Everybody always says, "write about something you know." The Shining Isle, like its predecessor The Quickening, is about people, places, a god, and a goddess, all known to me personally, and events that affect all of us globally and many of us locally.
Both ancient and modern history repeat the same story of war, invasion, and usurpation, followed by the predictable confiscation of indigenous lands and resources, the denigration or destruction of their customs, culture, arts, language and self-determination, followed by the rape and pillage of resources and the destruction of native habitat and environment. On a global level, this realization surely gives us all a reason to deeply consider the future consequences of these actions and to question and challenge those responsible.
I live in what remains a barely tropical paradise: an area resplendent with rainforest; waterfalls; mountains; long, white, sandy beaches; and a small town that used to be sleepy and where everyone smiled. It was quite famous for its diversity even fifteen years ago (when I first moved here). The magical and spiritual outlook of most of the people is visible, as many are active in ecological movements or involved with the healing arts; most follow what is considered an "alternative lifestyle," while some, unfortunately, are heavily into drug culture.
Surfers and tourists have come from all over the world because of the area’s quirkiness, as well as its beauty. Of course, developers have pounced like predators as a result; just like the invaders mentioned above. They’ve come, bought and paid greedy councilor's fines up front for breaking the rules, and have continued to purchase all they can get their hands on. Now there are suburbs where only a few years ago there was wetland, and there are more shops than you can count selling the same thing.
We’ve managed—so far—to keep the golden arches out of our town but, of course, that same diverse, magical community has been marginalized as a result. Or these residents have been forced to leave as the cost of living skyrockets and the very things that have drawn people to this paradise become commodified and debased … all for the mighty buck.
The Shining Isle mirrors this—as it happened across the globe throughout history and is still happening today. The inspiration behind the book stems from the way some of us understand magic—its connection to anything and everything and its admiration and reverence for all that is unique and wonderful. As a species, we have become way too self-centered when, in truth, everything is not about us. The story revolves around an island off the coast of whatever country the reader lives in. It is set in the present day, but many of the inhabitants of Inishrún are ancient, almost immortal: the Tuatha Dé Danann. They, along with Hunter (a perennial god of the wild places) and a goddess known only as the Great Mystery, join several humans (Holly and Mim, a witch named Wolf Kain and her friend David Rushton, the indomitable and thoroughly lovable Charlie Freeman, to name a few) and some very Otherworldly hounds in a struggle to save their homeland from the avarice of property development.
The story also suggests that appearances can deceive and that boxing others into stereotypes is inappropriate because we never know who—or what—we might be passing on the street.
Those who read the visualizations attending the rituals in When I See the Wild God, the previously-released The Quickening, or who have written to me about how much you loved the characters in the stories will be pleased to know that many are revisited. There are also a few new, exquisitely complex and humorous personalities to please, and many readers will emote with Holly’s journey from the despair of seemingly perpetual inconsequence to the recognition and embrace of her destiny.
As an avid reader I have always required what I call “switch-off” fiction to relax me in between whatever else I am doing or reading, and I have a passion for both well-researched historical fiction and contemporary magical realism. If a novel piques my curiosity, I am often launched into more scholarly works—the source of the admired writer’s inspiration—feeding my hunger to learn. And I have set about seeking to do the same for others because the source of the story is both legend and myth, very real and very much alive within the current era.
The Author’s Note and Appendix are not the usual things to attend a work of so-called fiction and my thanks go out to all at Llewellyn for their vision and adaptability in allowing them to remain.