Alex Epstein's new novel
about Morgan le Fay...
... magic, legends,
Eclectic wicca at its most inventive.
Q. How many Gardnerian witches does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A. That's a secret.
Author of the influential survey of contemporary Wicca Drawing Down the Moon.
Peter Reynolds runs a recreated Celtic farm, with ancient styles of sheep. The Irish in The Circle Cast would have lived more or less like this..
About the time of The Circle Cast.
A Dark Ages hillfort believed to be the original Camelot.
The final battle. A short story.
I perpetrated a one-night
role-playing game set in King Arthur's tent on the eve of the battle of Camlann. It was fun. It was a bit geeky. Who will win the battle?
Other Arthurian Books I Love:
Arthurian Movies I Love:
This work is licensed under a
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Looks like I'm going to be appearing at two bookstores, a library and a school in Toronto in late October. Should be a fun trip.
Labels: book tour
Friday, September 23, 2011
Looks like I'm going to be giving a reading of THE CIRCLE CAST at the Chapters Bayview Village, in Toronto (well, North York, really), on Saturday, October 22, at 2 pm. That should be fun! If you're in Toronto, come hear me read!
(I'm also screening my five minute teen vampire sex comedy, YOU ARE SO UNDEAD, at Toronto After Dark, that night at 9:30 pm!)
Thursday, September 22, 2011
TeensReadToo says TCC is "a hidden treasure
Monday, September 19, 2011
In The Guardian
, YA authors report that their agents and/or publishers have asked them to straighten out their gay characters.
Two American authors have revealed that they were told by a literary agent to "straighten" a gay character in their post-apocalyptic young adult novel if they wished to be represented...
The demand follows the experience of author Jessica Verday, who pulled out of the young adult anthology Wicked Pretty Things in March after she was told by its editor that her story, "which features Wesley (a boy) and Cameron (a boy), who were both in love with each other, would have to be published as a male/female story because a male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers".
Boo! Do not like. Especially speculative fiction books: do publishers seriously think that readers who can accept alternative history, alternative religion, and even different laws of physics, can't handle teh gay? C'mon.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I finished the LAST KINGDOM by Bernard Cornwell. I'm sort of two minds about it. It's a quick read. It catches the wild ride of one Northumbrian nobleman's son whose father is killed, and his lands taken, by the invading Danes. He's captured by a Danish nobleman and raised almost as a son, but destiny has other plans for him.
I liked the book as historical fiction. I liked the sense of who the Saxon English were, and who the Danes were, and what they valued. The reign of King Alfred of Wessex is another hinge point of English history, like the Saxon invasions themselves. In Alfred's time, the Saxon English, mostly Christian, were nearly conquered by the invading pagan Danes.
But the main character, Uhtred, is a bit of an enigma. His actions are those of a passionate man, but he talks dispassionately about them as he recounts them -- an old man telling the story of a young man's choices. Uhtred is motivated by the desire to get back his father's castle, but it's not always the driving force in his life. Sometimes sex is. Sometimes friendship is. Does that make him well-rounded as a character, or vague?
Alfred is a well-drawn nemesis, wise, fanatically religious, Puritanical and sly. And many of the other characters are well-drawn too. But there's a hole in the book, I feel, where the main character should be.
Your mileage may vary. To be fair, this is a book I ripped through in a few days. But I'm not strongly motivated to read the next one. I sort of wanted it all to add up to more. The book is a rollercoaster. I wish it held together as a coherent story, you know, with a theme and all.
Labels: reading books
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
It was nice to see my book was a Staff Pick at the downtown Chapters in Toronto!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Right now my Kindle shows a random assortment of images when it's off. There isn't an easy way to change them unless you want to upload hackage into the Kindle, which seems not worth the trouble unless you are a hardware hacker and simply can't resist.
You know what would be fun? If it showed the cover of whatever book I was reading last.
Monday, September 5, 2011
I've been reading Charles Mann's new book 1493
, the sequel, natch, to his awesome historical book 1491
was about evidence that the pre-Columbian Native American societies were far richer, more populated, and complex than we think of them -- that what is now the Amazon jungle was heavily cultivated by millions of Indians who were wiped out by disease before any but the very first white travelers saw them. 1493
is about the huge changes in the world after the New and Old Worlds became linked: how the tons of silver from the Potosi mine in Bolivia bankrupted the Qinq Dynasty in China, how the potato changed Europe, how corn allowed the Chinese to move into the hill country.
Until ships crossed the Atlantic, according to Mann, there was no malaria in the New World, and the most advanced cultures were all in the warm, wet parts of North and South America; after malaria, those cultures took a serious beating while the colder, dryer areas jumped ahead. Mann makes a convincing case that malaria was a chief factor in African slavery. Malaria was deadly to whites and Indians, but Africans were partly immune to malaria, from living with it for thousands of years. In the American north, poor whites from Europe could be counted on to do the dirty work, but in the American South, and in South America, they died in huge numbers, while African slaves tended to survive.
I love looking back at the past through the lens of a book. Often when we think about the past, it's hard to understand why people did the things they did. Kings make what seem to be idiotic decisions, entire cultures destroy their own lands... didn't they know better? But as you get to know the past better, it becomes clear how people always did what seemed to make sense at the time. There are always factors you don't know about.
I guess that's one of the things that drew me to telling Morgan's story. The canonical story makes her out to be an evil witch. But what's her side of the story? Why did she behave the way she did? What makes someone so vengeful that they're willing to pull down their whole world around their heads? What wrongs would have to have been done to a young woman to make her behave the way we're told she did. I hope I came up with interesting answers in the book.
Labels: reading books
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I've had a bunch of nice reviews on YA blogs, as you can read further below. But the really glowing reviews have come from the straight press. I had that glowing review in the East Hampton Star
, and in Historical Novels Review
. I wonder if the book would do better as a straight novel, or just adult fantasy?
It's hard to say. My wife's book The Intrepid Art Collector
got shelved under "collectibles" instead of under "art," although it had nothing for collectors, and was meant for art connoisseurs. I don't think that helped her book any.
Online it doesn't really matter because someone's going to search for "Morgan le Fay" or "King Arthur" or "Wicca" and maybe they'll find the book. But in bookstores, where something is shelved is hugely important. If you're looking for a fantasy book, you probably won't drift over to the YA shelves, although there's a lot of fantasy there. Likewise you wouldn't look under general novels, even though Doris Lessing has a few fantasy novels.
I'm a bit at my wit's end with the book. I can only track Amazon sales; bookstore sales won't come in until months from now. But it's not doing so well on Amazon, although it does have some Kindle sales. I'm frustrated because when people read the book, they like and often love the book. But how to get people to pick the book up?
Cynthia Leitich Smith was kind enough to interview me on her blog
. Check it out.