Wednesday, 16 May 2012

"Forsaken", the book trailer!

"COME, dear children, let us away;
            Down and away below.
    Now my brothers call from the bay;
    Now the great winds shoreward blow;
    Now the salt tides seaward flow;
    Now the wild white horses play,
    Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.
        Children dear, let us away.
            This way, this way!"

The idea for "Forsaken" came from the classic poem 'The Forsaken Merman' by the late Victorian poet Matthew Arnold, which in turn is based on an old Scandinavian ballad. It tells the story of a merman who married a human woman, Margaret. They live together happily under the sea and she has children by him - till one day she hears church bells ringing and feels a sudden longing to go and pray in the 'little white church'. The merman agrees to part with her for a short while. But once on land she never returns to the sea, leaving her husband and children to grief for her. In Arnold's poem the merman says:

"Up the still, glistening beaches,
Up the creeks we will hie,
Over banks of bright seaweed
The ebb-tide leaves dry.
We will gaze, from the sand-hills,
At the white, sleeping town;
At the church on the hill-side—
And then come back down.
Singing: "There dwells a loved one,
But cruel is she!
She left lonely for ever
The kings of the sea."

The old belief about mermaids was that they had no souls. In order to preserve her immortal soul, Margaret is ready to desert her husband and children. Was she right to follow her beliefs? Or wrong to cause her loved ones so much pain?

Here's the trailer I made for the book.  I filmed it (well, all except the underwater scene!) around the Farne Islands in waters full of seals...

In the original legend, the merman clambers into the churchyard to try and find his wife, but when he looks into the church, 'all the stone images turned their backs on him'. When I read this, a shiver ran down my spine and I knew I had to tell the story again - but this time, I wondered what would have happened if, instead of the merman, one of Margaret's own mer-children went to find her?

Thanks to Polly Carey who spoke the voiceover, and to Richard Hughes of We Are Goose , who composed and performed the music, and cut and edited the film. (You can compare it with the trailer we made for my book 'Dark Angels' if you click on the tab 'Book Trailers' at the top of this post. )

Please let us know what you think of it! :)


  1. Not to forget the Little Mermaid herself and Aino in the Kalevala who drowns herself to avoid marriage but who returns as a fish to wreak torment on her frustrated would-be groom. Plenty Scandi tales about the underwater life and associated metamorphosis - and no happy ending in sight it seems! Sounds great Kath, looking forward to this one :)

  2. When I was a child I absolutely hated this poem. I would turn over chunks of book so my eyes wouldn't land on it. And even though I was brought up with religion, I couldn't understand why this woman would leave her children just to go to church. I still want to take Margaret by the shoulders and shake her. I still feel myself screaming out on behalf of her children. So though I really want to read your story, I'll do so with trepidation, hoping that you bring Margaret to her senses.
    The video is lovely, and gives me hope that your story might turn out well...

  3. Ah, Frances, I so agree with you... and this is what my little book tries to address.

  4. Aidan, thanks! I have the Kalevala sitting on my shelf - but haven't got around to reading it. Waiting for a holiday... but Aino's story sounds fabulous.

  5. Looks great, Katherine.
    I'm looking forward to your take on the story.

  6. Oh - as well - my son just finished devouring "West of the Moon." He loved it, as did I when I read it a few months ago. Thank you!
    (The other day he mentioned that we could use a Nis around the house. Hmmm...commentary on my housekeeping skills.)

  7. That's lovely to hear, Lynn, thankyou! (I could well do with a Nis, too...)