We're delighted to welcome Lucy Christopher, author of The Killing Woods, reviewed here by Mel.
Over to Lucy Christopher, and her fabulous post about fictional woods...
My novel, The Killing Woods, was written as much outdoors as it was indoors. I spent hours and days wandering about the Forest of Dean, as well as various woods in Monmouthshire, South Wales, as I nutted out a complicated plot and various character motivations. Walking in woods helped me to think my way through the confusion of being stuck in a novel. Walking in woods also helped me to think deeply about the process of creativity: how writing is often like being lost in a wood; how sometimes you need to keep pushing through the bracken to find the paths again, how you have to trust that you will. Many authors have used woods within their creative works and for many different purposes. Here are some of my favourite examples of powerful and memorable woods in works of fiction:
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
This children’s novel, first published in 1943, is the second book in the The Faraway Tree series of novels, but the only one I think I’ve read. Here, Jo, Bessie and Fanny, show their cousin Dick the magic and wonder contained at the top of the Faraway Tree. Though not strictly about woods, the tree does lead to and from woods and is just so magical and cool that it just had to be included in this list!
Some Kind of Fairy Tale: Graham Joyce
I read this recently, thinking it might be research for my novel The Killing Woods. What I discovered was a novel deeply infused with the magic and mystery of the folklore of English woodlands. When Tara disappears from the local bluebell woods, no one expects to hear from her again … until she returns twenty years later, looking exactly as she did the day she left. Did fairies, helped along by the heady scent of the bluebells, bewitch her? Or has she actually gone mad and lost her mind and memories?
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C S Lewis
I remember the woods in Narnia incredibly clearly. From the first snow-dipped tendrils of the pine trees as the children walk through the wardrobe, to the sunlit clearing where Aslan is raised from the dead, the woods are a powerful force within this narrative. As a child, I desperately wanted to be in that beautiful clearing to watch Aslan’s golden coat shine with life again.
Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare
The woods themselves in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are not particularly well defined. It’s a play, after all, so we get little in the way of verbal description, and each incarnation of the play will have a somewhat different set design. But what the woods lack in physicality, they more than make up for in content. Within these woods occur scenes of magic and love, betrayal and bravery, changes of heart and changes of species. What takes place under these leafy canopies is a fun, funny, wacky and lyrical story – something you may just as easily find in the woodland area within Glastonbury Festival as within the Bard’s words.
The Woodlanders, Thomas Hardy
I think no list about woods in literature would be complete without mentioning Hardy’s representation of dark, moody and chilly woods in The Woodlanders. In this stunning evocation of early twentieth century life in a secluded community in Dorset, Hardy writes about characters who are intricately connected with woodland, all of who live in or around the woods. The woods seep into every aspect of this story, and Hardy’s evocation of them reveals the novel’s desperate moods and themes.
Thank you very much, Lucy Christopher!
Find out more about The Killing Woods.