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E-BOOK AND PAPERBACK RELEASE DATE: SATURDAY DECEMBER 19TH 2020
Welcome E.C. Hibbs
Emma is often found lost in the woods or in her own imagination. She adores nature, fantasy, and anything to do with winter. She also hosts a YouTube channel, discussing writing tips and the real-world origins of fairy tales. She lives with her family in Cheshire, England.
Emma went to university – not to read English, but to study animal behaviour. She loves nature just as much as creating, and she decided to train in a science so she would have multiple strings to her bow. Emma specialised in marine and polar ethology and ecology, has worked with over 80 species of animals – everything from rabbits to rhinos – and carried on scribbling her stories. Once she finished her degree she jumped a plane to Finland which has become her second home. Her favourite season is winter and she adores snow. One of her nicknames is Lumi: the Finnish word for snow.
A Heartwarming Tale from Lapland
It’s amazing, how inspiration can sometimes strike twice from the same lightning bolt – or aurora, in this case. A huge chunk of the Foxfires Trilogy comes from the five winters I have spent in Finnish Lapland. While there, alongside experiencing the frozen north in every aspect I could, I worked as a live storyteller, bringing traditional fairy tales and arctic legends to life. Side note: some of the people I performed for included comedian Ed Byrne and actor James McAvoy! But out of all the stories and people, there is one which holds a special place in my heart, because of the circumstances which brought it about.
December, 2015: my first winter in Finland. As I did on any other morning, I got up, left my cabin and went to work. It was a bitterly cold day: there were no clouds to hold in the heat, and the mercury didn’t climb above -20°C. In order to keep warm, everyone dressed in insulated snowsuits, which essentially looked like a cross between a boiler suit and the Michelin Man. As the first coachload of guests arrived, I greeted and played with the kids in the snow, but then I was approached by the guide. He told me that a little girl named Maddie was still on board with her family, but she couldn’t come outside because she didn’t have a suit in her size. I went up to meet them and keep them company.
Maddie looked about nine or ten years old, and as soon as I saw her, I knew she had been through a lot. All her hair was gone as a consequence of treatment, and her skin was heavily marked. When she saw me coming, whether through shyness or embarrassment, she tried to hide her face.
Uh-uh, I said to myself. We can’t have this.
I thought quickly, sat down, and made up a story for her on the spot. I told her that a long time ago, a little fox had been pushed out of his burrow by his siblings, because his fur was white while theirs was red. He wandered all about the forest, looking for anyone who would accept him for who he was. He went to some reindeer, but they thought he was a ghost and ran away. Eventually, he gave up and thought he would be alone forever, until he was approached by a magical being who had been watching. To warm him, they ran a race, and the fox was so overjoyed to have a friend at last, he swept the snow with his tail. It rose above the trees, transformed all different colours, and created the northern lights.
This story came from the same common root as The Foxfires Trilogy. In Finland, legend says that the aurora borealis is created by a magical fox which sweeps snow into the sky; and the modern Finnish word for the northern lights is revontulet, literally meaning fox fires. My larger series was already beginning to form in my mind, but the myth had touched me so deeply that I knew I had to use it a second time. As I told it to Maddie, her eyes lit up and she listened to me in wonder. By the time I was finished, a suit had been brought to her, and she went out to play.
The next evening, I attended a party. All the proceedings paused when it was announced that the northern lights were beginning to appear. Everyone rushed outside, including me, and I cried with happiness. It was the first time I had ever seen the aurora with my own eyes. And as I watched it, I felt a hand tugging on my sleeve. I turned around and found Maddie next to me.
“Is that the fox running?” she asked excitedly.
I nodded. “Yes, it is,” I said.
After the lights had faded, Maddie and her parents sought me out. She gave me a massive hug, and said something to me which broke my heart.
“I just wanted to thank you for the nice story, and wish you a Merry Christmas, because I’m going to be spending next Christmas in heaven.”
To this day, I don’t know how I didn’t crumble. She spoke so nonchalantly, as though heaven was just somewhere down the road. Afterwards, I learned that a couple of months later, Maddie sadly passed away.
In the years since, I’ve performed the fox story thousands of times, to people from all over the world. I even wrote it down, under the title Talvi and the Stars, which went on to win the 2019 Fairytalez Award for Best New Fairy Tale. But to me, it is always simply called Maddie’s Story, and I can still picture her face whenever I tell it live.
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E-BOOK AND PAPERBACK RELEASE DATE: SATURDAY DECEMBER 19TH 2020
E-book pre-order is available NOW, and to celebrate the cover reveal, you can get an early look at the prologue!
Pre-order The Night River: http://echibbs.weebly.com/the-night-river-preorder.html
Book 1 – The Winter Spirits: http://echibbs.weebly.com/the-winter-spirits.html
Book 2 – The Mist Children: http://echibbs.weebly.com/the-mist-children.html
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