Based on the ancient story of the White Bear King, East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a ‘beauty and the beast’ story with a difference. I have lived with the tale as part of the landscape of my imagination for years and wrote the novel to pass it on to a new generation, but also to try and understand the meanings behind its twists and turns.

It is not a children’s book, though children can read it, and is best experienced when read aloud – shared.

East of the Sun is about beauty. Rooted on the ragged edge of a modern city with a refugee family, it travels out and beyond from the now into the myth. It is about a girl, and a bear who is not a bear. It is about a journey, a task, a promise. It is about trust and challenge and about perseverance and courage. It is about faith, in oneself and in others. It is about strangers and friends and family and generosity. It is about growing, learning, changing and thinking for yourself. These things I now understand more having written the piece.

The book is about how sometimes we do things with the best intentions but the consequences of our actions are not how we may have wished them to be. It is also about freedom, jealousy, covetousness, envy, hatred, fear and loss.

In the time I spent with the characters in the book I came to love them all, for all their flaws. I had always loved the white bear, all my life.

What I hadn’t realised was how my life was tangled in the writing. I knew how it mingled with the girl and her rival, but it was only after the work was completed that I also made the connection between the story being of a girl leaving home, alone for the first time in the world, and my daughter leaving our small house by the sea to live for a while in the city.

And so the book is dedicated to Hannah and Erin, and to all young people, in the hope that they have the courage to walk their own paths, and find love.

Jackie Morris is an artist and writer living in Wales.