Monday, March 17, 2008

Every good story starts with a good backstory...

It's true - there's so much of every book that never makes it onto the final page. A lot of this is character history and background - everything that makes a character who he or she is. Authors have to know their characters intimately before they can introduce them to anyone else.

And when you're writing a paranormal or fantasy book - there's what sci-fi and fantasy authors call worldbuilding. A story's unique mythology. Sometimes this intersects with real history, and mythology from the real world.

This is what's happened with my Druids of Avalon series, including DEEP MAGIC, which won The Romance Studio's Psyche Award last month. Preceding Deep Magic in the series is THE GRAIL KING, which won a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice award for Best Historical Fantasy.

These books sprang out of my own musings about the history and mythology surrounding the Holy Grail and Excalibur. But I wasn't entirely satisfied with existing stories and legends. So I had to create my own...

Who are the Druids of Avalon?

In my story world, they're a clan of Celtic shamans who were forced to abandon their sacred isle when the Roman conquerors outlawed the practice of Druidry in Britain. Two generations later, a handful of those who survived the purge, along with their children and grandchildren, secretly return to Avalon and begin the painstaking task of reclaiming their lost power. During the years of exile, the identity of the Celts have become inextricably entwined with those of the Romans living in Britain, and the union of these two fascinating and diverse cultures has given rise to a new people. They call themselves not "Celt" or "Roman," but British.

It is no longer so easy to determine friend or enemy simply by knowing his heritage. And in centuries to come, it's the best of each culture that will unite to create a Future King.

And so the story begins...

I. Druids of Avalon: The Lady

On a storm-swept night, in the year counted later as AD 33, a tiny boat navigates the treacherous coast of southwestern Britain. The craft is owned by Joseph, a merchant from the town of Arimathea in Judea, a man with trading contacts in the tin-rich British countryside. But the boat is not journeying for trade; its cargo is something much more precious. The lone passenger, a young woman, is fleeing turmoil in Judea following reports that a great prophet, an executed criminal who had once been a simple carpenter, has risen from the dead.

As the boat rounds the southwestern tip of Britain, the storm intensifies. The captain orders his crew to sail up the Sabrina Channel, hoping to find a safe haven in which to put ashore. As the channel narrows, the craft navigates the treacherous shore bordering the Mendip Hills. The woman rests her hand on her belly and prays the vessel will land safely.

It is not to be. Winds drive the boat onto the rocks; the craft splits apart. As the water rises, the woman grasps a piece of the ship's bow. Miraculously, she's swept past the rocky coast and into the inland tidal swamps.

The next morning, as the winds calm, a Celtic holy man, troubled by his dreams during the stormy night, poles his raft along the edges of the swamp. He discovers the young woman, lying cold and all but dead. Gathering her onto his raft, he brings her to his village on the Druid isle of Avalon.

The woman survives. She does not offer her name, saying only that she's traveled from Judea. Her message to the people of Britain is that of the Carpenter Prophet: Walk in Light. She carries a token from the prophet, tied in a sack about her neck. It's a simple wooden cup the holy man used during his last meal.

It's clear to the Druids that the woman is touched by the Light; it's equally clear that she's heavy with child. Calling her simply "The Lady," they care for her. The Druids recognize her cup - the cup of the Carpenter Prophet - as a powerful relic. The vessel is imbued not only with the magic of the Light, but also more powerful, more dangerous magic. It is not the power of Light, nor of Dark, but something older and greater than either. The Druids call this power Deep Magic: the power of the gods.

The Lady's time soon comes, and she is delivered of twin daughters. The next dawn, she disappears, leaving the infants behind. One Druid initiate reports seeing The Lady walking upon the swamp before the rising sun. But though the Druids search and search, no body is ever found.

But the story doesn't end there...visit my website - for parts 2 & 3 of Druids of Avalon: The Legend!

All the best,

Joy Nash
DEEP MAGIC: Druids of Avalon #2 Jan 08 Gwendolyn risks forbidden magic and forbidden love in her quest to forge a magical sword in Avalon's defense.

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