Helen Hollick Interview
February 23, 2009
the author of The Kingmaking
I was pleased to welcome Helen Hollick to the blog on February 23, 2009, for an interview about her novel The Kingmaking, recently released in a new edition by Sourcebooks. It's the first volume in her Pendragon's Banner trilogy about King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in a realistic Dark Age setting.
So many novels have been written about King Arthur, in such a wide range of settings and styles. What new thing did you see in this story that inspired you to reimagine it once more in The Kingmaking?
I wanted to write what might have really happened. The familiar stories of the Round Table, Holy Grail and Knights in Armour are all Medieval tales, and I did not like them very much. If there was a real Arthur he would have lived circa 450-550: in the Dark Ages between the going of the Romans and the coming of the Anglo-Saxons, when there was a power vacuum for supremacy.
I wanted to write my version without myth, magic or fantasy. There are no knights in armour in my story, no Lancelot, no magic, no Merlin. Instead, I researched the early Welsh legends of Arthur, and discovered a very different version of events that are far more emotionally exciting than the tales we are familiar with,
Fifth-century Britain seems so remote and different from our modern world. What similarities did you see between Arthur's time and our own that makes you feel his story is still relevant?
People do not change. The men and women of 500 AD lived and laughed, cried and got angry just as we do. They rode horses, made their clothes, cooked their meals, faced horrors, made friends. Babies were born, babies died. It is those things, the everyday things of life that bring a story alive.
You use the name Gwenhwyfar for Arthur's wife instead of the traditional Guinevere. Why?
The "traditional" Guinevere is the Norman spelling from the Medieval tales. 'Gwenhwyfar' is an original Welsh spelling from the much earlier tales of Arthur.
Review of The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick
See listing for The Kingmaking at Powell's Books
See listing for The Kingmaking at Amazon.com
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