MUSE MONDAY - Savita Kalhan and her trees.
Who or what is your muse?
Savita: My muse is that most ancient of beings: the mighty tree.
When did you first meet?
Savita: I don’t recall when we first met, possibly in India when my grandfather used to carry me in his arms in the mango tree orchard – the only way to quell my crying. My first readings of The Faraway Tree and the other books in The Enchanted Forest series I remember so clearly. I literally lived in the children’s library, surrounded by the most amazing stories and worlds, but myths and folklore were a favourite and devoured very quickly. The humble tree figured in many.
Does your muse appear in any of your books and/or artwork?
Savita: My book, The Long Weekend, is set in a mansion surrounded by woods, with much of the action taking place in the woods. The woods provided both a sanctuary and a hiding place. The tree that was Sam’s hiding place in the book, is based on a tree that I see most days from the room in which I wrote the book. Here are a couple of photographs of it through the seasons.
The manuscript I’m working on at the moment is called Hell Wood, so trees are the setting. Don’t be mistaken – it’s not the trees that are hellish... Walking in the woods where the book is set, I found a tree that appeared to have been hit by lightning. In the book it’s called the twisted tree because it seems to have been split in two and twisted together. Trees provide the backdrop of the book and the mood. A beautiful paradise or a hellish nightmare.
On holiday in Mallorca in August, I spotted this amazing tree:
I’ve no idea why it’s so warped, why it has such amazing roots, or even what kind of tree it is, but I’m hoping it’ll find its way in somewhere, if not in this book, then in another...
If you won the lottery and had complete artistic freedom, what would you write/create?
Savita: There are thousands of things I would do if I won the lottery, depending on how much I had won! But I’m guessing you don’t mean a £10 win! I plant a tree a year, but that doesn’t seem enough, so I’d like to plant huge swathes of forest the world over, concentrating on areas of the world where over-felling has taken place. One of the most neglected subjects at school is learning about nature and the environment. I would put interactive programmes in place where every child had access to the forest, learnt about every tree, its name and the myths and legends associated with them. I’d still make time to write... and finally explore the epic fantasy trilogy locked away in a drawer.
Before you go, does your muse have a message for the Unicorn?
My muse would give the Unicorn a key to the many forests of the world.
Thank you, Savita, that is a very special gift for a unicorn!