Susanna M. Newstead News It’s Just a Fantasy

It’s Just a Fantasy

I am known for writing serious murder mystery novels of the early 13th century and one or two romantic adventures and so when an idea came into my head (planted there by my publishers, Heresy), I wondered if it might be possible to write…well…something else.

It all happened so quickly.

First my agent was saying -‘ I think you could write a fantasy novel.’ – and then after much face pulling and sucking a lemon type expressions I thought…’well why not?’ I had a tiny element of fantasy in one of my Kennet Valley Tales and so wondered if it was possible to expand on this.

You see, I don’t like the usual fantasy genre with its white-bearded magicians and Harry Potter lookalikes, its fantastical beasts (none of them coming out of any Mediaeval bestiary I’ve ever seen) and silly spells with puerile magic wand waving. I wanted to avoid this.

I was helped along by serendipity.

I was sitting in a traffic jam on the way home on the Oxford Road, after visiting my mother, when  huge bluebottle landed on my windscreen.

I looked at him and he looked at me with his amazing compound eyes and we exchanged beings for a second.

Then he was gone.

All the way home I pondered and plotted and when I got into my study, I wrote down just a few jottings, something I never do for any of my books.

I had long wanted to write a book ( a series if I could do it), where my protagonist is female. A female Mediaeval detective. Impossible, I thought. I know that many authors have used a female lead in their murder mysteries but they’ve never quite been totally convincing. Women of the Middle ages were just not able to go gadding about asking questions here there and everywhere no matter their class. The younger upper classes were constantly chaperoned and never allowed to really live a life of enough freedom to be a detective. The lower classes were tied to their land and lord.

But a SHAPESHIFTING woman could go anywhere she wanted.

And so Mabel Wetherspring was born. From a middling background and a good family, literate, clever, observant and with a retentive memory, she could go anywhere, be any animal she liked. She can eavesdrop as an earwig; she can spy as a sparrow and she can move quickly wherever she likes as a bat.

She’s gotta watch it though…because being an animal is fraught with danger and she has to learn this from her thirteenth birthday, when she accidentally turns herself into a bat and a fly.

There are always predators lurking in the undergrowth and in the clouds ready to snatch you up and eat you…not just human adversaries.

Withershynnes In the Dark rumbled along nicely at a pace. I was enjoying writing it which I never thought I would. In fact I enjoyed it so much I wrote another and then began another.

It’s nice to be so free to write what you like without the constraints of history. Don’t get me wrong, these books are historical. In actual fact, shapeshifting was something which people totally believed in, in the 13th century and all the same rules apply to these books as to my Savernake and Kennet Valley Tales series. I can be a little bit freer in the conversation, a bit more modern and I can do things, of course which I cannot do in those series. But apart from that they are just as detailed and full of Mediaeval life.

SO today, Mabel has a kind of birthday. The first Withershynnes novel goes live.

Why withershynnes…?

It’s the Mediaeval equivalent of widdershins, anti-clockwise. Of course we have no clocks in the 1200s so we go against the sun. This is how Mabel achieves her transformations and she moves deosil…with the sun, to become a girl again.

Let’s hope she can do that for many adventures and she doesn’t end up as dinner for a passing starling…or a lurking spider…

Careful Mabel, don’t run, fly, creep, slither, swim or scurry before you can walk!

Content retrieved from:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


Introducing Withershynnes In The Dark. (Modern spelling widdershins – turning anticlockwise.) In order to extend their readership many authors stray from their original style and type of novel. Once an