Friday, 12 June 2009

Theresa Breslin: A Serpent. Two Circles. AZ-rod. A Mirror.

Theresa Breslin is a Carnegie medal winning author whose work has been filmed for television and broadcast on radio and is read world-wide. Her latest book is The Nostradamus Prophecy (paperback Corgi ISBN 9780552557214)

Here she tells how she drew inspiration from the Standing Stones of Scotland and elsewhere to write her latest book for young adults - The Nostradamus Prophecy

A serpent.
Two circles.
A Z-rod.
A mirror.

On my window sill sits a replica of a Standing Stone given to me when Divided City was shortlisted for the Angus Book Award. The original at Aberlemno is one of the most famous of these carved ancient stones, with markings indicating that it was a prehistoric monolith reused later by the Picts. Examples of similar mysterious designs can be found across Europe with the snake symbol universally associated with magic and with death.

Standing Stones fascinate me and I’ve travelled widely to study them. Are they merely monuments, or do they have a deeper, more mystical, history, and exist to give guidance on events to come? Can the future be foretold? And are some people empowered to do this? People such as Cassandra, Doctor John Dee, the Braham Seer, and, arguably the most famous of all, Nostradamus, the Seer of Salon.

‘Three to make fifteen in the circle of one.’
So speaks Nostradamus to Mélisande, daughter of the minstrel at the court of the ruthless Catherine de’ Medici in sixteenth century France. This scene from The Nostradamus Prophecy was inspired by the Stone Circle at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis – (photo credit to Chris of Scottish Book Trust!) As well as telling Mélisande that her fate is linked to the Kings of France Nostradamus voices his concerns for the welfare of mankind. He fears that we will destroy the bounty of the earth and squander the harvest of the seas – bringing about the so called ‘Sixth Extinction’.

Mélisande’s ponders on his prediction, thinking that she should take heed, for: ‘Words do not disappear. They sear the mind like a comet coursing across the night sky.’
But does anything happen to Mélisande that cannot be explained as a result of vivid imagination? Did Nostradamus really see what others could not?
You are invited to consider the question.

Other news:

To mark the fifth anniversary of their Fabulous Fiction list, Usborne are launching The Usborne Young Writers' Award.

On Thursday 11th June we held a meeting for Scottish children's writers here at Sandeman House. Poets Amanda Lichtenstein and Elspeth Murray spoke to them about their experiences of bringing poetry to pupils in Scotland and Chicago.

On Thursday evening Elspeth and Amanda treated us to an evening of poetry reading at the Scottish Poetry Library to celebrate the Chicago Exchange. A lovely evening was had by all.

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