Guest post by N.W. Moors
The Black Swans is a fantasy romance book that retells the old Irish tale of the Children of Lir in a contemporary story. The original story is about the four children of King Lir who are cursed by an evil stepmother. The children are two sets of twins; the oldest are Finola and Aodh (girl and boy) and the younger are Finacra and Conn. The curse is that they must live nine hundred years as swans. In some versions at the end of that time they meet St Patrick who baptizes them and then they die, buried in one grave with Finola holding the boys. In other versions they are transformed back to human shape and die.
I hated that the endings were all so sad. The children had miserable lives as swans, living in the cold North Sea, and then to just die seemed very wrong to me. One day I started to think about how I could rewrite this story with a happy ending and that’s how The Black Swans was born.
I loved writing this story. By setting it in the small fictional town of Antrim in Maine I was able to add the Irish elements of music and magic while retaining the modern-day aspect of everyday life in a rural town in New England, something that I know about. I set Antrim in the Oxford Hills in the western part of Maine and many of the scenes are actual places (some are renamed) that I know and have visited. I’ve been to the locales in Northern Ireland that I describe. As a writer I find it easier when I can visualize what I’m writing about.
The same applies to the people in the book. The hero and heroine, Conn and Taisie, have always looked like Michael Praed and Judi Trott in the old BBC show Robin of Sherwood, if you remember that TV series. I kept a picture of them posted to remind me of details for the book. Many of the people are composites of real friends and family and I used old family names for the people of Antrim, both from Maine and from Ireland. It’s a technique that I use as a writer to become totally immersed in the story.
Taisie is a strong heroine. She is determined to break the curse, but does so in her own special way, using the grit and talent she has cultivated growing up in a small town. I’m currently working on the next book in the series and have at least four more planned; they are all stand alone, but take place at least partly in Antrim and some of the same characters appear from book to book. I love to hear from my readers so please stay in touch.