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What do you think of? March 1, 2013

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in deep thoughts, ex-cathedra from my navel.

I was at lunch with a good friend a few months ago, sitting outside at Panera. We watched a raven land nearby, and she turned to me and asked, “What do you think of when you see a raven?”

Like I said, she’s a good friend. She’s read Princes of Air, and The Ice Raven, and I’ve bounced ideas for The White Raven off of her, looking for feedback. So I’m pretty sure that’s where the question came from. And I didn’t have an answer for her. I’m still not sure I do, but every so often, that question comes back to mind. Usually, when I see a raven.

What do I think? What do I think?

The answer is, I’m not sure.

Ravens have always been fascinating to me, to the point that my craft name (one of them) is Corvidae. I’m sitting here writing this right now with a Lego raven on my desk, and a Nene Thomas Faery of Ravens print on the wall. There’s a Tlingit raven on my pentacle, so it is kind of obvious that I really dig ravens.

Totem animal? Maybe. Traditionally, ravens were considered messengers, the keepers of wisdom and magic and bearers of prophecy. In Celtic mythology, they were associated with battle (because of the Battle Raven, the Goddess Morrigan). I suppose a messenger is a good totem for a writer to have.

Now, that being said, I really didn’t mean to rewrite Celtic mythology when I wrote those stories! But apparently, I have — some of the reviews have basically said I’m retelling stories of the Morrigan that they never knew existed. And I’ve had to tell them that they never did before I told them, that my Raven Boys are creations of my own imagination. Or maybe the keepers of secrets really are whispering in my ears. I never really know what stories are going to flow out of my fingers when I sit down to start writing, and the stories of mine that have really had legs have all come to me in dreams.

So, what do I think of when I see a raven?

I think “Thank you, for giving me these stories to tell.”


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