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What I’ve Been Writing: Scottish Fairy Tales, the Gothic, and Creepy Funfairs by the Sea

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

I have good news about my debut novel, The Grief Nurse, which I have to keep under wraps for now. This is the book that got me my PhD, changed my relationship with grief, and showed me that I really definitely can write a novel worth sharing with the world. Exciting news coming soon for that one!

Since finishing The Grief Nurse, I’ve been focusing on my new work in progress, tentatively called The Bone Diver. Inspired by the Gothic and Scottish folklore, The Bone Diver is set in a seaside funfair, where strange things happen and not everyone is who they seem. I’m loving the large cast of characters, including an acrobat, a fortune teller, an illusionist, and a mysterious proprietor called Crow. I’ve been working on The Bone Diver for a little over a year now, and I have about 10,000 consecutive words to show for it. I’ve written probably upwards of 100,000, but, as it goes, much of that writing now lives in my ‘Archive’ folder and may never see the light of day! But this is my process. I write and write the opening first act of my novel. Over and over and over again. I can’t get past that first act until I’ve figured out exactly what I’m writing. Although I’ve only got about 10k to show for over a year of work, what I actually have is style, tone, narrative voice, setting, cast of characters, a magic system, and a plot that works (for now!).

While writing The Grief Nurse, I pushed back against this process. Writers are often told to ‘just finish’ the book. Like the advice ‘write every day,’ it just doesn’t work for me. As a fantasy writer, I need to spend time in those opening pages exploring the magic, the world, the setting, the vibe. This is a lot of work, and a lot to figure out! I’m very proud of my 10k.

I’ve also been accidentally writing a collection of fairy tales. Since starting The Bone Diver, I immersed myself in Scottish folklore. I have read hundreds of Scottish folk and fairy tales as well as books on sailors’ superstitions and plant lore. All those fairy tales live in my subconscious, and I found myself free writing my way toward a collection. Now, I have about 10 stories and am well on my way to a collection of original fairy tales. One of these stories, Windsinger, about a young man who falls in love with a fish, will be published by Crow and Cross Keys later this spring. Another one of my original fairy tales, A Cradle the Shape and Colour of a Walnut, will be published this year by Seaborne Magazine.

As far as publications go, I don’t have much to share, but I do have lots of irons in the fire – and a big announcement, which I hope I can share soon!

Thanks for reading!

Angie Spoto is an American fiction writer and poet living in Edinburgh. In 2020, she completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Her doctoral thesis was a fantasy novel, called The Grief Nurse, and a collection of essays on grief, madness and language. The Grief Nurse has been shortlisted for the First Novel Prize 2021 and The Bridge Awards Emerging Writer Award in 2020. Angie is represented by Robbie Guillory from Underline Literary Agency.

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