Guest Post: author Linnea Tanner discusses the background to the APOLLO’S RAVEN book series

This is a reblog of my Guest Post: author Linnea Tanner discusses the background to the APOLLO’S RAVEN book series posted on Mar 21

Marcia’s Book Talk is a wonderful site by Marcia Carrington who features authors and provides insight on what inspires them to write their stories. Be sure to check her site out: http://marciasbooktalk.wordpress.com/

Enjoy.

Marcia's Book Talk

In today’s guest post I have the great pleasure of welcoming author Linnea Tanner to Marcia’s Book Talk. Linnea, author of the upcoming historical fantasy series APOLLO’S RAVEN, provides an examination of the history and mythology of the Celts which she undertook in preparation for writing her books, which makes for fascinating reading. And for more on the topic, over to Linnea…

Linnea Tanner, author photograph Linnea Tanner, author photograph

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Introduction

Linnea Tanner’s historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is the first book in a multi-series that is planned to be published later this year. This is an epic odyssey of romance, adventure, and political intrigue of a Celtic warrior princess who must draw on her mystical powers to save her kingdom and her love, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, from the Roman Legions at his father’s command.

In preparation for the series, Linnea conducted research on the history and mythology of the Celts relevant to…

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Interview Luciana Cavallaro, Author Accursed Women

 

Introduction to Luciana Cavallaro

Phograph of Luciana Cavallaro
It was my pleasure to interview Luciana Cavallaro, an exciting new author of ACCURSED WOMEN, which retells the stories of five legendary women.

Luciana grew up in the small town in Western Australia. The first in her family to attain a university degree, she taught in government and private schools. Her passion for mythology and Ancient History was ignited upon seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. From then on, her inspiration to write Historical Fantasy was born. She has traveled extensively to Greece and Italy— the inspiration for her stories. After working as a teacher in high schools, she decided to fulfill her life-long ambition of being an author and storyteller.

Luciana has completed writing two unpublished novels in the SERVANT OF THE GODS series and has published several short stories which are available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Interview Luciana Cavallaro 

What was your inspiration for retelling the five stories of the following legendary women in ACCURSED WOMEN: Phaedra, Helen of Sparta, Hera, Pandora, and Medousa?

Luciana: The idea for Aphrodite’s Curse came after I read Euripides’ play called Hippolytus. I knew Phaedra was one of Ariadne’s siblings but didn’t know much more about her. I read as much as I could on the character wanting to learn more, but there wasn’t a lot of information on her. So I thought why not write a story from her point of view. She was a relatively unknown character from mythology and I decided this was a great opportunity to give her a voice. I published the short story as an ebook and it wasn’t until a month or so later I had an epiphany and inspired to write stories of women/goddesses whose reputation was tarnished by either events or circumstance. It was a great journey of exploration and I am grateful to tell their stories.

One of the unique aspects of ACCURSED WOMEN is that each story is told by a different storyteller, including a historian and a talk show host.  Did you have a special purpose for retelling these myths from the perspective of various storytellers?

Luciana: I wanted to present the stories in a different light and perspective. Three of the storytellers are male, a deliberate choice as the writers of the day were mainly men who did not paint women in a favourable light. Drake Drabbler in the A Goddess’ Curse did try to emulate the naysayers of the past but I think Hera won that battle. I loved the idea of a talk show host and wanted to write a more contemporary story of the myth of Hera and in a familiar setting.

The monologue was an interesting methodology as I had many readers respond saying they didn’t like Phaedra but really enjoyed the story and could understand her actions. The Curse of Troy was inspired by Herodotos. Not only did he give crucial details about Helen not going to Ilios but I wanted to pay tribute to the first travel journalist. The historian is loosely based on Herodotos, though he never did meet Helen. With Boxed in a Curse I wanted a familial approach to one of the oldest myths in Greek mythology and the origins of the Golden Race orated by Hesiod. The poet did not like women! I also thought it would be a nice way to draw connections between the past and present. Cursed by Treachery was experimental and to be honest I wasn’t sure it was going to work. It was challenging to write a story in retrospect and one I will attempt again. It forced me to consider the actions of the “hero” Perseus and the “villain” Medousa. What led to her transformation and why did it happen?

Each of the short stories in ACCURSED WOMEN present a more favorable perspective of these legendary women from what had been written in the original myths. Was this your intent in rewriting these tales?

Luciana: At the time I thought it would be more thought-provoking to write the stories and present the characters in a sympathetic way yet (and hoped to achieve) make them credible. Real women with issues which today’s generation can either empathise or at least comprehend their actions. I was asked once whether rewriting these familiar and famous characters was a daunting prospect. Even if you haven’t read Greek Mythology most people would have heard of Helen, Pandora and Medousa. At the time no, but once I had finished and published the stories, then it hit me people/readers may not appreciate what I have written. What I hoped to achieve was to make the stories accessible for everyone to read and enjoy.

Some of the short stories have different twists from the original myths. Of particular note is Helen of Sparta from The Iliad. Were these twists based on other historical written accounts?

Luciana: Helen’s story was based on a passage from Herodotos’ Histories on his travels to Egypt. He was told by Egyptian priests how Paris’ ship ran into bad weather on his way from Sparta with Helen on board. The ship was forced to land in Egypt. Paris leaves Helen in Egypt after being denounced by his slaves and the King of Egypt charges him with offences of abduction and stealing from Menelaos. Herodotos even references Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey which indicates Helen was not in Troy during the war. This information can be found in Book Two of the Histories and does lend credence to Herodotos’ theory.

As for the other four short stories, they weren’t based on any historical account. It was my version of telling their stories in a different way or rather, how they wanted their story told.

You are currently writing novels in the Servant of the Gods series. Could you give a teaser as to what these stories are about?

Luciana: The series is about the Greek gods and their impending dissolution. To avert the coming of a new religion they set their children on a quest to recover ancient relics of the Mother Goddess. I have a blurb for book one: THE GOLDEN SERPENT. I hope it’s okay with you if I add it here Linnea and would love to hear what your followers think. It is a work in progress. I haven’t posted it on my blog as yet and your followers are the first to read it.

THE GOLDEN SERPENT
When is a dream not a dream?

What if you’re born during another time grew up in the 21st century and thrust back into the past? Confused? So is Evan Chronis.

One morning he woke up drenched and smelling like he’d been swimming in the ocean. Plagued by strange dreams, sleepless nights and visions Evan seeks the help of a sleep specialist to find a solution. All seems to go well…

Then one night, drawn by screams he ventures out onto the back veranda and sees blood trickling down the limestone steps. He follows the trail down into the garden and as his foot touches the cool grass, he vanishes.

It’s not where he appears, it’s when.

There is no future and no past, just the present.

Thank you Linnea for having me and it’s been a pleasure talking with you.

Further Information

Order ACCURSED WOMEN:  http://www.amazon.com/Accursed-Women-Luciana-Cavallaro-ebook/dp/B00H28TYNWcU

Accursed Women Book Cover

Customer Reviews ACCURSED WOMEN:  http://www.amazon.com/Accursed-Women-Luciana-Cavallaro-ebook/product-reviews/B00H28TYNW/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt/178-4288540-6592459?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Visit Luciana Cavallaro’s Official Website:  http://luccav.com/

ACCURSED WOMEN, by Luciana Cavallaro, Trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBY6antXpPw

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6567841.Luciana_Cavallaro

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Luciana-Cavallaro-Writer/304218202959903?ref=hl

Celtic Heroines: Golden Age of Warriors and Queens

“We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly know. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path…And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all of the world.”—Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Introduction

The epic historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is the first novel in the Spirit Warrior Chronicles set in 1st Century Britain and Rome. The primary character is Catrin, a Canatiaci warrior princess in southeast Britain. Not only is she trained as a warrior, but she uses raven mystical powers to help her parents defend their kingdom against a rival tribal king and her half-brother. She meets the great-grandson of Marc Antony, Marcellus, when he accompanies his father, a Roman senator, to arbitrate a settlement between the rival tribal kingdoms. Catrin and Marcellus bridge their cultural differences and form an unlikely friendship that develops into a deeper relationship which could threaten the political powers in Britain and Rome.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin, Celtic Spirit Warrior

This unpublished novel is inspired by historical accounts and mythology of Celtic heroines who had significant roles as warriors, rulers, and spiritual advisers in the Celtic society. Celtic women were distinctly different from their Greek and Roman counterparts, as they had more liberty, legal rights, and status. This may be due, in part, because females often fended for themselves at home while their menfolk plundered, invaded, or served as mercenaries in foreign lands. Ancient classical historians also provided accounts that women incited, participated, and led battles.

Celtic Heroine Warriors 

Classical writers described Celtic females as not only strong and courageous warriors, but they were beautiful with comely bodies. Classical writer Diodorus wrote Celtic women were “nearly as tall as the men, whom they rivaled in courage.”

Roman historian Marcus Borealis further elaborated: “The women of the Celtic tribes are bigger and stronger than our Roman women. This is most likely due to their natures as well as their peculiar fondness for all things martial and robust. The flaxen haired maidens of the north are trained in sports and war while our gentle ladies are content to do their womanly duties and thus are less powerful than most young girls from Gaul and the hinterlands.”

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

Ammianus Marcellinus wrote a lively description of Celtic woman in battle as follows: “…a whole band of foreigners will be unable to cope with one [Celt] in a fight if he calls on his wife, stronger than he by far and with flashing eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, begins to rain blows mingled with kicks like shots discharged by the twisted cords of a catapult.”

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Celtic woman warrior in sword fight

Though men usually held the highest political authority, it was not uncommon for women to rule as queens and military commanders. The 1st-century Roman historian Tacitus wrote the Britons “are used to women commanders in war,” and offered detailed reports on the exploits of two warrior queens—Cartimandua and Boudicca.

Celtic Heroine Queens

The Sleek Pony

Cartimandua, known as the sleek pony, was queen of the Brigantes, a vast tribal confederation in north-central Britain. Although Cartimandua ruled with her husband, Venutius, she held the real power to the kingdom. When the Romans invaded in 43 AD, both Cartimandua and Venutius realized the political advantages of siding with the aggressors and thus their kingdom because a thriving Roman client state around 50 AD.

However, Cartimandua lost popularity among her subjects when she betrayed the famous rebel leader Caratacus, turning him over to the Romans after he had sought asylum in her court. Her power eroded when she divorced Venutius and then married his armor bearer who she made the new king. Her actions prompted a civil war with her former husband, the Romans entering the fray and helping her to defeat Venutius in 71 AD. Though she may not have been viewed favorably in history, she still nonetheless was a powerful leader.

Celtic Woman Warrior with Sword

Celtic Woman Warrior with Sword

Boudica

Boudica was a charismatic warrior queen who united several British tribes to drive the Romans out of Britain in 61 AD. A bronze statue of Boudica driving her chariot is prominently displayed on the bank of the Thames (London) in honor of her valiant attempt to overcome her oppressors. Roman historian Dio Cassius described her as “very tall in stature, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, harsh in voice…and with a great mass of bright red hair falling to her hips.”

Boudica Statue

Statue of Boudica

Like the Brigantes, the Iceni had formed an alliance with the Romans that at first gave them prosperity and independence. That changed when her husband, King Prasutagus, died in 60 AD and she became the leader of the Iceni. He willed half of his personal estate to Rome in the hope the gesture would demonstrate his fealty and appease the Roman Nero. The other half was bequeathed to Boudica.

But Nero would not settle for half the fortune—particularly to a mere woman. He ordered his subordinates to seize Boudica’s estate and annex the Iceni territory. When Boudica protested, the Roman soldiers flogged the queen and raped her two teenage daughters.

But the Romans would soon face her fury. The details of this rebellion will be provided in the next post.

References

Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Ph.D., Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History Hidden Heroines; 2002; Warner Books, Inc., New York.

Cassius Dio: The Neronian Revolt of the Iceni under Suetonius Paullinus; Book LXII, Chapters 1-12 (AD 61)

Ammianus Marcellinus: The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus, published in Vol. I of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1935; Book XV, 12 The Manners and Customs of the Gauls.

Caesar’s Invasion Celtic Britain; Part 1— Apollo’s Raven

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Celtic Tradition of Raven: I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech (Taliesin). The raven offers initiationthe destruction of one thing to give birth to another. For deeper understanding, the heroine must journey through darkness  to emerge into morning’s new light. 

Celtic Britain Setting

The unpublished historical fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, is envisioned to be the first novel in a trilogy that spans from 24  to 40 AD in Celtic Britain, Gaul (modern day France), and Rome prior to the invasion of Claudius in 43 AD. Though Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain occurred 80 years earlier in 55 and 54 BC, there is archaeological evidence that Caesar’s invasion was not a momentary diversion from his conquest of Gaul, but was instead an effort to establish dynasties of the most powerful tribes of southeast Britain who would owe their loyalty to Rome.

Julius Caesar Statue

Statue of Julius Caesar

The next series of posts will summarize historical and archaeological evidence of possible events that precipitated the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD, commencing 80 years earlier with the invasion by Julius Caesar. The political unrest of competing tribal rulers provided the backdrop for the trilogy about the heroine Catrin, destined to become warrior queen of her Celtic kingdom and the lover of the great-grandson of Marc Antony.


Caesar’s Invasion Celtic Britain

Planning

In 55 AD, Caesar was anxious to invade Britain because powerful chieftains had dispatched auxiliaries to secretly abet the Gauls in their war against Rome. Most of Caesar’s limited information was derived from traders. Thus, he wanted to learn more about the island’s size, the names of tribal leaders, their military state and organization, and the harbors suitable for landing larger vessels. He dispatched Commius, a king of the Atrebates tribe from Gaul, to impress upon the Briton leaders the need to cooperate with the Romans, whose general would soon visit them in person.

Collapse White Cliffs Wall Britain

Coastal White Cliffs Near Dover

As Caesar prepared his fleet for invasion from a port near modern day Boulogne France, news of his intentions were conveyed by traders to Briton leaders. In response, some Celtic tribes from southeast Britain sent envoys promising to give Caesar hostages and to acknowledge the suzerainty of Rome. Encouraged by their willingness to negotiate, Caesar sent the agents back home.

Roman Landing

In late summer at midnight, Caesar disembarked 80 ships, sufficient to transport two legions (about 10,000 soldiers). He left instructions for 18 ships to transport the cavalry further north on the coastline. When his first vessels reached the British shores early the next morning, the whole line of hills (modern day Dover Cliffs) was crowned with Briton warriors. There was little space between the sea and rising white cliffs from which spears could easily be hurled down. As landing was impossible, Caesar directed his fleet seven miles north to an open, flat expanse of shingle beach. Celtic horsemen and charioteers followed Caesar’s ships on the hilltops as they sailed up the coastline.

 

Ancient Roman Ship Replica

Model of Ancient Roman Ship

Battle with Celtic Horsemen

Caesar’s forces had difficulty getting ashore as a result of Celtic warriors battling them on land while his men fought in shallow waters.  Laden with heavy accoutrements, Roman troops were forced to jump overboard into the channel without knowledge of the bottom. While trying to maintain their footing in the surf, the Romans had to fight the Briton warriors who outmaneuvered them on land using trained horses and fighting from chariots.

Replica Celtic Helmet Britain

British Celtic Helmet

At first, the Romans panicked in battle, but Caesar then relied on warships to hurl hot fire of sling-stones, arrows, and artillery at the Celtic troops, driving them from their point of vantage. Caesar recounts that an eagle-bearer from the Tenth Legion emboldened his comrades by leaping into the water and shouting, “I, at any rate, shall not be found wanting in my duty to my country and general.”

 

Pebble Beach Deal UK

Shingle Beach near Dover Cliffs

The battle was fiercely contested between the Romans and Britons. The Romans found it impossible to keep in formation, while the Celtic warriors seized very opportunity to dash in with their horses at isolated groups of soldiers struggling with the difficulties of landing. Once the Romans were firmly on land, their troops charged and routed the Britons.

Vanquished in battle, Celtic tribal leaders sent envoys to Caesar with promises of hostages and submission to his orders. Accompanying these envoys was Commius, who, it will be remembered, had been sent into Britain to herald Caesar’s coming.

(To be continued)

 References:

Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul. United States: Barnes  & Noble, Inc.

John Manley, 2002. AD 43—The Roman Invasion of Britain. Charlston, SC: Tempus Publishing Inc.

 

Historical Fantasy–Balancing History and Spiritual Beliefs

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One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


Balancing History and Fantasy

I envision my project as a historical fantasy trilogy set in Celtic Britain and Ancient Rome in the 1st Century. The first unpublished novel of the series, APOLLO’S RAVEN, has been completed; the second manuscript, RAVEN’S BLACK FIRE, is nearly finished. One of the challenges I have faced in writing historical fantasy is balancing historical accounts with fantastical elements of Celtic spiritual beliefs.

The story is about the heroine, Catrin—a spiritual warrior destined to become a queen in her Celtic kingdom. Enslaved by the Romans, she begins a perilous odyssey where she meets her Roman ally and lover, Marcellus—the great-grandson of Marc Antony. The trilogy will provide both the Roman and Celtic perspectives of the political unrest in Rome and Britain, where powerful Celtic kings competed for power before the Roman invasion of Claudius in 43 AD.

Fantastical Elements

Based on Celtic ritual and spiritual beliefs, Catrin believes everything in the physical world is alive and has a spirit, including: humans, animals, plants, and watercourses. Certain animals are revered by the warrior for specific qualities, such as valor, speed, ferocity and fidelity. By adopting the raven’s emblem on her clothing, armor and face, Catrin believes she will be granted the same qualities as her animal protector. The everyday physical world exists side by side with the Otherworld of the gods and the dead. Catrin can enter the mind of her raven protector to obtain guidance and prophesy. The most important ceremonies takes place within sacred groves of trees.

The evolution of introducing the raven spirit into the story gives fantastical elements to the historical setting of the trilogy. Further, both Celts and Romans believed omens foretold their destiny, and they could base decisions on these prophetic visions. Catrin and Marcellus believe divine powers have predestined them to be together despite their cultural differences.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Catrin, Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Roman Influence in Celtic Britain

Another challenge in writing this story is the limited written accounts of major events in Celtic Britain during the time span between the Roman invasions of Julius Caesar in 55 – 54 BC and of Claudius in 43 AD. Although Romans did not occupy Britain for almost a century after Caesar’s invasion, they still had cultural contacts and political alliances with some of the powerful tribal rulers. Archaeological findings of minted coins, wine amphorae, pottery, and other Roman goods strongly suggest active trading between southeastern Briton tribes and Roman merchants.

Not unlike today where countries protect their global interests, Rome influenced political maneuverings between the Celtic tribes. Emperor Augustus maintained close ties with Britain through agents. In 9 AD, he may have used his power to negotiate a peaceful compromise between two powerful Celtic kings, Cunobeline and Dubnovellous, both who had legitimate claims to the Trinovantes kingdom. A civil war could have empowered anti-Roman factions. It was in Rome’s interest for an amicable agreement to avoid strife resulting in disruption of its lucrative trade in Britain.

Overview White Cliffs Britain

White Cliffs Britain

The next series of posts will provide more detailed background as to what is known about Celtic Britain prior to the Roman invasion by Claudius.

References:

Stephen Allen, 2001. Celtic Warrior. New York: Osprey Publishing Ltd.

Graham Webster, 1993. Roman Invasion of Britain.  New York: Reprinted 1999 by Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group

 

Heroine Mythological Adventure

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Introduction

Linnea Tanner is a native of Colorado where she attended the University of Colorado and earned her BA and MS in chemistry. After working in the pharmaceutical industry, she is now an aspiring writer of historical fantasy, romance, and adventure based on her lifelong passion for Ancient Rome, Celtic Britain, and mythology.

 

Life Venture of Linnea Tanner

As a child, Linnea was an avid reader of Greek/Roman/Nordic mythology which opened up a new world of gods/goddesses, heroes, and mythological adventure.  Using this fantastical world as a base, Linnea imagined herself as a heroine warrior on a perilous odyssey to overcome nearly insurmountable obstacles. Other characters joined Linnea on this journey, including Romans, who taught her about courage, love, duty, loyalty, and sacrifice. Yet most schools taught history and mythology in the biased viewpoint of male conquerors; women were invisible in the background.

Linnea’s childhood characters stayed with her as she began her life venture: marriage to her soul mate, birth of two children, education, and professional career. However, she rediscovered the wonder of the goddess mythology from ancient civilizations where women and men worked in partnership (“The Chalice & the Blade” by Riane Eisler). She was inspired by accounts of Celtic women warriors and rulers, and extensive research and expeditions to the UK and France. In the Celtic warrior society, the rights and status of women far exceeded those of the patriarchal societies of Greece and Rome. During her travels to the UK, Linnea’s passion for writing was ignited after she researched the historical account of the Celtic queen Boudica, whose rebellion almost resulted in the withdrawal of all Roman forces from Britain in 60 AD.

Vision of Celtic Spirit Chronicles

Linnea Tanner has taken the next step in her next life’s adventure of becoming a writer. She envisions completing the Spirit Warrior Chronicles, an epic historical fantasy set in 1st Century Celtic Britain prior to the Roman invasion in 43 AD. The story is about the heroine, Catrin—a Celtic spirit warrior destined to meet the great grandson of Marc Antony (Marcellus) and to become a warrior queen in her tribal kingdom.

The first two unpublished novels of the Spirit Warrior Chronicles are:

  • APOLLO’S RAVEN is set in 24 AD when Catrin begins a perilous odyssey that starts in Celtic Britain (modern day Kent) where she meets Marcellus; ventures into Gaul (modern day France) where she becomes a gladiatrix; and ends in Rome where she reunites and falls in love with Marcellus.
  • RAVEN’S FIRE continues the odyssey where Catrin must take on the dark powers of her raven spirit to fulfill her destiny to become warrior queen. The draft of this manuscript is near completion.

Purpose of Apollo’s Raven Blog

Linnea has begun this blog to share and to survey the opinions of others regarding ancient Celtic and Roman culture and mythology. In addition, she will share some of her research findings and photographs of sites in Britain (ancient Roman Britannia) and France (ancient Roman Gaul) where the heroine, Catrin, travels in her odyssey.