Friday, December 23, 2011

Pillywiggins, Flower Faeries and a Writing Sample

Phote removed by author
Pillywiggins as they appear in Peter Dubois’ Great Encyclopedia of Faeries
Illustration by Claudine & Rowland Sabatier

Among the faerie books in my library, one of my most prized books is the one listed above.  The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries is a book that you could get lost in.  I have before, for hours and hours.  This volume along with Peter Dubois’ The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins and Other Little Creatures are a must for anyone who loves faerie lore.  I’m almost tempted to give family members copies for Christmas, but no one in the Armstrong clan digs Faeries like I do.  Their loss.

Today’s Faerie Friday post is about, you guessed it, Pillywiggins.  Pillywiggins can be spelled a couple different ways.  This is the way I will spell it for this post.  I think in “Darkness Peering” I spell it a different way.  That is something that I will have to be mindful of during the editing process.

Pillywiggin is a fun name to say.  Say it with me.  Pillywiggin.  Pillywiggin.  Pillywiggin. 

Pillywiggins are teeny, tiny little faeries that live among the flowers and often take on the color of the plants that they eat and live among. They have interbred with butterflies and dragonflies so they have wings and antennae. They wear acorn tops and flower petals for hats and flower petals as clothing.  If the picture above is any indication, sometimes they don’t wear much at all.

Pillywiggins look after the flowers.  They frolic.  They make love.  They aren’t a particularly dangerous though they can be tough on those that don’t respect and destroy plants.

I’d like to say that there was more to these creatures, but there isn’t.  For next week, I was going to write about Flower Faeries, but they are even less interesting.  Flower Faeries are basically literary inventions assigned to a particular flower.  You know, the pretty one’s you see on calendars and fantasy websites.  Big yawn.  So I guess you can consider this Faerie Friday post as a two-for.  You’re welcome.

I’ll close with a writing sample.  I had intended this for the opening chapter of “Darkness Peering” but I’m sure this is the only time it will see the light of day.  The scene is too passive.  My heroine is just watching it unfold with cold detachment.  Not to mention that nothing actually happens in this scene.  And there is too much back story.

So here it goes:

Greer Monach heard the combined wail of hundreds of piskies from four blocks away.

The eerie disharmonic sound was hard to ignore even her sleep deprived state.  She had been up all night hunting for the elusive mumpoker Scary Mary had sworn was haunting the children’s park along the river.  Not only had she not found the mumpoker and lost three rhinestone broaches and a pretty little pair of faux pearl earrings as payment, she had been chased out by a beat cop that was patrolling the area.  The nine o’clock close of the park was a long established rule and the last thing she needed was another trespassing charge.

She had passed out fully dressed sans shoes on the ancient loveseat upon arrival to her studio apartment shortly after six am.  She had been gently snoozing when the noise startled her awake.  It took a few moments for her to realize that it wasn’t a fire truck she was hearing but something far more interesting.  She shot off from the couch and routed around on the floor for a pair of slip on shoes.  She tripped over the coffee table as she reached over to grab her keys from her kitchen counter.  She swore loudly and limped towards the door, slamming it and quickly locking it behind her.

She stepped out onto the street and sprinted up Wit Street toward the rising sun and turned right down Front Street.  She stopped in front of Martha Boyle’s front garden and her mouth opened, aghast.

The piskies were at war with the pilliwiggins.

The piskies attacked in pairs.  They grabbed the offending pilliwiggin on each side, tearing at their wings, pulling so hard that they ripped them right off their tiny bodies leaving the pilliwiggin to die of blood loss, the green blood that made their bodies shine like peridot pooling on the ground beneath their tiny little bodies.  Their complexions turned ashen right before her eyes.

The pilliwiggins tried to use their speed and flying ability to their advantage, but the piskies could hop quite far and quite high.  They swarmed the piskies in packs of six or seven, biting, stabbing, and kicking.  Their small stature was their greatest disadvantage. 

The piskies overwhelmed them.

The fight had taken no more than ten minutes from the moment she first heard the piskies battle cry to mass carnage.    She watched as every pilliwiggin was overtaken and she stood by as she watched them fight for their lives.  She listened to their wail for their dead.  The piskies had been savage and cruel.  They killed every male and every female they could and they made no allowances for the young.

She guessed she should have found it a little sad to see some many dead little pilliwiggins.  But they were nasty little beasts and Martha’s front garden was just infested with them.  Horrible woman with horrible little beasties in her front garden.  Fitting.  Greer could only imagine what lived in her basement.

She was four years old when she spotted her first pilliwiggin on a walk with her nanny.  The pilliwiggins looked just like fairy princes and princesses.  She had climbed over the back fence when no one was watching and ran down the street to get into Martha’s yard to catch one.  She was drawn to their brightly colored rainbow wings and their round little bodies.  Each pilliwiggins had long, silky hair with every color of the rainbow represented in psychedelic splendor.  She thought it would make a great pet.  Like keeping fireflies in a jar. She almost caught one and then the little blued haired bastard opened his tiny mouth and clamped down on her finger.  Martha had caught the screaming Greer by the back of her shirt and dragged her down the street.  The woman always hated children, Greer in particular.

Her mother was beyond caring what she did.  A four year old with never ending energy and an appetite to match had exhausted her.  Her dad looked at the little puncture wound in her arm and sent her back out to play with a warning of staying away from Martha’s yard. 

Greer pulled a pen and notebook from the back pocket of her jeans.  She hadn’t even bothered to remove it before crawling onto the couch to sleep.  She always carried a notebook with her to record such an occurrence. This one had a tiger kitten on the front over.  It had been on sale.

She pulled the cap off the pen with her teeth and jotted down her observations and speculations.

The piskies and pilliwiggins had lived in oblivion of each other for as long as she could remember.  The piskies mainly stayed to their territory along bank of the Mohawk River and she had never seen one venture near Martha’s garden before

There were too many casualties to count.  Most of the corpses were pilliwiggins but they had managed to take down a handful of piskies.  This didn’t surprise her.  Piskies were about ten times the size of the pilliwiggins.  It hadn’t been a fair fight.

The piskies were short, about six to eight inches high and dressed all in green and brown with elongated hands and feet and upturned noses.  They would be charming if they weren’t so brutal.  It was impossible to tell the difference between the men and women—they all looked male to her.  It was possible she had never seen a female piskies in her twenty-five years living among them but there must be females.  If there weren’t any females, how did they make more piskies?   It was just another one of the great fae mysteries she probably never would understand.

I just wanted to give you a glimpse at the world I’m writing about.  There is no evidence that pixies (or piskies in this case) would ever attack Pillywiggins.  I came up with this scene after thinking about how a Faerie creature might react to each other especially if one group wanted the territory the other had.  Animals behave this way.  We know humans behave this way.  Would Faeries?

There won’t be a Faerie Friday post next week.  I’m finally going to try to finish The Dark King’s Lover to pitch to Entangled Publishing on Jami Gold’s website next month. They are looking for short fiction 10k to 60k long.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, please do so. Maybe you have something they are looking for.  The link is as follows:


  1. I'd never much considered the world of the Faeries until I started reading your blog and now I have all kinds of useful information. Anyway, just wanted to say I'm glad to now be reading your blog; have a great holiday :-).

    PS - don't suppose dragons fit anywhere in Faerie lore do they?

  2. You shared your writing with the world! So wonderful!

  3. Thanks for the link and good luck with your writing! I'd love to see you pitch. :)

  4. Just saw your post after I drew fairy wings for my daughter. Love the timeliness! : )

  5. I must get my own copy of Great Encyclopedia of Faeries! Thanks for the sneak peek. Have a great writing holiday and I'll visit when you return:-)

  6. Onyx Butterfly - I am glad that you are enjoying my blog. I don't know much about dragons. Sorry. Anything in particular you are looking for? Merry Christmas.

  7. Nina - Thanks for being such a great support. You are a great friend and writing buddy.

  8. Jami - I hope there is a lot of interest in the pitch session. I'm going to try my best to have my story ready in time!

  9. Geralyn - Thanks for the comment. Faerie wings are magical!

  10. Suzie - I really should put together a list of musts in faerie lore. Happy Holidays!

  11. Pillywiggins are adorable!