Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Tour: Interview {and Giveaway} with Rachael Pruitt, author of The Dragon's Harp


First of all, I would like to welcome Rachael Pruitt today. Rachael, thanks so much for taking the time to visit and answer my questions.

It’s my pleasure to be here, Michelle! Thank you very much for your invitation & for your wonderful review of Dragon’s Harp

Your first novel, The Dragon's Harp, is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, specifically regarding the life of Queen Guinevere, or Gwenhwyfar, as she is named in the book. Can you tell us a bit about it?

I’ve been fascinated with the Arthurian legends ever since I was a little girl and saw the castles of England. This childhood fascination never left me. As I grew up and noticed boys, the yearning romance of the Arthurian world became important as well. And Merlin’s magic—ah well, I guess, I never stopped believing in fairies.
I started to write the novel itself when my daughter was a toddler (She’s all grown up now—and the apple of my eye!). I was watching her climb driftwood on the Oregon coast one morning and the entire prologue simply “came to me”, beginning with the sentences: “Men have called me beautiful. But the gods men worship now have cursed beauty…My name is Gwenhwyfar..” 

This experience still gives me chills, but I wrote it all down right away. And that’s how Dragon’s Harp was born! 

What inspired you to write Gwenhwyfar's story?

I guess a lot of my decision had to do with the experience on the beach that I just described. I just felt this powerful “push” to tell the story from “Gwenhwyfar’s” point of view. Later I realized intellectually that Gwenhwyfar (Welsh spelling of Guinevere) was one of the many women in legends and in real life who have gotten a “raw deal” from a male-biased society that equates feminine assertiveness and/or beauty with frivolity or downright evil. 

What Arthurian books or movies, if any, have been motivators for your writing of this story? Are there any authors that you particularly admire?

Great question, Michelle! Actually, although I do watch just about everything I can about the Arthurian story, no one movie has totally captivated me. I love “bits & pieces “of them all, though! An example is how much I love Vanessa Redgrave’s portrayal of Guinevere in the 60s film “Camelot” (and that incredibly romantic visual sequence of Lancelot & Guinevere during “If Ever I Would Leave You”!). “Excalibur” grabbed me with its visuals & sets-- and Helen Mirren’s incredible Morgana! I also loved “Excalibur’s “take” on Arthur & Merlin. The most recent version, “King Arthur” (2004) also impressed me with its actors & authenticity—perhaps a bit more “magic” would have made it perfect! 

Regarding authors: Wow—I have so many favorite authors, I could spend days telling you about them all! I read many different genres & I look for novels with characters that grab me & don’t let go. If a novelist can then pull off a well-paced plot with lots of twists & suspense, & a resolution that not only satisfies, but leaves the reader “richer” for the experience—then I’m a “happy camper”. I love historical novels. Probably my all-time favorite author is the late Anya Seton & her novel, Green Darkness, about reincarnated star-crossed lovers from Tudor times, is my favorite read. Other authors I admire are Sharon Kay Penman, Jules Watson, and Kate Quinn. 

You have a teaching background and you offer programs and workshops for children ages K - 12? Can you tell us a little about this?
Certainly, thanks for asking! In addition to teaching creative writing to children & teens, I have a background as a professional storyteller. Many moons ago.  I discovered that children were becoming subliminally terrified of the possibility of war—and I believe similar fears still exist in our culture today. I developed the idea that stories and mythology provide a way for children & teens to be subliminally empowered instead. With this in mind, I created a framework in which students create an original legend reflecting their “real life” experience— using fantasy to help them problem-solve in a creative and “fun” way! My process is called “Myths for Our Time” and it’s been vetted by the Smithsonian and lots of guidance counselors and teachers. Probably most important, it’s a hit with the kids themselves! 

I do offer this project to schools, summer programs, residential treatment centers—all different kinds of venues.

I was browsing your website and it's looking pretty exciting. You offer writing and editing consulting and you have an author's cafe coming soon. Can you explain what your ultimate vision is for your website?

I am definitely a busy girl these days, Michelle! Yes, I do also offer writing consults and editing—especially for anyone who has a dream of writing but can’t seem to get started or is getting bogged down in the process. I’m a great troubleshooter! 
 
My “Author’s Café” will definitely be a place you & your readers will enjoy—I will be “talking” with various authors about their own passions & process. My first guest will be “drinking a latte” with me next week! Her name is Persia Woolley and some of you may know her as the author of “The Guinevere Trilogy”! Persia is a beloved friend & mentor & we will be addressing writing Arthurian novels & the choice of adding fantasy or sticking with a strictly historical approach. Upcoming guests will include Sharon Penman and science fiction author Heidi Ruby Miller.
My ultimate vision for my website, my blogs, and Facebook pages is to build an inspiring creative community in which I sponsor & post others’ work as well as my own. We are off to a great start & I’m envisioning an online community where readers and my fellow authors can interact & find inspiration & information about the Arthurian legends, the creative writing process, Celtic culture, mythology, goddess imagery, & environmental issues. 

The Dragon's Harp is the first in a projected series of five books about Gwenhwyfar. What is the second book to be called and will we be waiting breathlessly for it, or does the conclusion of the first book satisfy us enough to get us through the wait?

I am hard at work on Harp’s sequel, The Dragon’s Breath, which continues Gwen’s story. As an avid reader myself, Michelle, I know how frustrating it can be when an author does not really “finish” a novel, leaving readers with a cliffhanger until the next series book is completed. I tried to avoid this trap with Dragon’s Harp and, based on reader feedback, I have succeeded. This is a promise I will also fulfill in future novels in my “Era Of Dragons: The Lost Tales of Gwenhwyfar” series.
Readers will also be relieved to know that Merlin remains a major character in Dragon’s Breath (and will continue to be at Gwen’s side throughout the remaining 4 books of the series!). Lleu, Gwenhwyfar’s new love interest, will also take a major role—and Arthur himself appears, but in a very unusual way! 

While you are waiting for Dragon’s Breath—and I promise to write as quickly as I can without sacrificing quality!—I am establishing home bases for you to visit. For all my wonderful new fans and friends, please do explore my FB page and website, where you will enjoy interacting with kindred Arthurian spirits. We’re having weekly contests & an “Artists’ Café” on FB every week. Come visit!


Do you see yourself going in a different direction when you have completed this series, or will you write a branch off book/series (a la Diana Gabaldon with her Lord John series) while you are writing the Gwenhwyfar series?

Another good question, Michelle! I do plan to write 4 more novels about Gwenhwyfar and Merlin. Then I would love to create a novel set in the legendary land of Atlantis. Following that, I hope to visit the Biblical Era and write a novel about Ruth. She is such a fascinating character and I would love to tell “her” story.

I do also love to write memoir & fantasy. And--as if this wasn’t enough-- a dear friend of mine and I are playing around with an idea for a “chick lit” novel (another favorite genre of mine!)!!!

My final two-part question is one that is on the lips of all book bloggers. What are you currently reading? What recent historical fiction novel would you recommend to my readers?

Right now I’m reading Sharon Kay Penman’s wonderful new novel Lionheart. Since I’m a reader who likes to have 2 or 3 books “going” at the same time.  I’m also reading new novelist Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker. This is a powerful look at the sinking of the Titanic and its aftermath through the eyes of a dressmaker. I can’t put it down! I might have to finish both of these great historical novels soon though, since I’m also looking forward to Kate Quinn’s new novel about ancient Rome, Empress of the Seven Hills!

Rachael, I would like to thank you for spending time at The True Book Addict today. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the "Era of Dragons: The Lost Tales of Gwenhwyfar" series and I know I will be a frequent visitor of your website.

Thank you, Michelle for your wonderful questions and your fantastic review of Dragon’s Harp. You have a beautiful blog! It’s been a sincere pleasure getting to know you. I’m looking forward to your visits & can’t wait to share The Dragon’s Breath with you! 

Visit Rachael:  Website | Facebook | Twitter
Other stops on the tour:  Tour Schedule
Twitter Event Hashtag: #DragonsHarpVirtualBookTour


Giveaway:  An eBook copy of The Dragon's Harp (ePub or Kindle version).  Open internationally.  To enter, please leave a comment telling me who is your favorite character in Arthurian legend.  Be sure to include your email address so I can contact the winner.  Giveaway will end on Friday, May 4, at 11:59pm CST.  Good luck!

Check out my review of The Dragon's Harp HERE.

Photobucket

4 comments:

  1. Very cool interview! Great questions. It's so interesting getting to know the story behind the story :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love King Arthur and Lancelot. Please enter me in contest.I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lancelot because it brings that classic knight in shinning armor to the story. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Margaret
    singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Awesome interview. I love the sound of her currently inprogress series and I would love to see some on Atlantis. Such a promising series!

    ReplyDelete

Your comments mean a lot. I will mostly likely respond to them here in the comments. If you ask a specific question, I will try to respond in an email (if I can access your email through your blogger profile).

Please do not be offended, but this is an award free blog. While I appreciate the gesture, believe me when I say that your friendship is award enough. Thank you.