The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy (Daughter of Destiny, Camelot’s Queen, Mistress of Legend)
What inspired you to write The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy?
I’ve loved Guinevere since I was a little girl. Thanks to my dad, I grew up on the musical Camelot, so she was the role model for me that most girls find in Disney Princesses. When I was in college, a friend of mine gave me a copy of The Mists of Avalon for Christmas. I LOVED it, but I hated Marion Zimmer Bradley’s portrayal of Guinevere as meek and well, stupid. That made me seek out other books about Guinevere and I read Parke Godwin’s Beloved Exile, which tells the story of what happened to Guinevere after the fall of Camelot. That made me wonder what happened to her before and after Arthur, which is something you don’t hear much about. Then Guinevere came into my head, telling me she wanted me to write her story, which I thought at the time would be all one book. I’ve known the ending all along.
What makes your Arthurian series different from all the others?
I think it stands out because I’ve done things with Guinevere that few, if any, other authors have done. My goal in writing the trilogy was to explore Guinevere’s whole life, not just the parts that include King Arthur. So, just like I covered her youth in Daughter of Destiny, I wanted to shed light upon her life after the fall of Camelot in Mistress of Legend. Guinevere was her own woman, independent of the men history associates her with, and it was important for me to show that in order to dispel the long-held belief that she couldn’t function once Arthur died. She still had very much living to do, thank you very much. I also made her pagan and equal with Morgan in many ways, plus her love interest in Daughter of Destiny is definitely not canon.
If you could debunk one myth about Guinevere, what would it be?
I think the biggest one is that she was just a tool of the men around her. I mean, when we think of her the first thing that comes to mind is “wife of Arthur who had an affair with Lancelot.” This really devalues her as a character and a fictional person. As I said above, she was so much more. She had hopes and dreams and a full life before Arthur came along to mess things up; even when she was with him, she did her own thing, and she certainly lived a full life after he died. All the men she loved were important influences on her, but they were not her be-all-and-end-all.
Will we see more Arthurian stories from you or is Guinevere’s story it?
Yes, you will! I’m planning to eventually write Isolde’s story, which already has a good head start given that I have something like 40,000 words that I cut from Camelot’s Queen that help tell her tale. Sobian, my fictional pirate-turned-assassin, wants her own novel, so that is on the horizon, and I’m toying with the idea of telling Morgan’s side of the story, given that there is so much that happens with her off the page in this series. I’d also love to play with how she sees herself versus how Guinevere saw her, and I want to find out what else happens to her daughter, Helena, whom we meet in Mistress of Legend. I see each of those being their own book, so there may well be another trilogy in the future.
I also really want to do a series guide/companion guide that gives you a behind-the-scenes type look at the world of my Arthurian books and goes into detail about many of the aspects of my world and its characters. I think I likely will end up crowdfunding that one.
Unfortunately, none of these are top priority at the moment because I need to switch my focus to books that will hopefully land me a traditional publishing deal and finance these future Arthurian dream children of mine, which likely will all be self-published.
Victoria Woodhull is relatively unknown. What inspired you to write about her? How did you find out about her?
I learned about her by seeing a picture of her with an alluring caption on Pinterest, of all places. The caption said, “Known by her detractors as ‘Mrs. Satan,’ Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born in 1838, married at age fifteen to an alcoholic and womanizer. She became the first woman to establish a brokerage firm on Wall Street and played an active role in the woman’s suffrage movement. She became the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872. Her name is largely lost in history. Few recognize her name and accomplishments.” I immediately had to know more and began my research. I mean, any woman called “Mrs. Satan” is someone I have to get to know!
Not only is Victoria fascinating, but the fact that she’s been nearly forgotten motivated me. As a historical fiction author, I’m attracted to the stories of people, especially women, who are in danger of being lost to the pages of history. Bringing those stories to light and making sure their heroines are remembered by future generations is my personal mission. I wanted to help get Victoria’s name back in the history books where it belongs. I also wanted to help people envision her as a living, breathing person in a way you can’t typically do in a historical text. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she called my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, home for a while as well – in fact, it is where she met her second husband.
How much of the book is factual?
I would estimate about 70 percent. It’s as close as I could make it without this being creative non-fiction. I made up some secondary characters and one of Victoria’s affairs is fictional (but it was inspired by a rumored affair). Of course, as with all historical fiction, most of the dialog and details are made up, but all of her speeches, courtroom testimony, articles and even a few lines of dialog are taken from historical evidence. We even have descriptions of her home in Murray Hill and her brokerage office. Thanks to the biographers, we also have records of actual words from Cornelius Vanderbilt, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Catharine Beecher and Susan B. Anthony, all of which were used in the novel where possible. The authors notes at the end of the book go into great detail on what is accurate and what is not and why.
Why the switch to non-fiction?
I seriously never thought I would write non-fiction. I mean, I do it for my day job in marketing, but I always thought a non-fiction book was beyond my capabilities – probably because my master’s isn’t in literature or history. (It’s in public relations, which is what I do during the day.) But just as the need to tell a character or historical woman’s story motivates my fiction, the desire to share my thesis and research with others motivated me to write The Once and Future Queen.
Is The Once and Future Queen going to be your only non-fiction book or are you planning on more?
There will be several more non-fiction books from me in the future. Right now I am working on or am planning four that are about the suffrage movement, two biographies and large-scale history project. Watch this space!
You are best known as a historical fiction writer. What inspired you write a contemporary romance?
I never thought I’d write a romance. I actually swore I’d never write romance because I really disliked romance books for a long time – until I realized what I really hated was the traditional “bodice ripper.” Other romances are pretty darn good – I’m especially a fan of contemporary, paranormal and romantic suspense. But I still had one pet peeve: most heroines, especially in romantic comedies, are under 30. If there’s a wedding involved, it’s “OMG, I’m going to be 30 and not married!” As a nearly 40-year-old single girl, allow me to smack you. So, what did I do? I
went and wrote my own love story, one for those of us who are over 30 *gasp*, still single and still romantics at heart. I wrote it because I wanted to write the happily ever after I haven’t yet experienced.
There’s a character in Been Searching for You that didn’t get a happily ever after. Any chance we might see that story?
Yes! Been Searching for You was supposed to be a standalone book, but so many people have asked me that exact question that I am turning it into a three-book series, called the Chicago Soulmate series. The second book will deal with Miles (and you’ll get to see Alex and Annabeth’s wedding!) and the third book will be about Miles and Mia. Regina wants her own story, too, but we’ll see how those turn out first. I have no idea when I will get to writing them.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
My mom would say I’ve always known because when I was teeny tiny and hardly able to write, I made a book out of stapled, folded plain white paper and drew a picture of She-ra on the front. The book’s title? “I love She-ra She’s So Pretty.” (I didn’t quite grasp the concept of run-on sentences yet.) I’ve been actually writing since I was a little girl who tapped out her first story on her mom’s olive-green typewriter. It was something about a brother and sister who found a dog in a park. Fifteen years and several REALLY bad stories later, in September 1999, I started what was then called Guinevere of Northgallis and would go on to become my first published book, Daughter of Destiny. But even when I started it, I didn’t think it would go beyond being a hobby – something I did when I was bored. I didn’t think I was creative enough. It wasn’t until March 2008 that I realized what I had was the beginning of a possibly publishable book. Around the same time I read Twilight (yes, I was a Twi-hard), and thought “hey, if she can do it, so can I.” The rest, as they say, is history.
What made you decide to be an indie author?
It was a combination of things, and a decision that I took a long time in coming to. One of the main factors was that it was time for me to get my work out there. It had been four and a half years – and six books – since I started querying agents. My work was just stacking up with no place to go, even though I had people telling me through my blog and social media that they wanted to read it. I wanted to be able to learn from it, which I can’t do unless others can read it. That, combined with wanting to have Madame Presidentess published before the November 2016 Presidential election (which was by then impossible to do traditionally because of the time it takes to produce a book), and a desire to have more control over my career, led me to start my own publishing company. However, I am open the possibility of traditional publishing in the future. I haven’t ruled anything out.
Is your hair naturally red?
Nope. It’s brown, but I’ve been dying it since my sophomore year in high school.
Will you read my manuscript/story/etc.?
No. I’m sorry, but for legal reasons, I can’t. I wish you the best of luck, though!