I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour as Granny Magic has been a highlight for me this year. It is full of brilliant characters, magical yarn and a fierce knitting circle! You wouldn’t want to mess with these Grannies.
Thank you to Elka Evalds for the piece below!
I can’t recommend this book highly enough!
Inspiration for GRANNY MAGIC
This story was initially inspired by a long bout of flu. The doctor could do nothing, and I found myself fantasizing about a cardigan that could cure coughs and colds. As it became a story in my mind, I couldn’t help but think of my Latvian grandmother. She was a prolific knitter of sometimes very strange objects, made from oddly coloured acrylic yarns. She was also a fount of unconditional love. She told us much about her extraordinary life as I grew up- she was a wonderful storyteller. But I discovered much more as an adult, and after her death. She had, for instance, gone from Riga to Madrid c. 1932 on the back of a motorbike. I have an idea for a sequel to Granny Magic, in which Will discovers that his Gran’s knitting network extended to Latvia, and the Latvian grans he meets introduce him to new kinds of magic as well as new kinds of villains.
Granny Magic is full of things I love about England:obsessive hobbies, regional cakes, archaic metaphors, and cheese-and-pickle sandwiches. It is set in the Cotswolds, where I’ve been inspired by the sheep, the market towns, and the long history of the woollen industry. Before I came to England in 2015, I was a lecturer in medieval art history, with a sideline in the history of costume and textiles, and now I work at the Corinium Museum, so I’ve found all of this especially interesting. The wool-making tradition in places like Nailsworth, Cirencester and Stroud is part of Granny Magic.
The Cotswolds isn’t the only setting for Granny Magic,though. I am married to a motorcyclist. In 2017 we took at trip to the Isle of Man during practice week of the TT. I found the craggy cliffs splendid, and loved the sweeping hills, with their multi-coloured brush. At the Cregnesh Open Air Museum, we stumbled upon local Manx sheep, which have brown wool and multiple horns. They’re striking, and sort of prehistoric-looking. When I first tried to picture sheep that might have magical wool, Manx sheep sprang to mind. Then it was like dominoes: if they were Manx sheep, they had to live on the Isle of Man, and if the characters were going to go the Isle of Man, there would have to be motorbikes, and if there were motorbikes, surely there should be a chase…
Finally, I’ve been inspired by characters like Edmund in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and stories that involve redemption. Edmund is a basically good person who does a couple of despicable things. Aslan’s reaction is stern but compassionate, based upon the certainty that Edmund is better than his actions. This leads to Edmund’s rehabilitation, and his reintegration into the group. I’ve seen this unfold in real life. Expecting the best of someone, and showing compassion, can sometimes bring their best selves to the fore. I may have been especially lucky, but in my experience, Grandmas are particularly good at doing this: doggedly loving what might seem to others to be unloveable.
GRANNY MAGIC by Elk Evalds is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)