“From the coasts of Scotland and northern New England come legends of seals who live among us, in human form. They are called selkies, these people of the sea. While they are here, they do not tell what they are. The stories come later: the white seal maid whose hands are always colder than the hands of ordinary women; the great gray selkie whose purse bulges with sunken gold.
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The process of transformation, itself, is mysterious. In some versions, grown selkies appear on moonlit rocks, where they shed their sealskins to sing and dance. Such a selkie can be captured, if her sealskin is captured. But she must be guarded always, and the briny skin locked away in a trunk. For a selkie wife, stolen from the sea, may at any moment steal back her skin and be off. To restore her seal shape, she has only to drape that sealskin back over her shoulders.
What I have done in Seal Child is to suggest a different manner of transformation. In my variant, selkies make their first change at will. To return, they have only to dive back into seawater. Such transformation is simpler but absolute. Those who choose it remain seals forever. The choice is theirs.” -Sylvia Peck