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.
Even 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?