I promise not to give away anything important. So no spoiler alerts here. But as I get many questions about the first book, its inspiration, and where it goes from here, I thought I might offer a bit of insight.
Like many readers, I’ve had a lifetime interest in folk and fairytales from around the world. Grimm’s are most known, though they are not the only collection. Nor are they the oldest. In working on other writing projects, and while in graduate school I encountered the writings of mythologist Joseph Campbell. It was Campbell’s works that really took my folklore studies further. Folk and fairytales are not simply morality or cautionary tales, but have deeper archetypal meaning. They have symbols and images that occur cross-culturally, such as the age old image of “the witch,” “the fool,” “the wise one,” “the challenge,” “initiation,” “the threshold guardian” and more. The Briar Blackwood books incorporate many of these important themes that bubble up from the unconscious realm of dream for all of us. No matter our age, fairytales help us to process and tap into these deep, sometimes unsettling feelings we all experience.
It was eight years ago that I formulated the premise of the Briar Blackwood books. After writing at least three other non-fiction works that incorporated fairy and folktales from all over the world, I decided it was time to write one of my own. In searching out the tales to best incorporate into the series, I considered the important contributions of early psychologists Carl Jung and Bruno Bettelheim. While some of Bettelheim’s theories (like many of the early psychoanalysts) have been largely discredited, it was his book The Uses of Enchantment that continues to inspire many writers and aided me in narrowing down the important themes that repeat themselves across cultures for youngsters. Other important inspirational texts for me included, Witches, Ogres and the Devil’s Daughter, The Pentamerone, From Court to Forest: Giambattista Basile’s “Lo cunto de li cunti” and the Birth of the Literary Fairy Tale, and of course the works by the brothers Grimm. With the recent release of The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition, this important work is now an added influence. According to Jung and Campbell, the key fairytale imagery occurring across cultures are those that hold deep psychological meaning, not even necessarily at a conscious level. It is these images and themes that are part of the Briar Blackwood series.
Now that just isn’t fair to ask where Briar goes after her initial adventue. But there are important mysteries yet to be solved and tales left to be told. Please watch for the next book in the series, tentatively entitled The Orpion’s Tale. I promise plenty of surprises!