Nut Brown Eyes was originally written and released as a novel in 2001. I had taken a weeks holiday and traveled to North Western Argyll to one of the remotest places in Scotland to test my survival skills. I had taken only a a small tent to give me shelter a few tins of food and a half bottle of Rum (for warmth you understand). A part of the ancient Caledonian forest still survives there. A forest that once covered most of Europe. I was not really "roughing it" but did intend to catch most of my food by myself and forage for rest of it. I had a small "fly" rod with me to catch trout. A sling shot and a couple of snares for rabbits. A the time I worked in an office and it was a way for me to get back to the great outdoors.
My wife and I had recently split up and I had met a girl who I liked very much and she liked faerie and fantasy stories and so whilst out there and also to try and impress her I had an idea for this tale. Obviously I did not write it at the time for I had no utensils or writing tools but the idea stayed with me and when I returned home I put pen to paper.
Now this is an anniversary edition and so has been completely re-written. I was going to finish the rewriting by using the original ending that I had envisioned whilst still in the forest. I had changed it in the original publication and was going to change it back again but whilst re-working it, realised that I liked the tale so much that I did not wish to change the essence of it and so left the ending similar to the first production.
There is some much more to this new edition, it is much longer, the original being more of a novella than a novel. I have also Included the original ending but not as part of the story rather as an alternative ending. I have included another short novella for everyone to enjoy. A novella Inspired by, though rather dissimilar to, Nut Brown Eyes. I have included a number of notes on the writing of the book and the ideas behind it and what Inspired it. Additionally and just to make your purchase a memorable one I have included the original version of "A River Sprite" In its entirety with no changes or adaptions and this will be the first time anyone has ever seen or read the original unadorned version with the exception of me.
Both "Nut Brown Eyes" and "A River Sprite" have been the winners of so many awards that I cannot name them all here but (and I hope that that you do not mind me indulging myself and even showing off a little) among them have been;
The first award I ever received, The Authors guild, best first novel, 2nd place, Nut Brown Eyes. Forest and Field, 1st Place, Best novel, Nut Brown Eyes. Best first novel; Nut Brown Eyes, New Author magazine. Best new fiction, 3rd place, Nut Brown Eyes, Writing Magazine. First prize for conservation fiction; The River Sprite, Save the world. Best fiction, 1st place; Scottish Schools Magazine. Best new short fiction, 2nd place. Poetry monthly.
The other tale I mentioned that is included as an extra has hardly been seen and only ever entered into one competition and that was "The Guardian's" best short fiction award. It came fifth. Not too shabby out of six thousand and odd.
I hope that everyone enjoy's this reworking, or re-imagining of an old tale.
It seems as though every one does.
Raymond Walker. 6th Feb 2016.
Reviews for the new version of "Nut Brown Eyes" have been rather good as you would imagine after all it is a tried and tested tale that has been reworked and adapted. New readers seem to like it a lot and the reviews I have had through from readers rather than critics, though few, so far, are very good. What has surprised me is that many who read the original have also read the new version, something that I did not think would happen.
Perhaps it is just me but I am unsure that I would read a reworked version of a novel I had previously read. It is done so rarely, however, that I really cannot say that for sure and after all I could not name the number of times I have read "Beowulf" for example and how many different versions I have read, "The Iliad" to for that matter.
Yet it seems that a number of people that read the original have also read the new version. My thanks go out to those readers not only for the additional unexpected sales but for the insight that they have given me into the differences between the original and new versions.
One said that they enjoyed the new version much more than the original as it contained further insight into the story, they preferred the longer descriptions and build up to the story and that seems to cover quite a few of the comments that I have received. I should say that another thought it pretty much the same story but padded out with description ruining the fluidity of the earlier tale. All are right, what can I say other than the majority (so far) it seems like the new version more.
I will keep you updated.