Today marks our last Little Selkie themed post. Usually I don’t have a fourth discussion post, but I put so much work into my research for this part of the book, I can’t NOT speak of it! As some of you caught on, Ringsted is inspired by Irish and Scottish cultures. I mostly relied on Irish resources, but a few Scottish aspects crept into the story as well.
The decision to base Ringsted off Ireland was a tough one. Usually I try to base the cultures of my fairy tale lands on the cultures that launched the original stories. That’s why Arcainia of The Wild Swans has a German feel to it, and Trieux of Cinderella and Loire of B&B seem more French. (The story of Rumpelstiltskin is so widely told its origins were much harder to track down, but there was a Norwegian version, hence the Norwegian culture of Verglas.) The original Little Mermaid was written by Hans Christan Andersen–who was from Denmark. Normally I would have gone for a Danish culture, but while the bones and arrangement of the story followed the original story, Dylan was so different from her mermaid counterpart. I felt that the change in cultures was necessary to embrace the selkie side of the story, and to make a land that would embrace Dylan as their queen.
What parts of the culture are Irish? The most obvious bit (besides the names) is the scene when Dylan first arrives in Easky, where she sees dancing villagers and hears music that sounds foreign to her. I did a fair bit of research before deciding what instruments to use in Ringsted. While Loire has the harpsichord and many stringed instruments–as mentioned in B&B–the “core” Irish historic instruments are: the fiddle, tin whistle, flute, pipe, wooden drum, harp, and mandolin. Below is a sample I used as part of my research.
Besides the music, the dancing was like nothing I’ve ever had to describe in any of the books. See a sample here! I found a bunch of traditional dances (Like the hornpipe and Ceili) but I did have to fudge my timeline a bit. I try to use aspects of the parent country from roughly 1100-1500 AD. It was the hardest to dig up info on Ireland because of its history, so I had to borrow a few things from as late as 1700 AD.
The food was loosely based off Irish and Scottish foods, but I added a lot more seafood than you would find in the typical ancient Irish/Scottish diets because Ringsted is far more dependent on the sea. Ringsted’s colors–saffron and emerald–are also traditional Irish colors. While most people associate emerald with Ireland, that’s a “new” concept. For centuries saffron was the most worn color by those from Ireland, so much so that during the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I (that’s in the 1500s) the use of yellow dye was prohibited.
Whew! And there is your crash course in the inspiration of Ringsted. There was a lot more, but these topics were the most fascinating! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend, and enjoy your Monday!