Triolet for Deborah

When the world is hopeless, coloured dull and grey,

Beyond the walls the unknown swirls its sandy skirts,

With the voice of wraiths that flee the light of day.

When the world is hopeless, coloured dull and grey,

Priests intone, black guards enforce the rule to pray,

You find the light, the green, the life so bright it hurts.

When the world is hopeless, coloured dull and grey,

Beyond the walls, the unknown swirls its sandy skirts.


I think this triolet works. The world of The Green Woman is grey and hopeless, ruled by a miserable, cruel theocracy. Beyond the city walls is desolation, full of unknown horrors. But beyond is also a budding green place, a garden of Eden, a new start. Something, someone, needs to start the rebellion, the exodus, to find it. The world is grey, but the desert’s swirling skirts hide the key to a new life.

A constant theme in my novels is the search for a utopia. Not necessarily to find one ready made, but to build one. The Green Woman books are about Deborah’s search for her mother, herself, and a better world than one she has been presented with. The altruistic motivation doesn’t come to her immediately. It grows on her as she discovers that she might be able to change things, and the acceptance, that if she can change things, she has a duty to do it.

I like the notion that we all have a responsibility for those around us, and one of the tropes in fantasy fiction I find least appealing is the whipping up of armies, the killing of thousands, to fulfil one person’s ambition, to restore one person’s ‘rightful’ inheritance. There’s nothing ‘rightful’ about leadership. It has to be earned. Birth counts for nothing. The reverse is also true—the recognition of wrong brings an obligation to do something about it, however insignificant or useless we might feel.

Mighty leaders at the head of mighty armies does nothing for me as a literary construct. Cooperation, solidarity, mutual respect are all far more important. The grass grows without being forced; the sun shines for everyone. Putting aside differences and working hand in hand is the only way for any society to succeed. If you believe that too, you might like The Green Woman.

Book One: The Dark Citadel is free over the next few days.

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