© Sword & Sorcery Magazine
My first published story of 2022 has just appeared in issue 120 of the online Swords & Sorcery Magazine. As the magazine puts out a new issue each month, and as there are twelve months in a year, issue 120 marks the tenth anniversary of its founding. Thus, I’m honoured to have work featured in this important birthday edition.
The story is a fantasy one called Crows of the Mynchmoor and is credited to Rab Foster, the pseudonym I use for my fantasy fiction. I won’t give anything away about its plot but I will say its setting – moorland, heather, ferns, stone dykes, sheep – is inspired by the upland landscapes around Peebles in the Scottish Borders, where I grew up. In fact, the name ‘Mynchmoor’ is derived from the real-life Minch Moor, which rises south of the village of Traquair a few miles along the road from Peebles.
However, for the route that the hero follows over the Mynchmoor in the story, I was thinking more of the Gypsy Glen drove road that climbs out of the southern edge of Peebles and crosses the summits of Kailzie Hill, Kirkhope Law and Birkscairn Hill. I’ve never walked along that drove road when the surroundings have been anything less than lovely, but to make the story atmospheric and gothic, I made the route misty, cold and damp – which the drove road no doubt is if you venture up there in wintertime.
Also, I think Crows of the Mynchmoor could constitute an important first in the history of fantasy fiction, because playing a prominent role in its plot are… turnips. Yes, George R.R. Martin, you might have made a fortune and become a household name thanks to the Game of Thrones books, but did you ever think about featuring turnips in them? No? Well, you must be kicking yourself now.