Today’s special author guest is Carole Bulewski to chat with me about her new supernatural, The Piper and the Fairy.
Carole Bulewski is a multi-faceted and accomplished author. She began her author career writing in her native French – Carole was born and raised in the south of France. Now writing almost exclusively in English and living in London.
Carole’s writing weaves an almost mystical tale of fairy, folklore fantasy mingled with a darker undercurrent of urban despair.
The Piper and the Fairy is the first of a trilogy of novels exploring Iris Low’s journey through a life entwined with pagan folklore and Iris’s own imagination which creates for her a parallel world that is her shield against a truth she is not ready to face.
Having been writing since the tender age of seven, Carole is a prolific author, so you will be able to fill your bookshelves with the special magic that Carole conveys as her words cast a spell across the page.
Carole has also written and illustrated a children’s book, although her mythical, magical, and metaphysical novels are Carole’s preferred genre. When she is not writing, you can probably find her singing because Carole is also a member of urban baroque group Firefay, who have so far released two albums, and are currently recording their next album. A single was released in 2018.
In 2020, Carole signed with Dream’s Edge Publishing, who will be releasing Water of Life, the follow up to The Piper and The Fairy, and the final book of the trilogy, The Little God of Queen’s Park.
Welcome, Carole. Please tell us about your current release.
The Piper and the Fairy is a story of obsession. Iris is obsessed with Tom, who inspires her in her sculpture. One day, Tom disappears without a trace. No one knows where he is – no one seems to care either. Confusedly, Iris feels there’s more to the story, things she’s buried deep in her mind with the help of drugs, legal or otherwise, things people are not telling her. Her best friend Matilda, in particular, Iris feels is being evasive, even though Matilda offered to help Iris retrieve her memories with the use of her Wiccan practice. Whilst there is the mystery of what happened to Tom, The Piper and The Fairy is also a story of hope, and recovery.
What inspired you to write this book?
I became interested in Wicca when I first came to the UK and started reading about it a lot. I had this idea of these two women who had this very co-dependent relationship since childhood, and something coming to disturb it. I made one of them a Wiccan, and the other a sculptor (because of the French sculptor Camille Claudel, who was such a strong character with an amazingly sad life), and then the ideas started flowing and the story was built, little by little.
Excerpt from The Piper and the Fairy:
London, January 2003
I remember it in minute detail, this night when I met Tom. When he disappeared, I replayed the sequence of events in my head time and again, and I’m pretty sure it happened just as I’m going to describe it now. To this day, whenever I reconstruct the events in my head, Tom’s voice quickly invades my mind and he starts telling me his version of the story – which, in all fairness, is pretty similar to my own except for a few minor details.
The person I had become didn’t have much in common with the passionate sixteen-year-old who had moved to London in the hope of becoming an artist, but there was still a part of me that longed for something more than a roof over my head and a pay cheque at the end of the month. It had been a particularly boring day at the office – nothing horrible, just the slow death you experience day after day when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do with your life. It was Friday night and I couldn’t face going home. I decided to go out in search of people instead. I wasn’t on the lookout for a man. As a matter of fact, I was seeing someone at the time, someone I vaguely liked, a guy called Alex who worked in IT – how was it even possible that I’d ended up with someone who worked in IT? I say vaguely liked because this part of me at least hadn’t changed, and I was still unable to open up to other people – Matilda and Julia being the only exceptions to the rule. That night, I just felt like having a drink, seeing new faces and forgetting myself a little – not too much though, as I was unable to let go completely and I would need to get home somehow, at some point. Letting go in society was not my forte and it had never been, although in a way I was far more experienced on that level than most, because from a very young age I had been able to invest myself whole, body and mind, into sculpting – this was a different kind of letting go, of course. But that night I had planned to forget about everything and drink a little more than usual. I would just have to take a cab home if it was too late or if I didn’t feel steady enough on my legs to jump on the Tube.
I opted for Camden because there would always be some gig to appeal to me. I didn’t know much about music, just how it made me feel while listening to it, and live music awoke in me certain feelings that were not entirely dissimilar to those I had experienced when I was a sculptor – I hadn’t produced anything in so long that I didn’t dare to call myself a sculptor any more. After walking around for a while, I had finally settled for a pub chosen only on account of its improbably large size and the fact that I would go unnoticed in such a place. Coming from the bar, I could hear the sounds of a band whose name I wouldn’t remember by the time I got home –something to please the younger crowds. When suddenly I noticed some people closer to my own age and dressed in Sixties outfits walking into a much smaller pub. I decided to follow them, on account of the freak element and because the sort of gig they were likely to attend could only be something linked to the Sixties – pop or underground, I didn’t mind which. In fact, I seem to recall that I felt compelled to follow them, much like the children of Hamelin following the Pied Piper – except that there seemed to be no Pied Piper in sight.
I ordered a pint of cider – not quite the stuff produced in my native Devon but close enough – and was about to sit down quietly on one of the benches while waiting for the gig to start (in a half-hour or so, the barman had said) when some idiot bumped into me, spraying the syrupy liquid all over my arms and T-shirt. Nothing out of the ordinary in a London pub on a Friday night, and nothing that had not happened to me before, but this time the idiot apologised, which was rarely the case, and the idiot also happened to be Tom. One thing I need to say about Tom is that whether you liked him or not, his physical appearance was something you couldn’t miss. His extreme thinness and childlike appearance were so striking that he always stood out in a crowd. Looking at him for the first time that night after having assessed the damage, I realised that he wasn’t much taller than me, and at first, I wondered whether he might be French. When he had apologised a few moments ago, I’d heard some hard r sounds, and had mistaken him for one of those arrogant womanisers. But looking more closely at the features of my assailant, I realised just how little he fitted the stereotype, both childlike and ancient, with a thin face and dark eyes that seemed far too large, and brown hair almost glued to the top of his forehead and the sides of his face in an attempt to reproduce a kind of hairstyle popular in the Sixties. A few days’ stubble covered a good half of his sunken cheeks, and it seemed that the head was resting on a neck much too thick for such a delicate face. He appeared genuinely sorry for his clumsiness, and I realised there was no point in shouting at him. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ I said to him in French, certain as I was that he would understand. ‘It’s an old T-shirt anyway.’ He looked surprised for a second, before smiling and replying, ‘Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand French. And that’s all I can say, I swear. I’m English.’ (And at this point, Tom’s voice in my head often mentions that his French was always better than I give him credit him for, and that those were not his exact words.) We had a good laugh about it and before I knew it, he had launched into an explanation about his parents being English and spending the first few years of his life here in London, but being brought up in Austria, in Vienna actually, and only coming back home a few years ago, which probably explained why his accent was a bit strange at times, and why I’d thought he might be French – the r sound being similar in French and German. At that stage I felt compelled to tell him I wasn’t French either and had learned the language from my mother, mostly the swear words because my mother was constantly pissed off with me and the rest of the world. You see, as I recount the events of that night, it suddenly strikes me that even though there were truly mundane aspects to this first encounter with Tom – someone bumping into you and ruining both your drink and your outfit, how very common – we managed to tell each other important things about ourselves in a matter of minutes, although we were still perfect strangers. Maybe this was something he was familiar with, and I would soon come to realise that he liked to tell people about his life, bits of it at least, even when the people at the receiving end of this outpouring of almost intimate confidences – this entirely uncalled-for oversharing – were not particularly close friends. I wasn’t the type of person who listens to people’s life stories, and yet I found myself interested in what he was saying, at the same time opening up to him. I didn’t even know his name, yet somehow, I paid attention to what he had to say.
What exciting story are you working on next?
The Piper and the Fairy is the first novel in the Queen’s Park trilogy. I’ve putting the finishing touches to the next two novels, Water of Life, and The Little God of Queen’s Park. After the trilogy, I’ve got a dystopian novel that’s currently a work in progress.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing when I was seven years old, and never really stopped after that.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, in a way, although my day-job consists in writing scientific materials.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write to music, and by this I mean that what I write is linked to the music I’m listening to at the time. It’s quite clear when reading The Piper and the Fairy, I think.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a journalist. I was a healthcare journalist for a while, and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
In addition to writing, I paint, write music, sing and compose as part of the band Firefay, and act sometimes, in my own plays and shows.
Thanks for being here today, Carole!