Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 14, 2011

Welcome Kathleen Cunningham Guler, Author of “A Land Beyond Ravens”

Today I’m delighted to introduce to Kathleen Cunningham Guler whose book, A land beyond Ravens, gives readers a fresh, new look at the legends of Arthur and Merlin.

T. Hello, Kathleen, thank you for visiting the blog. Tell us a bit about yourself.

K. Hi, Tom. I’m so pleased to be here! A little about me: I am the author of the four-part Macsen’s Treasure Series of historical spy thrillers set in fifth century Britain. The most recent book in the series, A Land Beyond Ravens, won the 2010 Colorado Book Award and the 2010 National Indie Excellence Award, both in the historical fiction category, an achievement I am very proud of. As a writer and long-time history enthusiast, I belong to the Historical Novel Society, the International Arthurian Society, as well as participate in various writing organizations. In addition, while conducting research on my next book project, I have embarked on a Masters degree in History.

T. When did you start writing?

K. Way, way back in junior high school (yes, I’m old enough that this was before junior high became known as middle school…) my best friend and I wrote short stories for each other, sort of adventures that included whoever our favorite TV stars were at the time. Thank the gods none of those tales survived past those early teen years! Later, in high school, I started journaling and that was when writing grew into a necessary daily function for me.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

K. Mr. Thornton was my high school senior year English teacher. He never knew it but he helped to inspire me into believing that I could write. It was not until many years later that I realized how much I was influenced by this teacher. I don’t know if he is still out there somewhere, but if he is, I would like him to know how much I appreciate the gift of his knowledge and inspiration.

T. Please tell us about your current works in publication and in progress.

K. The four-book Macsen’s Treasure Series follows fifth-century British spy and master of disguise Marcus ap Iorwerth, a man with a penchant for blunt talk, strong drink and a rather scathing, sardonic wit. Nothing like a bunch of stubborn, irascible kings and warlords to keep him busy—for nearly three decades he struggles to not only unite them against foreign invasion but to stop them from destroying each other as well. And along with his beloved wife Claerwen, Marcus follows a greater, even more perilous pursuit—to forge a clear path for the fulfillment of Merlin the Enchanter’s famed prophecy that one day a great king will take command, the king who became known as Arthur of the Britons.

The Macsen’s Treasure Series explores the gritty, historical side of the Arthurian legend—no magic, mythical creatures or chivalry—instead it portrays early medieval Britain in all of its volatile, tribal nature and mystical Celtic roots. The titles in the series are: Into the Path of Gods, In the Shadow of Dragons, The Anvil Stone, and A Land Beyond Ravens.

Currently, I am conducting research for a historical novel that will be quite different. It’s conceived as encompassing four stories, each of which will be set in a different time but related through characters and themes. I have also had a long interest in art as well and there will be a particular object d’art that will reappear throughout the stories as well. It’s not quite nailed down yet as the research is a major undertaking that’s involving quite some time to complete, but this is a project that’s been banging around inside my head for a long time and eager to get out. I do know that the first story will take place in Eastern Europe near the west coast of the Black Sea sometime in the late fourth century BC and will focus on the cultural clash between the ancient Thracians, Celts and Scythians who intermingled in the region and how they were influenced by the Greek slave trade.

T. Are there prequels or sequels in the works?

K. Since the Macsen’s series is complete, I do not plan any prequels or sequels. However, that said, I haven’t ruled out doing a story about a descendant of Marcus’s clan. Just a notion at this point. It could evolve into a short story or a book.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

K. I do both. Since I mostly write main characters that are fictional in stories set in a historical time and with historical figures as part of the background, an outline of the historical framework is necessary to keep real events and people in the right place. I also find a quick and dirty outline for plot is very helpful to keep from wandering off course from the book’s premise and saves a lot of rewriting time later on. Otherwise, the characters tend to find their own way—in this regard they drag me by the seat of my pants!

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing and the changes that are accelerating every day?

K. I think digital is the future of publishing. At my age, yes, I still love a print book even though I own an e-reader and enjoy it. But the next generations are tuned in to electronics from the time they can hold any kind of electronic device. This is how they will read and enjoy books, (among everything else) and as the devices continue to improve in the future, this is how books will be produced in the majority—maybe in a hundred years from now even exclusively. I have seen some authors express a reluctance to go digital. I say, do not hesitate. All my books are now in e-book formats and they far outsell the paper editions. It is worth the effort and expense to convert them. I think it also helps to level the playing field between authors who have big publishers and those from small independent presses.

T. Anything else to share?

K. Yes—I have a blog about researching the historical background of my books that may be of interest to readers. When I find an interesting tidbit during the research process, I try to post a short piece about it. These posts offer a little insight into how and where details in historical fiction are discovered. Being chronically short on time, I don’t get to blog often, but I hope in the near future to post more on how to find a story in history that is worthwhile to write about. My blog is at this link:

T. Thank you for sharing with us, your books are going to make fascinating reading.

K. Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.

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