Wednesday 21 December 2016

The Winter Solstice

Less of the dark ...
Today is the Winter Solstice. If you're in the northern hemisphere today is the shortest day, longest night. Once it's passed. it's all down hill until the sun comes back. I, for one, am very grateful for this, as I hate the short, cold and dark days of winter, despite my fondness for writing dark stories. When I mentioned on Facebook recently that this would be the shortest day and I would be pleased when it had come and gone, a lot of people 'liked' and commented, so I am not alone in looking forward to the return of the light.

... and more of the blue sky and sunshine!
Which is not to say that the Solstice does not have a certain fascination. Old Celtic customs, ceremonies, and celebrations of the dying of the year, often involving light and fire, have their attraction. It's a time of transition too. And any kind of border, in place or time, is potentially interesting to a writer - sites of change and possible peril. Advice to would-be writers often suggests that the protagonist of the book should be at a point of change in their lives, and if you write the dark, spooky stuff then ancient lore and magic adds to the atmosphere. You're plugging into something that has a long history and trails it's own echoes with it. And of course there are the stone circles - Stonehenge being the most notable - which are aligned to the Winter Solstice.  It's remarkable that there was sufficient precision all those thousands of years ago to make that happen. Stone circles are a mystery in themselves - not least how they were transported and raised, so it's not surprising that they still have a deep seated pull, even in 2016. I'm sure there were the usual druid groups at the stones this morning when the sun came up.

Wales is quite good for folklore and atmosphere and amongst the (many) plans I have for future books there is a series that will have some of those overtones - or should it be undertones - build into them. I'm looking forward to writing them, but it won't be for a while yet, unfortunately. In the meantime, there is research, which is always fun, even if it does come with short days attached.

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