I wanted to share a little bit about the inspiration behind my story, “The Woodworker’s Guest”. It is the second story I wrote in my Tales from the Nightgate Inn collection and can be found in Wyngraf Magazine‘s 4th volume. Here’s a short synopsis in case you’ve yet to read it:
Drazhen Agapov is a talented woodworker who has everything his heart could desire, but when tragedy strikes and takes it all away, he retreats into isolation, overwhelmed by sorrow. Then one day, a strange visitor calls upon him and leaves a gift that will force him to confront his grief…and it might just bring hope and healing as well.
When I was in high school, each Thursday my dad would pick me up and we’d go out to eat and then end the evening browsing the shelves in the local library before he dropped me off back home. On one of those nights, I was perusing the folklore section when a big blue book with a beautiful cover caught my eye: Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales. The cover was an enchanting painting by the famous Swedish artist John Bauer entitled “Do You Mean This Ring?”.
I plucked it from the shelf and flipped through the pages. It contained a treasury of tales collected by the great folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, many with accompanying illustrations. I checked that book out dozens of times and, one day, lucked out to find it for sale at Half Price Books. I bought it straight away.
One of my absolute favorite stories was a short little tale titled “Toller’s Neighbors”. You can actually read it online HERE. It is about a farmer and his wife who are kind to a group of little hidden folk (Huldufólk) who live in the hill nearby. The hidden folk and the farmers help each other out through the years until one day they are forced to leave the area. Because of the kindness the farmer and his family showed to them, they gift his family with beautiful jewels in memory of them. It’s a sweet, charming little story, and quite cozy, and it’s stayed with me through all of these years. The little trolls in the story are my primary inspiration for the Huusfolk that dwell in Sognaland.
Another source of inspiration comes from my step-mother, who is from Ukraine. I visited the farm she grew up on sixteen years ago. I had also studied the Russian language in college and, though I can barely speak it now, I could hold a decent conversation in it at the time of my visit. Drazhen’s house was inspired by the traditional Russian izba. And the name of the country he and his father immigrated from, Lyesh, is derived from the Russian word for forest: лес.
Finally, music and ambience always plays a huge role in the crafting of a story. “The Woodworker’s Guest” owes a lot of its style and mood to the cozy and enchanting music of Vindsvept as well as to Hollywood Magic’s wonderful ambient videos.
In particular, the video “Falkreath Hold Remastered”, featuring music by Jeremy Soule, Vindsvept, and Adrian von Ziegler, was playing in the background most of the time I was writing the story.
And Vindvept’s beautiful song, “What Lies Beyond”, is the song that captures the heart of the story.
As a reader, I always enjoy seeing what little things inspired a particular story, so I always want to share that “behind the scenes” view with my readers. If you’ve read “The Woodworker’s Guest”, I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you’ve found a lot to like by other authors in Wyngraf‘s fourth offering!