Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest post from Anna Elliott: Ghostly Voices, Faith, and the Otherworld

Good morning, everyone!  Anna Elliott is stopping by the blog today with a guest post about her heroine Isolde, Isolde's grandmother Morgan, and the gradual shift from Celtic paganism to Christianity in 6th-century Arthurian Britain.

I thoroughly enjoyed Twilight of Avalon, book 1 of Anna's trilogy, when I read and reviewed it a year ago.  It's become one of my favorite renditions of the Tristan and Isolde legend, both for the gritty, authentic feel of the setting as well as her powerfully rendered characters.  And so I was pleased to be asked to participate in the blog tour for book 2, Dark Moon of Avalon, in which Trystan and Isolde unite once more to protect Britain's throne from the cunning Lord Marche and his Saxon allies.

Thanks to Anna and her publisher, we also have a giveaway opportunity.  Details can be found at the end of the post.  In addition, should you have any questions for or comments to share with Anna, please leave them below.  Welcome, Anna!

Ghostly Voices, Faith, and the Otherworld

The prologues to all three books of my Twilight of Avalon trilogy are narrated by my protagonist Isolde's grandmother Morgan. (Morgan le Fay, for those familiar with Arthurian legend.) Morgan is dead before my story begins, but she's still a very real force in Isolde's life. In hard times, Isolde often tries to imagine her grandmother there, to picture what advice or comfort Morgan might have given.

Morgan was one of my favorite characters to write, and judging by the response I get from readers, her voice and personality seem to come across equally strongly on the page. But I've also been asked whether she's 'real'. Are the conversations between her and Isolde actually happening? Is Morgan a ghost? Or just a figment of Isolde's imagination?

The sixth century, when Dark Moon of Avalon is set, was a time of religious change in Britain, a time when the old nature-centered pagan beliefs were being absorbed into the new Christian faith. One of my favorite parts of writing the books was exploring the intersection of those beliefs, the ways in which the Christian and the pagan belief systems could be seen to worship a single unified Divine, albeit in very different ways.

Morgan, for me, represents the old pagan faith and the Celtic belief system in which the Otherworld was no far distant heaven up in the sky, but a place separated from our own world by the thinnest of veils. A cave, a lake, a river, all could be portals to this Otherworld in the Celtic worldview. I think Isolde herself stands very much at the crossroads of the old ways and the new, and part of her journey through Twilight of Avalon and Dark Moon is to find her own faith system, to understand both the Christian and Pagan beliefs and see the wisdom in each.

So whether Morgan is part of the Celtic Otherworld or an answer to a more Christianized version of prayer, my answer to the question of, "is Morgan real?" is: She is absolutely very real to Isolde.

And for any readers who enjoy Morgan and would like a peek at her when she was young, I've written a free short story prologue to the Twilight of Avalon trilogy, which centers on Morgan as a young woman. It's available for free download in various e-reader/printer friendly forms here:

A longtime devotee of historical fiction and fantasy, Anna Elliott lives in the DC Metro area with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of Twilight of Avalon and Dark Moon of Avalon, the first two books in the Twilight of Avalon trilogy. For more information, visit her official website.

Dark Moon of Avalon was published in September by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster at $16.00 in paperback.  To enter to win a copy (US and Canada residents only), please leave a comment with your email address.  Deadline is Friday, December 3rd.


  1. Tristan and Isolde appeared as secondary characters in an Arthurian novel I read some time ago, but I would really love to know more of their story. Thanks for this giveaway.

  2. I'm reading Dark Moon right now! Enjoying it very much!

  3. I'm looking forward to reading this -- I have the first book at home. I quite like the sound of Morgan and Isolde's relationship!

  4. I'd love to win a copy of Dark Moon. I have Twilight of Avalon on my shelf waiting to be read, but didn't want to start until the second novel was released.

  5. Oops! I forgot to include my email address in my last post. Here is it:

    confessions dot avidreader at gmail dot com

  6. Thanks so much for having me, Sarah! And I'm so happy you're enjoying Dark Moon, Betty--it always makes my day to hear that!

  7. I loved the first book in the series and can't wait to read the second!