One of the reasons I loved Deadtown was the links it had to Wales, the place where I was born and grew up. Fittingly I am spending Christmas in Wales this year! So I am looking forward to Hellforged even more as I intend to read most of it on Welsh land!
I hope you all enjoy Nancy's guest blog and make sure you enter the contest! You may win a copy of Hellforged!
Also feel free to read the interview with Nancy that I posted earlier on this year.
"The shore of Llyn Tegid, where Ceridwen's shapeshifting contest began. Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence."
I began my career as a medievalist, and one of my favorite courses to teach was “Legends of King Arthur.” I had two different versions of the course: one that stuck with literature of the Middle Ages and one that started with medieval texts and moved through time, ending with twentieth-century versions of the tales. During the time I was developing and teaching these courses, I fell in love with the tales of the Mabinogion.
If you’re not familiar with the Mabinogion, it’s a collection of early medieval Welsh legends that were gathered and translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest in the 19th century. The stories draw upon pre-Christian Celtic mythology and early medieval oral traditions, including tales of Arthur and his court.
When I started writing Deadtown back in 2006, I wanted my protagonist to be a shapeshifter, yet different from the weres that populate much of urban fantasy. I remembered a story from the Mabinogion about the witch Ceridwen and Gwion Bach, a local boy. The story involves a shapeshifting contest in which Gwion, fleeing the angry Ceridwen, changes his shape several times, while she transforms herself to erase any advantage he might gain: he becomes a hare, she chases him as a greyhound; he becomes a fish, she chases him as an otter; and so on. (If you’ve ever seen the duel between Merlin and Madame Mim in the old Disney film The Sword in the Stone, you get the idea.) This legend seemed full of potential for my novel; I liked how the shapeshifters could change into any creature they wanted, and could do it at will. And so I started thinking about how I might use the story as background for my own race of shapeshifters—and Vicky’s line of demi-humans, the Cerddorion (sons of Ceridwen) was born. Cerddorion females can change into any sentient creature (or sometimes strong emotion will force a shift), up to three times per lunar cycle. They gain shapeshifting ability with puberty and lose it if they give birth.
Hellforged, the second novel in my Deadtown series, delves deeper into the history of Vicky’s race—and also of the demons the Cerddorion oppose. In Hellforged, Vicky travels to Wales for further training with her aunt, a formidable demon fighter. While there, Vicky must unlock hidden meanings in a book that tells the story of Ceridwen from the demons’ point of view. If she fails, she could be helping a demi-demon throw open the doors of Hell. Vicky’s adventures in Wales take her through the hills and mountains of north Wales, across fields and into haunted pubs, deep into an abandoned slate mine, and to the shore of the lake where Ceridwen’s shapeshifting contest began.
As I continue the series into books three and four, I keep returning to the Mabinogion for source material. Its legends, rich with myths, themes, and motifs, provide the perfect landscape and history for my own unfolding story.
Nancy is giving away a signed copy of Hellforged, and she is willing to ship internationally.
How To Enter
Nancy came up with a good question!
What mythology do you think makes a good background for contemporary fantasy?
No answer = No Entry
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The contest will stay open until Sunday 2nd of January 2011 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.