When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to shapeshifting car mechanic Mercy Thompson to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not. And she'll have to choose between the two werewolves in her life-whether she wants to or not."In the increasingly crowded field of kick-ass supernatural heroines, Mercy stands out as one of the best."
Essay by Patricia Briggs
My siblings and I still snicker when we see billboards urging parents to "Read to your Child". In our family, everyone read, and our parents were more likely to urge us to put down the book and "go find something to do outside, please". My mother was a school librarian and my father a former English teacher: our house was full of books.
Every night before we went to sleep, my older sister would read a story to me from her three inch thick fairy tale book (a gift from our aunt). When I was old enough I read all of Andrew Lang's colored fairy tale books as well as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. They were the only things I read that weren't about horses. I was the only third grader in school who knew who Dick Whittington was. It wasn't until I was in fifth or sixth grade that my sister persuaded me to branch out into fantasy and science fiction.
So when I went looking to populate Mercy's world with fae, what I did was more refreshing my memory than serious researching into something new. I use the folktales as jumping off points, rather than blueprints-though, especially with the fae Mercy knows well, that gives me more leeway (and fun) than sticking to the exact stories. I don't want the stories to read like a "who's who in Celtic/Germanic folklore". Instead, I've tried to capture a feeling of familiarity, to create a cast of characters that feel as though they belong in the stories your grandmother's mother told her. That doesn't mean there aren't a few familiar names, but not many.
A lot of people ask me about Zee. He owes a chunk of his personality to our VW mechanic in the Tri Cities who passed away before Moon Called was published-and Buck's personality was wonderfully appropriate for a curmudgeonly fae who is a lot kinder than he wants anyone to know. I didn't, however, consciously base Zee on any fae originally, though his knife, which Mercy borrows in both of the first two books, I knew was a "real" item. I couldn't remember what story I'd found it in-I've read a lot of fairy tales over the years. I didn't fret about it, because its origins weren't really important to me for Moon Called. When I started to write Iron Kissed, where fairy artifacts started to play a real role, I went looking for the original story. I hadn't read it for a good twenty years or more-so I was a little taken aback to realize that Zee was in the story, too. Either my subconscious at work-or serendipity. Remembering how it just seemed "right" for Zee to have that particular knife, I'm inclined to credit my subconscious.
Which brings me to the fae artifacts that populate Iron Kissed. Those, I assure you, are all legitimately stolen from actual folklore. If you want to occupy yourself searching for them, I expect you could find them all-but fair warning. As my fae are not just Britsh Isles fae . . . neither are the artifacts.
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