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Guest Post and Giveaway: Author Anna Elliott on Arthurian Traditions

December 7, 2010

Today I’m thrilled to present a guest post by Anna Elliott, author of Twilight of Avalon and Dark Moon of Avalon about her experiences writing new fiction within the established traditions of Arthurian legend.

You can find more information about Anna and her books on her website. Also, don’t miss the contest at the bottom of the post – I’ve got not one but two of Anna’s books to give away!

But for now, I’ll turn it over to Anna:

Dark Moon of Avalon takes place in the shadow of King Arthur’s Britain, during the mid 6th century, when invading Saxon armies were increasingly defeating Britain’s forces and taking over Britain’s lands. My story is a retelling of the Trystan and Isolde legend, which is part of the larger King Arthur cycle of stories; my Isolde is the daughter of Modred, great villain of the Arthurian cycle of tales.

I’ve often been asked whether all the hundreds of years of these stories being told and retold felt like a restriction when I was writing my own version, whether creating a book and characters based on legendary figures who have existed for centuries was a challenge. And whether the sense of inevitable destiny that permeates parts of Arthurian legend was a burden.

I love reading the original Arthur legends and spending time with all the familiar characters: Arthur, Morgan, Modred, Merlin, and all the rest. And I did use the Arthurian primary sources as a starting point. For example, the following passage from Geoffrey of Monmouth was the basis for my conception of Morgan:

[Avalon] is the place where nine sisters administer genial rule over those who come to them from our homelands, and the first of them is the more learned in the art of healing, and her beauty exceeds that of her sisters. Her name is Morgan and she had learned what the use is of every kind of plant in curing the weaknesses of the body. She also knows the art of changing her appearance and of flying, like Daedalus, through the air on curious wings. As she wills it, she can be at Brest or at Chartres or at Pavia; and as she wills, she comes from the skies to your shores.

But part of what I love about the Arthurian cast of characters is that they are so multi-layered. They can always be seen from a different angle. A reader or writer can always find something new in them to discover. Morgan can be an evil enchantress or a powerful embodiment of a feminine Divine, depending on how you chose to see her. That’s the magic of the King Arthur stories, the reason they keep being told and re-told time and again, even today.

I think, too, that the sense of inevitable destiny that drives the Arthur stories is another part of what makes them so magical. Even if you’ve never read a single King Arthur book, chances are you’ve heard the story of the boy who pulls the sword from the stone and becomes king. The Arthurian world is steeped in myth and magic: the signs and portents, the prophesies the great magician Merlin makes from the moment of Arthur’s birth, the inexorably approaching final battle at Camlann, where Arthur and Modred tragically die.

But what I was most interested in and most enjoyed about writing Dark Moon of Avalon was to find out what might happen after all those prophecies have been fulfilled. My trilogy takes place in a post-Arthurian Britain. The battle of Camlann has already been fought, Arthur, Modred, and Morgan are all dead and gone before the story begins. I loved the excitement of using my story to catch a glimpse of what might lie beyond the curtain that’s rung down at the end of the usual Arthur tales. That’s why I titled the trilogy Twilight of Avalon. On the one hand, Twilight can seem a bit sad, the end of a day, the passing of an era. But in many cultures around the world, Twilight isn’t an ending: rather, it’s the beginning of a whole new day.

Thanks to the lovely folks at BookSparks PR, I’ve got a copy of both Twilight of Avalon and Dark Moon of Avalon to give away.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below telling us who is your favorite legendary character, Arthurian or otherwise.

Entries must be in by Wednesday 15 December 2010. The randomly selected winner will be notified by e-mail, so please make sure you use a valid and frequently checked e-mail in the comment form. Open worldwide.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2010 2:06 pm

    Would love to read these, I think my favorite is Sir Gawain.

  2. Kirsten permalink
    December 7, 2010 9:20 pm

    This sounds great! I think my favorite character from the Arthurian cycle is Morgan le Fay. Even when she’s the villain. :)

  3. December 11, 2010 8:14 pm

    I really like Odysseus!!!

  4. shannon permalink
    December 12, 2010 6:15 pm

    I have to go with Merlin. Love my historical fiction with just a bit of the mystical and magical thrown in for good measure!

  5. December 15, 2010 3:24 am

    When I first read Norse mythology, I thought Loki was awesome. It killed me to learn he was the bad guy. (I remained spoiler-free. And apprently my twelve-year-old self was incapable of recognizing bad guy behavior).

    These days, Dionysos is my favourite. No contest. He’s not the shiniest of shiny mythological figures either, but he’s fascinating.

  6. Heather A permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:07 pm

    I think my favourite legendary character is Merlin. I find the mystery and magic surrounding him quite compelling.


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