Perhaps because of my ancestry, a lot of Irish and Welsh in there, I am fascinated by the country of Wales and the Cymric branch of the Celtic people. The Arthurian legends are deeply rooted in that region and many of us have read some of the modern adaptations of those marvelous legends by Marion Zimmer Bradley and a number of others. There is something rather ‘gothic’ too about the country which is very rugged for the most part. Although it is not high desert, which is my main and favored milieu, the mountains even though they are not vast like the Rockies and the Sierras, intrigue me. The rough and rugged coast line is also appealing. Spooky old mansions, castles and manor houses abound –or so it seems.
When I started writing Dark and Stormy, a very long time ago, it was mostly an exercise in creating a mood and the leading character was a young woman. The beginning scene with the carriage and the mysterious dark rider was all I’d done. Then along came a Gothic PAX and voila, I already had the start of a story! All I had to do was change the gender of the genteel young person fallen onto hard times and then get him to start talking to me! Yes, that’s where all my tales come from—a character who appears out of the ether and usually demands that I listen and take dictation as he or she relates their story to me.
So, Martin FitzHugh wandered into my cluttered brain and offered his tale. The children came next and the tragedy to add the dark and mysterious plot line. I kept it almost totally in Martin’s point of view—it really was his story. Somehow Dylan never wanted to speak to me. He remained a somewhat enigmatic and reserved individual—not quite the classic Gothic hero but close. Keeping him both attractive and basically a good man but also a bit remote totally met Martin’s views of him so that’s what I abided by.
Research—oh my! Now I know why I do not write a lot of historicals (except westerns which I grew up on the fringes of anyway) although I do love history and read a lot of historical novels, both romances and regular historical fiction. It was my major in college, after all (and a damn poor specialty in which to find a job, by the way!) I also really abhor finding errors or anachronisms when I am reading so I do try to avoid them in my writing. But without the sharp attention of my wonderful editor, I would have made an awful one!!
I knew better, dang it! No, a second son cannot become the title-holder if the firstborn has an heir when he dies, even if said heir is a minor. Serious oops and I did a lot of scrounging on the internet to work this all out. I now know more about the British peerage than I ever expected to so I suppose I should plan to do another tale or two in the Regency/Victorian/Edwardian or similar eras. Do you think?
As I read over the descriptions of the five stories in this PAX, I did another oops. We do not consult with each other much when we sign up for and work on our contributions for each PAX. Maybe great minds run on parallel tracks (titter) or else Gothic and tutor just kind of go together! At any rate, there are two ‘tutor’ tales and in both a child that is mute. Sorry about that coincidence but I feel certain they are very different since one take place in Wales and the other in New Orleans and I know Lynn and I do not write with anything like the same voice and style.
For my next PAX story, I am going back to at least semi-contemporary and a subject or setting with which I am familiar enough not to have to scour the internet for facts. It’s about trains and photography. For more on that and for a photo of Welsh mountains, you will have to visit my blog—www.deirdredares.blogspot.com
Dark and Stormy by Deirdre O'Dare is now available at Amber Allure.
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