Saoirse’s Crossing — Jan Fortune
A stand-alone novel set against the events of the Casilda Trilogy
Saoirse grows up hearing the extraordinary stories of family members who died before her birth or in early childhood. Her aunt Miriam, who believed she had lived across a thousand years to be with her lover in each generation, the Moorish Princess Casilda. Her grandmother, Daireann. more than a healer and wise woman, and her father, Oisín, an alchemist and magician. But who is Saoirse?
I was Casilda’s mother more than a thousand years ago, she tells her mother, Sarah.
Tucked away under a mountain in Roscommon in Oisín’s family home, Saoirse meets Faolán, a local boy lost in their garden maze. As they play out stories from myth, Faolán’s loyalty and love grows, but Saoirse craves adventure and is not easily won.
As their paths diverge, one momentous event threatens everything, leading Saoirse into a maze from which she might never emerge and taking Faolán on a quest on which their lives depend.
Spanning back into the mists of pre-history; travelling from Roscommon to Paris, Prague to Brittany, Budapest to Nice, Zaragoza to Tromsø, and bringing together Celtic mythology from Ireland and Brittany, Saoirse’s Crossing asks questions of identity as contemporary as they are ancient, exploring the lengths we will go to for love.
Jan Fortune was born in Middlesbrough and grew up in Redcar. She read theology at Cambridge and completed a doctorate in feminist theology at Exeter University. Jan has worked as a teacher, priest (ordained at the first ordination of women to the CofE) and charity director. She is the founding editor of Cinnamon Press and has edited around 400 books and led numerous creative writing courses in the Wales, the UK (including courses for Arvon and Ty Newydd), Spain, France, and online. She mentors writers from beginners to highly experienced, across genres and hosts a writing community, Kith, that includes weekly prompts, courses and inspiriation for the writing life via her site Becoming a Different Story.
Her previous publications include non-fiction titles in alternative education and parenting and the major book book for writers: Writing Down Deep: an alchemy of the writing life (available as both hardback and paperback editions) ; the novels Dear Ceridwen and Coming Home. Her previous poetry collections include Particles of Life (BlueChrome), Slate Voices (a collaborative collection with Mavis Gulliver), Stale Bread & Miracles, Edge (a companion to Adam Craig’s Year W), and Turn/Return, a pamphlet inspired by Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards. Her most recent work is the Casilda Trilogy of novels, This is the End of the Story, A Remedy for All Things and For Hope Is Always Born, and Saoirse’s Crossing is the spin-off, stand-alone novel from this sequence.
Her cross-over novels re-envisaging the Arthurian legends in a near-future authoritarian UK are The Standing Ground (originally published in 2008 and being relaunched in a new edition in autumn 2021) and The Roots of the Ground, written during the first UK lockdown as a live project with a group of writers as daily audience for first draft readings, and also due out in autumn 2021.
She is currently working on a haiku and lyric sequence tracking the seasons of a forest.
Jan is in the last stages of qualifiying as an aromatherapist, about to begin her second intensive apprenticeship in herbalism and is currently training as a yoga nidrā teacher. She lives in a surviving area of ancient forest in Finistère, Brittany.