To celebrate the release of To the Sea I have the author stopping by to tell us about the intriguing selkie mythology that’s woven into the story. But first, a little about the book:To The Sea by Christine Dibley
Published: December 22nd 2016 by Pan Macmillan AU
Format: Paperback, 447 pages
Genres: Contemporary, Magical Realism
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On a clear summer's day, Detective Inspector Tony Vincent answers a call-out to an idyllic Tasmanian beach house. Surrounded by family and calm waters, seventeen-year-old Zoe Kennett has inexplicably vanished.
Four storytellers share their version of what has led to this moment, weaving tales which span centuries and continents. But Tony needs facts, not fiction: how will such fables lead him to Zoe and to the truth?
As Tony's investigation deepens, he is drawn into a world where myth and history blur, and where women who risk all for love must pay the price through every generation.
The mythology of To the Sea
The selchie myth belongs to a much wider collection of regional myths. Shape shifters, or creatures which move between their human and sea-borne forms, are common throughout Norse, Gaelic and Celtic mythologies. Just as djinns blew out of the Arabian sands; trolls rose up from the lakes and fjords of Norway; kodama, tree sprites, blossomed in the dense forests of Japan; creatures of the most magical tales told in Western Ireland coastal communities, come from the sea.
The sea beings interact with the people on those lonely shores and then return to the sea, sometimes leaving wealth and eternal luck behind them. Sometimes leaving destruction. Finmen from the Orkneys still sail down the west coast of Ireland in their phantom boats seducing unwary victims with their dark beauty and powerful magic. Selchies, the people of the sea, are more fun loving changelings. They are drawn to us, the people of the land. They love our music, our Gaelic languages, our human form. On rare nights, they leave the water, shedding their seal skins in the shallows, and take the most graceful and beautiful of human forms to dance and beguile those of us lucky enough to see them. We undo their joy and love of us when we try and keep them for ourselves.
I first heard these stories as a child, later reading the old fairy tales which have been recorded over the centuries. And when I’m in Ireland, I’m always up for a Guinness and a story with locals who remember the old tales of selchies and shape shifters. My shout. It wasn’t a leap for me to weave the oldest selchie tale of all into a modern tale of people living on a different island coast at the bottom of the world.
A huge thanks to Christine for writing the piece, and to PanMacmillan Australia for organising this wonderful opportunity 🙂