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Andrew Richardson

Interview with a heroine
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Interview With a Heroine

 

 

I was going to provide some of my thoughts on the creation of The Wood.  My ideas, though, are reflected in the character of my heroine, Kathleen Mahoney.  What better, then, for Kath to explain the background to the book in an interview a few days before the book opens?

 

She sits on an ordinary settee in an ordinary flat.  Only a scattering of books drop any hint that she is one of Ireland’s moist gifted young historians.  Green eyes regard me with uncertainty; long black hair is pulled around her, as if acting as a subconscious barrier between us.

            One of Kath’s friends, hair dyed a trendy white, pushes a coffee into my hands.  “I’m Philippa.  Pippa.  I’m Kath’s best mate.  I’m here to tell you how good she is, because Kath is too modest to blow her own trumpet.” 

            There is a strained silence, so I begin by asking Kath when she first realised she had a flair for Celtic history.

            She shrugs.  “I don’t think I ever thought I had a gift or a flair.  I always assumed the reason I seemed to do well in history lessons was because I liked the subject and worked hard.”

            “See!  I told you she was modest,” Pippa broke in.

            “But you must have known you were good when you got your degree and then your doctorate.”

            “Effortlessly,” Pippa added, blue eyes sparkling.

            Kath fingered her mug and sipped coffee before answering.  “I suppose, as the citations mounted, I began to realise people were interested in my opinion.”

“And what is your opinion?”

            She shrugged.  “My opinion is much the same as anyone else’s, I suppose.  The Celts had so many different beliefs, but they were completely different to anything anyone takes seriously in this day and age.”

            I drank some coffee while I waited for Kath to continue.

            “It’s generally accepted that druids were in the upper reaches of society, and were close to the kings.  Like the church and the medieval monarchy, if you will.  And like Egyptian priests and pharaohs.”  She leaned forward, eyes wide with a passion for her subject.  “The beliefs all seem to make sense in a logical way, if you take away our scientific understanding.  But, of course no-one will ever have seen any of the gods or spirits or monsters they believed in.”

            “I suppose not,” I said.

            “So, it makes sense that the druids fuelled superstition by claiming to have experienced these things themselves.  I can’t prove it, of course, but that’s what I reckon happened.”

            “And she’s had all the academic world sitting up and taking notice,” Pippa added.

            Kath tightened her hair around her.  I was certain she started to blush.  Embarrassment, I supposed.  She does seem to be modest.

            I said, “Anyway, you’re having your thesis published, and you’ve been invited to publicise it.”

            “Yeah.  Nine of us have been invited on an overnight live role playing adventure, celebrating the Celtic myths.  We’re going to walk through a wood, pretending we’re living in a place where the myths are real.”

“If you need eight others, who else is going?”

            “I am!” Pippa exclaimed.  “Although roughing overnight in a pretend fantasy world it isn’t really my thing.  I’d rather be shopping.”

            Kath grinned and flicked her eyes to the ceiling.  “My professor, Max is going, too.”

            “He’s more into Celts than spending money.”  Pippa tutted.  “I wonder if they’ll have a visitor centre with Celtic jewellery.”

            “And Aaron’s going.  He’s one of my undergraduates, but he does a lot of my research on the side.”

            “Only ‘cos he fancies you, Kath.”  Pippa gave a suggestive wink.  “There are loads of us going.  The organisers said we have to have a party of nine.  It’s a sacred number that’ll keep us safe.”

            “What happens if someone drops out and you don’t have nine?”

            Kath shrugged.

            Pippa laughed.  “I suppose without the magic of nine to help us, we’d all die unspeakably horrible deaths.”