Carolyn Ives Gilman is the author of Isles of the Forsaken and its sequel Ison of the Isles. Below, she describes what inspired her in writing about island cultures, including islands "so haunted by the spirits of cannibalized children that they had to be abandoned."
Once I realized that an island nation would require a lot of boats, I did my research on sailing in the islands off the coast of British Columbia, which I toured in a two-masted ketch that became the model for the Ripplewill. But the islands I grew up on, and which kept creeping into the story, are the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. You find them by going as far north as you can in Wisconsin, then stepping off the edge. They have been a borderland for quite some time. The Ojibway Indians told about a time when the islands were so haunted by the spirits of cannibalized children that they had to be abandoned. Though the child-haunted lagoon is now a marina for million-dollar yachts, I can testify from personal experience that not all the ghosts are gone.
There is a lot more to know about the Forsaken Islands than I was able to fit in two books. The story never even gets to the Outer Chain—but if you want to know about it, there is a novelette called “The Wild Ships of Fairny,” which appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1994. And, of course, there is the sequel, Ison of the Isles, coming out in April. In it, you will find lots more enchantment, lots more boats, and even some ballad-worthy causes.
Isles of the Forsaken is available in tradepaperback. Ison of the Isles is available for a limited time in author-signed, numbered hardcover.