So, as you may have gleamed from the title, I’m getting married this month!
Yes, Cory and Shawn are happy for me too.
So as much as it pains me, in between all the family and friends visiting, the wedding and the honeymoon, I have decided it would be best to put the blog on hiatus until the end of May. I have some new features and changes coming your way in the summer including a much needed new layout, so I hope this break will give me time to work on those as well.
To keep you guys going until then, I’m holding a giveaway for a SIGNED COPY of Delirium by Lauren Oliver, which I got when I was lucky enough to meet Lauren on her London visit (thank you Hodder and Waterstones)! This giveaway is open internationally for the entire month of May, so enter using the Rafflecopter below.
So from me and Alex both, thanks for understanding and see you guys on the other side!
I was so honoured to be asked to be part of the blog tour Dark Triumph, the second book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. I had nothing but love for the first book Grave Mercy, and couldn’t wait to get back to historic Brittany and the girls of St. Mortain. Keep reading for your chance to win a paperback of both books in the series, courtesy of Andersen Press!
About DARK TRIUMPH
Series: His Fair Assassin, Book 2
Publisher: Andersen Press
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.
But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for . . .
Action, courtly intrigue, supernatural and a beautifully written romance, just as Grave Mercy, this has all the elements to bewitch fans of Lauren Kate and Philippa Gregory alike.
Robin’s Guest Post: The Mythology of the Nine
While the Nine Old Gods of Brittany are my own invention, they were built on a number of historical, geographical, and ancient theological precedents, so I thought I’d share some of those here for those of you who are curious to know what my inspirations for world of His Fair Assassin were.
As the Catholic Church struggled to gain acceptance among people who were reluctant to let go of their own pagan beliefs, it made a conscious decision to actively subsume those beliefs into Christianity, white washing and Christianizing them along the way. They felt it would make it easier for people to accept the new religion if they could recognize parts of their old beliefs in it.
Brittany was also home to the last remaining group of druidesses, called the Gallinezae, who were said to possess mysterious power. Additionally, Brittany had nine bishoprics, or districts, that were based on the nine earlier Celtic tribes who inhabited the land.
Since Brittany was originally inhabited by the Celtic tribes, I built the mythology of His Fair Assassin on a Celtic foundation. It’s also important to note that I drew from Continental Celtic roots for my mythology rather than the Irish Celts.
Trying to accurately recreate any Celtic beliefs is tricky however, because the Celts themselves did not create any written record of their beliefs or practices; it was all passed along through the oral tradition. In fact, druids in training were required to study for twenty years in order to learn all their lore and history by committing it to memory.
Consequently, nothing of the Celtic religion or spiritual beliefs and practices was written down until they were invaded by Rome. In addition to viewing the Celts practices with scorn, the Romans often interpreted other pantheons according to their own, thus a mother goddess must be equated with Zeus’s wife Hera, or a god of the Underworld with Hades, etc. This Interpretatio romana colored everything we knew about Celtic practices up until fairly recently when improved archaeological techniques and methods began revealing a more complete and accurate picture. The funny thing is though, by the middle ages the myth and folklore of these earlier Celts would have been very much written over and ‘tainted’ by the Romanization of those myths, so that those living in the 15th century would have been more familiar with this Romanized version. Since I set the story in that timeframe, I wanted to be true to that worldview rather than our own, more knowledgeable one.
Here is a list of the Nine Old Gods of Brittany along with their Roman or Celtic influences/inspiration:
Saint Mortain – god of death. The Celtic equivalent to Dis Pater, the Romanized Celtic god of death, with some similarities to the Welsh Arawn. Greek and Roman counterparts would be Pluto and Hades, but the Celtic Dis Pater had other aspects to him that tied him to older beliefs that enveloped not only the underworld, but the entire cycle of life and death. Also inspired by the Breton figure of personified death, the Ankou.
Dea Matrona – Gaulish mother goddess, responsible for the earth’s bounty. Similar to the Celtic Anu or Ana.
Saint Amourna – daughter of Dea Matrona and one of the twin goddesses of love. Amourna is the gentle aspect of love. The Celtic pantheon had no goddess of love per se, so she definitely has aspects of Aphrodite or Venus. However, the idea of twin sister goddesses representing the dual aspects of love was my own invention.
Saint Arduinna – daughter of Dea Matrona and goddess of love’s sharp bite, protector of virgins. There was a Celtic goddess Arduinna who was a goddess of the forest. Boars, highly revered by the Celts, were sacred to her. Similarto the Gallo-Roman Diana.
Saint Mer – goddess of the sea. While there is no known Celtic god of the sea, there were many deities of springs and lakes, most of whom were goddesses so I decided to make the deity of the sea in my world in keeping with the feminine representations the Celts seemed to favor.
Saint Camulos – god of battle and warriors. Wears a corona of oak leaves and ram’s horns. The Romans equated him with Mars, but I also drew slightly on the cult of Mithros.
Saint Brigantia – goddess of wisdom; brought medicine and healing knowledge to mankind. Based on the Celtic goddess Bridget, who is one of the most widely known pagan goddesses to have become a saint. Her Greek and Roman counterparts would be Athena and Minerva.
Saint Cissonius – god of crossroads and travelers. I took the Celtic Cissonius, god of trade, and expanded on it a bit.
Saint Salonius – god of mistakes and patron saint of bastards. Ah, this is my most historically tenuous god. I have always been a fan of the trickster god who appears in so many pantheons, and I saw a fleeting entry on the Wikipedia Celtic Gods and Goddesses page that referenced Salonius, god of mistakes. Alas, when I later went to reference it, the entry was gone and I couldn’t even find it in the Google cache search. Although it seems fitting that my god of mistakes might have been born of one of my own.
Wow, I love mythology and it’s fascinating to be able to learn about this. Thank you so much for the guest post Robin!
For all those reading, which of the Old Gods do you find the most interesting?
About ROBIN LAFEVERS:
Find Robin on:
Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.
Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.
While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.
In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series.
Andersen Press have kindly offered up a paperback copy of Grave Mercy, the first book in the His Fair Assassin series to ONE lucky UK winner! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below. Also, watch out for another contest for a paperback of Dark Triumph closer to its print publication in June. Good luck!
Today I’m very excited to be hosting an interview with debut author Lea Nolan as part of the CONJURE blog tour. Keep reading to learn more about the book and Lea! Make sure you visit the other tour stops for more guest posts, interviews, excerpts and more!
Series: The Hoodoo Apprentice, Book 1
Release: 12 October 2012
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Be careful what you search for…
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.
INTERVIEW WITH LEA NOLAN
Please give a warm welcome to Lea, who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about getting her book to publication, her inspiration for the story and her desert island read!
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Daphne. It’s a pleasure to be here!
Thanks for being on the blog Lea! Tell me, what did you do to celebrate when your book was picked up by Entangled Teen?
My husband and I went out to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland. They make an amazing dish with sautéed shrimp, chick peas, and escarole in a white wine sauce. It is divine. And now my mouth is watering!
You’re definitely making my mouth water too, that sounds yum. So, what was the toughest thing about getting your book from draft to the final story?
Being patient! Bringing a book to publication takes a long time. There are many steps along the way and lots of people involved so nothing happens overnight. But I had great beta readers and a fantastic editor who helped push me to make the story bigger and better. All that extra effort was worth it.
It was definitely worth it. I was really intrigued by the premise to your story. What inspired you to write about Gullah culture and hoodoo?
Before I knew the story would involve the Gullah and hoodoo, I knew it had something to do with pirates. That plot point came from a fast food kid meal bag. There’s a restaurant here called Chick Fil-A that prints little facts on their packaging. My daughter read one aloud as we drove down the road: “Pirates used to send messages in a bottle.” That got me thinking about why a pirate would do such a thing. The answer was obvious (at least to me): His ship and crew were in trouble, and they were probably cursed. Armed with that information, I started to research where pirates were most active off the American coast during the 18-century. That quickly led me to South Carolina’s Sea Islands where I already knew the Gullah lived. I’d studied them in collage as a history major and was always fascinated by their distinct language and culture. So I did a little more digging and quickly learned about their folk magic which is called hoodoo. It was so cool, I knew those elements had to be included in the book.
There is a lot of herb lore in the book. Do you like plants? How much research did you have to do?
I do like plants and I have a fairly nice garden, but that’s mostly due to my husband’s hard work. Most of the plants featured in Conjure are species native to the southeastern region of the US and aren’t likely to show up in a typical home garden. I did a lot of research on hoodoo medicine and magic, but I mostly benefited from the exhaustive work done by two writers in particular. Catherine Yronwode’s Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure and Faith Mitchell’s Hoodoo Medicine: Gullah Herbal Remedies are extremely informative and did most of the heavy lifting for me. If you’re interested in Hoodoo root work, I highly recommend these great resources.
Thanks for the recommendations! Now, Emma and Jack spend every summer on the island and love it. Did you have a favourite place to holiday when you were a kid?
Unfortunately we didn’t have enough money to take a vacation every summer, but I was lucky enough to live on the north shore of Long Island, NY in a house that over looked the Long Island Sound. As a young teen, I spent most of my summers at the beach. It was idyllic. My memories of that beach informed Emma and Jack’s experience.
That sounds really beautiful, and it translated beautifully to Emma’s feelings about the island. And since we’re on the topic of islands, if you were stranded on a deserted one, what book would you take with you and why?
I’d bring a compendium of Shakespeare’s complete works and read it over and over again. I can’t think of a better way to pass the time and I’d learn a lot!
Thanks again, I loved stopping by!
I loved having you, thank you again for letting us know a bit more about you and your book!
About LEA NOLAN:
Find Lea on:
Believe it or not, Lea couldn’t read until she was in the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it, and quickly learned the best way to get out of doing chores was to tell her parents she was reading. Soon she was hooked, devouring books by Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis, and anything she could find with a shiny Newberry Award sticker on the cover. Books provided a portal to enchanted lands where anything was possible and characters relied on their wits to wiggle out of sticky situations. Today, even though she’s all grown up, Ishe writes the kinds of stories she sought as a teen — smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She’s got an undergraduate degree in history and a master’s in public policy and women’s studies, which believe it or not, helps a lot in her fiction writing. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, who’ve figured out how to get out of doing their chores.
As a celebration of getting older and this being my first birthday with Winged Reviews, I wanted to host a little giveaway. This is partially a thank you to everyone that has supported the blog so far and partially just an excuse to spread the book love!
One winner gets a book of choice from The Book Depository up to the value of £10. If anyone has any trouble choosing, here are a few of my favourite books I read this year:
The giveaway will run for 1 week and is open INTERNATIONALLY to all countries the The Book Depository ships to. Thanks again and enjoy!
The Summer Wrap-Up Read-a-Thon is here to encourage you to finish up all the reading you were hoping to get done over the summer. You can read whatever you want and as much or little as you want. Feel free to parcipate for as much or as little as you want. You don’t have to have a blog, so feel free to follow along on Twitter (with hashtag #SWUR), Goodreads, or Facebook.
In order to encourage you, all hosts have put together a book-related challenge and a giveaway! Our challenge is:
Book Couples Challenge
Comment on this post and tell us about two characters from two separate books (not in the same series) who would make a great love match! Then be creative and let us know where they would go on a summer date!