I am so honoured to have been asked to take part in this tour. I adored the first novel in this series (Harlequin’s Riddle) and pounced on Columbine’s Tale as soon as it was released. Many thanks to Books On Tour for the opportunity to be involved. For more information, or to follow the rest of the tour, please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-
Columbine’s Tale (Tales of Tarya #2)
My Rating: 5 singing stars
Long ago, when the stars still sang and Tarya was but a breath away, a talented writer named Rachel Nightingale shared a precious secret with the world. She had discovered a key to the addiction all creators have whenever they lose themselves in a pure moment of dance, or song, or story, or art. The key had been hidden by Harlequin, kept from us by his riddles and tricks, but now it was revealed by the eloquence of a trained Storyteller. She gifted the world with Columbine’s Tale.
Harlequin’s Riddle introduced a world where travelling players are both esteemed for their ability to entertain, and also looked upon with distrust. The community of players operate by strict traditions and binding oaths, and when young Mina joins them on the road in search of her brother she uncovers secrets that only serve to deepen the mystery.
The second instalment of this series picks up seamlessly from where Harlequin’s Riddle left off. The Festival of Lights is over, Mina is still reeling from everything she’s learnt, and she has a firm lead on where to look for her brother. Of course, as any trained Storyteller would tell you, the answers she found have only led to more intriguing questions. The more we learn about Tarya, the more we see how it impacts everyday life (as it should). That place holds an addictive quality that is almost too relatable. Rachel has once again woven just the right amount of beauty into her descriptions. Enough to “be lifted from the everyday, to be taken to a place of transcendence, where dreams are realised and limitations breached”. And yes, that, right there is some straight-up superb story telling.
If you’ve been waiting for a YA story with depth and beauty, mystery, and gently handled romance, this one is for you. Oh, and tell me more about Pierrot now. I’m dying here, Rachel!
Columbine’s Tale Book Tour – Interview with Rachel Nightingale
Rachel Nightingale is a writer, playwright, educator and actor. With a passion for story telling and the theatre, it was only natural that her first fantasy series would centre on both. She lives in regional Australia with her family, a very bossy cat and the cutest dog in the world.
Litonya and Tarya are richly drawn fantasy worlds – you’re clearly not short on creative juices. What is it about the Commedia dell’Arte characters that made you decide to use them in your story rather than invent entirely new personas for your travelling players to use?
Strangely, Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbine have visited my life many times over the years. One birthday when I was a child I received a tin with two soaps and a face washer from my great aunt. The image on it was a Japanese artist’s rendition of Pierrot. Later I read a book called Chase the Moon, where the central character, Corrie, writes letters under the pseudonym Columbine, to a man she’s never met who calls himself Harlequin. She is training to become an opera singer and struggling with being in love with a highly unsuitable man, and Harlequin is her hidden support. It’s the most beautifully written, evocative story. Then one of my favourite every pieces of theatre was when I saw the professional Australian production of The Venetian Twins, which is built around Commedia dell’Arte elements. What I took from all of this was a love of who they were and what they stood for – the trickster, the talented beauty and the lovelorn clown. These are just some of the puzzle pieces that made me want to write about Harlequin, Columbine and Pierrot.
Tell me a bit about your writing process. What was the first scene you wrote? How well did you plan the story before you started?
To be honest it’s a long time ago that I started writing Harlequin’s Riddle so I could only answer this by looking back through my notes. I spent a lot of time playing with ideas, moving them around in my mind to see what fit together, asking myself ‘what if’ questions and teasing out possibilities. The characters came very easily – they were right there when I went looking for them! But the mystery which is at the heart of the three books took a lot of planning, including working out what had gone on years before Mina’s story begins that set it place everything Mina has to unravel. Once I had the core events planned I plotted out the books, then began writing them consecutively. There’s only one scene I wrote out of order, and that’s one that began as a writing exercise in a workshop. Other than that, I know where I’m going with every scene, so I fuel myself up with chocolate and tea and just get those words down on the page. The aim is not to edit myself at that point – that comes later.
As a writer, what aspects of storytelling get you the most excited or inspired?
In my books all gifted artists can reach Tarya, which is a place just next to the real world where they can find magic and creativity. I think in our world Tarya is a state of mind and we really can reach it when we let our creative brain loose. For me there are two key times when that happens – firstly, when I’m playing around with ideas at the beginning of the process, just letting my mind wander to see what develops, and secondly, when I’m writing a scene and all of a sudden the scene starts writing itself. Some people call that flow or inspiration. Whatever it is, it feels magical and exciting.
If you were to write a story outside the fantasy genre, what genre would you be most likely to pick and why?
I loved ghost stories so much as a kid! I read every single one I could find. It didn’t matter whether it was scary or sad or was actually a timeslip story in a Halloween costume – I loved them. So probably I’d want to travel into the ghostly realms and see what I could come up with!
If you could be one of the Creator’s Muses, what would your gift be? Keep in mind that seven of them are already taken, so you’ll have to choose something other than storytelling!
I think I’d want to be the muse of textile arts. Which doesn’t sound very romantic, but I love making costumes. I’ve made Renaissance and Tudor era outfits for myself and a range of Cosplay outfits for my daughter. And I have a bit of a fabric obsession. Do not let me loose on Spotlight! I will buy the prettiest fabrics there, simply because they’re absolutely gorgeous, then have to come up with a project for them later. Which means I currently have a cupboard full of beautiful fabric, and not enough time to sew beautiful outfits from it.
Look out for Rachel at the next writer’s festival or convention you go to. She’ll be the one in the gorgeous hand sewn Tudor era outfit!
Many thanks for your time, Rachel.
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour: