Faerie Folk: Selkies



The Selkie Legend

I am a man upon the land.

I am a silkie on the sea.

                                                –The Great Silkie (Childe Ballad #113

                                                                        Sung by Joan Baez on YouTube

            The Selkie myth arose hundreds of years ago in the northern isles of Europe.  Stories about selkies (also spelled silkies, sylkies, selchies), or Seal Folk, originated in the folktales of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, Ireland and the Faroe Islands.

            Selkies can be male or female.  They are shapeshifters who can change from seal to human form by shedding their sealskin.  This ability of human beings to transform into other animals is called therianthropy.  The most famous therianthrope, or shapeshifter, is the werewolf.  Unlike the werewolf, selkies are said to be gentle souls, and attractive in appearance.

            In the selkie legends, the male selkies transform into handsome men who come ashore to seek out and romance lonely women.  Like Simead Nair in Ripples of Magic, the selkie is often bound by rules restricting how often he may turn human.  Male selkies belong to the vast variety of faerie folk, and have the magical ability to charm women using their faerie glamour.

            The most well known tale about the female selkie is the version I used in Awakening Magic. In the traditional story, the female selkie comes ashore and transforms into a human to bask in the sun or dance on the beach.  A fisherman or seaman steals her sealskin.  By possessing her sealskin, he traps the selkie in her human form and forces her to bow to his will.  She remains a prisoner until she can retrieve the hidden sealskin and escape back to the sea.

            The children of a selkie and a human union may have webbed fingers, like Demara in Ripples of Magic. It is said that selkie children are drawn to the sea, and that they will never drown.  True fact: The people in the MacCodrum clan of the Outer Hebrides Islands have webbing, called syndactyly, between their fingers.  They claim to be descendants of a selkie/human match.






Demara is the protagonist in Ripples of Magic, Book IV of the Karakesh Chronicles. She is the child of a union between a selkie man and a human woman. She feels like an outcast, not fitting in to either world, yet she longs to be a selkie like her father, and live with him in the sea.

excerpt from Chapter 2, Ripples of Magic:

            By age twelve I was all too aware of the oddity of our family arrangement.  On market days in the village, the children I met sometimes spoke about their fathers. I kept silent.  Many fathers were miners who worked the day or night shift. There were farmers and craftsmen, bakers and tradesmen.  Some fathers were drunkards, and a few were absent entirely.  But none, none at all, were selkies who came out of the sea for three-day visits at the full moon.

            Freyla was my best source of comfort and information.

            “What am I supposed to do with these?” I asked her more than once, showing her my hands and feet.  I spread out my fingers and toes to reveal the thin webbing of skin between them.  “The village kids call me ‘Ducky.’” I wiped away a couple of loose tears.            

“Those are your faerie badges of honor,” Freyla said. 

All five books of the Karkesh Chronicles are available on Amazon and from Handersen Publishing

Fantastic and Legendary Creatures: The Kelpie



The kelpie, a water spirit in Scottish legends, lives in streams and rivers. Some sources say kelpies also haunt lakes and seas.  The kelpie is a shape-shifter who can appear as a beautiful horse or a lovely woman.  In her horse guise, she lures people onto her back, and then dives deep into the water, drowning the rider. 

Kelpies warn of approaching tempests by wailing and howling, and continue their chilling cries throughout the storm.

One can only tame a kelpie by taking possession of its bridle.  Then the kelpie must submit to the owner’s will. Kelpies are strong, and can do the work of ten horses.  However, capturing and mastering a faerie spirit like a kelpie is a dangerous undertaking. I wouldn’t recommend it.


In Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles, Bimi Lightfoot takes pleasure in teasing a kelpie.

Growing Magic, Chapter 2:

All this thinking about my real mother made me so angry that I walked as far as the sea caves.  Gerran or Lunila couldn’t shout loud enough for me to hear them there.  Inside the first cave, I stood on the narrow path.

            “Queen of the sea, come to me!” I called to the kelpie.  There are a lot of scary monsters in the sea, but she’s one of the scariest.  I called again.

            Nothing happened. 

            I got tired of waiting for her so I jumped in the water.  Then I splashed around as if I couldn’t swim.

            The kelpie plunged into the cave, making the water dark and rough.

            She raised her horse head out of the sea.  Seaweed twined in her silver-blue mane.  She fixed her wild, evil eyes on me.  I shivered.

            Oooh, I loved teasing the kelpie!  It was such scary fun!

            I let her get really close.  Then I scrambled up the rock steps to the path.

            The kelpie snorted and bared her big horse teeth.  She was really mad.

            I knew that if I touched her, even with one finger, I would stick to her forever. She would pull me into the deep water and I would drown.  She turned and lunged toward the open sea, splashing a wave so high that it almost knocked me back into the water.

            When I came out into the sunlight, Gerran was waiting for me.  He grabbed my arm.

All of the Karakesh Chronicles are available on Amazon and from Handersen Publishing.

Legendary Creatures: The Bunyip


Book I of the Karakesh Chronicles

Chapter 29: In which Agatha is attacked by a bunyip:


Agatha stared at the water flowing along and gave a deep sigh.

 “What is it?”  Malcolm asked.  “Are you thinking of our parents?”

“Always,” she answered as she studied her grimy fingernails.  “But it’s not that.  I don’t want to seem shallow, but I’m tired of being filthy.  I’m tired of eating snails and undercooked fish.  Most of all, I want to wash my hair.”

“Again?” Malcolm said. “We are not stopping at an inn.”

“No, that would be foolish,”Agatha agreed.  “Would you be willing to give me an hour to wash at the river?” she asked.  “I promise I’ll be quick.”

“You go ahead,” Malcolm said.  “Take Carl with you.  I’ll make a fire and catch some fish. I promise to cook them well.”

With a much-improved mood, Agatha hurried off to the riverbank with Carl. 

Agatha was standing up to her knees in water, rinsing her hair, when she heard a noise that sounded like the barking of an owl mixed with the shriek of a woman.  Then something huge and dark lunged out of the water and grabbed her leg in its teeth.

Carl went flapping and squawking for Malcolm.

“Help!” he called. “It’s got Agatha! Hurry!”

–from Tangled in Magic, Chapter 29

The bunyip is a creature from Australian Aboriginal legends. Its name means “devil” or “spirit.” According to legend, the bunyip is a water monster that lives in rivers, swamps or billabongs. The early Aboriginal drawings depict the bunyip as a beast with a horsetail, tusks and flippers.

Said to be nocturnal, the bunyip comes out of the water to snatch and eat all kinds of animals, including women and children.

The bellowing cry attributed to the bunyip might also be the call of another animal, a koala or a barking owl. Is the bunyip real or imaginary? You decide.

Read more of Agatha’s adventures as she and Malcolm plot to retake their ancestral estate, Hawk Hill, from the evil warlock, Santer.

All books are available on Amazon, or from Handersen Publishing.

How the Karakesh Chronicles Began


The Green Man, from Growing Magic, Book V


It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about my fantasy-adventure series.

Tangled in Magic, the first book of the Karakesh Chronicles, began as a handmade gift for my twin godchildren, then 12 years old.  It was titled The Three Seductions.  I printed out two copies, folded and sewed the pages, and glued fancy paper to the book board covers.

I even drew some illustrations.

The main characters are the twins Agatha and Malcolm, who live in the dangerous, magical kingdom of Karakesh.  Agatha, age fifteen, embarks on a quest to find Malcolm, who is held prisoner by an evil warlock.

During the next five years, I wrote stories for magazines.  One of my short stories was published in Stinkwaves.  The editors of Stinkwaves, Nicole and Tevin Hansen, sent out a call for submissions to their authors.  I offered the first chapters of The Three Seductions.  They wrote back: Send the whole book.

Handersen Publishing is a small independent press that carries the work of the editors as well as a widespread group of authors.  As a team, the Hansens are both accessible and talented. 

We ended up merging two short novels together: Agatha’s search for Malcolm, and their harrowing journey back to Hawk Hill to repossess their home from the greedy warlock, Santer.  In order to keep track of their wanderings across Karakesh, I made a map.

Tangled in Magic appeared in print in 2017, with illustrations by Alison Gagne Hansen.

Carl III by Alison Gagne Hansen

But I couldn’t stop writing about the kingdom of Karakesh.  I had so many questions: Who was the little girl Agatha found staked out to die in the forest?  What happened to her?  The answers came in Book II, Guided by Magic (2018).  In that book, two sisters are kidnapped and put to work in the dwarves’ mines.  Such practices surely caused trouble in Karakesh.  My wonderings about Karakesh’s royal government merged with a selkie legend to inspire Book III, Awakening Magic (2019).  What if a girl is half selkie and half human?  Does she belong on land or in the sea? Demara faced that problem in Book IV, Ripples of Magic (2019).

The final published book of the Karakesh Chronicles follows Bimi Lightfoot, the adopted brother of Demara from Book IV.  Bimi Lightfoot’s faerie mother gave him away when he was a baby.  But who is his father?  Someday, Bimi promises himself, he’ll seek out both his parents.

That day comes sooner than Bimi expects, when his faerie cousin, Liri Flare, sweeps him into the sky on a mission to steal a horse.  Once away from his adoptive family, Bimi sets out to find his mother and learn the truth about his father.  He gets help from some of the magical folk of Karakesh, but other encounters are downright life-threatening. 

What started out as a present for two children in the family expanded into the realization of a lifelong dream: to have my stories (and illustrations) published.  It’s been a great gift.

Find the Karakesh Chronicles on Amazon at


or from www.handersenpublishing.com

Preview: Growing Magic (Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles



Chapter 1

            My faerie mother didn’t want me.  She gave me my name, Bimi Lightfoot, and then she gave me away.  Who was she? I was wondering about her again, hiding from my stepfather under an overturned rowboat.  The boat’s drying wood smelled warm and fishy.  I dug up some sand crabs and made a little house for them out of shells and driftwood.  The crunch of footsteps in the sand made me look up.

            Yellow boots.

            Right next to the boat.

            No one in Karakesh wore fancy yellow boots.

            Bang! Bang!

            Yellow boots pounded on the boat.

            “Bimi Lightfoot!  I know you’re under there!  Come out and greet your cousin, Liri Flare!”

            Cousin?  Liri Flare?

This would be the faerie cousin who gave me to Demara, my so-called sister, when I was a baby.   Demara was only thirteen years old back then, so she handed me off to her mother, Lunila, like I was a sour pear or a rotten potato.

Bang! Bang!

 “Come out, I say!”

I stuck my head out.  He was all yellow.  His clothes were yellow, and so was his hair.  Even his skin was pale yellow.

“All the way, you scamp!” said the Yellow Boots.

I crawled out.

He swept off his pointed yellow hat.

“Liri Flare, faerie extraordinaire,” he said.  He had a big smile, like my sister’s father, Simead Nair.  Simead Nair was a selkie, a seal person.  Selkies are a kind of faerie.  Maybe all faeries had big smiles with big white teeth.

I knew Liri Flare was the faerie that had given me to Demara.  But I didn’t know much about anything else.  I’d never gone beyond Karakesh Village.  The family wouldn’t let me.

“You can’t go anywhere until you learn to behave,” said Lunila.

Lunila was my so-called mother in this family.  Earlier this morning, when I was down on the beach, I’d heard her calling me.

“Bimi Lightfoot!  You bad boy!  You get back here!”

She was standing on the cottage porch.  I pretended I didn’t hear her.  She’s not my real mother, so I didn’t have to do what she said.  I kept walking down the beach toward the sea caves.

Anyone could see that I didn’t belong in this family.  They all had skin the color of dark honey.  I was so pale that you could see my veins.  Sometimes my skin looked light green, like the inside of a grass stem.  My real family–my faerie family–lived at Hawk Hill, in the woods and in the mounds.  Faeries.

“Stand up and let me look at you!” Liri Flare commanded.

He sounded like my stepfather, Gerran.  Always telling me what to do, and how to behave.  Behaving was boring.

But now here was a yellow cousin in yellow boots.  Suddenly things weren’t boring anymore.


Liri Flare sweeps Bimi up into the sky on a mission to steal a horse.  Once away from his adoptive family, Bimi sets out to find his mother and learn the truth about his father.  He gets help from some of the magical folk of Karakesh, but other encounters are downright life-threatening.  Does Bimi find what he seeks on his quest? 


Growing Magic will be available soon from Handersen Publishing and Amazon books. In the meantime, catch up with the adventures of Agatha, Malcolm, Sada, Rami, and Demara in the first four books of the Karakesh Chronicles.



Welcome new followers! Thanks for reading!

Coming soon: Growing Magic–Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles

Bimi Lightfoot’s faerie mother gave him away when he was a baby.  But who is his father?  Someday, Bimi promises himself, he’ll seek out both his parents.  That day comes sooner than Bimi expects, when his faerie cousin, Liri Flare, sweeps him into the sky on a mission to steal a horse.  Once away from his adoptive family, Bimi sets out to find his mother and learn the truth about his father.  He gets help from some of the magical folk of Karakesh, but other encounters are downright life-threatening.  Does Bimi find what he seeks on his quest? 

Look for Growing Magic (I’ll let you know the launch date) and the other Karakesh Chronicles at



Tangled in Magic: the beginning of the Karakesh Chronicles

Chapter One

Agatha Flees Hawk Hill

Agatha strapped her dagger around her hips, preparing to escape from her childhood home. At fifteen, she refused to be married off against her will. Her uncle Chaucey may have considered Santer, his counselor, an acceptable husband, but she did not.

Santer was half-warlock. He had left his apprenticeship early to manage Sir Chaucey’s lands. Fifteen years younger than Chaucey, the counselor was still old in Agatha’s eyes. He was a slim cobra of a man, given to wearing hooded tunics and sliding soundlessly through the stone hallways.

Agatha had always avoided his company. His slitted gaze made her uneasy. Everything about the older man repulsed her, from his yellowed teeth to the way he flicked his tongue like a snake.

She would not stay in the manse another day. Instead she would run away to seek her twin brother, Malcolm.

Until today, Agatha believed her twin brother had drowned, along with their parents. But after a surprise visit from Aunt Viola, news of her brother set her head spinning.

Her twin brother could still be alive.

Agatha descended the spiral stairs in her soft boots. No one intercepted her. Chaucey and Santer were snoring at the oak table, their heads resting on their arms, legs flung out and loose. The strong sleeping potion she had dropped into their goblets after supper had done its work.

Sliding past them, Agatha paused for one last look at Chaucey, her guardian for the past three years. His beard, once reddish-brown, was now dull and threaded with gray. His eyes, even in rest, were wreathed in wrinkles.

“He was not unkind to me,” Agatha thought, “but he did not care for me. He only cared for his dogs and his birds.”

She didn’t spare a glance for Santer, the counselor. Good at his job of managing the estate, the man was a snake in all other respects.

Agatha left through the scullery door.

By the light of the moon, she crept out to the stable of Hawk Hill Manse, and hastily tightened the girth on the saddle of her gray mare, Manakshi–a gift from Aunt Viola for Agatha’s fifteenth birthday.

Manakshi nuzzled Agatha’s cloak looking for a treat while she fixed the saddlebags. She froze when the horse knocked into a wooden bucket. The clatter it made on the cobbles disturbed the birds in the mews.

She began to lead Manakshi past the mews to the stable door when there was a rush of beating wings.

Archer, her uncle’s prize gyrfalcon, left her perch and landed on the grille. Agatha stifled a squeak of surprise. She stared nervously at the bird who stared back with unblinking onyx eyes.

“Take me with you,” said Archer.

Agatha soon learns that Archer is a valuable companion on her quest. She also discovers that Santer is pursuing her. Meanwhile, Malcolm records his harrowing adventures in a journal. Will Agatha reach Malcolm before Santer succeeds in destroying them both?

Tangled in Magic is also available at www.handersenpublishing.com

Awakening Magic: how it begins

(Illustrations by Matthew Wall)

Part I

Chapter 1


            When Orgull, the foreman at the Red Thunder Mine, made his plans to kidnap Prince Emric, the dwarf didn’t think past the satisfaction of revenge.  The High King’s edict, banning slavery from all the dwarves’ mines and forges, had almost ruined the miners’ livelihood. 

            But Orgull also had a personal vendetta, for his face and body bore the scars of burns inflicted on him by the king’s advisor, Lord Malcolm of Hawk Hill. 

            In his hut at the Red Thunder Mine, Orgull sat at the table with the slave trader, Morg. 

            Rubbing his palms together, Orgull then spread out his fingers and studied the shiny, raised scars that covered his hands. 

            “I expect that Lord Malcolm, as a loyal subject of King Karbac, will be drawn into the search for the Prince,” Orgull said. “He’ll come to me like a moth to a flame.”

            Morg shook his head and scowled. “That Lord Malcolm is a powerful warlock,” he said.  “Ye’ll not be challenging his magic.”

            “Oh, not face to face,” Orgull grinned, showing his blackened teeth.  “I’ll shoot him down from afar, when he’s unsuspecting, like.”

            “Murder from behind?” Morg frowned.  “That’s not the dwarf way.”

            “Oh, and should I invite him to tea first?” Orgull said.  “Look at these hands, and this face,” he said.  “Was that a fair fight?”

            Morg shook his head again.  He’d already heard this speech from Orgull many times. “Where will ye put the boy?” he asked Orgull.

            “In the Labyrinth, of course,” Orgull replied. 

            Below the caves and the forges of Red Thunder Mine, the Labyrinth spread like a spider’s web of tunnels, winding and twisting deep in the earth.  It had been created, and later abandoned, by faeries centuries ago.

            “But what of the Snatcher?” Morg asked. 

            “Ain’t my concern,” said Orgull. “And what if it does eat the boy?  When we get the ransom, and our slaves back, the king himself can seek his son in the Labyrinth.”  Orgull snorted a laugh.  “Maybe the monster will eat ‘em both, father and son.”

            “The boy is well-guarded, ye know,” Morg said.  “How will ye nab him?”

            “Not me,” Orgull said.  “I’ll be getting a Grassman to do that job.”

So begins the adventures of Prince Emric, the twelve-year-old boy who wants only to compose and play music, and write poetry. His father, the king, has other ideas about the education of his heir. When kidnapped by the Grassman, Emric is swept into a task that demands great courage and sacrifice.

Find Awakening Magic online at

  Also available at http://www.handersenpublishing.com

*I think this may still be my favorite book in the Karakesh Chronicles. Read them all and tell me which you like best.


Karakesh Chronicles: Book V is on its way

Bimi Lightfoot, ten years old, knows that his mother was a faerie. He knows he doesn’t fit in with the beach family who adopted him. Someday, he promises himself, he’ll find his mother and ask her who his father is. When Bimi’s faerie cousin scoops him off the beach to steal back a horse, Bimi’s chance to find the answers becomes a reality.

Once again, in Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles, the protagonist’s quest leads him into adventure, danger, and friendship.

Elf boy 3D effect

If you’ve read any of my other Karakesh Chronicles, you’ll know that the Kingdom of Karakesh is a land of magic and danger. The young characters encounter some fearsome faerie monsters, such as the dreaded fachan, whose glance may stop a heart, or the bunyip, a bloodthirsty dweller in rivers.

Book I, Tangled in Magic: Agatha sets out to find her twin brother, Malcolm, held prisoner by a warlock.

Book II, Guided by Magic: Two sisters struggle to unite and discover their destinies.

Book III, Awakening Magic: Prince Emric must avert a war between the faeries and dwarves.

Book IV, Ripples of Magic: Demara, a half selkie (Seal Person) hopes to join her selkie father in the sea.

Four Karakesh Chronicles are available on Amazon at


or from


I’ll let you know when Book V is ready.