New novel by Penelope Ann Thoms Out Now
Told in the voice of a young woman on the edge of life-shifting discoveries, Seanchai (The Storyteller) is centered in the trend in fiction that explores women’s various identities. Indeed, Brigid both discovers and creates her own identity via the strange story that is coming to her from forces beyond herself. Steeped in Irish lore, magic and edgy sexuality, the characters that emerge through Brigid’s agency – both magical and very human – shape the young woman’s soul, her character and her destiny.
The idea for Seanchai came to the author in a series of dreams.
“I would wake in the middle of the night in my 200-year-old cottage in the west of Ireland, ‘called’ by voices that needed to speak. The first, ‘The Midwife’ gave me her story and then was silent. A few nights later, ‘The Husband’ gave me his version of the same story; finally, ‘The Wife” reluctantly spoke her sad tale. As it all happened on Samhain eve, I called what became a monologic play, ‘A Midnight’s Tale’ and when I returned to the States briefly, it was produced by the Hub Theater in Northern Virginia.”
Penelope says she is not surprised by these “automatic” writings, as she has steeped herself in the myths and stories that are endemic to the west of Ireland while writing her first book, Thin the Veil. Fairies, black dogs, banshees, magic circles, druids, prophets, spirits, saints with unusual powers, cairns, stone circles and tombs, all fill her imagination and inform her writing.
“Once I had met these three characters and heard their voices performed I wanted to know more about them; I wanted to know their “back story.” And so I waited and listened to my dreams and slowly Seanchai emerged, with the names Maeve, Richard and Anna as the three people who originally spoke to me. It nearly wrote itself as I had such a real sense of who these people were.
“But it was the young orphan, Brigid, who tied it all together. In a real sense, the three characters emerged from the girl’s soul as she discovers her own creative and prophetic powers, while also discovering the truth about why she was orphaned and the darkness from which she was spared.”