I thought it was cool. And one of the best things about being a writer is being able to write things I think are cool. Like conversations with dragons, a person with visions of the future, and forests haunted by tree spirits.

If you like the sound of an epic Faerie fantasy novel, what are you waiting for? Download your copy of The Fey Man for free today!

The beautiful fay Glastyn turns into the grotestque Fenoderee.

Creatures of Faerie: Glastyn and Fenoderee

Glastyn is the first fay you meet in The Fey Man. He was exiled for some offence he is unwilling to discuss and sought out Thomas Rymour at Cairnagan. Tall, dark and beautiful, witty and charming, Glastyn seems to live for life at court. He thrives on the intrigue, the drama, and he enjoys seducing people’s wives. Where Tom flounders in Cairnagan, Glastyn is a perfect fit.

Glastyn’s darker face is his antithesis, a fay called Fenoderee. Fenoderee is ugly where Glastyn is handsome, plain of speech where Glastyn is witty, sombre where Glastyn is feckless. Fenoderee is a shambling mess, as if his limbs are being held together by moss and mould, and he stinks of rotten leaves. But he has Tom’s best interests at heart, whereas Glastyn’s motives are his own.

* * *

Both Glastyn and Fenoderee are fairies from folklore, though I’ve taken some liberties with tradition. Glastyn was tall and handsome, but could also transform into a horse and pulled young women underwater to drown them. Fenoderee was ugly and hairy, and this was punishment for missing a festival. He was also banished. The two seemed like they fit together, so I kept the broad strokes and blended them a little. The pair serve as perhaps the most prominent stereotype of the fay.

King Midhir of Faerie changes into King Melwas for the winter months.

Creatures of Faerie: King Midhir and Melwas

Midhir is the seeker of pleasure. He enjoys wine, food, dancing. He pursues mortal women, indulging in many affairs. He gambles and he drinks and he laughs. But do not be fooled by the simple wooden crown he wears. Though Midhir will choose laughter over any other reaction, he is still a king and demands the respect due to that title.

Melwas is the seeker of satisfaction. He enjoys duelling, hunting, combat. He leads the Wild Hunt, a pack of baying, flayed Faerie hounds, chasing down anything that takes his fancy, be it animal, man, woman or child. Melwas was also known as Malvis, the Black Knight that dogged King Emyr’s reign. Melwas had a particular obsession with Emyr’s wife, Eirwen, and once tricked him into losing her in a wager over a game of chess. The victory was short-lived as Emyr marched on Faerie and, with some help from the jealous Mab, took back his wife.

Thomas Rymour is very wary of the King of Faerie; because the fay share a mind, a thing known to a single fay is known to them all. And because Tom indulged in certain indiscretions with the Queen of Faerie, the King must know too. And he has yet to take his retribution.

* * *

Most people will think of Shakespeare’s Oberon and Titania when they think of fairy royalty. I wanted to distance The Fey Man from those mischievous fairies, though, and names were a big part of doing so.

Midhir and Melwas represent the two extremes of the stereotypical king, one surrounding himself with the joys and comforts of his position, the other obsessed with overtly masculine pursuits such as fighting and hunting. There’s no middle ground with the Faerie King, as Tom will find out to his cost.

Maev and Mab are the light and dark faces of the queen of Faerie

Creatures of Faerie: Queen Maev and Mab

Just as all the fay have two faces, so too does the Queen of Faerie. Unlike many fay, though, the physical differences between the two fay are subtle. The unwary might mistake one for the other, and that might prove a mortal’s undoing.

During the months of summer, Queen Maev rules over Faerie. Quick to anger but just as quick to forget, she takes her joy in simple things, seeking only comfort and pleasure. She is ready to laugh and ignores weightier matters in favour of frivolity.

Queen Mab, on the other hand, has more sinister thoughts. She makes no secret of the fact she enjoys her position over others. She sneers at simple pleasures, taking her joy in humiliation and control. Her smile is a rare thing and never pleasant to see, for it often preludes discomfort for the viewer.

Yet both Maev and Mab have one thing in common: they are manipulators. They are expert in working the will of others to their desires. Nowhere have their charms worked better than on Thomas Rymour, who is in love with both. It is for them, more than anything else, that he wants to go back to Faerie.

* * *

You may recognise Queen Mab from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, though the similarity is in name only. The name always seemed sinister to me, making it an easy choice for the queen’s dark face. Maev is an Irish name meaning “she who intoxicates”; perfect for the creature that seduced Tom away from mortal life.

The fay can be tiny shining sprites or enormous, lumbering woodkin.

Creatures of Faerie: the Fay

The people of Tir celebrate many festivals but the greatest are the festivals of Calmae and Calgraef. These are the spring and harvest festivals, celebrating the brightening and darkening of the days. And they have special significance to the fay.

Mortal understanding of the fay has always been limited due to the fact that no-one can see or hear the fay without the Second Sight. So few know that each fay has two faces; one for summer, one for winter.

The summer fay are more given to frivolity, their pranks innocent and their play merry. But after the festival of Calgraef, their appearance, their personality, even their name changes. Their pranks become vicious and they take joy in humiliation and suffering.

Some would take that to mean that the winter fay are dangerous whilst the summer fay are boon companions. But the truth is that a fay is dangerous whatever face they might wear. The fay are immortal and seek to fill their eternal days with entertainment, with no regard to morality and often at the expense of mortals.

* * *

The fay got their dual aspect as I was researching fairy folklore. Folklore is, by its nature, a messy affair. Traditions are appropriated and localised, creating multiple versions of the same creature. Sometimes the fairy simply has a different name, sometimes its entire personality is changed. In trying to create my own mythology of the fay, I found myself struggling to choose between different ideas for the same character, as well as a plethora of potential names.

There are references to the folklore to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, troupes of fairies that are benevolent and malevolent respectively. It wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine it was the same troupe, interpreted differently. It was a simple step from there to a magical transformation. I tied that transformation into Halloween, as that was traditionally when darker spirits began to roam the Earth.

Every writer wants to put a spin on a trope or tradition when they use it in their writing. The hope is that spin will be original rather than gimmicky. I hope the two faces of the fay will be seen as the former rather than the latter.

Get an exclusive preview of The Fey Man now

Free Preview of The Fey Man Available Now

I loves me a good preview. Trailers and snippets are all good but they always show you the best bits. So whenever I buy a new book, I always read the first few pages and I wanted to give you guys a chance to do the same with The Fey Man. But then I thought a few pages might be a bit stingy. So I thought I’d beef it up. Five chapters? Sounds like a good, meaty preview, right?

But that’s not enough. In all the excitement of imminent publication, I thought I should give you more. So I thought you might like a little exclusive content. Who doesn’t, eh? So your preview contains more than just five chapters:

  • Introduction – a short essay on how I came up with the idea for the Fair Folk Series;
  • Deleted Scene: The Founding of Tir – a short scene I had to cut for pacing, but I always enjoyed the story;
  • The Realms of Tir – a profile of the different realms of Tir, where The Fey Man takes place;
  • The People of Tir – character profiles including exclusive information and backstory not in the novel;
  • and, of course, the first five chapters of The Fey Man

You can get a copy in MOBI format for your Kindles and Kindle apps or EPUB for your iPhone/iPads, Kobos or Nooks.

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