THE GREEN AND THE BLACK was originally going to be about Kobolds, the goblinesque things that knock in coal mines.
Goblins in the deep places have haunted my dreams since a first read of THE HOBBIT, way back in 1968, and I’ve long wanted to do a modern times novel with them at the center of things. I started one a while back, but that fizzled out and ended up as a story in Dark Melodies. And similarly, when I got to the point in THE GREEN AND THE BLACK for the reveal, there was something else behind the curtain.
The wee folk who turn up drinking and singing in the mines and the camp are close cousins to goblins of course, but give off the appearance of being something more jolly, at first glance at least.
I dredged these ones up out of some old Scottish tales originally, of people being trapped in fairyland after overindulging in booze and song and dance at the wee folks’ party.
And then things took an even darker turn, when I realized what song it was they were always singing in my story. I have my auld grannie to thank for all the snippets of folk songs, lullabyes, show tunes and hymns that provide me with regular earworms. One of those is prominent throughout THE GREEN AND THE BLACK.
The dolls of stick, leaf and branch that became a motif throughout likewise came from old stories from home. Originally, they were going to be scarecrows, with goblins inside, but they too took another turn, when I realized the wood and leaf was still alive, still capable of taking root, and growing.
Some of my family did spells as coal miners, back in the auld country, and their tales too found their way in into the mix, of friendship and bonds, of dark places and sudden deaths.
Mix all of that in with some of my archaeology experience and you can see that THE GREEN AND THE BLACK came from a soup of influences from a lifetime of songs and stories.
I said what I wanted to say, and got out before I dredged up anything more to complicate things further.
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