The Skin by J. E. Hannaford

by Justine Bergman

How far would you go to save your skin?

Welcome to the Kickoff of The Skin Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! Before I get into the specifics, please take a moment to appreciate the sheer beauty of that cover, huh?! Ok, on we go. Throughout this upcoming week we’ll be showing J. E. Hannaford’s The Skin, her debut fantasy tale of an unlikely hero, a bit of love. I’m pretty excited to hear what people think of this one, so stay tuned for a fantastic week ahead.

J. E. was kind enough to stop by for a chat about this story of hers came to be, all about her research, what she hopes readers take away from this tale, what lies ahead, and more. So, keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, read the awesome interview, and enter to win yourself a copy of The Skin!

We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature The Skin. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.

Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Alex S Bradshaw (IG: @alexsbradshaw)
Laureane Reads (IG: @laureane.reads)
Sadie’s Spotlight
Devouring Books (@wilcoxmandy)
Beneath A Thousand Skies
Coffee, Cups & Books (@coffeecupsbooks)
Queen’s Book Asylum

For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.

About the Book

‘You cannot fix this world alone, Selkie.’

‘I know. But, when we die, all that is left are shadows of our lives preserved in the memories of those who remain. I plan on leaving an exceptionally long shadow, filled with ripples of moonlight for those I helped, and darker than the worst of nightmares for those who wronged us.’

How far would you go to save your skin?

I’m a selkie, trapped above the waves until I can recover my skin. Humans used to call us seal-wives many years ago – before they broke the planet. Up here, the magic is fading and Old Ones like me are traded as trophies for rich and powerful humans to display in collections.

Without the Old Ones, the magic fades, without magic, the planet dies.

Humankind has gone too far and someone has to put a stop to it. I just wasn’t expecting it to be me.

The Skin by J. E. Hannaford
SERIES: Black Hind’s Wake (#1)
PUBLISHED: October 18, 2021
GENRE: Fantasy
PAGES: 418



Meet The Author

Writer of words, builder of worlds. J E Hannaford is powered by coffee, dragons and whisky. She teaches Biology in the real world and invents fantasy beasts to populate her own. 

‘I have always loved books. I was the kind of child who thought they were reading sneakily, while my parents tiptoed past the cracks of light from under my bedroom door. Nights passed in a blur of words as I vanished willingly into their pages, lost for days, only coming up for air to deal with the real world when it called.

My imagination has always been sparked by my cultural mythology. From the creatures of The Mabinogion to modern folk stories, I devoured them all. I have a natural affinity for dragons too, after all, every sunset is merely the Welsh Dragon calling me home.

I fell in love with biology too. Marine biology to be specific. The weird and wonderful animals on this world and the legacy and hints of its previous occupants are endlessly fascinating.

All these things – these dreams and fascinations – were bound to merge one day, finding their blending in the Black Hind’s Wake series. I invite you to submerge yourself in a world filled with characters I’d both want to meet, and be afraid to, with deep, dark places, hidden secrets and wondrous creatures.

May my worlds and characters find a home in your heart, the way so many others live in mine.’


Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, J. E. Since we already have your official bio, can we have the MC(s) from The Skin introduce you in one sentence?

Selkie looks up from playing with a small sea-snail, tossing it in the air and biting it in half.  ‘You want to know about J E Hannaford? Well, Theo says that we should pass on our stories to Storytellers and this one was foraging in a rock-pool, so I thought she might do for mine, at least I knew she liked periwinkles too.’ 

Give us an idea of how The Skin came to fruition.

Originally, it was inspired by a picture, which was a writing prompt for a monthly contest of Fantasy Faction. Then that short story in turn, spawned the much more complex tale that became The Skin. 

Can you share with us something about The Skin that isn’t in the blurb?

It’s an alternate future fantasy, with legacy technology and climate conscious tones. Despite the name and Selkie herself as a POV character, it’s not a typical selkie tale. The Skin has a diverse cast including LGBTQ+ characters in both main crews. Also . . . It features a wonderful pleasure ship named Barge. Anything you desire can be found aboard, at a cost of course. 

Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours? If so, did you learn anything interesting?

I read a large tome about sailing in the Arctic and the history of the explorers as they tried to locate the North-West passage. This linked into boat design and what features my vessels would need to have. I hope to return to the Arctic in a future book in this world, so although the time there is limited in The Skin, I learned much more, that I hope to use later. 

Digging down to pre-Christian and old animal folklore in some of the regions covered by The Skin brought some wonderful additions to the overall cast of Old Ones and Guardian spirits to mingle with my fictional ones. I hope to return a few more of them to their homes in future. I could bore you all day with the sheer volume of research I did for The Skin, did you know seals can sweat through their flippers?

What do you hope your readers take away from The Skin?

I simply hope they enjoy their journey amongst the crews, and want to come aboard for another voyage. 

I’d love to say something insightful about climate change or personal development here; or the fact that sometimes our found family are the ones who are there for us, and hold us together, or about how accepting others as they are should be natural. 

But all I really want, is simply that the reader can escape our world and enjoy mine. With all its flaws, at least in Terrania there is acceptance and the hope of magic.  

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

The characters first. I always write open ended to start a new idea, then see what the characters are like. Once I have that, I’ll work out if any of what they told me is useful to the actual plot. Then, I work out a very loose idea of the plot. As soon as I start in earnest, the characters ditch the plot and do their own thing anyway. Especially Sal and Sirena. Those two are impossible to wrangle. 

What do you think makes a good story?

Characters you want to know more about, and a journey in some form that I am invested in. A fully built world – it doesn’t need to be described in pages of detail, but enough needs to be there to make me believe there is a full world outside the life or lives we are following. I love a good twist, especially if I don’t see it coming. 

If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?

Actually, not a lot. I think everything I’ve learned along my writing journey – all the critique I had on previous book that got shelved, the brilliantly helpful feedback I’ve had on The Skin and the amazing support from my beta readers as I tied the loose threads tighter – has helped make The Skin what it is. I’d definitely order my cover sooner. and reduce the pre-launch pressure. I already have the slot booked for the cover of the second book in the series to be made, so that lesson has been learned. 

Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Give yourself time to think. Whether by doing tasks you can complete without much thought, cleaning, walking dogs, or just walking. Have long showers. Sit on the beach and listen to the waves. You need time to let your subconscious work. If it’s always busy, it’s harder to let it solve the plot problems, or come up with the next threads. Make time and space to write, and that’s not always at your desk.  Write what you love, passion shows. 

Have you read anything awesome lately?

Yes! Windborn by Alex Bradshaw is a favourite of mine this year, as is Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar and Men of Ash and Shadow by H L Tinsley.

Scales and Sensibility out this month, by Stephanie Burgis was a perfect comfort read.

Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, J. E. Tell us what lies ahead for you!

I’m about a third of the way through  writing the second half of this duology, which I anticipate having out next summer. After that, I need to decide whether to do another story in the world of The Black Hind’s Wake, or to address a disaster-witch story which is brewing in my brain. There is still another huge project currently shelved which may get some time on it too. Like all writers, I have too many ideas and not enough time!

The Giveaway

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Happy Reading!

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