Of paint pots, grouting pens, errant cats and Merlin

At the moment I’m up to my ears in redecorating our boat. The inside had become decidedly tired looking, and once we started, it didn’t feel as though we could stop. The problem with decorating on a boat though, even though ours is a widebeam, is all your stuff. To get at walls, furniture has to be moved, and with windows taken out we have had to make sure our cat couldn’t escape.

Nancy’s already had one ‘Big Adventure’ this year, although from the way she’s still trying to get out of the boat, she appears to have forgotten how much she didn’t enjoy being a wild and free cat. She escaped one night when Bella (our dog) went out for her last thing at night pee with my husband, and we didn’t find her again for ten long days. Ten days in which we had high winds and storms – this was back in February. She was a very relieved cat indeed when we finally found her hiding in a bush not far from our boat. But now her adventure has faded in her memory, and she thinks a sortie outside is just what she needs. We’re being vigilant, as she’s fifteen and already a bit wobbly on her pins at times. Not a good thing near water.

In between painting various exposed sections of wall in turn and wielding the grouting pen in the bathroom, where I have come to curse the person who put two-inch tiles over ALL the walls, I’ve also been polishing book six of my Guinevere series, The Road to Avalon. I finished writing it a while back and have been slowly giving it a final polish. Slowly because I don’t want to leave it. I’ve been living with the characters of Gwen and Arthur so long now, I don’t want to have to put them away. I was keen to get book six written as I’d been looking forward to it for such a long time, and yet as I drew nearer the end, I knew I was going to be heartbroken to end it all.

I knew from the moment I started writing book one exactly where, and how, book six was going to end, but what I didn’t know was how my characters were going to get there. Banging about inside my head I had all the different legends I knew about the various characters, not all of which I used. It was such fun picking my way around their storylines and in particular popping in various twists and turns to surprise my readers. And killing off a few of my darlings. You’ll have to wait to find out which ones don’t make it to the final curtain call.

I love all the different legends and the endless possibilities they provide for the storyteller. However, if you’ve read my first three books you’ll know by now that there’s one character who will never darken the pages of my books – Lancelot, that French interloper. And nor is there going to be. It does seem, however, that the one story most people know happens to be the one about Lancelot! Ugh! I can’t get the vision of Richard Gere in plate armour out of my head – a total anachronism. Not that I’ve ever seen more than the cover of the video. Not a film I’d want to watch!

In my books, I’ve tried to stick with the characters who have been associated with Arthur from the furthest back in history – such as Cei, Melwas, Medraut, Gwalchmei and Bedwyr. Apart from Merlin, that is. I do know (sadly) that in all likelihood he’s not contemporary with Arthur and was only associated with him at a later date. But kings had advisers, so why not have one called Merlin? This is a work of fiction, after all, and if I want Merlin in it, I can have him. Plus I’ve had a very big soft spot for him since I read Mary Stewart’s Merlin books as a teenager.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a little bit about my Merlin. There have been many renditions of him portraying him as anything from a white-bearded old man (Disney’s The Sword in the Stone etc) to a youth (The Boy who would be King and BBC’s Merlin series). He’s been associated with Arthurian legend for so long, readers/viewers expect to find him in a tale about King Arthur, so who was I to deprive them?

My Merlin is slightly different. He’s young, like Arthur and his warriors at the start of the series, or at least he looks as if he’s young. However, he may well not be. As Gwen remarks to herself – if you had magic why wouldn’t you use it to keep yourself looking young? He’s a warrior in Arthur’s warband, and as far as Gwen knows (at first) his magic consists of him being psychic and able to sometimes see the future, although very annoyingly, not all of the time and especially not when it would be of most use to Arthur and Gwen.

As the books progress, you’ll get to find out more and more about Merlin’s background and he’ll reveal more of the power he possesses. He’s a major character almost on a level with Arthur throughout all six books, and at first, he’s the only one who knows where Gwen has come from. He’s her friend, but in a way he’s also her gaoler, because it was he who kidnapped her back in time for Arthur. Ever wondered what he would have done had Gwen not fallen in love with Arthur? Think he’d have let her go back to her old world? Probably not. He’s an arch manipulator.

If you’re interested to find out more about Merlin’s rather shady involvement in Arthur’s life, and in particular how Arthur came to be born, then go to amazon and order the anthology book ‘Tales of Timeless Romance’. It’s only 99 cents on kindle. The other five stories are by the runners up in the contest I won back in 2021, and I know that at least one of them is about Robin Hood – a story I’m dying to read as it’s by one of my Facebook Friends, Cara Hogarth/Carol Hoggart.

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