As an only child born during the Depression, telling myself stories became my chief form of entertainment. In college I chose to study Architecture rather than English, however, and it wasn't until I was in my 30s that I began to make my living with words, first in public relations, then as a critic and reviewer, a TV writer, producer and interviewer. Was also a print journalist before settling into writing books. I am what's called a 'euhemerist'--a person who believes that legends begin with real people doing something in real time which then gets embroidered through generations of retelling into iconic form. Approaching legends this way gives me a chance to indulge my love of research, human nature, word-smithing and creative play. Happily, my readers seem to enjoy the results.
Do you use myspace, facebook, twitter, or other social networking sites? If so, how do we find you on those sites?
Persia Woolley on FACEBOOK
What books are you currently reading?
Stefanie Freele's "Feeding Strays" Barry Strauss "The Trojan War" Shakespeare's "Hamlet" Antoinette May "Pilate's Wife"
What are your favorite books?
Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy Tracy Chevalier's "Falling Angels" Daphne DuMaurier's "Rebecca," "The Scapegoat" and "The House on the Strand" Lawrence Durrell's "Alexandria Quartet" Konrad Lorenz's "King Solomon's Ring" Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince"
What books would you recommend to your readers?
Any of the above, plus Parke Godwin's "Sherwood" and "Robin and the King," Jess Winfield's "My Name is Will" Need to re-read Ciji Ware's "Isle of the Swans"
Any message to your readers?
I hope you enjoy reading my Guineveres as much as I enjoyed writing them.
What is your book about? Please provide a description.
"Child of the Northern Spring" is a prism-like blend of the traditional legend and the reality of Britain at the beginning of the Dark Ages. Raised by her father in the northern kingdom of Rheged, Guinevere is a feisty Celtic tomboy who sees no reason why she should have to learn to wear dresses, speak Latin and go south to marry that king. But destiny (and legends) being what they are, she's packed off to the south where she and Arthur quickly become partners not only in horse-racing but in seeing the potential for unifying Britain. This is a rendition in which the magic is created by the power of the people involved, rather than by fantastic plot twists. Many of the major characters are introduced and the stage set for the splendid adventures, foibles, triumphs, sorrows and magnificent spirit of the very real Camelot to come.
How long have you been at work on this book?
Five years. I began research Dec 1980, and settled into actually writing "Child" in January 1984. Completed it by May 1985. It was sold to Poseidon that fall. All told 11 years of research and writing went into the entire Guinevere Trilogy.
How did the idea originate?
Although I had never cared for the Round Table stories as a kid, as a young woman I loved the music of "Camelot" and in 1961 read "The Once and Future King," which provides a psychological portrait of Lancelot. That, plus the work of Mary Renault, planted the idea of using a similar approach for the whole cast of the Round Table, though it took another 20 years before I realized the stories had never been told from a woman's point of view--"Mists of Avalon" came out while I was writing "Child." Then one evening I had been reading a popular rendition of the story when I reached the point where Gwen is accused of poisoning a young knight. All of a sudden I saw the characters in front of me in the moonlight--Gwen staring hard at a stubborn Lancelot, demanding how he could possibly think she would try to poison Arthur, and the haughty Breton replying that everyone knows she seeks out witches and old women in the forests where they are brewing potions and such which gave her a perfect opportunity to avail herself of their concoctions. "You're right," she lashed out, drawing herself up to full height, "I've kept them company and drunk down their liquors no matter how noxious they were...and I'd do it all again and more IF it would enable me to give Arthur a child! Now can you, my fine fellow, say you would do as much for your king?" It was an electrifying moment, and I knew right then I had to give that woman her own voice.
Did the book entail any unusual writing habits or places?
My husband and I went to many Arthurian sites on a trip to England in 1978, well before I found a unique approach to The Matter of Britain. After we divorced I made 4 trips back to the UK while researching the Trilogy. I focused almost entirely on northern Britain--all the settings have been personally visited, and I hiked over countless Roman and Celtic ruins, staying in hostels and sending home tons of books (this was pre-internet days). Occasionally I'd scribble down scenes or dialogue in my notebook, some of which made it verbatim into the manuscript. Naturally the bulk of my book research and writing was done in Palo Alto where I worked part time and lived on nothing in order to have mornings free to write. During this time I didn't watch TV, go out socially or even take holidays off, I was that driven to tell the story fully.