Fellow author and friend Jenelle Schmidt is here today as my guest to talk to us about how she came up with her fae book’s story idea, namely what myths and folklore inspired her. Her new book, An Echo of the Fae, has just released and I’m honored to be a part of her book’s Blog Tour. Scroll all the way down for the full release schedule.
Myths and Folklore that Inspired “An Echo of the Fae”
by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
When I originally started pondering story ideas for An Echo of the Fae, I intended it to be a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale. However, although that is where it started, the story that ended up getting told can in no way be described as a Rapunzel retelling. However, you will find some Rapunzel-like threads woven throughout the tale, so that was definitely an influence on the story.
As I began writing, I knew I wanted the story to include selkies and the fae. Along with my hazy idea for a Rapunzel retelling, those two elements formed the basis of the story’s premise. Because of this, I knew I wanted the setting to be an island that felt like a sort of fairy tale-esque/alternate Scotland, because that is where much of our selkie lore originates. But I also wanted to involve the fae. I wanted a fairy tale feel, but I didn’t want little “Tinker Bell” type fairies with wings, I wanted the fae. As tall as humans, full of a wild sort of power. I wanted them to be dangerous and mystical beings, full of trickery, a love of riddles and games, disdain for mortals, with their Summer and Winter courts full of intrigue, and their magical world that follows different rules and is hidden from the view of our own.
But I also wanted to do some things differently. Instead of “seelie” (good) and “unseelie” (bad) fae, I created Summer and Winter Courts, and I wanted there to be some good and bad in both. The two courts are very different, their cultures and customs and ways of life differ necessarily because of their different climates, but fae in both courts are capable of both great good and great evil and anything in between.
I had to do a lot of research for An Echo of the Fae. I was familiar with the idea of selkies, but I’d never read any books or encountered any stories that featured them other than The Secret of Roan Innish, which I watched so long ago that the entire thing is kind of hazy in my brain. I feel like I remember it hinting at the existence of selkies, but I don’t remember if any ever actually showed up. I read a few of the original myths, and decided that I was going to give my selkies a different sort of history and lore.
In a world that has both selkies and fae, I decided that my own selkies would also be part of the fae-folk, but that they were outside the courts of the land-fae. Therefore, these “sea-fae” are separate from the Summer and Winter courts and not bound by their rules or interests. Also, while the selkies in Echo’s world are believed to exist and the stories told about them are similar to our own, I decided that many of the assumptions and myths about selkies would be just flat-out wrong in this story, which I think was one of the most fun parts of writing this book.
Many different stories influenced and inspired these decisions. Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” probably holds the greatest influence over my interpretation of the fae and fae courts. Mercedes Lackey’s “Ill Met by Moonlight” was another big influence on the way I interpreted the mythology of the fae. Another big influence was Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s “Tales of Goldstone Wood.” I have always loved the way she had this “wood between worlds” where the fae lived and interacted and that humans could cross over at times and get stuck or lost there or have adventures before returning home. I definitely pulled inspiration from those stories.
I always think it’s interesting to find out which stories my books remind readers of. I will be very curious to see which stories people think of when they read this, because sometimes that’s how I find new favorites! One of the first non-family members I handed King’s Warrior to read it and came back and said, “You must have read Sword of Shannara!” and I gave him a blank stare because I’d never heard of Shannara before… but I immediately went to the library and devoured every book in the series!
I love that, Jenelle! I’ve had to use that same method of researching folklore and then making my own interpretations for a story. I cannot wait to read An Echo of the Fae and dive into your version of the fae courts and selkies! Thanks for sharing this with us!
Echo enjoys the peace and solitude of the Faeorn forest, regardless of how strange spending time in the “haunted” wood seems to others.
But on the cusp of her thirteenth birthday, the discovery of a family secret reveals why Echo has never been drawn to the sea like her mother. This discovery shakes the foundations of her world and sends Echo on a quest, not merely into the forest, but into the heart of the fae-lands themselves, to rescue the sister she didn’t know existed.
Elves, dragons, and fairy courts will put Echo’s wit and resolve to the test. But with time running out for her sister, will Echo even be able to save herself?
A fairytale adventure perfect for fans of The Secret of Roan Innish and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
“Enthralled by the terror, charm, riddles, and beauty of a richly depicted fae world, I devoured this marvelous book in two sittings! Readers of all ages will love Echo, a heroine strong in her weakness, clever and resolute amid her doubt and fear. An Echo of the Fae is sure to satisfy lovers of adventure and faery!” — J.M. Stengl, author of The Faraway Castle Series
Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin—which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia—with her knight-in-shining armor and their four adorable hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.
Follow Jenelle around the interwebs to get news about latest releases and her writing adventures:
The cover art/design was done by the amazing Savannah Jezowski with Dragonpen Designs.