How a TV Show Called Roar Led to a Book About Guinevere

Roar_(TV_series)Happy New Year’s Eve!

As many of you know, my debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, publishes on January 1. As we count down the final hours until it’s available, I thought it would be fun to share with you how a TV show that pretty much no one watched inadvertently led to me writing the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy.

Back in 1997, a little TV show called Roar aired in the United States. The premise was that a 5th century Irish prince, Connor, (played by Heath Ledger in his American debut) was fighting for the freedom of his people from the oppressive Romans, while nursing a secret crush on Catlyn, a Christian former slave played by future celebrity Vera Farmiga (also in her debut role). Due to low ratings, it only aired eight of 13 filmed episodes (the remainder of which were apparently broadcast in 2000, but I didn’t see them). The whole season is available on DVD now.

Despite the inaccuracies (the most glaring of which is the Romans never invaded Ireland), I fell in love with the show and the Celts. I began researching them, which led to a 15-year obsession that took me to England twice and put me in touch 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. Somewhere in there, I found out that if King Arthur was real, he (and Guinevere) would have lived around the same period Roar took place. So the research prompted by the show was crucial to making my book historically accurate.

Other ways the show influenced my Guinevere books:

  • The Druid in the show, Galen, was my first mental model for Merlin. The character later evolved into someone quite unlike the one in Roar, but he remained the ArchDruid of Britain.
  • I eventually named another character Galen with the show in mind.
  • I was very interested in the friction between the Druids and early Christians. While it was only overtly part of the plot in one episode in the show, it became an underlying theme of my story.
  • One of the stars of Roar, Sebastian Roche (General Hospital, The Vampire Diaries, The Originials, Supernatural, Fringe), is my ideal actor for the character of Father Marius. His portrayal of Longinus in the show greatly influenced how I saw the nefarious priest Father Marius in my head.
  • The banshee in the episode of the same name had a profound influence on my understanding of just how real magic and magical creatures were to the Celts. She was a strong influence on my desire to portray the Celts’ magic as more elemental-based and subtle than the flashy fireballs from the hands or lightning from the eyes typical in high fantasy stories. (The actress who played the banshee, Brigid Brannagh, fascinated me and I’ve been following her career ever since.)

Years later, I named my cats after the two main characters in the show, Connor and Caitlyn (I misremembered the name, which was really Catlyn [pronounced “cat-lin”], but I’m not calling my cat that.) I also made lots of long-term friends on a listserve for Roar fans after the show’s cancellation, but that’s a story for another day.

daughter-of-destiny-ebook-cover-iEven though The Mists of Avalon was the true impetus for my desire to tell Guinevere’s story, it’s possible that without Roar, I wouldn’t have written Daughter of Destiny. At the very least it would be a very different book. To me, this proves that no matter how poorly received a work of art is, someone out there will like it and it can still have a profound influence on its audience, one that its creator may never be aware of. Speaking of, do you think Shaun Cassidy would want a Guinevere ARC? 😉

Have you ever heard of Roar? Dare I hope at least one of you watched it? Have there been TV shows, movies or books that ended up influencing your writing or your life? What’s your story?

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Ho Ho Horror – It’s Scary Santa!

This was a topic fellow Scribe Kristin McFarland and I talked about doing as an episode of our podcast THE YOUNG PODAWANS (cheap plug right there folks), but instead we decided to do two back to back Star Wars episodes – because STAR WARS.

So since it’s Christmas Eve and all the kiddies around the world are filled with excitement that Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick is coming down their chimneys with bags full of gifts, lets take look at some of the Scary Santas that they better hope don’t come down instead!

Robot Santa

First up is Robot Santa from FUTURAMA! Everyone knows about Santa’s Naughty and Nice list, but Robot Santa takes it much more seriously than the regular Saint Nick. Those who are naughty are more like to get a stocking full of napalm than cole. From his fortress on the far reaches of Neptune, Robot Santa takes cold and calculating stock of who is deserving of presents and who gets swift holiday vengeance come Christmas night.

Santa's Slay

Next is Demon Santa from the 2005 movie SANTA’S SLAY (yes the above gif is an actual scene from the actual movie). The film starts former wrassler Bill Goldberg as Santa, but in this version the Man in Red is a demon that lost a curling match (!!!!) to angel, requiring him to spread goodwill and cheer as punishment. But that wager only lasted 1,000 years so Demon Santa is back to kill people with turkey legs, drown them in egg nog and set Fran Drescher’s hair on fire. Again, this is a real movie that came out in real life.

Grimm_Krampus

We just talked about a relatively new Demon Santa, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the OG Demon Santa, Krampus. Even though Krampus didn’t get a movie until 2015 (somehow SANTA’S SLAY was 10 years before?) he’s the Scary Santa by which all other Scary Santas must be measured. Much like Regular Santa, Krampus brings gifts to children who have been good and punishes those who haven’t. Unlike Regular Santa, Krampus has horns, cloven feet and has been known to stuff bad kids into a bag and drag them off to Hell.

Jack Skellington

Next on this list is Jack Skellington! If you haven’t seen Tim Burton’s seminal animated film THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS then I don’t know what to say to you besides shame on you and go watch it now. Jack is the Spirit of Halloween, but when he stumbles upon Christmas Town, he wants to create a Christmas wonderland of his own and take up the mantle of Santa Claus for himself. Jack’s zeal and shortsightedness nearly destroys the holiday he so badly wants to make his own. While Jack’s is somewhat scary looking, his intentions aren’t malicious so it’s not fair to label him an Evil Santa, maybe just more like a Well Intentioned But Not So Great In Execution Santa.

Death Hogswatch

This inclusion comes via Kristin – it’s Death from Terry Pratchett’s HOGFATHER! The Hogfather is the representation of Father Christmas or Santa in the Discworld Universe, expect his sleigh is driven by a pack of hogs and he gives away pork products instead of gifts (I wouldn’t mind a nice pork belly under my tree, but I digress). In the book / TV show, The Hogfather is assassinated and Death steps up to take his place as a means to keep people believing he exists. So again, not really an Evil Santa, but he is kinda scary looking. And especially if you suffer from Paronomasiaphobia.

Grinch Santa

Now that time has come to bear witness to the most scary of all the Scary Santas. Krampus may be the oldest Scary Santa, but no one is more synonymous with Yuletide gloom and doom than The Grinch! Woe be to thee whose first exposure to this character was that dreadful Jim Carrey remake and not the original cartoon, which really captures to mischievous villainy of the The Grinch. Yeah sure his heart grow three sizes or whatever at the end, but none of these other Scary Santas have an awesome theme song like The Grinch. The GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is apparently The Queen’s favorite “scary movie” so that’s gotta be worth something too.

So friends, are there any Scary Santas that I missed? Let me know!

5 Ways to Keep Writing During the Holidays

Ah, the holidays are upon us once more! And whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or Athiest’s Kids Get Presents Day, you’ll probably agree with me when I say this time of  year can get pretty hectic. Don’t get me wrong–hectic in a good way! Family and friends come together for holiday-themed parties and dinners. There’s tree lighting and cookie decorating and carol singing and (in some necks of the woods) ice skating.

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But the flip side to all that fun and activity–especially for us writerly folks who don’t work a traditional work week–is that it can be hard to keep on top of your goals. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that have helped me keep on track with my writing during the holiday season.

Set doable goals. So maybe you can usually pump out a few thousand words a day, easy. But with a house full of family and cookies in the oven, that might not be possible. But 15 minutes? 500 words? If you set more manageable goals, then there’s less of a chance you’ll beat yourself up when life inevitably gets in the way of your writing. And if you surpass your goal? Then you definitely deserve that extra cup of eggnog.

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Wake up a little earlier, or go to sleep a little later. I know–you’re on vacation. But waking up just 15-30 minutes early can be enough time to set some words to paper while also priming the pump so that you’ll be more likely to take advantage of pockets of free time later in the day. The same goes for the half hour before bed–taking some time to yourself and escaping into your words can be a great way to unwind. (Had a few glasses of wine? Don’t worry–Hemingway always advised to “write drunk, edit sober.”)

Keep a journal. Writing in a daily journal can be a great way to work through the joys and frustrations of a hectic holiday season, while also opening the door for inspiration and new ideas.

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Trade long form for short or flash fiction. So maybe sitting down to work on your novel for an hour just isn’t going to happen. But taking a few minutes out of your day to write a quick short story or flash fiction is a great way to keep your writing muscles strong without the pressure to produce anything polished. Stumped about what to write? Open to a random page in a book, and write a story about the very first sentence you see. Or draw a random card from a tarot deck as inspiration. Or check out this ongoing list of weekly prompts over at Writer’s Digest.

Prioritize joy, and cut yourself some slack. No matter what you do, there are going to be days this month when writing just isn’t in your stars. You know what? Refuse to feel guilty. Surround yourself in light, laughter, and love, and take pleasure in the precious, fleeting happiness of sharing the holidays with the people you love most. This season only comes once a year, and there’s no reason to feel bad about prioritizing yourself and your loved ones.

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Happy Holidays to once and all, and a very Happy New Year!

Books make awesome holiday gifts

This month has many, many holidays and that can be a bit overwhelming for people. So much to do while the time winds away and the pressure to get everyone a present builds while your budget dwindles.

The holidays are stressful.

Gift buying is stressful.

Books are awesome.

Physical books are great to give as gifts because you don’t need to find a box for them to fit in, you can just wrap ’em up and stick on a bow and it looks perfect.

Ebooks are awesome because you can gift these to friends and family easily:

Amazon
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble

All you have to do is fill out the personalize form and BOOM! Gift done.

Amazon
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble

And you know what? Because it takes less than a minute to gift an ebook, you can send it on the day of your holiday and it won’t look like you forgot to get the recipient a gift! Guilt begone!

And giving books, physical or ebook, is a great way to encourage people in your immediate circle to finally read that one book you’ve been dying to make them read. And it’s another way to get everyone something special, while getting them all the same thing without driving yourself crazy! Evil geniuses, yes.

So give a book, make your life a little easier and the holidays a little brighter. Books are awesome and more people should share them.

Speaking of awesome books, I have a new one out now, the sixth installment of The Matilda Kavanagh Novels! And if you gave the whole ebook series to a friend or family member, you could give them six books for less than $15! WHOA!

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Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo