I’d like to welcome world traveler and fellow author Belinda Mellor. Her debut novel, Silvana The Greening was released in December of 2013.
Aubrey: Tell us something about yourself and your travels, Belinda.
Belinda: I was born in England, lived for many years in Ireland and now live with my family on a lifestyle block near Nelson in New Zealand; a place we came to on holiday some years back and forgot to leave. I studied theology at uni and applied spirituality a few years later, and have been known to teach from time to time. These days I do a fair bit of freelance editing, when I’m not goat milking or egg collecting.
Aubrey: Sounds like you keep pretty busy at home. How did you get interested in writing? Or have you always considered yourself an author?
Belinda: At the age of five I won a school award for ‘free expression’ and have not stopped writing since. In 1998, I was a winner of an inaugural Ian St. James Literary award, 3rd overall, and one of the twelve finalists whose short stories were published in an anthology ‘At the Stroke of Twelve’ by Collins (as they then were). It was quite a big deal, with celebrity judges and presenters and fairly substantial prizes.
Since then I have had numerous pieces published in magazines and newspapers and a play for children performed by a theatre-in-education company.
Aubrey: Silvana-The Greening is your first published novel. Before you go, tell us a little about your story.
Belinda: It is a gentle fantasy spanning 30 years. It tells the story of Fabiom, a young nobleman, and Casandrina, a tree spirit – a Silvana.
Since the four-year-old boy had hidden, terrified, beneath her tree, Casandrina hoped Fabiom would dare to love her when he came of age. But risking his life, or his sanity, to win a Silvana’s hand is only the start of Fabiom’s problems. A bitter mother, economic espionage, feuds with other holders, and the unwanted attention of a powerful woman will test their relationship.
Besides true love, Silvana is a story of growth, silk-making, archery, poetry, and the beauty of nature.
Aubrey: Is your novel part of a series? Can you tell me a little about the world you’ve created?
Belinda: Silvana started life as a single novel – spanning fifty-odd years – a fantasy biography of Fabiom, the Lord Holder of Deepvale in the land of Morene who risks everything for the love of a Tree Lady, Casandrina, the Silvana of the title. But, over time, the story grew and grew so that, in the end, it became two novels and Fabiom and Casandrina’s son, Lesandor, became the main character in the second. I called the two parts The Greening and The Turning after the two main festivals of Morene’s year, marking the start of spring and autumn. I am currently editing the second book and – all being well – it will be out by the end of this year. That was supposed to be it, until a couple of months ago when I suddenly knew what happened next! So now I am writing Book 3, tentatively called Restoration, which will be another generation on.
Aubrey: What inspired you to write your current novel?
Belinda: As for inspiration, I’d have to say a mixture of love of nature – especially trees, romanticism, and a fondness for classical history and mythology. The society Silvana is based on borrows heavily from Ancient Greece, which I think complements the dryad-like nature of the non-human characters.
Aubrey: What do you think readers will enjoy most about your novel?
Belinda: The feedback I’ve had since The Greening was released has been interesting, to say the least. A number of people have told me that they don’t normally read fantasy but really enjoyed reading the book and want to know when part 2 will be out. So that’s great! As for what I’d like them to get – well, Fabiom falls in love with the wildwood and is happy to be lost there, and that’s what I want readers to feel: in love with the story and the characters, and happy to be lost in their world.
Once heard, the song of a Silvana can never be forgotten.
Print copies: http://shop.copypress.co.nz/shopn/spi/copyp_12214
“I have made a decision,” Fabiom said, half reluctant to reveal his intention yet wanting, needing, to share his thoughts with someone. He was well aware that if he did not take this opportunity there might never be another.
Nalio stayed silent, waiting for him to continue.
“It’s fifteen days to my seventeenth birth anniversary.” He looked at Nalio meaningfully and indeed there was little need for him to say more.
Nalio almost laughed. “Sleep in the woods? You are joking? You’re not joking, are you? Fabiom – you can’t. How can you even think of trying to win a Silvana now?”
“Now? It’s not as if there’s any other chance. It’s fifteen days from today or not at all.”
“My advice? Choose not at all.”
“I can’t. Truly, Nalio, I can’t. I tried –”
“What do you mean, you tried?”
“I came here to the woods to say farewell, to accept I had to live in the world of men and take up the responsibilities my father left me. Instead I found another piece of amber, and the words would not come.
“That night, I tried to imagine my life if I didn’t at least make the attempt, and I couldn’t – I couldn’t imagine anything.”
“You risk much. Only son of a high house. Heir to a grand holding and a deal of responsibility.”
“I know all that,” Fabiom replied rather shortly, challenging Nalio to tell him something he did not already know.
Nalio did not oblige. “May I ask why? I mean, I know we all daydream about doing such a thing; I certainly did, even after I met Eifa. I doubt there’s a boy who hasn’t. But fantasising about wedding a Silvana and actually presenting yourself in the woods on your seventeenth birth eve are two very different things. And that difference is what makes most of us forego the imagined delights of being in the arms of a Tree Lady – for the sake of our continued sanity, or our life, for that matter.
Keep in touch with Belinda Mellor:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BelindaAnnMellor