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Whatever the Weather (Part 2)

We continue our weathery theme this week with a lovely Q&A thanks to Tamsin Mori...

Where did the idea of the weather weaver come from originally and did it come to you complete or did it grow as you wrote the story? The idea of the weather weaver was inspired by my Shetland granny’s stories – a mixture of traditional island myths and tales of her childhood on Foula, which often involved wild weather of one kind or another! The heart of the story – the ability to control the weather – was there from the start, along with the title, but the story certainly grew in the telling. Stella, Tamar, Nimbus and the sea witch came to me complete, their lives and stories intertwined and spanning three books. Even so, you always discover new things on the page – the idea of stories in stone grew out of a visit to the Mousa broch and the different specialisms of weather weaving evolved as I was writing A Gathering Storm.


The stories, all three of them, are as much about the weather and its mysteries as they are about magic and its mysteries. Is the weather something magical to you and how did you find it worked weaving the two together, did it feel natural? Weather has always felt magical to me. My first attempts at weather weaving were when I was about eight years old. Shetland was my favourite place to be, but we never visited for very long – weeks rather than months. I swiftly discovered that our stays were longer when there was fog. The fog quite regularly rolls in, mysterious and implacable, and stops all the flights from Sumburgh airport. I determined to make fog my friend, so it would come when I called and keep me in Shetland. I tried a variety of methods – from poems floated out to sea in bottles, to songs, to whispering into the wind. Eventually, it worked, and from then on, I was convinced of my own weather powers!


If you could be one of the weather weavers in your stories, which one would you choose to be and why? What weather weaving gift would you most like to have? I’d love to be a Verdure Weaver, like Magnus – knowledgeable about all things green and able to grow plants in an instant. Noticing nature finding a foothold in the most inhospitable places always brings me joy. Whenever I see a small flower that’s forced its way up through concrete, I want to cheer it on. If I could wander around spreading green wildness and making everything burst into flower, I’d be very happy indeed. Also, Briar is such a sweetie!


Are any of the stories in the trilogy based on your own childhood memories or experiences or is everything that you have written about completely fictional? A lot of the scenes are based on my childhood memories and experiences – exploring the hills and beaches of Shetland, climbing the secret staircase in the Mousa broch, attempting to conjure weather, and feeling very uncertain on small boats.

Most of my family are at home on the water – either fishermen, boat-builders, or sailors. I loved being out at sea when I was small, but also found it quite scary and suffered regularly from sea-sickness. I remember hanging over the side of the boat and staring down into the water, wondering how deep it was and what might live down there – the sea witch is a distillation of that early fear.

Very little of the story is completely fictional – it’s either lived experience, or what my imagination made of those experiences (which somehow feels equally true). I wanted the magic to be as real to my readers as it is to me, so I grounded it in real places and experiences.


As the stories progress the thrills, danger and adventure that come with being a weather weaver and living on the islands increase. Is it difficult to keep the pace going at a high level over all the books, do you sometimes feel that you, and your characters need some down time, or uneventful moments? Down time is definitely needed. Usually, I realise a pause is needed because I find myself forgetting to breathe when writing – too much excitement! Stella is a character who would keep throwing herself forward through the story without ever pausing, so it’s often the characters around her who remind her to slow down, have some food, or go to bed. Almost all of the characters around her slow her down now and again and give the reader a moment to take a breath. I hope I’ve also managed to weave in moments of fun in amongst all the thrills and danger – sometimes a laugh is as good is a rest.


I’m not sure who I love most: Stella, Tamar or Nimbus (readers - there are other characters too but these three are the closest to my heart). As an author do you find that you have to stay detached from the characters so that you don’t skew the storyline in one or other of their favours - or otherwise if it is the bad guys! I don’t stay detached from my characters – I’m fully invested in them and I love them all. Having said that, I recognise their flaws. I really enjoy characters who succeed in being heroic despite their failings: Stella is impulsive and sometimes short-tempered, Tamar is far too convinced that she’s right, and Nimbus is endlessly mischievous. I prefer characters who aren’t perfect. Even the villains have their reasons for what they’re doing – no doubt, they’d paint themselves as the heroes of their own stories – they just take things far too far. I think it’s often their imperfections that help keep the story on track – it’s never a smooth path to success, because they trip themselves up and make mistakes (just like the rest of us).


Did you know from the outset, from the time the story formed in your mind, that it was going to be bigger than just one book, that it would be a trilogy? How, as a writer, do you plan for writing one book and then a series of books? Are there any special techniques? The first part of the story that arrived complete in my head was the sea witch’s story, but I knew that it wouldn’t make sense on its own – not without a great deal of story beforehand. Having written a lot of scraps, I ended up planning backwards to the tune of three books and then writing forwards again. Some of the earliest scenes that I wrote ended up in the third book, Winter’s Keep. I’m so happy that I finally managed to tell the sea witch’s tale. I don’t think she’d have left me alone if I hadn’t – she’s been pestering me to write her story for years.

The key thing when writing a trilogy is that each book needs to feel like a complete and satisfying story in its own right, but they all need to work together to tell a larger story. It helped that I knew where I was going from the start. I was able to sew little clues and scenes in the earlier books which probably feel incidental when reading them for the first time, but which make sense, later on. I hope that the books bear re-reading and each time you read, you’ll discover some detail that you may not have noticed the first time. The idea of weaving was very present in my mind as I was writing – taking individual threads of story and weaving them through three books so that they’d all come together at the end.


How much research, particularly in relation to the weather, but also about magic, did you need to do to make sure the story was accurate and believable. Was any of it straightforward? I imagine magic could lead you down all sorts of routes! The most straightforward research I did was to get outdoors in all sorts of weather – I wanted to be able to accurately capture the sense of each weather – what it sounds like, what it feels like, even what it smells like!

Beyond that, I did a great deal of reading about the symbolism and significance of different types of weather and the elements. The more I read, the more I realised that weather is a hidden language, that we all use without ever discussing it or thinking too hard about it (that’s my job). There are oodles of examples of it in everyday use – a sunny personality, a face like a storm-cloud, feeling under the weather. Weather is embedded in stories too – usually as setting, rather than a main character – but it’s always there. I gradually realised that pathetic fallacy wouldn’t work if we didn’t already have an innate understanding of what mood is suggested by each weather. We all know what kind of story to expect on a dark and stormy night! I am curious about this unspoken link between weather and emotion. How did it evolve? To me, it suggests a magic that we all know, but we’ve somehow forgotten?

What is it, if there is one thing, that you like the most about being a writer, about writing stories? Do you do any other types of writing? The thing I like most about being a writer is that it gives me permission to follow my curiosity wherever it takes me. I am endlessly curious and it leads me on all sorts of unexpected adventures. In writing the Weather Weaver trilogy, I’ve explored hidden beaches, crawled through smugglers tunnels, climbed a hidden spiral staircase, spotted minke whales, seen hundreds of seabirds, eaten fresh shellfish, learnt to weave on a handloom, and shared endless stories and songs with friends and family. You could call it research, but I call it fun.

What I love about writing stories is that it lets me share moments of discovery and delight with other people. Telling stories, writing stories, listening to stories, reading stories – they’re all very human ways to connect with one another and figure out a little more about the world and where we belong in it.

Apart from writing books, I also write poetry. I use poems a little like artists use sketches – to capture the essence of a moment: a striking image, a snatch of conversation, a particular mood – and keep it for later. Poems also help me discover what’s important – reading them later and noticing what jumps out helps me to figure out what needs to find its way into a larger story.


With the trilogy now complete what can we expect next? Will there be more stories and adventures for the Weather Weavers or can we expect something entirely different?

I am already writing something new. In fact, I turned in the first draft a few weeks ago – yay!!! It’s not a continuation of the Weather Weaver adventures – it’s a brand-new story – but I hope that readers who loved the Weather Weaver trilogy will enjoy this tale just as much. It’s all top secret at the moment, but I can’t wait to share it with you! Expect adventure, danger, and the creeping sense that magic may have been hiding in plain sight all along…


Finally. What is your favourite form of weather and where do you most like to be when you are enjoying it?

Can I have two favourite weathers? I really can’t decide between them.

My first would have to be lightning – it’s awe-inspiring. My favourite memory is watching a massive thunderstorm out over the sea: the towering clouds glowing purple and yellow, massive forks of lightning spearing down into the waves. The thunder was incredible – it seemed to prowl around like some invisible beast. I was indoors when I was watching it – safe and warm, with a wide window in front of me – probably the safest place to be during a thunderstorm!

When I’m out and about, my favourite weather is spring sunshine – cool and breezy with blue skies overhead – not too hot, not too cold. Spring sunshine wakes my sense of adventure.

Find more about Tamisn and her books on her own website and her publishers website too

Why not read the trilogy beginning with ~ The Weather Weaver: A Weather Weaver Adventure

The trilogy wraps up with The Weather Weaver: Winter's Keep


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