Here is the conclusion to my interview with Robert Treskillard, author of Merlin’s Blade and Merlin’s Shadow. To learn more about his works, visit the blog tour, or his profiles on Goodreads and Amazon.
What level of historical veracity did you aim to achieve?
Well âŚ as highly accurate as I was able to write, given normal time constraints. Thankfully my mother had visited Britain in the 1970âs and had brought back a small truckload of old books, which she then gave to our family. This helped a lot, as did the internet, but I had to be oh so careful, as you canât take anything for granted.
For instance, the Brits donât have lightning bugs âŚ they have glow worms! Every detail had to be carefully checked. Iâm sure Iâve made some mistakes (as Lars Walker has pointed out!), but the fact that the novel takes place 1500 years ago helps readers to give me a bit of charity. To be honest, we donât know as much as weâd like to know about the era.
What sources did you use, for the history or the Arthurian legends?
For Arthurian legend, I read the original source texts, such as the Annales Cambriae, Nennius, Bede, Gildas, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sir Thomas Malory, and a small bit of ChrĂŠtien de Troyes. Iâve also relied quite a bit on many of the Welsh writings about Merlin and Arthur, including the poems Y Gododdin, and Pa Gur.
As it is with such lofty legends, though, there is much confusion, contradictions, and embellishments, and that is the beauty and also itâs bane. It does give me a lot of leeway, however, as I can pick and choose what parts of the legend I want to include.
I tend to eschew modern retellings of Merlin and Arthur, though, because I donât want to taint my own writing. Sadly, Iâve even mostly avoided the BBC Merlin TV show for the same reason. This show came out after I had finished my first draft of MERLINâS BLADE and thankfully brought a lot of interest to the genre. I almost wonder if Iâd even be published if not for the TV shows success!
For general history, I used lots and lots of books, many of which are out of print. For more recent titles, hereâs a sampling. I hope theyâre all still in print!
* The Brendan Voyage, by Tim Severin
* Celtic Myths and Legends by T.W. Rolleston
* The World of King Arthur by Christopher Snyder
* Roman ScotlandâFrontier Country, by David Breeze
* Following The PathâThe MacCallum House by James O. St. Clair
* The Celts, by Frank Delaney
* The Celts, by T.G.E. Powell
Thereâs also an itty-bitty Celtic prayer book that Iâve lost track of that I wish I could reference here. These good peopleâs prayers are very inspirational and really give a feel for the beauty of their simple, rhythmic lives, and their reliance upon God.
Oh, and I also have a collection of Cornish, Gaelic, and Norse dictionaries to draw from, and that is a help beyond measure.
What’s with the wolves?
Aha! The wolves originally were to play only a small role in the blinding Merlin, but then their importance grew to the point that when the novel was submitted, Blink/Zondervan put a wolf on the cover. The funny thing is that after this was done they came back to me and asked for âmore wolvesâ in the latter half of the novel. I obliged them!
Perhaps the single most important story about Merlin is his role in Arthur’s conception. How did you come to grips with that element of the legends, and how did that affect your story?
I donât want to give anything away, but I answer that question satisfactorily in book two when the party visits Dintaga, which is known in the modern day as Tintagel, the fortress of Gorlas. This is where legend says Arthur was conceived. It will be interesting to see what you think of how I plucked that legend from the mists of time and gave it some neon running shoes.
You are one of the few – in fact, the only I can name – who has experienced the CSFF blog tour as both a blogger and an author. Now that you’ve seen the tour from both sides, what do you think?
Well, there have been other authors whoâve been part of the tour âŚ Jill Williamson, for one, and also Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. Probably more. They were part of it as already published authors, however, so I suppose my story is a little different.
One thing that being on this side has helped me see is the importance of Amazon reviews. I always thought that my blog was the âimportant placeâ to put the review, and that Amazon was an âadd onâ if I had timeâwhich I rarely did.
Now I know better. Yes, the blog is very, very important, but reviews on Amazon, BN.com, and ChristianBook.com, etc. can be critical to a bookâs success.
When Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers, wrote his first book, his goal was to have *40* reviews posted to Amazon the very first day the book was released. He now has over 340 reviews and is a New York Times Bestselling author.
For me âŚ I just now received my 40th review, and itâs been six months!
Goodreads.com was also a sleeper to me. I never paid the site much attention, but have since learned of how critical that community can be to help get word out about a novel.
Also, Iâm just thankful for everyonâe hard work to review my books and to promote speculative fiction in general. Being part of the tour as a reviewer is always fun, and being on this side is fun as wellâbut also humbling as I see people helping me out and sharing their thoughts on what worked and didnât work in the novel.