A big welcome to Nancy Bell. Anyone who leaves a comment on today’s post will be eligible to win an e-book copy of her novel, A Step Sideways, pictured above.
So now, take it away, Nancy.
Good Morning, Everyone. Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Renee. In honour of St. George’s Day I’d like to introduce you to the second novel in my Cornwall Adventures series, A Step Sideways.
St. George was a knight who slayed dragons and Gort, the boy in A Step Sideways, has dragons of a different sort to slay. I have always felt a personal connection with St. George because my maternal grandmother was a St. George. The family line can be traced back to Brittany in France.
Who can think of knights and not think of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? I’ve always been enchanted by the legend of the chivalrous knights and those magnificent war horses. There are so many versions of the legend and the central belief that King Arthur sleeps waiting to answer the call of Britain in the hour of her greatest need. I do believe there is a kernel of truth in the persistent existence of the story. It has survived from the tenth century to this day. Some theories say King Arthur is a figurehead and actually represents more than one man. Others hold that he was an actual king and war leader and was born at Tintagel in Cornwall as the legends insist. There are also the stories of how the graves of Arthur and his queen were unearthed in Glastonbury Abbey in 1191. The Isle of Avalon which is well recognized as the present day Glastonbury Tor and surrounding high land is where the Lady of Lake, some say Morgen La Fey, Queen of the Fairies dwelt. It was she who took the mortally wounded Arthur to the Isle to stay until Britain should need him again. The legends wind around each other and contradict each other, but I believe at the centre there is a grain of truth.
Not far from the White Horse effigy in Oxfordshire, in the Vale of the White Horse, is St. George’s Hill where St. George is reputed to have killed the last dragon in Britain. The dragon’s blood stained the top of the hill and to this day there is a bare patch of earth where no grass will grow. [Insert from Renee: I grew up near there, and can personally attest to this.]
When I was writing A Step Sideways I needed Gort to be able to find confidence in himself and his ability to protect himself. Gort is an orphan who lives with his abusive uncle. As a result Gort is very shy, still has some issues with bed wetting and night terrors. To further hinder his social skills, he stutters when he is upset or excited. What better place to find himself , I reasoned, than as a member of King Arthur’s knights. Gort’s name is taken from the Tree Oghams, it is associated with the Ivy and the meaning of the Ivy is ‘search for self’. That is why I chose this particular name for my character.
Gort has a traumatic experience that allows him to leave his present body and travel back to a time when he was Gawain, one of Arthur’s knights. He is accompanied by his anam cara, his soul friend, GogMagog. Gog is a crystal stallion, one of those who waits in the crystal caves under the Tor for Britain’s call. The two become acquainted near the end of Laurel’s Miracle, the first book in The Cornwall Adventures. In his role as Gawain, Gort forgets his current troubles and immerses himself in Gawain’s identity.
As a Knight of the Round Table, Gawain is a strong protector of the innocent, he is well able to look after himself and those around him. Gog is with him in the form of his war stallion called Ailim. Ailim is also taken from the Tree Ogham and means Silver Fir. Ailim is Gawain’s supporter and his conscience. The stallion is also a scene stealer and has a very wicked sense of humour.
A lot of the action takes place in Cornwall, of course. Many real places are used, like St. Michael’s Mount in Mount’s Bay. Long ago, before the great earthquake of 1275 St. Michaels Mount was known as Kerreck Loos yn Koos which is Cornish for Grey Rock in the Woods. At one time in the ancient past it was not a tidal island but part of the mainland and surrounded by large trees. To support this fact, old stumps and tree trunks have been fished from the bay over the years. Out beyond Lands End lie the Isles of Scilly or the Scillies as they are sometimes referred to. These low sandy islands are thirty miles away and on a clear day you can see them as a smudge on the horizon from Lands End. Legend has it that once these were also part of the mainland. The low lying land was called Lyonesse and there are many references to Lyonesse in the old texts. The great earthquake of 1275 lowered the level of the land and flooded the area. Local fisherman claim that on days when the sea is rough you can hear the drowned church bells of Lyonesse tolling under the waves.
I chose to use this drowned land as the setting for A Step Sideways. In the book this is a gentle green land, overflowing with churches and grazing cattle and sheep. There is also a story about how Arthur’s queen was kidnapped and he has to rescue her. I have woven this into the story as well, most of the action with Gort as Gawain takes place as they struggle to discover where Gwenhyfar (whose name means White Shadow) is being held and how to rescue her. The rumoured love between the queen and Lancelot, Arthur’s most trusted companion, also plays into the plot. I have tried to weave legend with my own version of events in an attempt to give the reader a new angle on an old story. I hope I have succeeded and you enjoy the story.
A Step Sideways is available in both e-format and print version. You can obtain both from MuseItUp Publishing or Amazon.com. You can find me on Twitter at @emilypikkasso and on Facebook at Author Nancy M Bell. For tons more information about the meanings of the names in my books and other interesting things please visit my website http://nancymbell.ca. I love hearing from my readers. And remember: one lucky person who leaves a comment will receive a copy of A Step Sideways in e-book format.
Thanks again for hosting me on your blog, Renee. It’s been wonderful visiting with your followers.
Nancy Marie Bell is a proud Albertan and lives near Balzac, Alberta with her husband and various critters. She is a member of The Writers Union of Canada and the Writers Guild of Alberta. Nancy has numerous writing credits to her name, having three novels published and her work has been published in various magazines. She has also had her work recognized and honoured with various awards, and most recently, a silver medal in the Creative Writing category of the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games in 2013. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction and non-fiction.
Hi Renee, Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I’m looking forward to visiting with everyone today.
Who knows Gort or Ailim might drop by too. That grey stallion sure does like the limelight LOL
Hi, Nancy. Thanks for stopping by.
Nancy’s off grumbling over her keyboard so I’m stepping in. Aillim here, one of King Arthur’s war stallions you know. You’ve probably heard of me… No??? How disappointing. Due to my prowess Gort and I won the last jousting tournament. well, really all he had to do was hang on and let me do all the work, but i guess he gets some credit for not coming adrift. Honestly, it must rattle the brains to land in a heap with all that metal tied around you. No doubt the Lady Nuina took care of his aches and pains. At any rate, welcome to Renee’s blog and please do leave a comment for a chance to win A Step Sideways and find out more about my exploits. Lady Nancy tells a compelling tale so she does. Oops, there’s that fiery chestnut mare Rose, I must be off before some lout like Eldon (he thinks he so-o-o-o cool cause he’s Lancelot’s stallion) captures her attention. What she sees in a horse like him I’ll never know…
Thank you for visiting, Aillim. What an articulate equine! Move over, Mister Ed.
(Alilim blushes and bows) My thanks to you, Lady Renee. ‘Twas my pleasure to spend time in your company. I’ll off and see if I can drag that scoundrel Gort/Gawain away from the charms of Lady Nuina for a few words.
Hi Nancy and Renee
Great info about such a fascinating time in history. I too am enthralled with King Arthur although I haven’t done the research. Your book sounds intriguing.
Hi Christina! Welcome and thanks for dropping by. The cyber cheesecake and snickerdoodles are on the buffet over there (points) There is just something about that legend that catches at the heart and won’t let go. I visited Cornwall last year and a voice whispered in my ear as I stood on the high cliffs at Carn les Boel “this is Arthur’s land” the voice came on the wind as it rose up the cliff face from the sea. I believe at the heart of every old tale and legend there is a grain of truth and so I choose to believe there was a man named Arthur who ruled Britain during a golden age
But that’s just me, I’m a romantic at heart.
So happy you came by, Christina.
Hi, Nancy! Oh my, your book sounds so interesting. And what great research. I’m writing a blog to appear on my site in a few weeks which features author Mary Stewart who wrote a trilogy about King Author and Merlin. Hugs,
Hi Vicki, Thanks for dropping by. Must remember to check out your blog. Mary Stewart’s series sounds very interesting.
What an entertaining post, Nancy and Renee. Love Arthurian Legend:) Your series is definitely on my to read list!
Nancy, your book sounds wonderful. I have loved the tales of King Arthur and the Knights since I was a child, and still do. Guess I haven’t grown up too much, I’m still a child at heart! ( My husband even gave me a stuffed lamb for Easter that sings nursery rhymes…on the ranch, he always gave me a baby “critter” of some kind for Easter, goats, rabbits, sometimes I thought we were running a zoo instead of a horse ranch.) But I digress. I loved the history lesson just now, it made the whole setting become real. And oh, yes, Ailim, I would never forget you! I’m sure you are a big, beautiful stallion. I hope you come visit me sometime.
What a great post! The pictures are fabulous! The book sound great, Nancy!
Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy A Step. I think Gort will be lstopping by later with some thoughts.
Hi Penny, thanks for coming to visit. Everyone from A Step Sideways says thanks too. Ailim is off chasing some cute mare in the pasture. I took the photos when I was in Cornwall last Sept. What a magical land it is. I can’t wait to go back.
Greetings, I must apologize for my tardiness. I was off chasing a dragon that was laying waste to a small town. I have dispatched the beast and all is well. Forgive me, allow me to introduce myself. Sir Gawain (bows) at your service. In a future life I am known as Gort and as my name indicates, I am returned to this earlier life in search of who and what I am at the core. I know, sounds serious doesn’t it? Lady Nancy saw how troubled I was in that future life and arranged for me and GogMagog (otherwise known as that ham Ailim) to revisit the time when I rode with King Arthur, the High King of Britain. It is a time when I am physically strong and able to protect myself and those I love. It is her hope that I will be able to transfer some of that confidence and self esteem to my future self, Gort. Gort is the name associated with the Ivy in the Celtic Tree Ogham and its meaning is the search for self. It seems Lady Nancy was very astute in choosing my future name. Miraculously, my love the Lady Nuina is also present in that future time as my dear friend Aisling. Lady Nancy tells me that love transcends death and endures through the changes in our lives. It appears she is correct in that. I love living in this time of legend, where chivalry is highly regarded and a man’s word carries the weight of his convictions. But, I know this is only a short reprieve and I must eventually return and face the world that Gort lives in and deal with the problems that plague him. It is comforting to know that my anam cara, my heart friend, GogMagog aka Ailim is with me in all my lives and I will never be lost and alone.
I offer you my thanks for coming to speak with us and thank Lady Renee for inviting us into her home. I leave you now to go and see how that great grey lummox of a stallion is making out. I fear it is near his dinner time and he does get quite snappy if the oats are late in arriving.
I give a thumbs up to A Step Sideways and its precursor book, Laurel’s Miracle. I like historical fantasy set in places one can actually visit (well, unless you step sideways properly).
Thanks so much Marva! Your support means a lot to me.
Ta da!!! The winner of the ecopy of A Step Sideways is…….Penny Estelle! I’ll be in touch Penny and get your prize to you asap. A huge thank you to everyone who came by and visited with Ailim, Gort and I. Thanks so much to Renee for graciously allowing us to visit her blog.
Happy writing and reading!
Thank you for coming to visit, Nancy, and congratulations to Penny!