This interview is with the main character of Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that retells Arthurian legend from Guinevere’s point of view, beginning when she is 11 and going through her fifth decade of life. It takes place in late fifth century Britain. Daughter of Destiny focuses on Guinevere’s early life before she marries King Arthur.
Please introduce yourself for those who haven’t met you in your author’s other books.
My name is Guinevere. I am the daughter of King Leodgrance of Gwynedd and Corinna, his wife. I have the gift of the Sight, but I don’t yet know how to control it. My gift is different from others, in that I can’t see the future, but rather things that are happening now, but at a great distance. I never planned to become a priestess – I wanted to be a warrior queen – but my parents believe going to Avalon and studying their ways will help me control my visions.
Tell us about your family. How did your upbringing influence who you are today?
My mother is royalty in the Votadini tribe in what you would call southern Scotland. She is a warrior and has been teaching me how to fight since I was old enough to feed myself. I love my mother very much. She has always encouraged me to be strong and speak my mind, qualities common to the women of her tribe, and so I do. It quite often gets me into trouble!
My father is my hero. He is the king of our lands, which are in what you would call northern Wales. He is descendant from the Romans who lived on our isle until about seventy five years ago. As such, he believes in order and conformity to rules, but he does often indulge my mother’s native ways, which are not the norm for his people.
I had brothers and sisters, twelve in total, but they all died either before or at birth or in childhood. I only remember a few of them. Being my parent’s only living child means I am used to getting what I want and can be very self-centered at times.
What made you want your author to tell your story?
I have been misrepresented and mis-remembered throughout history. All most people know about me is that I was married to King Arthur and had an affair with my champion, Lancelot. But I was so much more than that. I had a childhood, a first love, friends and plans for my future before I married Arthur, and I lived a long life after he was killed in the battle of Camlann – and no, the monks did not get it right. I did not end my days in a convent; I was a champion for my people, much like Boudicca before me. These are all things I want people to know, to experience with me, so that I will be properly remembered and can take my place next to my famous husband, rather than living in his shadow.
I chose my author because she was already thinking about the hidden parts of my life, about who I really was, so I knew she would be open to hearing my voice. We’re nearly done telling my story now, and I’m proud of what she has accomplished for us both.
In addition to chronicling your life, your story is a love story. What was your first thought when you met the hero?
That he was very attractive! (I was 14, what do you expect me to think?) I don’t want to mention his name for fear of ruining and interesting part of my story, but I will say that no one has ever considered that he and I may have been in love before. It will come as quite a surprise to those who think Lancelot was my childhood love (as other stories would have you believe) or that Arthur and I were childhood sweethearts.
Why did you fall for him/her?
I met this man in Avalon – he was studying with the Druids – and had the chance to get to know him while we studied the stars and tried to divine the will of the gods. What attracted me to him beyond his looks was the poetic nature of his soul. Unlike so many our men, who are concerned with their physical prowess and skills in battle, he dared to ask the bigger questions of life. I came to know him as a kind, gentle, intelligent, loving man.
What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
My mother would tell you my biggest strengths are my intelligence and willingness to speak my mind. But I think it is my resilience. I’ve been through a lot in my life, have had to take on roles I never expected and did not want, have suffered much heartache and grief, and have seen more death than one person should, but somehow I’ve managed to persevere. Perhaps you can attribute that to the faith I learned in Avalon.
I am aware that I can be very selfish and judgmental, two things I had to work on my entire life. Galen, who you will meet in this book, says I ask too many accusatory questions. Sometimes I think he’s right. Isolde, who you will also meet in this book, thinks I am naïve.
What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
There were many throughout my life, but for the purposes of this part of the story, I would say being thrust into roles I never anticipated and did not want. I had to learn to cede control of my life over to the gods, trusting that they would not lead me wrong.
If your story was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
My author believes Jessica Brown Finley (of Downton Abbey, Labyrinth, and Winter’s Tale) would be perfect to portray me. I tend to agree. She looks like me and is a strong woman.
Nicole Evelina is St. Louis historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was recently published and has been short-listed for the Chaucer Award in Early Historical Fiction.
She has three additional books coming out in 2016:
She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.
She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.
Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
She spent 15 years researching Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain and the various peoples, cultures and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome. Other historical interests include the Middle Ages and women who made their mark on history. She’s also a frequent visitor to Chicago, where Been Searching for You takes place.
Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
Historical Fiction/Romantic Comedy
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Member: Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America (PRO), Women's Fiction Writers Association, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, Independent Book Publishers Association, Historical Fiction Writers of America, Broad Universe, Mythopoeic Society, St. Louis Writer's Guild