Scott Butcher is the author of An Eagle’s Heart and The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles. Born in Australia to Canadian parents, Butcher spent much of his younger years travelling between the two countries. Upon completing school, he lived in Australia for 33 years before moving with his wife and three children to Canada in 2009.
Shauna Kosoris: What inspired your first book, An Eagle’s Heart?
Scott Butcher: I was inspired by our time here in Thunder Bay. We had come from Australia where there is lots of colourful birdlife, but when we first came here we lived in a new part of the city. It had no trees and the only birds we saw were crows and seagulls, very boring. Then we moved out to the edge of town where there were lots of trees, and quite a few more bird species for us to discover.
The problem with the new subdivision had been that without enough cover the crows and seagulls killed the other birds. When we lived in an area with trees, there was protective cover for the smaller birds, but we also had bald eagles going past our window fairly regularly, and other raptors. An Eagle’s Heart was born from watching the birds around the area. It tells the story of the survival of little birds near town areas dominated by crows and seagulls, but the birds are given human-like characteristics. So, for instance, the crows are spiteful and murderous, bent on revenge for the death of one of their own. A robin portrays loyalty; a merlin falcon desperately tries to get by in the harshness of the northern climate; a chickadee is cast into a terrible role from which he emerges with an eagle’s heart. It’s an adventure story for adults and kids alike.
SK: The birds in An Eagle’s Heart speak very respectfully, rather like how the North American natives and settlers spoke to one another. Why did you decide to make the birds speak in this way?
SB: We visit old Fort William from time to time. I was impressed with the accents of the actors there. The diction was very precise, and they spoke very formally. I decided that that was the way the raptors in my book should speak to each other. Raptors have formidable weapons in their claws and beaks, they command respect. Therefore, they needed to address each other in a respectful manner.
SK: How did you to go from writing about birds to writing about pixies for your Fairly Stillwart Chronicles?
SB: Ah, well, I have daughters. Stillwart is the type of story I used to make up for them. I made her up for a weekly fast fiction competition. She was just a snarky little thing that ran the ticket booth for a Fairy Cinema. But I liked Stillwart so I made another short story about her and all of a sudden I had two chapters for a book. Then I had a small book – a novella really. And then there were six novella, a series.
SK: Where did your idea that pixies and fairies are two sides of the same coin come from?
SB: My idea? Isn’t that just the way it is? I’m sure pixies and fairies have always been linked together. The later books in the series explore this relationship in more detail. The story of how they came to form two sides of a leaf (because pixies and fairies have no use for coins) one side dark but strong, the other side light but happy, is explained a little more in the later books of the series. In my new series, The Magic Sisters, there is also a scene where the first pixies and fairies are created. So all is eventually revealed.
SK: Is Stillwart’s affinity for animals a pixie thing? Or is that specific of Stillwart?
SB: I think that’s a Stillwart thing, she lives alone as the only pixie amongst an enclave of fairies. But even amongst pixies she would be unusual. I think it comes about because she was a loner, she didn’t relate that well to the fairies she lived amongst, but she could relate to the animals, they became her friends.
SK: What can you tell me about The Dreams of Aine’s Bloods, which you have listed as a work in progress on your site?
SB: Well, I’m sorry to say that I’ve changed the title to The Bloodline of the Faerie Queen. In Irish mythology Aine is actually the name of a Faerie Queen, but not many people know that, so I had to provide a more descriptive title.
This one I’ve been researching for a long time. It’s based on ancient Irish mythology, particularly from a book called Lebor Gabála Érenn or The Book of the Taking of Ireland, which was a book put together by medieval Irish monks (no, really) who were collecting a history of Ireland from folklore. It will probably be a while before I complete it, but some of the earlier chapters are on Wattpad for people to view for free, see http://www.wattpad.com/story/23592018-the-bloodline-of-the-faerie-queen
The Bloodline is set at the end of the Bronze Age, but in the tradition of a true epic fantasy it has several plot lines in different periods of time, including “an Gorta Mór” the time of the Irish potato famines, the 1920s, and present day. The present day scenes are more urban fantasy. It’s a complex tale of murder, mystery and revenge, but fantasy readers like complex story lines. Not a kids tale at all.
SK: What’s next after the Fairly Stillwart Chronicles and The Bloodline of the Faerie Queen are finished?
SB: The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles are now complete. Hooray! There are six books in the series. The other three will come out early in the New Year and will be sold as a group of three by Morning Rain Publishing. I’ve temporarily placed the fourth book, Tory Blithe and the St John’s Pixie (yes, it’s set in Newfoundland) for free viewing on Wattpad, see http://www.wattpad.com/story/23340914-the-fairly-stillwart-chronicles-tory-blithe-and
I’ve already begun a sequel series, but it’s a bit darker, written for a slightly older (young teen) audience. It’s the Magic Sisters series. The Magic Sisters are introduced in the Stillwart books, but their story is one of servitude to the Morrigan, the banshee queen and caller of death. For seven years they are enthralled to her. For seven years they must do her bidding. An early draft of the first few chapters of the first book is on Wattpad, see http://www.wattpad.com/story/26793907-book-1-of-the-magic-sisters-the-morr%C3%ADgan
SK: To finish up, let’s talk about the books you like. What book or author inspired you to write?
SB: Oh, that’s hard to remember. I started writing when I was a teenager, over thirty years ago. I used to write for the school newspaper in middle school. I remember reading Jules Verne and C.S. Lewis books when I was younger, but many others. I think my thoughts were just captured in a tide of imagination. I’ve lived a fairly stressful life, and to balance that I escape to worlds of imagination. It’s like they say, work isn’t enough to feed the soul. Everybody needs more in their lives, for me, books are part of that more.
SK: Is there a book or author that you think everyone should read?
SB: No, people have different experiences, they need different things as their lives progress. There is no one book that fits all things for all people. But I do think that people should read. I’ve certainly read many books that have given me pause for thought and have influenced my thinking. In particular I think it’s important to read to your children. There are few things more gratifying than that. I’ve read many books to my kids, including the Harry Potter series, which I much enjoyed. But more than that, reading to your kids brings you together as parent and child in a special way, it helps build bonds that will last throughout lifetimes.
SK: So what are you currently reading?
SB: Too much, I do a lot of editing for others, it spreads me pretty thin at times. I’ve just finished The Willow Branch by Lela Markham, which I read as a beta reader and very much enjoyed. It’s now available on Amazon. Likewise Liminal Lights by J. M.Bogart. Many of the books I read are by independent publishers, so are less well known, but many are still extremely good. Seeing Magic by Laura Emmons is another I’ve enjoyed recently, again available on Amazon.