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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Scheherezade’s Bequest

Issue 10 of Scheherezade’s Bequest is now online at the Cabinet Des Fées website. It's one of my favourite journals and I can't wait to settle down this evening to read it. I am also incredibly excited because I have a story in this issue.

It's a contemporary tale inspired by the opening lines of the Grimms' tale The Raven, in which a mother wishes her fractious baby daughter would become a raven and fly away so that she could get some peace; the girl promptly does. I wanted to see what would happen if the raven couldn't fly away. (In the original tale 'she flew into a dark wood and stayed there a long time, and her parents knew nothing of her'. The tale then follows the adventures of the man who must release the raven girl from the bewitchment.)

Ravens appear frequently in myth, fairy tales and folklore, joining a host of other birds (there's a wonderful article on bird lore by Terri Windling here). I have always been fascinated by tales in which people are transformed into birds. I suppose it's because of the sense of freedom I imagine in flight, although in fairy tales being transformed into a bird is as often an ordeal as it is the form someone chooses.

One thing I was intrigued to find out when I was researching real (as opposed to literary) ravens is that they are playful birds and one of the few species who make their own toys. There's lots more raven info on Wikipedia and you can also hear a raven here (as recorded by


  1. In Irish folklore, a bird entering a house where there was illness was a sign of death.

  2. I'm sat next to an open window in the office on a glorious day today.

    Turning into a bird would be more than welcome.

  3. Thanks for adding that Niamh.
    Chris, I can more than appreciate that feeling! :-)

  4. Claire, that was a beautiful story! Really lovely--so captures the problems of new motherhood and how a baby can be both raven (or other creature) and human baby.

    Loved it.

  5. Andy Hedgecock26 May 2010 at 19:12

    Terse, powerful and unsettling Claire. And not simply because I have always been frightened of birds in enclosed spaces! Your story taps into those vague anxieties around the 'otherness' of one's offspring and much else besides.

  6. Thank you asakiyume and Andy :-)