Lune Diary: Stitchwhistle

by M.J. Hearle

Chapter Four of LUNE introduces the character of Stitchwhistle. Often, I struggle with names. Especially, names for characters from fantasy realms. I guess I didn’t play enough Dungeons & Dragons when I was a kid. ‘Stitchwhistle’ came easily though. So easily, in fact, that I had to check online to make sure I hadn’t heard it before. It’s a real danger when creating imaginary worlds that you’ll accidentally plagiarize another author’s work. My imagination is sometimes a lazy beast and would rather dredge up some half-forgotten word rather than put the hard work into creating a new one. I constantly have to challenge myself while I’m writing, asking the question ‘Is this mine? Or have I stolen it?’

That said, Stitchwhistle is not some shockingly original character. He’s a cousin to Dicken’s Artful Dodger and Rictus from Barker’s Thief of Always.

Watercolour of The Artful Dodger from Oliver T...

Watercolour of The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist by ‘Kyd’ (Joseph Clayton Clarke) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I think he would have felt quite at home living in Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree. Or maybe not? There’s an edge to Stitchwhistle – a cynicism that Blyton’s characters didn’t exhibit. When he first meets young Lune he’s very charming, but that facade soon drops the moment he learns he’s made a mistake and Lune isn’t the boy he’s been sent to find. We catch a glimpse of the real Stitchwhistle. Someone who’s crafty and mischevious and more than a little desperate. But not wicked. No, I don’t think Stitchwhistle is wicked. Then again, I have only the vaguest notions of how the story will progress so maybe Stitchwhistle is a villain? That’s one of the exciting parts in not plotting your story too tightly and letting the characters take on a life themselves.

So Stitchwhistle arrives to take Lune to the world he comes from which at the moment is called Tira-Vale. This is a placeholder name until I can come up with something better. Tira-Vale owes its genesis in Tir na nog which according to Irish mythology is where the fairies live. I don’t hate ‘Tira-Vale’ – it just doesn’t feel quite right. Tira-Vale could almost be a suburb in Sydney. It’s not ‘otherworldly’ enough. I’ve put my imagination back to work on the problem so we’ll see what the lazy bugger turns up.

We learn through Stitchwhistle that there is a prophecy about an October Child who will lead the Silver Dragon’s army against the Witch Boy. Is Lune this October Child? Hmmmm….no. I find the prophecy device to be incredibly hackneyed so have included it in the story only so I can tear it apart later on. Every fantasy novel seems to have a prophecy in it – sometimes unnecessarily (see Harry Potter). The whole concept bugs me because it predisposes that we are victims of fate. Or pawns in some cosmic chessboard of the gods. I think we are completely responsible for the direction our life takes, specifically the way we surmount the varied obstacles placed in our path. One person may fall, while another struggles on. It comes down to character and choice. And luck. Not fate. I hope LUNE will serve as something of a secret thesis on this subject. Or at the very least an interesting exploration on the notions of fate and freewill.