Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review of Mayhawk Rising by Nicole Schlaudecker

Mayhawk Rising Review

Mayhawk Rising is a glorious Arthurian tale by a talented young author, Nicole Schlaudecker.  Actually, calling this glorious adventure a story about Arthur is deceiving. It chronicles the early life of Gawain, the man who would become the king’s loyal knight.  Schlaudecker has recreated the authentic Celtic world and has drawn a host of vivid characters that lend authenticity and humanity to this lushly drawn narrative.

The story opens with Gawain’s birth. His mother Margaise, the wife of the brave but harsh King Lot, wants nothing more than her husband’s love, but it is the one thing she cannot win no matter what she does.  Even after bearing him a healthy son, Margaise still can’t find genuine favor with her war-like husband. So desperate is she for Lot’s love that she succumbs to the trickery of her sister Morgan, a reputed witch.  When told that her infant son might bring about his father’s downfall, she conspires in the death of her own child, but the baby is rescued by the mysterious Merlin, the advisor of her late step-father, King Uther Pendragon. When Lot learns of the attempt on the child’s life, he places the boy under the care of his kinsman and advisor Eloil and his steadfast wife Liusaidh.  Schlaudecker weaves a spell that draws in the reader. We despise Margaise for her coldness to her son but pity her unrequited love for Lot.  We hate Lot’s treatment of his wife but admire his bravery and love of his children.

And it is here where the story becomes magical. When the young Arthur unwittingly pulls the sword from the stone and is declared king, the tale becomes one of battle and adventure.  Lot, Gawain’s father, does not support the new king, and the story moves from Gawain’s personal tale to one depicting the rise of a king. Schlaudecker has created characters that fascinate us, and her depiction of the ancient Celtic world also draws us in.  We are in the rugged countryside as Lot’s men face the Saxons.  We are in the heat of battle when the young King Arthur’s men go against Lot and his followers.  Let’s hope Nicole Schlaudecker continues with her series and tells her unique rendering of the tale of Arthur and his men.

You can find this book at Amazon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Writing Process and World

The Writing Process and World:

1.     What am I working on?

My current work in progress is a mystery and involves the murder of a New Orleans high school principal. Tentatively entitled In the Bayou, the manuscript also sees the return of Lt. Etienne Baptiste and his partner Sgt. Duane Morrow, who first appeared in A Fair Grounds Mystery, www.redrosepublishing.com.  They are called to the murder of this popular educator and learn that her death may involve very prominent and respectable members of the community as well as a long-ago unsolved murder. 

2.     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Like all writers, I have my own style and approach.  I love to craft intricate plots in both my historical fiction and in my mysteries, but what I like to develop very well is character.  No one will keep reading if the main characters are unappealing.  That doesn’t mean they can’t have an evil streak or be challenging, but they have to possess substance and complexity.  Even in my mysteries, my detectives are intricately drawn.  I incorporate their personal lives as well as their demons into the narrative.  I’m a huge fan of James Lee Burke, and he does that very well in his mysteries.  I love reading his plots, but I also want to know what’s happening to Dave Robicheaux, his family, and his friends. 

3.     Why do I write what I do?

Well, for me, writing is therapeutic.  When my mother died, I really immersed myself in writing.  That said, I don’t limit myself to one genre.  I love the research involved in historical fiction.  My background as an academic really helps me there.  I love the challenge of creating a tight mystery, and I also love creating contemporary characters. 

4.     How does your writing process work?

My process varies with the genre.  Historical fiction takes a great deal of research. I love the adventure as well as exotic nature of historical fiction. Love at War involves WWII and the hell of that conflict.  Pirate Woman is the story of Grainne O’Malley and 1500’s Ireland.  From Ice Wagon to Club House is the story of Jude Mooney and his adventures in Storyville, Prohibition, and WWI. I always outline, but I first develop my main characters.