This past week we gave the spotlight to The Skin, J. E. Hannaford’s debut Fantasy novel, the first book in the Black Hind’s Wake series. Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with their reviews, interviews and more. Now it’s time to bring the show to an end and it’s my pleasure to present you with the encore, including some extra content. Come and learn a bit more about the world of The Skin through our Q&A with Jenny!
Writer of words, builder of worlds. J E Hannaford is powered by coffee, dragons and whisky. She teaches Biology in the real world and invents fantasy beasts to populate her own.
‘I have always loved books. I was the kind of child who thought they were reading sneakily, while my parents tiptoed past the cracks of light from under my bedroom door. Nights passed in a blur of words as I vanished willingly into their pages, lost for days, only coming up for air to deal with the real world when it called.
My imagination has always been sparked by my cultural mythology. From the creatures of The Mabinogion to modern folk stories, I devoured them all. I have a natural affinity for dragons too, after all, every sunset is merely the Welsh Dragon calling me home.
I fell in love with biology too. Marine biology to be specific. The weird and wonderful animals on this world and the legacy and hints of its previous occupants are endlessly fascinating.
All these things – these dreams and fascinations – were bound to merge one day, finding their blending in the Black Hind’s Wake series. I invite you to submerge yourself in a world filled with characters I’d both want to meet, and be afraid to, with deep, dark places, hidden secrets and wondrous creatures.
May my worlds and characters find a home in your heart, the way so many others live in mine.’
Connect with J. E. Hannford
You cannot fix this world alone, Selkie.’
‘I know. But, when we die, all that is left are shadows of our lives preserved in the memories of those who remain. I plan on leaving an exceptionally long shadow, filled with ripples of moonlight for those I helped, and darker than the worst of nightmares for those who wronged us.’
How far would you go to save your skin?
I’m a selkie, trapped above the waves until I can recover my skin. Humans used to call us seal-wives many years ago – before they broke the planet. Up here, the magic is fading and Old Ones like me are traded as trophies for rich and powerful humans to display in collections.
Without the Old Ones, the magic fades, without magic, the planet dies.
Humankind has gone too far and someone has to put a stop to it. I just wasn’t expecting it to be me.
Click on the blog name to read their full review or other content!
OCTOBER 17TH – THE KICKOFF
Alex S Bradshaw – interview
@laureane.reads – IG spotlight
Sadie’s Spotlight – spotlight
Devouring Books – interview
@thebookwebb – review + IG spotlight
“While I have read a number of books set in and around the sea recently, this is the first I have read that focuses on Selkies, mythological beings steeped in Celtic folklore. This made for a different and interesting read to anything that I have read before, and the author’s beautiful descriptions create an intriguing nautical world.”
Beneath A Thousand Skies – review
“The Skin is a simply stunning read inside and out. I went into this one with high hopes, and I loved every moment of it – even the ones that broke my heart – and I stayed up far too late to finish this one because I simply couldn’t put it down. This is the perfect read for anyone who loves nautical fantasy and folklore, especially a fresh take on maritime fantasy, and there is so much to love about this book that I can’t put into words, so all I can say is grab a copy for yourself!”
@thenerdynook – review + IG spotlight
“On a less serious note: there are heists and assassinations. Need I say more? 😏 I absolutely loved how the heart of this story was rescuing captive creatures and settings them free.”
@Chapter.mjthomas – review + IG spotlight
“It’s written in multiple POV and I can’t actually pick a favourite character yet. But I loved how they all are portrayed. Everyone is so distinct and skilled in their own ways, and they all have a certain level of charisma.”
@Lilybug_reads – review + IG spotlight
“I couldn’t put this book down for the life of me. The book follows a selkie (a seal that can shed its skin and become a human) forced to live on land till she finds her skin. The story weaves and intertwines beautifully. I loved every word and you need to read this book.”
@theenchantedshelf – IG spotlight
“This is a hauntingly dark twist on selkie mythology, a definite gem for anyone who loves mythology and retellings!”
@metrocoward – IG spotlight
Welcome to the Asylum, Jenny! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Hi, thanks for the drink, Whisky would be lovely, with one cube of ice . . . You don’t have ice? Umm. It’s fine. I just like watching the way the ice melts into the whisky and the swirling patterns it creates, they remind me of my thoughts. Now where were we? Ahh yes, you asked me to talk about myself. I like long walks on stormy beaches and poking about in rock-pools. My favourite fish is the tompot blenny and my favourite plants are oak trees. I managed to slip references to both of those into the book, I’m quite proud of that. The small, furry shadow you see behind me isn’t a figment of your imagination, I know he wasn’t invited, but my dog Archie follows me most places.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
All sorts of things. Sometimes it can be as simple as a passing comment. It was a judgement about selkies being useless that really kicked The Skin into gear after its initial inspiration, which was a picture. I can remember both incidences and can still see the picture in my mind as clearly as if it was on that table by the door now. I once wrote an entire short story based on a road sign. The underpinning pact that affects the entire story arc of the second book was inspired by a Eurovision song! No, I won’t tell you which one it was, you’ll just have to wait for that.
Often, I then go on a deep dive into research linked to the initial inspiration, and that throws up more stuff. As far as music goes, when I’m writing it has to be entirely familiar so the bit of my brain that would otherwise get distracted can just float on it while I use the rest to write. For The Skin, and probably the rest of the sequel, I tend to use the soundtrack to The Witcher. It just feels right.
Describe an asylum set in the world of your book, The Skin!
Funny you should mention that . . .
At the base of the mountains, about a day’s travel north of The King of Terrania’s Palace, is a horseshoe-shaped valley. Nestled close to the base of the mountains, alone and inaccessible by any mechanical transport, is a tower. From a distance it looks like one you might imagine from a fairy tale – tall, round and with a pointed roof. As you approach, you realise it is a lot wider than it first appears. Near the top of the tower, the windows are spaced at odd intervals. Were an inmate to look out, they would not see another window unless they leant out so far as to fall. A long, squat building spreads out behind the lower half of the tower.
You hear laughter from the courtyard. Someone opens the door and gestures you in. Uniformed staff bustle around, while another group of people shoot at a target on the far side. Where the staff appear relaxed – almost happy – these soldiers are more guarded; they snatch glances at you between turns. Uneven gaits and greying hair mark the majority of the soldiers as injured or close to retirement. Experience counts for a lot this far from the coast.
The tower door is half open, and a young woman sits on the step at its base. She looks up at you and nods slowly.
‘You’re the researcher?’ she asks. ‘We’ve got a bed ready for you. You’ve arrived at an interesting time. We haven’t had an inmate in the asylum for years, but apparently, there’s one on their way, they should be with us any day now.’
Your MC is locked in an asylum. What did he/she do to end up there?
That’s difficult. Tell the truth to the wrong person, I suspect.
Which fictional character (it can be one of yours) and/or author would you like to live with in an asylum and why?
Of my characters, Seren. Without a doubt. She’d find a way to be running the place from the inside within days. It would be pretty comfortable to be stuck with her. If I wished to escape, Ria.
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
If I can only look at one book for eternity, then Polar Dance. It’s a wonderful, huge photographic book, all about polar bears. I really love them and it’s a life-goal to see one in the wild.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
I . . . Oh, she left the bottle of whisky, excellent. Ria, you can come out now.
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