It is the year 871, when England was Angle-Land. Of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, five have fallen to the invading Vikings. No trait is more valued than loyalty, and no possession more precious than one’s steel. Across this war-torn landscape travels fifteen year old Ceridwen, now thrust into the lives of the conquerors.
Lost in the frozen woods, Ceridwen is discovered by the warriors accompanying young Ælfwyn, daughter of a Saxon lord, sold against her will in marriage as part of a peace treaty with a marauding Viking war chief. Their destination is the captured fortress of Four Stones, a ruin holding glittering treasure. There Ælfwyn must keep her vow and wed Yrling – and Ceridwen must do all she can to support her new friend in the rebuilding of the ravaged village and great hall.
But living with the enemy affords Ceridwen unusual freedoms – and unlooked-for conflicts. Amongst them she explores again her own heathen past, and learns to judge each man on his own merits. Yrling’s nephews Sidroc and Toki, both formidable warriors yet as different as night and day, compete to win Ceridwen for their own.
Through both guile and goodness Ceridwen and Ælfwyn begin transforming the world of Four Stones. But the threat of full-scale war escalates, and a midnight party of furtive Danes delivers someone to Four Stones who destroys the girls’ hopes of peace and contentment. Now Ceridwen must summon all her courage – a courage which will be sorely tested as she defies both Saxon and Dane and undertakes an extraordinary adventure to save a man she has never met.
The first book of The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy, the historical adventure saga enjoyed by thousands of readers in over 125 nations. With illustrations by Marta Roselló.
How did you decide to create a trailer and what was your experience?
I wanted to be able to speak directly, and passionately, to my potential reader about my novel and the time period that inspired it, and there is nothing better than a brief video to convey a sense of the book and the author. Once I decided what I wanted to say we went around the corner from my house and filmed it, with a Flip camera on a tripod. Filming outside is lovely as you have plenty of light, but if a noisy airplane or boat goes by – or a bee flies in your face, as one did with me! – you must be prepared for multiple takes. But the entire trailer is less than a minute long, so it’s no hardship.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The Circle of Ceridwen is a cultural autobiography of the formation of England, a coming of age story of the main character, 15 year old Ceridwen, and an exploration of its deeper theme, “Who is my enemy?”
I write the kind of book I want to read myself. I write about history as a way to better understand my own times. I write about people who are far better, and (I hope)far worse than myself. And beautiful objects inspire me: the hand-carved combs, skilfully wrought swords, and gemmed goblets of the world of The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy. Almost everything interests me; I’ve studied Anglo-Saxon and Norse runes, and learnt to spin with a drop spindle. My path has led to extensive on-site research in England, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Gotland – some of the most wonderful places on Earth.
In addition to the Circle Trilogy – soon to go from Trilogy to Quartet – my short story “Ride”, a retelling of the story of Lady Godiva, was published in Narrative Magazine, Winter 2008, and translated and published in Russian in The Translator in 2013. An excerpt from my forthcoming novel about eminent Victorian art and social critic John Ruskin was published in Narrative Magazine Spring 2010 under the title “The Lamp of Truth”. I’ve been the fortunate recipient of fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, Ledig House International, and Byrdcliffe.