Sunday, 8 January 2012

When To Stop? By Lynne Garner

When I first started writing professionally in the mid 1990's I produced non-fiction features for magazines. I still write non-fiction; in fact I had a title published last year, this being The Greatest Guide To Green Living.

Research has therefore always been part of the writing process for me. Although I know the subjects I write about there are always new things to learn. So when researching for non-fiction I know what I need to know and research until I fill that knowledge gap. But when it comes to researching for my fiction I have discovered a weakness. I love researching. I mean, I really enjoy the process of learning new things, getting side tracked and discovering something completely unexpected. Take for example my latest early readers eBook Maras and The Fairy Rings ( -

I've always been interested in the natural world and had often wondered what produces the dark circles in the grass on our local playing field.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a fungus creates them. You see I love to spot mushrooms in the local woods, they're overlooked by so many. Problem was my research didn't finished there. I continued to read and discovered amongst many other lovely facts:

  • There are approximately 60 mushroom species that grow in a ring pattern
  • There are two recognised types of fairy ring fungus - tethered (grows around a tree, in harmony with that tree) and free (not connected with another form of living organism e.g. a tree)
  • They can survive for hundreds of years. The largest ever found (in France) is around 2,000 ft (600 m) across and is believed to be over 700 years old.

However I also started to read the many myths associated with this type of fungus including:

  • They have many names including fairy rings, elf rings, sorcerer's rings (in France) and witches rings (in Germany). In the Netherlands the circles are believed to be created by the Devil, when he puts down his milk churn, (further research needed for that one I feel).
  • Some folklore states that if you try to cross an elf ring you'll not make it to the other side but become caught forever, like a fly in amber.
  • Other stories tell of how the mushrooms are used as tables by some fairies whilst other uses them as parasols and umbrellas.

As you can see I could have spent months delving deeper and deeper into this one subject. Thankfully the urge to write my book (Maras and The Fairy Rings) forced me to stop. However perhaps the one benefit of all this research is I have another idea forming and for this title (provisionally called Maras and The Elf Ring) I won't have to do any research.

Well... I might, just a little. I'm sure I have a small knowledge gap in all things elf.

Lynne Garner

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Susan Price said...

Love this, Lynne! I never knew about 'tethered' mushroom rings. Trees are such fascinating things, and here they are forming a sort of community with fungus.
And I thought I was well-up o folklore, but you've taught me several things I didn't know. Beautiful book cover too.

madwippitt said...

Fascinating stuff! I shall tread with care round the edge of them in future ...

Lynne Garner said...

Thanks - and Sue I"m in smug mode that I've taught you something as until now it's always been the other way around.

Debbie said...

When we moved into our house nearly 17 years ago, I didn't think I could have children, having had 4 miscarriages. There was a complete mushroom fairy ring in the garden and one evening I stood in it and made a wish. I was pregnant a month later. The fairy ring never came back. True story - honestly. It may co-incidence, it may be that because we'd stopped trying and worrying, that it would have happened anyway. But I like to think there was a little bit of magic around that night.

Guernsey Girl said...

I love both stories - yours and Debbie's.My own research took me to a 'fairy ring' in Guernsey called 'La Table de Pions.' This one has nothing to do with fungi, though. It's a stone table, raised above the earth with small boulders, like seats, all around it. At night this is where the elves and fairies are supposed to come out to play....