Winter Tales edited by Margrét Helgadóttir
Cover Art by S.L. Johnson
Winter is coming. Frost pierces through everything, harsh winter storms rage and the sun is leaving, not to return for many months. Winter is gruesome and cold a dark time that seems to never end. But it’s not the whole picture. There is beauty and magic. There is the deep dark forest where pine trees reach for the sky, mountains looming under the green northern lights, wolf packs who howl to the moon, and the vast plains covered by deep snow, the ice crystals glinting like stars in the pale moonlight.
When the temperatures drop, people and creatures gather around the camp fires to share warmth, friendship and tales, to chase away the frost and the knowledge of the terrifying creatures lurking in the darkness.
We are collecting these winter tales, to chase away the grim winter and bring you the wonders and magic of the winter.
Su Haddrell: The Bothy
Sharon Kernow: The Wolf Moon
Opening Paragraphs of Winter Tales
Midwinter. North and ever north Dromgoole goes, walking the lonely roads; a man in the greasy black suit of a priest and what looks like a Punch and Judy rig on his back. It isn’t, but he’s squawked through a swazzle in his time, thrown a baby or two from the stage. Punch earns him a crust, gets him through the green months, but it isn’t his true calling. The wind that nips at his heels now is better than any Toby dog.
Dromgoole is as bald and freckled as a wren’s egg, his eyes bright grey, and he’s lost several fingers to frostbite. He flaunts the blackened stumps quite proudly, claims they make him a better puppeteer. He takes a room at an inn decked with evergreens for the oncoming solstice, and in the taproom chooses a seat well away from the fire.
‘I’m worried,’ he says, ‘that my players will burn.’ He means his puppets, though the heat seems to pain him too.
He says no to mulled wine and a steaming pie, taking instead a few cooled scraps of meat. He asks for a cup of water. They have to crack the ice on the fountain to draw it. He drinks with gusto, though surely his teeth must sing with pain. For all his oddness he isn’t a difficult guest.
He sets up his theatre in the town square. The stage is only small but has curtains that are sometimes snow-white,
then ice-blue, and if the wind picks up they turn tremulous colours like an aurora. There’s a crescent moon at its top;
he covered a Punch-head in silver foil to save some pennies. He’ll show nobody his puppets till it’s time. In his room he fusses and frets over them, unsnarling strings.