Please welcome S. Jae-Jones, author of Wintersong, to the blog today and find out all about her favourite character.
If pressed, I would name Thistle, a prickly goblin girl, as my favorite. I tend to think of her as a slightly more spiteful Grumpy Cat, which to be honest, is a pretty apt description of my own personality. Irritable and irascible comes easily to me, so writing Thistle (and Liesl’s grandmother Constanze) is second nature. People do ask me what my protagonist and I have in common since the entire book is from her first person perspective. Liesl and I don’t necessarily have a lot in common in terms of personality traits; I’m much more like her shallow and frivolous sister Käthe. However, there is one thing Liesl and I share, and that is bipolar disorder.
It’s hard writing about mental illness, especially when my particular diagnosis didn’t exist in Liesl’s time and therefore cannot be mentioned by name. I wasn’t necessarily intentional about writing Liesl as a bipolar individual…until I was. So much of Wintersong is about the artistic process, about creative genesis, and for me, that is absolutely inextricable from who I am and how I see the world. Mania and melancholy are as intrinsic to Liesl as music is because I don’t know how else to write her.
In many ways, Liesl is the child I don’t want to talk about because she reminds me too much of myself, and not in good ways. Her recklessness, her terrible decision-making, her wildly varying moods, her self-loathing are all parts of myself I’m not proud of. But it would be dishonest not to write them. To sanitize Liesl is to turn her into a wish-fulfillment character, and while I can’t deny that there is some element of wish-fulfillment in her, she is also as raw and overwhelming as I can be. And am.
Speaking of wish-fulfillment, I do often get asked about my thoughts on the Goblin King. I’m not sure what to say. He is the distillation of the idea of a Goblin King I’ve formed in my head ever since I first encountered David Bowie in tight trousers in Labyrinth. Would I date him? Oh no. My tastes run to the funny, the uncomplicated, the safe. But do I think he’s sexy? Well, probably a little.
Wintersong is out now from Titan Books and JJ can be found on Twitter as @sjaejones. Want to know what I thought of it? Check out my review here.