Eowyn Ivey's fantasy story, The Snow Child

By Linda Hall

When Eowyn Ivey's mother named her after a character in The Lord of the Rings 39 years ago, few recognised the fact.

However, that all changed when Peter Jackson began rolling out his famous films in early 2000.

This name was invented by J.R.R. Tolkien, who used Old English to represent the Rohirric language.

In The Lord of the Rings books, Eowyn is the niece of King Theoden of Rohan.

She slays the Lord of the Nazgul in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The meaning of the name Eowyn is "horse of joy".

Perhaps it's the "magic" of the name that helped Eowyn write her debut novel, The Snow Child.

Based on a fairy tale, the story is about a childless couple, Jack and Mabel, living in remote Alaska.

Jack is breaking his back trying to scratch a living out of the harsh environment, while Mabel is feeling isolated, neglected and depressed.

In a moment of togetherness, the couple build a snow child

In the morning it is gone but they get a glance of someone darting through the trees.

Without giving too much of the story away, the couple begin a relationship with this mysterious child.

They, and readers, are not sure whether she is real or a figment of their imagination.

This beautifully written book has powerful descriptive prose that will transport readers to a log cabin in the wilderness of Alaska during a bleak winter.

"I have always loved reading and writing," Eowyn says.

She worked for nearly a decade as a reporter at The Frontiersman newspaper in Alaska before leaving to work as a bookseller and novelist.

While she was writing The Snow Child she had a baby in the house.

"I couldn't have done it without my husband and mother," she says.

"My husband would put the baby to bed while I snuck into a little room to write. I had to make that time count.

"And my mum, who writes poetry, was just so supportive.

"We made a deal that she would write a new poem every week and I would write a chapter. Then we would read each other's work, say nice things, and propel ourselves forward toward our deadlines. It worked really well."

The Snow Child has been five to six years in the making and Eowyn says it was amazing to finally see it published. "And what's even more amazing is here I am in New Zealand talking to people who have read it and engaged with the characters."

Eowyn works in her hometown bookstore but took the summer off to travel and promote her book.

"I felt really uncomfortable behind the counter when a customer would come in and pick up my book.

"I felt really shy about it all."

After her month-long tour, which takes in Australia, New Zealand and London, Eowyn will return to Alaska where she plans to write another magical story.



We have a copy of The Snow Child to give away. Send your name and contact details, by October 31, to competitions@apn.co.nz

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey,

Hachette, $34.99

- Hamilton News

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