Saturday, September 14, 2019

Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author of twenty-two historical fantasy novels and a collection of short stories. She was born and educated in New Zealand but now lives in Western Australia, where she writes full-time. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both. However, her stories are character-based, with a focus on human journeys and relationships.

2019 sees the release of two new novels from Marillier. Her stand-alone folkloric fantasy, Beautiful, based on the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, was published in May. The Harp of Kings, the first book in a new historical fantasy series, Warrior Bards, was published in September. Marillier is currently working on Book 2 of Warrior Bards.

Marillier’s earlier works include the Blackthorn & Grim series and the Sevenwaters series, both set in a magical version of early medieval Ireland. She has won many awards for her writing, including five Aurealis Awards and four Sir Julius Vogel Awards, as well as the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Prix Imaginales. In 2019 she won the Sara Douglass Book Series Award for the Blackthorn & Grim series. Juliet is a regular contributor to award-winning genre writing blog Writer Unboxed.

Marillier is a member of OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and her spiritual values are often reflected in her work – the human characters’ relationship with the natural world plays a significant part, as does the power of storytelling to teach and to heal.

When not writing, Juliet is kept busy by her small pack of rescue dogs. She has four adult children and eight grandchildren.

Recently I asked Marillier about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m currently reading an excellent non-fiction book, Our Dogs, Ourselves, by Alexandra Horowitz. The author is senior research fellow and head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, Columbia University. She has written three previous books including the New York Times bestseller, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Our Dogs, Ourselves, which is a substantial, engagingly written, extremely well researched examination of the relationship between human and dog. The author, who has her own small menagerie, discusses with respect and insight the often contradictory nature of the way we think about and relate to dogs. As a foster carer and sometimes adopter of ageing and/or infirm rescue dogs, I was delighted to find an author with the credentials and experience to write about everything from the legal status of dogs to the history of pure-breeding to the language and tone of voice we use when addressing our pets. This book is packed with fascinating information delivered in a reader-friendly style, and I strongly recommend it to any dog enthusiast.

Among several excellent novels I’ve read recently, a stand-out was Madeline Miller’s Circe. If you know your Greek mythology you will remember Circe as a witch who lures Odysseus and his crew to her remote island and ends up transforming most of them into swine. In Miller’s novel, we meet Circe as a nymph descended from gods, but lacking a godlike voice or appearance, therefore rejected by her kinsfolk. Banished to her island for wilful use of magic, she develops her nascent craft and gains an independence that provokes the wrath of the gods.

The writing is sensuous and beautiful, bringing the sights, smells, tastes and textures of the region richly alive. I devoured every word of this and I’m looking forward to reading it again. It’s remarkable how Miller can write a story with a time-span of hundreds of years, yet keep the narrative always immediate as we follow Circe’s journey to becoming her own woman. Madeline Miller has crafted a novel that is dramatic, engrossing, and entirely relevant to our times.
Visit Juliet Marillier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Juliet Marillier & Pippa, Gretel, and Sara.

--Marshal Zeringue