Monday, June 24, 2013

Christy Nicholas: Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical

Multi-talented author Christy Nicholas visits The Plain today with treasure. Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical is a photo-rich travel guide packed with ancient Irish history, legend, lore, and mysticism. Informative and entertaining, this book is sure to delight anyone with an interest in the Emerald Isle, especially those who like to visit places off the beaten tourist path.

Welcome Christy. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
That’s not a simple question, actually. My parents met in England, which is where I was conceived, gestated in Scotland, born in Denmark, raised in Dearborn, Michigan until I was 8 and then Miami, Florida after that. Now I’m in West Virginia. I’m a bit of a gypsy soul. But Ireland is my soul’s home.
How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
Informative and, I hope, intriguing. I have always been a trivia junkie, and love to pass on the bits of fascinating knowledge I’ve collected to others, to spark their own imagination.
Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical is sparking my imagination! What inspired you to write it?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Ireland, a love in my heart. I remember my mom had a copy of the Irish Rover’s album The Unicorn when I was very young – I don’t remember NOT knowing all the songs. I’ve now traveled to the Isles 7 times and I’m planning an 8th trip. Many people ask my advice on planning their own trip, and I thought I could not only give them some practical tips, I could offer some background and history, to hopefully enrich their experience. Oh, and share some pretty photographs!
How did you come up with the title?
I was actually out walking one day and came up with it, and I loved the rhythm, the sound of the words. I’ve always been a fan of alliteration, and I realized that there are many aspects to any given place. Every place in Ireland has some history, some story, some myth below the grassy hill, the hawthorn tree, the circle of stones.
Was there much research involved?
A lot! As much as I thought I knew about Irish history and mythology, there is so much more out there that I don’t know. I had started listening to a podcast called Celtic Myth Podshow, and it inspired me to study the Irish myths much more deeply. Eventually that turned into wanting to share them with others. Many of the books out there on them are dry, academic translations that leave you gasping for breath. I hoped to alleviate some of that and bring some to life, by attaching them to places I’ve visited.
Do you have a set writing routine?
Well, if you want to call it a routine, you can. I write just like I create anything, or clean, in mad spurts of frenetic energy, in between long periods of laziness and procrastination. I write 20 pages in a sitting… and then let it sit for months. My best time to write is the morning, though. I’m definitely a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, morning person, without need of caffeine. By late afternoon, though, I’ve run down my energy supply and in the need of some vegetating while crafting.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Oh, yes. I listen to music almost all the time. Silence is distracting to me, as all the little sounds – the chair squeaking, or the cat jumping down from the table – are sudden and loud. Music helps transport my mind. I love Irish and Scottish music – whether it be modern Irish punk or traditional Scottish ballads.
What do you like least about writing?
Editing my own work, definitely. I’m a free flowing writer – it just comes out of my fingers, barely touching my mind. Going back and looking at my own work with a fresh eye is very difficult. Critiquing my own artwork has the same dread for me, as you don’t SEE the flaws. Your mind glosses over them, thinking it knows better, when it really doesn’t. Oddly enough, I’m fine with editing or critiquing others’ work. It’s just editing my own that throws up a blind spot.
Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
I mostly like historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. My favorite authors are Anne McCaffrey, Diana Gabaldon, Bernard Cornwell, Sharon Kay Penman, and Robert Heinlein. I also have lots of books on mythologies, history and world religions.
An inspiring collection indeed. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Write. Write more, and write some more. This is my first professionally published book, but I’ve two self-published books, and have written articles, short stories, seminars, blogs, travel reviews, all sorts of things. I find that writing allows me to more precisely communicate my thoughts, as I have time to choose the correct word, and the luxury to edit my statements.
Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
I make beaded jewelry, take photographs (mostly in the UK and Ireland), and paint digitally in Photoshop with a mouse. I am also a CPA, so I like preparing tax returns. Each one is a puzzle to solve. I also participate in a medieval LARP (live-action role-playing) game called Amtgard, where we dress up in medieval garb, have medieval feasts, and hit each other with foam-covered weapons.
You’re certainly a busy lady, Christy. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you. And now, let’s have a look at Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical.

Blurb:
Do you find yourself drawn to the magic of the Emerald Isle? Would you like to see places beyond the typical tourist traps? Come, join me on a journey through the mists of legend, into the hidden places of mystery. Immerse yourself in the legends and myths, the history that has made this island precious in the hearts and minds of millions. Along with the tales and history, there is practical information on planning your trip, budgeting your costs, and finding the best places to while away the magical hours of your holiday.

Excerpt:
The Magical Facet - The Fair Folk
Everyone has heard of fairies, of creatures with supernatural powers to curse, to bless, to find gold, or to cause mischief. Literature and art is full of them from Shakespeare to contemporary artists Amy Brown or Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. Western culture, especially in the US, is bred on Disney’s Tinker Bell, children’s books of flower fairies from Victorian artists, and grim tales of the darker side of these Fae folk.

In Ireland, fairies, known as the Sídhe (pronounced shee) or the Good Folk, originate from the Tuatha Dé Danann, the people who immigrated to the island before the Sons of Míl. Supposedly full of powers, the Tuatha Dé Danann could not bear to be near iron, and therefore their superior skills were for naught. Rather than leave the land they loved, they agreed to reside below the earth. For this reason, caves are said to be entrances into their underworld homes. Traces of this legend can be seen in the classic film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, where Darby is led under a mountain to the Fairy King’s palace.

Ireland has countless portals, be they hills, hawthorn trees, caves, wells, or other sacred places.

A more Christianized origin of these creatures claim they are angels which fell to Earth before humans resided there. They live beneath the waves or gardens, and while some are evil, others can be helpful as long as they are treated with respect.

While many modern legends show the fairies to be sweet, kind, magical creatures, this is really a Victorian creation. The traditional views in Ireland and Scotland show the Sídhe to be mischievous to the point of cruelty a force to be reckoned with. They are not sought out by the wise. In fact, most of the herb and spell lore of an almost forgotten era is meant to instruct how to keep you from coming to the Folks’ attention.
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About Christy Nicholas:
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

While I am a mild-mannered accountant during the day, when I escape the humdrum daily life my mind runs wild with creating art, writing, and taking photographs. My eBook is filled with photographs I took while traveling the mystical island of Ireland. Each time I travel, I find more things to ensnare my soul. The latest trip involved the wild and rugged County Donegal, and I ache to go back, perhaps, someday, permanently.

The first time I arrived in Ireland was in 1996. It was my first time traveling anywhere as an adult, my first true vacation. I was also on my own, aged 26, and full of wonder. The three days was much too brief, but I landed in Dublin, rented a car, chose a road and drove, not really caring
what was at the end of it. I don’t think I ever truly returned from that journey.

On my webpage, you can find more photographs from Ireland, as well as from Scotland, England, Canada and the US. In addition, I have digital paintings with mythological themes, and jewelry I create with seed beads. Please, enjoy your visit!
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Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical / Available from

9 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. My pleasure, Christy. All the best to you and your wonderful new book!

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  2. Gypsies are the best sort :-) Christy's book looks like an excellent tool for fiction writers as well as travelers!

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    1. Amy, you're right. A book like this would be a wonderful writing reference. Agree about gypsies :-) Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Thank you very much for your kind comments, Amy!

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  4. Ah, do any of us really ever return from our trips to Ireland? Looks like a great book.

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    1. Indeed, my heart has been there since I first set foot in the Emerald Isle in 1996!

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    2. Miriam, a trip to Ireland leaves an indelible mark for sure. Not a bad thing at all! Thanks for visiting.

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  5. Intriguing book. I'll have get it before my next trip there.

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