What bleak monsters live in the deeps? Below the shimmering surface, where all might be calm and smooth. Where sunbeams make their merry dance 'til gold dissolves into amber, orange, red, and finally they bow to make way for the dark and their pale sister. What creatures dwell there, where the light grows dim, and the stillness and the weight of the water press themselves inward, down, suffocating, crushing. Do they have teeth?
One of my favourite metaphors in Silver Moon is the use of water to represent emotions. This was born out of recurring dreams I've had since I was a child, of being swamped by tidal waves or hunted by toothy sea mammals, often Orcas, at the seaside. As a highly sensitive person (HSP) my emotions have been getting me into trouble for years; I grew up in an environment where the language of emotions was pretty anathema, and signs of unusually high sensitivity were frowned upon, so I learned to squish rather than express them.
I was never quite able to squish them down far enough though, they would never just go away so that I and everybody around me could be a little more comfortable. I'm only ever one poignant paragraph in a book, or a sad scene on telly away from them bubbling up again. Luckily, I am learning to accept this, and realise that when the outside matches the inside it's more of a gift than anything else, but it's been a long journey...
So this all made its way into Silver Moon, and I kept bringing Megan back to the image of water when we were planning the illustrations. Because what a perfect metaphor for emotions water is; it can be calm or it can be tempestuous, with any number of variations in between - but above all it's unpredictable. Especially in countries like Scotland where it just takes a quick shift in the weather to turn a glassy loch into a seething bed of turbulence. Water is the perfect mirror for how I experience my emotions.
Here is one of my favourite images, from The Changeling. The boat was built by the main character, whose creations "were never heard of to founder or sink", but look what this boat sails over... What creatures live unseen in this character's emotional life? Are they harmless or are they menacing?
We had a lot of fun exploring this theme, particularly in The Sea Queen (another woman who can't quite manage to squish her inner self), where the title character literally lives and breathes in water, and the marine wildlife around her reflects her powerful emotions. I don't want to spoil the story by giving stuff away, but I will say that it's worth paying attention to any characters who can live as comfortably above the water as they can below it...
The Silver Moon Storybook is a collection of seven original fairy tales, and is available to purchase here.