Not Only the Ink is Black – Inspirations: Part One

After such a successful launch yesterday, I wondered what on earth I could write about today that might interest both those who have already downloaded Not Only the Ink is Black, and those who are still wavering (only 4 days left of it being free – better hurry!).

Whenever I read something, I wonder what was the inspiration, does it have a deeper meaning (throw-back to my English lit study days!) and does the author have a favourite bit? So I’ve decided to provide a bit more background information about the stories and poems that make up the anthology. However, as there are quite a few of them, I’m going to do this in three parts.

Barn Owl

This is one of the few pieces that was written pre-university days – probably around 1993. I have always had a thing for owls, especially their connection to the supernatural. My favourite character in the Welsh mythological cycle, the Mabinogion, was Blodeuwedd, the woman created from flowers who was turned into an owl after the betrayal of her husband. I’ve always felt that this poem reflects a magical connection between the narrator and the bird – a kind of symbiosis and/or shapeshifting from a time before the present one.


The Fen Child

Fen Child started out as a writing exercise in class, prompted, I think, by the discussion of clichés in writing. Hence, I decided to go against the rules and start the piece with an obvious ‘beginner writers never do this’ kind of cliché: “It was a dark and stormy night”… And then, unexpectedly, I got caught up in the story, and it became a little more than an exercise in length. Out of all the tales, I feel that this one owes a lot to the styles of both Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood (whose books have taught me much about writing, I may add), although it is nowhere near the brilliance of either author.

Mama Dreams

Another class exercise. I wanted to write a creation myth, and had a vision of this ‘creator’ being Gaia, our earth, who somehow dreams everything into being, and yet is still unaware of what she has created.

Bella Donna: A Courtesan’s Tale

One of my favourites, and also the only tale to have been published in another anthology. It came out of a deep connection I feel to the Venice of the Renaissance period, and especially to its courtesans. They really did use the deadly plant belladonna (or deadly nightshade, to give it its more common name) to widen the pupils of their eyes. However, their star often did not stay in the ascendant for long, due to age or ill-health, and many courtesans ended their days in poverty and riddled with disease, often syphilis. I wanted to tell the story of one such courtesan, who started out in a well-to-do family but was forced into her trade when the family’s fortunes foundered. Now, close to the end of her life, ill and nearly penniless, she decides to exact payment from all those who have done her wrong, starting with the man who pushed her into her employment in the first place.

Anastasia/On the Rocks

These two poems come as a set. I affectionately refer to them as my ‘ice poems’. They were written especially for a competition in the women’s writing magazine, Mslexia. They didn’t win, but I have a special place for them in my heart, for some reason.

That’s it for today. Torrow I will talk about some of the other pieces.


  1. Inspiration is one of those ‘gut feelings’ that I love hearing about. Often when a writer speaks about their work, they gloss over the deep detail of inspiration… it’s refreshing to hear what yours has been.

  2. I so agree – I love to hear the stories behind the stories (if there are any) – and I’m the same with songs too.

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