Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Emerging Themes

It's odd how themes appear in novels and series without conscious input. As of December 2018 I've just finished writing a novel called Court in Between. It's a fairly common practice to write a chapter by chapter synopsis of a new ms, and it's at this point that the themes often emerge into view. I was aware that this book had a strong theme of self-image, which led to many of the characters acting in a certain way because they felt they had to do it to keep faith with themselves or with someone else. Sure enough, these themes are visible throughout, but I came upon two others I hadn't noticed.

The first is plants. The hero, Court, smells of dried tea. This attracts the heroine, Tansy. One of her main pleasures in a lonely existence has been drinking tea with her friend, the warm-hearted Finn. Tansy associated the smell with happiness. Tansy herself is named after a strongly-scented herb that has green fern-like leaves and bright yellow flowers. The horse Art, whom Tansy cares for, is really named Artemisia, a family of herbs.  His mother, Southernwood, was named for one of the plants in this family. Trees are important to Tansy; if she can grow trees for seven years she gains a reward. Blackberries and carrots also play a thematic part in the story, as does soapwort and springyweed, a plant native to the courtlands. Rowan, the traditional tree that is a defence against fairies, appears in the song Woman of Lore, which Court performs with his singing partner Jordana.

The second theme is rings.  Court inherits a gold fief ring from his unknown father. In accepting that he accepts far more than he intended. His mother Cari has her grandfather's fief ring, which she wears remodelled as an earring. Philippa, who appears in Chapter One, requests her fiance to get her a silver ring. This has far-reaching effects. There is also a ring, this time made of tin, featured in the song Woman of Lore.

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