The Story of My Book: Song For A Scarlet Runner
Tasmanian author Julie Hunt builds a vivid world and treats us to a brave and believable female hero in her fantastic adventure story. Here she tells us where those ideas came from.
Song for a Scarlet Runner is my first novel. Folk tales were a source of inspiration and the main character is a storyteller. I once went to a storytelling workshop and heard how it is important to ‘close’ stories so the listener is not left stranded in the world of the tale. This gave me the idea of creating a story that was left wide open at the end, a story from which a dangerous character could emerge.
I like the idea of traffic between worlds, of movement between everyday reality and whatever worlds might lie beneath the surface. When young Peat gets caught up in someone elses’s story she finds herself lost in the land of the Siltman, a place where time stands still. Her only friend there is a 900-year-old boy who, like her, is stranded in time. With his help and through her gift for storytelling Peat manages to make her way to freedom, taking the boy with her.
I had a lot of fun creating the characters of Peat, Siltboy and their animal friends – Shadow the ghost hound and the fierce little fox-like creature Peat calls the Sleek. Most of the characters in my stories are close to animals and Peat is no exception. I made her a cow herder and used my own cow, Bella, at the beginning of the book.
Siltboy was a delight to write because, from the start, he spoke in the tongue of an Anglo Saxon poet. I love that language. It’s tough and vital and full of inventive word combinations − moon-glad, frost-feathered, storm-stacked. I read a lot of Anglo Saxon riddles while I was writing Siltboy and learnt bits of poems like ‘The Seafarer’ off by heart so I would absorb the rhythms.
The character of Eadie, the marsh auntie, arrived once I pictured her coat which was shaggy and full of pockets sprouting herbs. Pictured above is a clean version of it which I’m using for the book launch. The real coat is slicked with fat and covered in shag muck and marshweed.