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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Tea with Finola & Martin by Rose Anderson

Experience tells me the literary characters created in my imagination evolve into people of substance. I walk into their world and they share with me all the details of their lives, details I never realized while writing them. I’m always surprised to discover these insights for they too have life’s baggage and skeletons in their closets. That makes sense. Things like this make us the people we are. Funny thing, I feel these emotions when they reveal them, as if those insights are actually a view inside my own soul. Hmm… I suppose they are. I wrote them!

I had such an encounter recently when I found myself 111 years in the past …

Tea with Finola and Martin

I was standing beside an ancient tree on the Harvard campus, absorbed in the magic of being transported 111 years back in time, when a lovely old woman came up to me. She had snow-white hair and expressive green eyes, her appearance indefinably reminiscent of an Irish actor I’d seen once. I recognized her instantly as Finola Maguire and said hello.

She was all smiles and spoke with a faint Irish lilt when she said, “Ah, Rose, I’ve been waitin’ for ye to come to call. Come inside an’ I’ll put the kettle on for tea.”

She placed her hands on the ancient tree and I heard her indistinct whisper. Suddenly, a small glittering cottage appeared right before my eyes. I followed her inside and she asked me to sit. The house was cozy, no more than two or three rooms, as far as I could tell. She took off her coat and hung it on a hook by the door, then went to tend her teakettle. To my surprise, a brass button shot out of an old boot near the hearth to clatter across the floor.

Seeing it, Mrs. Maguire peered into the boot, and said, “Martin, stop sortin’ yer treasures. Look who’s come for a visit. It’s Rose herself!”

A second later, a packrat emerged. I greeted him and he chittered happily. I caught Mrs. Maguire’s eye hoping she’d translate. After all, she was a witch and he was her familiar spirit.

She said, “Martin says he’s so glad you’ve come and wonders if ye’d care to look at his collection. He’s very proud of it, ye know. Go on an’ take a look, dear. it’s sure to make ye smile. I’ll only be a minute with our tea.”

Delighted, I turned my attention to the packrat. The little sprite dipped in and out of his boot with a great many buttons, keys, and other things that he’d found lost on the ground. I told him how impressed I was and could tell it pleased him by the happy ridges that appeared just above his eyes. He was about to show me the collection in the other full boot in the corner across the room, when we were called to take our tea.

Mrs. Maguire filled my cup first and then saw to her own. For Martin, she poured a splash of milk in a saucer, then buttered a corner of a biscuit for him. His tail pointed to the jam jar and she spread blackberry jam over his butter then handed it over. He took the piece in his deft little paws and launched right into it.

Apparently his not waiting for us was a lapse in manners, in her opinion, for she tsked. Motioning to the plate of scrumptious-looking biscuits, she told me, “Oh do help yerself, dear. We don’t stand on ceremony, do we Martin?”

He looked at me and shook his head. His whiskers were purple with jam and crumbs stuck to his nose. I found him adorable.

I helped myself to the biscuits. They were delicious and tasted exactly like biscuits my grandmother used to make. But of course they would. We writers often use what we know when we write our scenes. I judiciously asked about her grandson. I pretty much knew the outcome of this story, but they didn’t just yet.

“Oh Rose,” she said, “for more than two hundred years I’ve searched high an’ low for others to help me with me daughter Abigayle’s charm. There are no other witch folk.”

She went on to say she recently spent two weeks traveling to Salem for the rents, then on to Boston for the banking, and then back home again. While she was in Boston, she placed inscrutable ads in the local newspapers, things only other witch folk would understand. Not a soul had yet replied. She dabbed her glistening eyes with her napkin, and said, “I’ve come to suspect the others of my kind were either all murdered during the witch hunts, or they abandoned the Auld ways to save themselves.”

Martin chittered and I suspected he wanted her to explain the Auld ways to me. This proved to be the case when she asked him the best way to distill this vast concept to a non-witch like myself. Whiskers dripping with milk, he chittered on and on. She listened and occasionally nodded. Finally, to me she said, “Ye know Martin is an ancient creature, Rose, far older than we. What he knows comes from long ago when people lived closer to nature. Back then, there were some with an affinity for the energies of all life. These were my people, Rose. The energies are auld, as old as time itself—a life force if ye will, an’ it exists in every livin’ thing. Folks with this affinity understand that life comes in two halves of the whole.”

Martin, now grooming himself after his meal, stopped and chittered once more.

“Oh that’s a good explanation, Martin.” To me, she said, “Ye don’t see a stag without seein’ a doe, nor a hen without a rooster. An’ ye don’t see a woman without seein’ a man. It’s the same for everythin’, Rose. Even the flowers an’ trees have both sides within them. My kind understands the glorious Mind who made it all, an’ we know the Mind walks among creation as both the god an’ goddess. An’ because we understand this, we are allowed to call upon the energies of nature for magic.”

I couldn’t help but ask why the witches of Salem couldn’t call upon these energies to help put an end to the persecutions.

“Oh bless ye, dear. If only we could have done so. There were so few of us to stand against the fear and intolerance, ye see. Long ago, when everyone followed the Auld ways, it would have been a small matter to turn an ill wish into good. It takes the belief of many to turn dark thoughts to light ones. But somethin’ happened when a few people learned they could wield power by incitin’ fear in others. The fearful ones turned away from the Auld ways, an’ in time they simply forgot.”

I couldn’t help but compare the intolerance of the past to current events in my own time. Intolerance was an ugly thing no matter when. I told them as much.

Martin chimed in. She nodded and relayed his words, “He says ye always must believe the world can be better, for that’s exactly how it becomes so. Ye must believe, dear. Believe and hope.”

I understood what they meant. Positive thinking often made the seemingly impossible possible. My thoughts turning to the nearly impossible situation her grandson was in, I asked about Neila.

“Oh, she’s a dear, sweet-natured lass. An’ so terribly shy. The poor dear gets all tongue-tied when it comes to talkin’ with people so she keeps to herself. I have her makin’ her sketches across the way in that empty building. She’s practicin’ her conversation while she works.”

How sly of her. I told her so.

Her cheeks pinkened. She smiled back at me and said, “Hope is a good thing, dear.”

Martin chittered. There was no need to translate. I understood.

One new pen name, two new love stories.
Both available for pre-order this week!

The Changeling
A spin on the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin

Half-fae Lenox Pendry is surrounded by secrets and none are his to keep. Torn from his mother’s arms as a newborn and raised a changeling, Lenox grows to adulthood unaware of what and who he is and oblivious to the danger unfolding as his birthday draws near. Unsuspectingly sent to the Scottish Lowlands out of harm’s way, he meets a beautiful healer named Janet Roxburgh. The townspeople believe her to be a witch. It would appear Janet has a few secrets of her own.

Rose Anderson is a multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes across genres under the pen name Madeline Archer. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.

Find Rose's scorching novels wherever love stories are sold
Sample the First Chapters


Cara Marsi said...

I loved having tea with Finola and Martin. How clever. Best of luck with your new releases. They both sound great.

Gemma Juliana said...

Heart of Stone weaves an enchanting spell over the reader. It's hard to resist the magic of Finola and Martin, and once you enter their world you don't want to leave.

What a lovely book trailer you've created!

Paris said...

Great book trailer! I love this story and having tea with your characters was a wonderful introduction. Good luck with both your new releases!

Melissa Keir said...

What a great post! I loved the imagery from the dialogue and trip with Fiona. :) All the best with your books!

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

Welcome to the writing world, Madeline. ;-) Even though I already know Rose. I loved your Heart of Stone and especially Martin. This post is even more imaginative. Job well done!

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