We are absolutely delighted to welcome Barbadian author Knicky L. Abbott to the Luna Family! Her novella, Tanglewood, will be published in 2024 as part of the Luna Novella series.
Tanglewood is a postcolonial gothic romance set in a fictional 1840s Barbados, that explores the isolation of the Irish Indentured, and a unique origin story for the local folkloric legend of the Steel Donkey.
Through Tanglewood you will be able to discover first-hand the talent that Knicky has for compelling storytelling, and you will get to dwell on historical aspects about the history of Barbados, as she seamlessly weaves it through the narrative.
Knicky on Tanglewood
Tanglewood began as the recurring urge to retell my favourite tale – the story of Beauty and the Beast – through the filter of my own curious experiences, having always felt inexplicably strange and out of step on the island of Barbados, where I’ve lived for a large part of my quite ordinary life. Initially, it was the story of Bellouise Dubois and Jean Jacques, as I wished for it to remain true to its French origins, having first been penned by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, a French novelist in 1740. Bellouise was to be the daughter of a former plantation owner, as the original Beauty was the daughter of a wealthy merchant who had fallen on hard times. Jean Jacques was to be a poor mulatto with metal braces due to foot drop, and the metal braces were going to set up his metamorphosis into the Steel Donkey rather nicely.
Right away my fascination was to explore the dark mirror-side of the archetypes of Beauty and the Beast that is seldom explored. I wanted to experience her anger, her coldness and cruelty, and her inability to forgive. I wanted to experience the kindness and bravery he possessed before love ‘changed’ him, and also the degree to which feeling cursed could break a person, make them kill, or want to die. I wanted to know what beauty could mean to these characters, and who really was the beast in the story in my mind. I wanted to know who would change in the end, and what good could come of the tragedy of their having to do so. Then the landscape of the story shifted, and suddenly my beauty was John Jack, a freed slave, and my beast was female, Aoife Ni Coillte, a descendant of the Irish Indentured. Gone were the traces of its French origins, for the setting was now my very own tropical home.
Tanglewood is the story of my own isolation and unbelonging, as much as it is Aoife’s. It is the story of the hope I held onto that such isolation and unbelonging could end, until very recently. But people hurt, and only the land and the spirits remain. The land, and the spirits, and the cast-iron pot of Barbadian folkloric heritage to which I now hope to add my own stories. We do not have enough stories of our own. All my life I have been reading the fantasy and faerie stories of other nations, of other peoples, but when I sought to tell mine, there was precious little in the way of literature to read, for either inspiration or research purposes. And so, I told this tale. May it reach you. May it burn within you like bushfire and echo across your heartland for days. May you get lost in the gully. And may this origin story of the Steel Donkey – of my Aoife Ni Coillte and her John Jack – come to mean as much to someone out there, as it does to me.
Knicky L. Abbott is a Literatures in English graduate, writer of speculative fiction, and wild and lonesome soul. She resides on the island of Barbados with her daughter and their dog Calcifer, where she enjoys a life centred around fitness and nature spirituality. A connoisseur of wonder, of beauty and delight, her favourite things are books, bibelots, deja vu, faeries, fine art, animal rights, telling stories, and dark, dreamy things.
Tanglewood will be released in 2024 - keep in touch through our newsletter to follow the publication progress.
Once again: Welcome, Knicky!