Bryn Colvin: On Borrowed Wings
You may not know her, but her name is Bryn Colvin, “author of assorted strange fiction.” In case you’re wondering what that means, why don’t we hear (figuratively speaking) from an author who’s written several books and the release of On Borrowed Wings.
Charles: Bryn, please tell us where you’re from and when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Bryn: I live in the UK, not far from Birmingham, although I grew up in the Cotswolds, a very beautiful part of the country. I’m one of those people who has always written. I was exposed to good books from an early age, and I think that helped. My father wrote quite a few stories while I was growing up, and my gran is an excellent story teller, so that’s always been a part of my life. I wrote my first serious attempt at a novel at nineteen (an unmitigated disaster!) and have been trying to better it ever since. I’ve been writing seriously and getting paid for it for about three years now.
Charles: What do you mean when you say you’re an author of assorted strange fiction?
Bryn: Assorted for several reasons – firstly because I don’t stick to one genre, or even within genres terrible well. I like crossovers, non-genre, anything that doesn’t fit too neatly into little boxes. Secondly the forms vary – I write novels, novellas, poetry, essays and short plays, fantasy, science fiction, erotica, vaguely literary stuff, gothic, horror – quite a hodgepodge. As for the strange bit – I’m not very conventional and that comes out all over the place in my work. I try to get off the beaten track, to create unusual characters and situations. I tend to find either people are uncomfortable with my work (I’m proud to say I’ve been described as ‘repellant’ by one reviewer who likes more conventional romance!) or they really go for it. I really don’t like the kinds of books where you can read the first page and figure out where the whole thing is going, so I try to create surprises and take my readers to unexpected places.
Charles:: What was the inspiration behind On Borrowed Wings?
Bryn: Several things – a holiday in North Wales, with all that mountainous landscape and complex mix of myth and history set me thinking. A very good friend gifted me with the inspiration for the heroine – Cariad. Much of the plot owes its origins to the Mabinogian, most specifically the stories revolving around Blodeuwedd, Llew Llaw Gyffes, Gronw Pebyr and Gwydion. While I’ve gone for a more Viking style setting rather than Welsh, I’ve kept most of the key plot points. I wondered how those myths would look from the female perspective. I could spend pages explaining where this went and why, but that might well get tedious for people who don’t know the original stories. I’ve always been obsessed with Blodeuwedd – a woman made out of flowers and given in marriage to a man she does not love. When she betrays him and causes her lover to murder her husband, she is punished by being transformed into an owl. Cariad, my heroine, isn’t quite so mythical a figure, but she faces being forced into an unwanted relationship, and many of the plot elements are closely paralleled, but not all. I don’t want to give away any spoilers though.
Charles: On your website, I notice you have more works in ‘the pipeline’. Could you take a moment and tell us briefly about each one?
Bryn: Now I have to remember what’s ‘in the Pipeline’! I’ve just finished a new shapeshifter novel called ‘Hunting the Egret’ – set on the banks of the river Severn. Verity is an otter shapeshifter and the grand daughter of a witch. She’s a loner and a misfit. Gareth is a submissive male with a lot of problems. Two vulnerable, damaged people who don’t really know how to trust struggle with their mutual attraction, ghosts, near death, poverty and strange visions. This is an erotic novel, some romance elements, some dark fantasy and rather a lot of the landscape I grew up in.
I’m working on some fiction for a comic company called ‘Copper Age’. ‘Hoody Girl’ is another shape shifter story – this time crow people. I’ve written about six installments and I still don’t know how to describe it. I think it’s got something of a dark fairy tale feel to it. Isolde is sent to the city to find Marco the Assassin and bring him back to her mother Leonora, but Marco’s heart belongs to Mercedes, the magpie queen, and she won’t relinquish him easily. I’m also contributing to the story line ‘Fast Food at the center of the world’, where I’m writing the poetry of the two poet characters, and I have a girl called Jana, who has a strange magical knack with doors.
“Love Spells for dreamers” is an anthology of short stories full of magic, paganism, and other strange interventions. These are stories about love, as opposed to conventional romances. Due out at Chippewa sometime soon.
“Strange Fruit” should be out in the summer – fantasy erotica, it explores a clash of cultures as a group of humans move into a forest, and find themselves in conflict with its very strange, tree-born inhabitants. Gods and monsters, more shapeshifting (I do write books without shapeshifting sometimes!) passion, magic – it was lots of fun to write, and is sort of a prequel to ‘Illyan Daughter’ – already out at Venus Press.
“Tara’s Honour” is due out at Whiskey Creek Press in the autumn, and shares the same forest setting as ‘Strange Fruit’. This one is fantasy, no smut. Tara returns home from several years traveling to find she’s been accused of killing her uncle. She has a few days either to prove her innocence, or to convince enough people she couldn’t have done it that they will give their word for her. Her beloved mentor Emyr seems to be helping her, but what is he hiding? Tara soon finds the most likely suspects are her own family, and that the truth must inevitably shatter them, whatever form it takes.
I’ve got a couple of stories waiting with Extasy books ‘Lady of the Lake’ and ‘Girl Wanted’. I still have no idea when those might be coming out.
So that’s the main projects at the moment. I’m toying with other things, and waiting to sort out details on others – like my collection of tree poems.
Charles: I also notice you have a poetry collection in the pipeline as well. What type of poems do you like to write and why? Do you find it hard to keep a ‘prose’ state of mind as well as a ‘poetic’ state of mind?
Bryn: I try and write as broadly as I can with the poetry. I often end up writing pagan material, because I use that in other areas of my life. I like poems with narrative elements, but I also like the more impressionist stuff. My tastes are quite broad, from Shakespeare to EE Cummings and I think this shows in my work. I’ve just written a huge number of poems about the natural world – mostly trees, but I haven’t sorted out a home for that yet. I also write erotic poetry and have a few up at sensualvenus.com I find it fairly easy moving between poetry and prose, I tend to pick the form that seems most suited to the ideas I want to convey and usually when I consider an idea, its obvious what I ought to do with it. My prose work is often somewhat flowery, my poetry can be narrative, so the boundaries between the two aren’t always well defined.
Charles: From out of all your great works of literature, which book stand out in your mind and why?
Bryn: If you’re asking me to pick one of my books, I’d struggle. I love all of them for different reasons, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. I’m still striving after the perfect book. I haven’t written it yet. I suspect I’ll be forever grasping after something I can’t quite write.
If you’re asking me to pick from the great works of literature in my life, I’d have an even harder call to make. ‘The Crying of Lot 49’ had huge impact on me, but I can’t for the life of me remember the author’s name. ‘Girl with a Pearl Earing’. Anything by Phillip K Dick or Michael Ondaatje, or Robert Holdstock… how long have you got?
Charles: Are you currently involved in other projects at this time?
Bryn: Next Saturday (6th May) I’ll be at Avebury Stone circle with my mumming side (traditional style theatre) putting on my version of ‘Gawain and the Green Knight’ in which I play a white hart and get to ponce about in a hard hat with antlers on it. That should be fun.
As I mentioned before, I’m involved with a comics company called ‘Copper Age’ – http://www.copperage-phantomegg.com I’m working on a few stories with them, it’s a very exciting project. I do a bit of reviewing – mostly for the folk mag – an online folk journal. I run a folk club, which is a good laugh and brings me into contact with numerous talented, unconventional people. I work as a volunteer for the Pagan Federation, again interesting stuff and unusual individuals. I play and sing as well, so I’m quite busy one way and another.
Charles: Going over your bio, I see as a teen you were in a band. What was that experience like? Is that something you would still do today had you not started writing?
Bryn: Being in a band was brilliant. We gigged a fair bit locally. There were a few bands at my school, we would take it in turns to hire a hall, gather some other musicians and put on concerts. Those were good days and I remember them fondly. Back then I drummed, and we mostly played classic rock. I still play, but mostly it’s the violin and folk music now. I’ve taken up singing too. I can’t imagine life without music, it’s as important to me as the writing really. I have to have both. As I don’t drive and have a small child, I’m not realistically going to be a professional musician, but I love playing gigs, the buzz of connecting with an audience. Being a writer tends to be solitary, lonesome work, but music allows me to interact with people and get out of the house. I’ve recently written an m/m erotic story about a couple of guys in a band, which draws heavily on my own experiences (although obviously only some of them, having never been a gay guy). ‘All the right Notes’ is due out at Loveyoudivine.com soon, and probably should have been mentioned in the ‘in the pipeline’ list. Never mind.
Charles: Where can interested readers find out more about you and your books? How can they reach you?
Bryn: My homepage is http://bryncolvin.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk and has links for my books, and information about what I‘m up to. There’s an invitation on my page which I will happily extend here – anyone who would like to read a sample of my work, just drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a story. If you tell me what sort of thing you like, I’ll try and find a decent match. I won’t then spam you, worry not! All other issues aside, I’m just not that organized. For the really keen, I also have an egroup -http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brynsbookgroup I interview an author every week, I’m currently serializing one of my unpublished books, there’s excerpts from my work and other people’s, contests, giveaways and other goodies.
Charles: Bryn, is there anything you like to say in closing?
Bryn: Thanks for letting me ramble on about my work, I hope its been of some interest. I find it tricky to describe myself succinctly – know I don’t have mass market appeal and I don’t fit neatly into any of the genre categories. My belief is that I’d rather have a couple of people read my work and really get something out of it, than sell hundreds or thousands of books to people who forget the story in a week. Although selling hundreds of thousands of books certainly has its appeal!
Charles: Hey Bryn, this has been a pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and I wish you all the best!