Today we have author, Linda C. McCabe joining us and talking about her book, Quest of the Warrior Maid. Why not give her name a click and visit her website. Come back and tell me what cool things you learned there.
The legends of Charlemagne are as luxurious a source material as Arthurian legends, but they are not as well known. I find it interesting that the Matters of Britain are based mainly on Le Morte D'Arthur written by Frenchman Thomas Mallory and the Matters of France are largely composed of Orlando innamorato and Orlando furioso written by Italian poets Matteo Maria Boiardo and Ludovico Ariosto. (The Chanson de Roland is more famous and written by a Frenchman, but it covers only one sequence of events and is short in comparison to the sprawling epics written by Boiardo and Ariosto.)
At the time when Orlando furioso was published, it became an international sensation. It is said that Queen Elizabeth would not allow John Harrington to return to the royal court until he finished translating Orlando furioso for her.
Paperback: 430 pages
Publisher: Foul Mouthed Bard Press (June 2011)
Purchase at Amazon
Who or what inspires your writing?
I love Greek mythology. I started reading it as a child and found the stories of valor and tragedy to be larger than life. The heroes never grow old and fade into obscurity; most wind up dying tragic deaths after committing an act of hubris. It is the great drama that draws me time and again to these myths.
Intuitively as a girl I was drawn to Athena, a warrior goddess famed for her intellect and battle strategies. I patterned my heroine Bradamante after both Athena and Joan of Arc, but humanized her by adding insecurities about her attractiveness while yearning for love with Ruggiero.
When did you know you would be a writer?
In high school I loved acting on the stage. I had hoped to become an actress, but didn't want to worry about starving as an out of work actress in New York or L.A. I studied laboratory medicine in college with the idea that I could get a job anywhere working in a hospital and could audition and perform in plays in my off hours.
I took a few theater classes in college, but haven't been in a play since high school. After college, I realized I could use writing was my creative outlet. Rather than trod the boards, I pound my keyboard.
How long did it take you to write your first novel?
The first draft of this novel took about a year to complete. There was an additional four more years of tweaking until I felt that I had done all the polishing, re-visioning, editing, increasing the tension, etc. that I could. Then there was about another year of my fumbling around until I finally found a Muslim reader to read my story in its entirely to ensure that my depiction of the faith of Islam was accurate and that my tone was respectful.
All in all, the first volume in this series took about six years to complete. I know that the sequel will not take as long. I have it all outlined and now just have to apply the butt glue in my chair to force me to start composing. I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Finding the time. I have cut down on my hours at work to part time, but I still want to spend time with my family and am pretty tired at night on those days I do work.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I think of specific scenes that I am working on as I am trying to drift off to sleep. I find that my relaxed mind can resolve some of the writing issues I have as well as being a source of inspiration and creativity. Some of my best ideas have come from drowsing either at night or in the afternoon with a "power nap."
Have you written any thing else?
I have a diverse body of work: I adapted a favorite novel of mine into a screenplay (only as a test to see if I had the talent to do so since I did not have the rights, nor the money to secure the rights), I wrote an original screenplay that in retrospect and all honesty was lousy, I have written many political essays and had opinion editorials published in newspapers, I wrote a master's thesis, and a Harry Potter fanfic. That story was Secrets, Lies and the Daily Prophet published on Portkey.org and won the first Reader's Choice Award for best novel length fanfic.
I credit the inspiration for writing Quest of the Warrior Maid due to my involvement with the Harry Potter fandom. I used to participate in the online debates about what we thought was going to happen in the series as well as interpreting hidden meanings in the text. There were some fandomers who thought that hippogriffs were a symbol of love and that Harry and Hermione riding together on the back of a hippogriff was something that indicated a later romantic relationship between the two characters. In following up that line of logic, I read the epic poem Orlando furioso since that was the first time a hippogriff was used as a character in literature.
While reading that poem I discovered this amazing love story between the kick-ass heroine Bradamante and the virtuous warrior Ruggiero. I felt that this literary couple deserved to be as well known as Tristan and Isolde or Arthur and Guinevere. I was inspired to adapt this classic, but largely forgotten work for the enjoyment of modern audiences.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Never give up. Believe in yourself and your talent, but also work to develop and learn your craft. Join writers clubs in your area and network with fellow writers. The act of writing is by definition an isolating experience. You must cut yourself off from others so that you can concentrate and turn your ephemeral thoughts into a tangible expression known as the written word. It is important that you meet and commiserate with others who share your passion for the written word. In meeting fellow writers you will also learn about the craft of writing, the industry of publishing and the art of marketing your work.
You also need to find critique partners who you trust. They must "get your work" and do it in a manner to inspire you on improving your writing rather than causing you to curl in a fetal position and think you have no talent.
The most important aspect of critique groups is chemistry between the members. All other things will follow.
Who are your favorite Authors?
Gary Jennings, Katherine Neville, Tess Gerritsen, J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan.
What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
My all time favorite novel is Aztec by Gary Jennings. It is an amazing book with no extraneous detail. Everything is included for a later plot function. I must warn people that it is the most bloody, violent, graphic sex filled novel that I have ever read. There are human sacrifices described in vivid detail, but it is an amazing feat of storytelling.
My favorite reference book was written for actors, but I find it more inspiring than any book written specifically on the craft of writing. I have read Audition: Everything an actor needs to know to get the part by Michael Shurtleff countless times. He explains how actors should look at stage scripts and find the inner drama in the lines, and as a writer I look at his advice as telling me what I need to include in my writing. The mantra I have for writing is a three word thesis by Shurtleff: Conflict is drama.
In writing drama one must seek out conflict and raise the stakes for our protagonists as much as possible. Our heroes need to dream big and take risks.
What are you currently reading?
Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex. It is a story about Isabella and Beatrice Este of Ferrara. The House of Este were the patrons for Boiardo and Ariosto, so I am thrilled to read a story that takes place during the time those poets were composing their masterpieces.
How do readers find out more about you?
They can visit my website at www.LindaCMcCabe.com or my blog, where I have many posts about my travels to France performing research for my story. I also include many photos showing historical items and fantastic landscapes. I visited France this summer to research my sequel and have a wealth of material for future blog posts.
Quest of the Warrior Maid is available as an ebook on many online sites such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Sony ebookstore. There is also a trade paperback available on a global basis either through online retailers or it can be ordered at your favorite bookshop.
I have begun the process of recording audio podcasts that I plan on uploading to Podiobooks.com for those who prefer audio books. They will be uploaded in serial installments once I am satisfied with the quality and have enough ready in advance to be able to update this on a regular basis.
I am also willing on speaking to book clubs by speaker phone or Skype. I included several sample questions for book clubs to consider as conversation starters. I look forward to hearing from fans of this story and answering their questions, please email me at linda (dot) mccabe (at) gmail.com to arrange a time for an author chat.