I’m delighted to be welcoming Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, aka Lisa Ryan, back to my site today, to tell us about her wonderful book, The Swan Lake.
Over to you Lisa…
A long time ago I lived in the depths of County Clare, Ireland, in a beautiful old house that had been extended and remodelled according to Steiner principles by the previous owner. The house was surrounded by farmland, with a lake right in front of our land. Along one side of our garden was a dilapidated 300 year old cottage that had a tragic history; a woman living there over a hundred years previously had filled her pockets with stones and walked into the lake to end her life, and there were stories of her ghost appearing often in the cottage.
Previously the cottage had been used as a shed and storehouse. My then husband used it as a studio for a while until it was taken over by my sons, who made it their laboratory for various very smelly scientific experiments devised with the aid of a junior chemistry kit. Health and safety people would have had a field day, but no injuries occurred! The cottage fascinated me. I used to wonder about the many generations of people who had taken their first and last breaths there. The huge inglenook fireplace still had the original hook where countless cooking pots had hung over the fire. Despite its sorry state I loved the cottage even more than the main house. I missed Ireland when we left to return to England. The beauty of the landscape, the musical Irish accents, and the magic that infuses the land through folklore, fairy tales and superstition has stayed with me.
A few years later, when I was living in Bath, an old friend who was an Intensive Care nurse came to stay. She was very much a city person, and while we sank rather a lot of wine we joked about how she would adjust to living in such an isolated rural environment. The next morning I woke, slightly hung over and with the story of The Swan Lake firmly fixed in my mind.
The only similarities between Astarte, the central character, and my friend are that Astarte has been an Intensive Care nurse and is very feisty. I drew on my love for the landscape, our cottage and the lake while writing the book, but the story and characters are pure fiction. Rural areas, especially, facilitate small, tight-knit communities that are rife with old grudges, unexpected liaisons, issues over land rights, and tragedies. Everyone has a story to tell, and rarely do these stories match those of their neighbours.
Once I started writing the book I just couldn’t stop. It took over my consciousness to the extent that I dreamed about the characters. They became like old friends; they felt as real to me as people I knew in everyday life. Meals were prepared and forgotten about, irregular mealtimes and charred offerings were common, the last thing on my mind when I fell asleep was the next chapter, and my children were incredibly patient about having a mother whose mind was frequently in another realm altogether. My mother was dying of cancer at this time, and The Swan Lake kept both of us going. Every evening I’d phone her and read the latest newly completed chapter. Her favourite characters were the warring old people, Mairie and Seamus, and it was wonderful to hear her laughing at their exploits.
For me, a story begins with the question “What if?” and I asked this constantly while writing The Swan Lake. Fiction is a way in which we can enter into another world that’s populated by characters who encourage us to look at their individual stories from their perspective. It’s an invitation to explore other lives and to wonder whether our responses and reactions would be the same as theirs. As writers and readers we have the opportunity to become other people for a while; to wonder about their lives, and to enter into a state of emotional resonance with them. I fell in love with the characters in The Swan Lake while writing about them, just as I fell in love with the beautiful Irish countryside when I lived there.
Amazon link to The Swan Lake:
Facebook page for The Swan Lake: https://www.facebook.com/TheSwanLakeBook
Lisa’s website: http://www.tenzindolma.co.uk
Author bio: Lisa Tenzin-Dolma has had 22 books published, fiction and non-fiction, about a variety of subjects. She’s also a qualified canine psychologist and is principal of The International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour.
Many thanks for visiting the site again today Lisa.
Happy Reading everyone,