Writing about the personal by Maria Turtschaninoff – #Maresi Red Mantle

For Maresi, like so many other girls, the Red Abbey was a haven of safety in a world ruled by brutal men. But now she is a young woman and it is time for her to leave. She must take all that she has learned from her sisters and return to her childhood home to share the knowledge she has gained.

But when Maresi returns to her village, she realises all is not well – the people are struggling under the rule of the oppressive Earl, and people are too busy trying to survive to see the value of her teachings. Maresi finds she must use all the terrible force of the Crone’s magic to protect her people, but can she find the strength to do so when her heart is weakening with love for the first time?

Writing about the personal
by Maria Turtschaninoff

In Maresi Red Mantle there is (spoiler alert!) the death of a mother. As I was writing the novel my own mother was dying. For the longest time I struggled against the need to have the mother in the story die. I killed off other characters instead, characters who since have been entirely removed from the story. It wasn’t that I was afraid of writing about death – death has in fact been a major topic (if not the topic) in my writing for a long time. What I was afraid of was people thinking that the mother in the story was my mother, that the mother-daughter relationship described was mine. It isn’t: between me and my mother there never was any distance and she never tried to mold me into being someone I wasn’t. On the contrary, she’s the one who gave me wings so I could write.
About two months before my mother died we both saw that she’d not be around to read the story when it was finished. As I was still very much in the middle of the writing process and had already realized many things in the text needed to change, I didn’t feel that there was any point in her reading it as it was – and she was almost too ill to do so already. But she wanted to know the story. So one evening we had some wine and sat down in her living room and I told her the story as I saw it. For four hours. I told her what I had written so far, but that I felt that it was wrong and that I was pretty sure that the mother had to die. “But I am afraid they’ll think it’s you”, I said. “That it’s a story about us.”
“They probably will”, she said. “But we know the truth. Write it.”
And so I did.
I told you she’s the one who gave me wings.

Maria Turtschaninoff was born in 1977 and has been writing fairy tales since she was five. She is the author of six novels about magical worlds, has been awarded the Finlandia Junior in 2014, the Swedish YLE Literature Prize, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland Award and has twice won the Society of Swedish Literature Prize. She was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2013 and 2017 and the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal.


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