Welcome to this virtual landscape where SCBWI-BI members share their debut journeys with us. 
This month Helen Victoria steps out with author Tamsin Mori, whose debut The Weather Weaver came out in March. 

Let’s begin our journey... 

There’s nothing like a good walk to fuel creative ideas and give us inspiration in our writing. Where are you taking us on our walk today? 

The circular path around the island of Mousa – wild and hallowed ground. The air is bright with the smell of salt and heather, and the sky whirls with sea birds. If you follow the sheep trails past sunbathing seals, skirting carefully around the nesting grounds, you’ll find yourself at the broch: a huge tower of stone, standing guard, right on the shoreline. Time is meaningless here – untamed nature and ancient magic still rule. 

What about the landscape you have created in your novel? How important is the setting to your plot and themes? 

It’s essential to both the plot and the key themes! The landscape and mythology are pure Shetland, with an added layer of weather magic. Shetland’s folklore is entirely grounded in the land and sea, so a story of the skies sits very naturally in the storytelling landscape. In the islands, the weather can change in an instant – from blazing sunshine, to fog, wind, driving rain, or fearsome storms. It’s perfect for weather weaving. 

As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand steps starts with one. Tell us about your inspiration for your novel. 

I grew up listening to my Shetland Granny’s tales of growing up on Foula. She often described weather more like a character than setting: tricksy winds, furious storms, melancholy fog. Add a dash of Rob McKenna, the unknowing Rain God in So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish, and I had the seed of an idea. 

Now we have got into our stride, can you tell us what you loved most about writing this book? 

I loved immersing myself in the old Shetland stories – both well-worn family tales, and the myths and legends that I grew up with. The more I asked, the more stories I heard! My family can all spin good yarn. 

We seem to be lost in the woods now. Can you describe your most difficult moments when you were writing…and how you got back onto the right path? 

About halfway through the first draft, I got stuck. Really stuck. Lots of exciting plot points were happening, but Stella (the main character) was a passenger in her own story. I couldn’t find her voice and she wouldn’t speak to me. What eventually unlocked the block was rewriting several chapters in first person. I ultimately decided to return to third person close, but it gave me a way into Stella’s head. I interviewed Stella too, and her answers gave me a much better insight into her character. It turns out she can be quite bolshy. She told me that I was getting in her way, by making her too much like me. Rude! Finding the right publisher took a while, but I decided that receiving rejections was an essential step in the road to being an author, which helped. I’ll admit I still indulged in moments of despair or grump, but I didn’t let them become a theme. Having other stories on the go helped me stay sane – writing is more fun than refreshing your emails! The editing process was an eye-opener – several of the problems my editor pointed out took some significant rewriting to fix – but I secretly loved the process. I think the key was that I trusted her, and I could see that the changes, however sizeable or tricky, were going to improve the story. 

As we reach the summit, can you tell us how it feels to be a first time author? 

Mind-bogglingly thrilling. My book came out in lockdown, so the launch was a virtual event, hosted by Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher. A virtual launch wasn’t something I’d pictured or wanted, but in some ways, it was better – lots of far-flung friends and family, who might not normally have been able to make it, were there to share it with me. Holding my newly published novel in my hands for the first time was amazing, but the best moment was seeing it in an actual bookshop. Being in lockdown, publication had begun to feel like an elaborate daydream. Seeing The Weather Weaver in the window of Kenilworth Books made it real for me. 

We’ve finished our walk and now so I think we deserve to celebrate with tea in a cosy inn. As we warm our feet by the blazing fire, tell me where you think your writing will take you in the future? 

The summer it’ll take me to lots of libraries and indie bookshops – The Weather Weaver was chosen as one of the titles for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, Wild World Heroes, so I’ve been busily planning wild world author events! And it’s taking me back to Shetland! I’m busily editing the second book in the Weather Weaver series (yay!). The story follows Stella and Nimbus as they meet the wider weather weaving community and make new friends (and a few enemies!) I can’t wait for you to read it! 

Finally, I have really enjoyed walking and talking with you today. Can you give us one take away tip for yet-to-be-published writers? 

Write every day, even if it’s only a scrap, even when it’s hard, and especially when you’re querying or out on submission. Also, never delete anything – snip it out, give it a memorable name and stash it. It may just belong in a different story.

Tamsin Mori was born in Paris and despite her family moving around a lot, the place they always returned to was Shetland, her mother’s homeland. The collection of tiny islands of Shetland are overflowing with myths and legends (most of which are true). Growing up, Tamsin was usually to be found at the beach, whispering spells into seashells and singing to the seals. 

After a degree in Neuroscience, she discovered that her brain was mainly powered by magic and full to the brim with stories, so she did a Masters Degree in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. Tamsin now lives in Bath with her husband, two children, one rabbit, several crows, and a badger, and flies home to Shetland whenever she can.

Follow Tamsin:

Twitter: @MoriTamsin

Instagram: @tamsinmori



Helen Victoria is a writer of YA fiction, a full-time drama teacher and a reader of anything and everything. When she is not putting on shows, reading or writing, Helen loves to walk in wild places, or hang out with her family and friends in London, France and Cornwall.

Follow Helen:

Imogen Foxell is an illustrator with a particular interest in creating intricate imaginary worlds. She illustrates English literature revision cards for, and interesting words for Her website is Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. 

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