The Story of My Book: Samantha-Ellen Bound on What The Raven Saw
A love of children’s classics and a chance meeting with an imperious bird inspired this gorgeous novel for ages 10 and up.
What the Raven Saw was an unexpected book; it came out of nowhere, shoving aside all the ideas I’d been carrying around for ages, and forming itself into this weird and wonderful little manuscript with a vain, demanding raven at the centre.
It began as a major assessment at Uni – we had to write the first three chapters of a novel. I was out walking, trying to decide which of my novel ideas would wow my fellow students and teachers alike. That was when the raven took matters into his own claws. He was perched up on the weathervane of the church pictured below, looking for the entire world like he owned the place.
As I went by, he gave me a hefty caw to let me know my staring was rather rude, and that I better move on. This dose of avian attitude made my brain start to spark with ideas for a story. I went home and started jotting down some scenarios where the raven was dishing out his attitude on all manner of bird and beast.
So I had my hero of the book (or was it villain?) The rest of the story was spurred on, I think, by my love of classic children’s literature and all the other things that I personally love or have always wanted to write about.
For instance, I love theatre and have been involved with it since I was small. This fuelled my desire to have a big cast of crazy, colourful characters, who all have their own way of speaking and playing around with language. I am not overtly religious but I did grow up in a Catholic-school environment, with church, and I do, like the raven, adore gospel songs and hymns. You don’t have to be of a specific religion to be moved by music’s great ability to inspire hope and faith. Creepy graveyards and ghosts, have always been a literary favourite of mine, as have scarecrows, and my relationship with my own little brother was a great influence when creating Todd and Mackenzie’s story.
But really I think What The Raven Saw, and all my other novels, are inspired by the great classic children’s books that I love and admire. Peter S. Beagle, James Thurber, JM Barrie, Roald Dahl, Russell Hoban and Neil Gaiman (to name a few) write stories that are funny and quirky and have heaps of adventure, but above all they have something that leaves a little mark on your heart. What greater inspiration is there than that?