Monday 31 July 2023

Antje Bothin On Annika And The Treasure Of Iceland And Selective Mutism

Imagine you cannot talk... sometimes.

This is what the main character in  Annika and the Treasure of Iceland is faced with.

Young Icelandic adult Annika experiences the debilitating effects of a communication challenge called selective mutism, or in short SM. She can talk fine at home with close family but is unable to do so in certain social situations in public spaces, for example at school, at university or at work when people are around.

This causes a few issues when she spontaneously goes to the capital city Reykjavik on her own and embarks on an adventurous treasure hunt. Her journey leads her to unexpected places. She also encounters all sorts of obstacles.

Experts believe SM may be related to a fear of speaking and social anxiety. SM puts the person affected in a freeze state and inhibits their ability to communicate freely with other people. As this is very dependent on circumstances, it should better be called situational mutism.

Art by Kathy Rowan

This is a condition that usually starts in early childhood but unfortunately, it is not very well known by the general public; and also parents, teachers, and even health professionals are often not aware. But early intervention is key.

SM is not a choice; it is not stubbornness, laziness or rudeness. It should also not be mistaken for shyness or developmental disorders. If left unmanaged, it can continue into adulthood and cause serious problems with social interactions in all areas of life.

To get a copy, click here.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

David Jordan on Hyperboreans

I write fast and my books tend to be short. But they are not short on inspiration, I hope. This piece is about the inspirations behind my novel, Hyperboreans, which is published by Beul Aithris.

Probably my main inspiration was the city of Cork, where the novel is based. Especially the city as it was in the 90s, when I was growing up. So, my youth was also an inspiration. Particularly memories of when I was in my late teens – early twenties, gallivanting about the streets of the city with friends and drinking partners. In fact, the book is really almost like a love letter to the city of my youth and the young, lean, slightly crazy cat I was back then. Or, at least, that was how I saw myself. The pubs in Hyperboreans are modelled on real Cork pubs – especially the Liberty, a student pub, which was knocked down sometime around the end of the 90s, I believe. The end of an era, in more senses than one.

Another inspiration, which will be self-evident to the reader, is comic books. In particular, two comic books that were big in the 90s – John Constantine: Hellblazer and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. From Hellblazer , I got the character John Summoner, who is John Constantine with a different name (to avoid any legal issues that might arise) and a particular sensibility that involves an interest in magic and the occult. From the Sandman I got something more valuable: a fascination with stories, especially myths, and the device of putting stories within stories. And so, I put in the three stories that are told by characters in the book.

This leads me to another source of inspiration: Irish mythology. Particularly the legendary Irish hero, Cu Chulainn, who is the protagonist of two of the three stories mentioned above. I have a love of Irish mythology, especially the epic of Cu Chulainn, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, but I really wanted to do something different and original with the character, to show another side to him and make him more human and easier to identify with. I expand on this in my next novel, After the Táin, which is all about Cu Chulainn.

All these things and more inspired me in the writing of Hyperboreans. As I am not good at remembering my own work, I can’t recall every inspiration. But maybe this is a good thing, as they will stay fresh in my mind if I return to these sources of inspiration in the future. Whatever the case, I must acknowledge my debt to these muses and hope that I did them justice in both the conceiving and telling of the story of the Hyperboreans.

For more details of Hyperboreans, click here

Tuesday 10 January 2023

And onto 2023!

This year marks the 6th year of Beul Aithris being in operation, and we certainly have a few exciting titles proposed for your reading pleasure this year.

Due for release in the latter half of February is our first foray into the very popular urban fantasy genre with Hyperboreans by Irish writer David Jordan. This is an engrossing read that takes us to another side of Cork, featuring magic, music and a pub crawl to defy all pub crawls. More information will be forthcoming very soon!

There will also be another installation of Miller Caldwell's popular Arran trilogy, in the summer which has followed in the footsteps of Douglas Adams five-part Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, this one entitled Missing In Blackwaterfoot. Never a dull moment for PC Rory Stewart!

The latter half of the year takes on a mystery theme  - August will see the publication of an Icelandic treasure hunt by Anjte Bothin and in the autumn we enter the realm of the hardboiled detective fiction and Tartan Noir with Keiran James' first crime novel with us. 

Happy new year!