First, a definition. This is going to wig some of you out.
Grammar and magic share a root word: grammaire, in French. The same word that gave us a handle for the glories of syntax and sentence structure (I am not kidding here; I love grammar,) is the root of a very old name for magic: gramarye. “The Isle of Gramarye” is also T. H. White’s name for England in his Arthurian fantasy, A Once and Future King.
Trackway and Camp and City lost,
Salt Marsh where now is corn—
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
And so was England born!
She is not any common Earth,
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye,
Where you and I will fare!
– from Puck’s Song, Rudyard Kipling
So: a perfect name for the meeting place of two Britain-possessed people who love grammar, wonder, and magic as much as Tineke and Matthias Bryson. By “magic” I mean wonder, the spell of words, and everything whimsical and the truer for it: something much broader and more innocent than many people understand by the word.
So, Gramarye is a physical place: where we live. Right now that’s a flat in Edinburgh, Scotland. It used to be a small house in Lawrence, Kansas, and before that, a couple apartments in greater Kansas City. You get the idea: it floats. With us. I look forward to the places it will go. Very much.
(One question I have about Gramarye is: Can it take requests?)
But Gramarye is also the meeting place between worlds. I spent most of my life in West Africa, where I moved as a five-year-old, and did not leave permanently until I was nineteen. I lived in the north of The Republic of Benin, a region of the sub-Sahara, and went to boarding school in Niamey, The Republic of Niger. One of my deepest fears is that I will one day forget how to speak Baatonum, the tongue of the people among whom I spent what is still the vast majority of my life.
I don’t like to be asked whether lions prowled my back yard. So don’t.
If that doesn’t sound complicated enough, I was born in Toronto, Canada, to a tiny Welsh-Canadian mother and a tall Dutch immigrant who—to this day—wears wooden shoes in the garden. You pronounce my Dutch first name, Tineke, “TEE-neh-keh.”
I married the most culturally-aware American I know. Who himself grew up moving a lot, and chose to study as an international student in Canada and China.
And now we live in Scotland.
Still want to know more about me?
Besides writing, I also edit. Editing is easier than writing. Writing is the emotional equivalent of sweating blood. I spend more time hating writing than enjoying it, but I can’t stop. The only thing worse than writing is not writing.
I talk to God (and occasionally listen!); I love the Trinity, my husband, and colour. I love to listen to podcasts, discover new visual artists on Etsy, and shop for beautiful things for the canvas that is my home. I do a lot of dishes because, thanks to Matthias, who cooks, I eat great food. Obsessions include supporting handmade products, giant moths, Harry Potter, landscape writing, British history, African history, and Art Nouveau. I am fascinated by the idea of a bird, a bug, a field of yams, a word. Africa used to carry me, wrapped on her back, and I still totter without Her.
I work for my good friends, creators of The One Year Adventure Novel and other creative writing programs for high school and middle school students. Matthias studies British religious history in the late medieval and early modern period. At the moment he is getting his Masters at the University of Edinburgh. Before moving to Kansas City and meeting Matthias, I got my Bachelor of Arts in Writing at Houghton College, in Houghton, New York.
That should be enough to get on with!