The birth of a story: The “What if” moment of Mona, the body in the bog

The Tollund Man is probably the most disturbing of all the Bog Bodies.His face is perfectly preserved and life like. He could almost be sleeping, were it not for the unnatural color of his face. He still wears a hat that was on his head at the time of death. He was between 30-40 years old when he died. He was hung, similarly to the Elling Woman. The noose remains as well. Caption from

When I wrote Mona, the Body in the Bog, a lot of ideas were swirling around in my head. I was interested in Celtic history and archaeology, I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could about it and then I came up with a story idea. This was my “What if?” moment.

“What if,” for me, is the moment when a story idea is born.I had immersed myself in videos and literature that dealt with the Celts, Celtic history, Iron Age people and forensic archaeology. From The Virgin Springs, to The Perfect Corpse, to Confessions of a Pagan Nun and The Serpent and the Goddess, to non-fiction history books, I became an official know it all, self ordained, of Celtic history.

I can actually remember the precise moment of the “What if.”

In the PBS documentary The Perfect Corpse, a forensic archaeology tour of an Iron Age body discovery in Ireland, a Scottish forensic pathologist looks at the camera and says, “I have respect for this person. This is not just a 2,000 year old body, it is my ancestor.” And there it was.

What if this brutally murdered bog body could talk, yeah it would be scary. But he’d be able to tell us how he really died and what his killer’s motive was.

Around about the time I wrote the first draft, the catholic church made a public statement that struck me. It was 2009 and the Church said the biggest change to women’s lives in the last century, was the washing machine. You’ll have to read Mona, the body in the bog to learn how I feel about that.

I also wanted to emulate the wonderful, dispicable Shakespearean villian of Iago, from Othello. He is so bad! We don’t know why he behaves the way that he does in the play. Is he in love with Desdamona, Othello, himself, or is he a racist? I don’t know. But he’s in Mona, the body in the bog too. He’s not Italian though and he has a different name now.

I hope you’ll stay tuned and look for Mona, the Body in the Bog on


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