There’s a scene in Chapter 2 where Behind the Mountain really began for me, some years ago. I had gone to the Pyrenees for a month to do some writing and I remember standing on a bridge in a peaceful valley, watching the house martins fly up and down the mountain stream. I was completely engaged with the peace and beauty of the valley, and maybe even saw it as a kind of refuge from millennial madness, the threat of which around then was still in vogue.
I don’t know that millennial madness has gone away. If anything it appears more and more threatening as we watch our absurd politicians and governments squabbling beside the rising waters. Not that long ago, it seemed that half of southern England was under water. The sea which for centuries lapped at the foot of Glastonbury Tor (how else could Joseph of Arimathea have sailed there…?) is now reclaiming its own. How did we let things get so bad? Surely through sheer stupidity and short-term gain, along with wilful ignorance of nature. Shouldn’t we tear up the “developed society” blueprint and start again? That is really the message of The Seven Songs.
So Chapter 2 is where we find Princess Dream in the valley of Wildern, closely observing the martins as they skim the rippling stream. She is the character who can’t see nature without wanting to take out her sketchbook and paintbox. She is not skilful with words, at least not in the beginning, but she grows in strength as her character develops, and takes a quite unexpected and adventurous path in this book.
Prince Fion has also forced surprises on me. At one point I had a real struggle with him and, in paratrooper terms, almost had to shove him out of the plane so he would get back on his hero’s journey. He is assailed by doubts and also, poor lad, thinks he has problems with relationships. Who doesn’t? Especially at age fifteen.
It’s quite a difficulty when your character won’t do what you had planned for them and in this regard Fion has perhaps been the most problematic. However, an awful lot is being asked of him, to save the world amongst other things, so we have to be patient with him. His greatest tests are to follow, as his mentor Adhemar tells him. We shall see as the series develops.
Enjoy the read.
CJM, April 2014