Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Nicole Evelina. Tell us, what inspired you to write your book, Camelot’s Queen?
Hi, L.A., thanks for having me as your guest. This is the second book in a trilogy that tells Arthurian legend from Guinevere’s POV, her life story if you will. While the first book covered her early life pre-Arthur (and is important to the overall story), this one covers her time as Queen, the story of Camelot we think we all know, with the famous battles, the Holy Grail, the adulterous love affair, and so much more. It’s the traditional story told in a whole new way.
My inspiration for the trilogy came from reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley while I was in college. I loved that book (it changed my life in many ways), but I hated her portrayal of Guinevere as a meek Christian wallflower. I investigated a few other books on Guinevere, including Parke Godwin’s Beloved Exile, which led me to wonder what happened to Guinevere before and after Arthur, which you don’t hear much about. That’s when Guinevere came into my head and asked me to tell her story. So I did.
Inspiration for this book is obviously the original medieval legends, but I also knew I wanted to do something different, something more in keeping with the Celtic time period in which a historical Arthur may have lived and with the beliefs of his people, so I infused as much history as I could while still using magic/fantasy elements.
How do you use setting to further your story?
Because this book is historical fantasy and I’m taking you back in time, setting is very, very important in my books. You’ll get more description that I would write in a contemporary novel because I want you to feel like you are really there. From the halls of Camelot to the stone circle atop the Tor in Avalon, to the dusty, bloody battlefields, I want you to experience everything the characters (especially Guinevere, as she’s the POV character) do.
Beyond building the world and orienting the reader, I think setting is a wonderful way to evoke mood. As a reader, you’re going to feel very different in an isolated island fortress than you would on the sundrenched fields of Avalon or the bitter winter mountains of southwestern Britain (and yes, those are all locations in this book), and the characters will react accordingly. Being forced to hide your identity in a seedy wayside inn where anyone around you could be an enemy, makes for automatic suspense, while being closeted away amid the soaring towers of Camelot gives much opportunity for romance.
How do you construct your characters?
They come to me pretty fully-formed. JK Rowling tells a similar story about Harry Potter, and while I’m nowhere near her level, the experience sounds a lot like mine. They just show up one day, all “Hi, I’m here. You want to write about me. Here’s what you’ll love and here’s what you’ll hate.” And then we’re off. I know it sounds weird, but that’s how it is for me. They even name themselves and get very pissy if I try to change their names or anything about them.
How is your main character completely different than you?
Guinevere grapples with a strong sense of duty that I have never experienced. I’m lucky that my life has been pretty much up to me. Hers never has been. Even though she had no idea she would be queen, she was raised to rule. She knew she would be some nobleman’s wife. Her mother taught her to wield a sword and direct battles so that she could fight by her husband’s side. These skills plus her unexpected gift of The Sight and magical abilities gained in Avalon, make her a perfect equal for Arthur and are why he chooses her as his queen.
Before she married Arthur, Guinevere had to do what her father wanted (as we see in the later half of the first book in the series). By marrying Arthur, she was following her duty to her father, her king, and the Goddess. As she rules her people, it is always with her duty to them in mind. Every thought, every action, is weighed through that filter. I’m really glad it’s something I don’t personally have to think about in my life.
Tell us something about yourself we might not expect!
I have a degree in international business and never intended to become an author. I thought I was going to jet-set all over the world doing…whatever business people do (I was in college, so I was fuzzy on the particulars). I ended up focusing on marketing and PR, and when Sept 11 happened and my dream of working in the World Trade Center came crashing down (literally), my whole mindset changed. I got a job locally and ended up writing more. A few years later that led to the beginning of the first book. So my journey to authordom was a round about one!
But I have been fortunate to travel to many countries, including England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. I’ll be going back to England for the third time this September, which will be my first international trip as an author. I’ve gotten to travel all over the US for my books and hopefully will get to do more of that as well. So I’m still doing international business, just not the way I expected!
Give us a brief summary of Camelot’s Queen:
History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.
Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself, High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish, and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.
Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.
Amid this tension, a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.
This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but be prepared to suffer its downfall as well.
The book will be in available in print and ebook at all major online retailers April 12. Audio should be available in May.
Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel is Camelot’s Queen, the second book in an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view.
Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, took first place in the legend/legacy category of the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Her upcoming novel, Been Searching for You (May 10), a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests. Later this year, she will release Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, which was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.
Nicole 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.