Let me first say that it’s very hard to pick a “best” book because I have so many that I adore. The winner ended up being The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which inspired me both as a reader and a writer.
I love the Arthurian legends. I started reading about King Arthur at a young age. I couldn’t get enough of the knights, the chivalry, Camelot, Merlin, and of course the tragic love story between Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. I read the stories and watched the movies (Excalibur and of course Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I think I was in high school when I read The Mists of Avalon. The book blew me away. Marion Zimmer Bradley turned the Arthurian tales on their heads. It was King Arthur and many of the familiar legends I’d read so often, but told from the women’s point of view. Morgaine (or Morgan le Fey), who had been portrayed as the villain, became the heroine. The women in the story played significant roles and wielded as much power as the men.
It was fascinating to view the story from a different perspective. Marion Zimmer Bradley added so much depth to the characters (well, the book is 800+ pages!) and provided a logical explanation for why things happened the way they did. The weird Arthur-Morgaine relationship had a much better explanation in this version. I’m also interested in Celtic mythology and ancient Britain and the Druids. The idea that once the world was full of magic and mystery that has been lost over the years is echoed in a lot of fantasy stories, including my own. Don’t we all want to believe magic is possible? That the fae really do exist?
I didn’t start writing fantasy until I was in college, although I have been writing since a young age. My fantasy world is very medieval, with knights and kings and magic and a faery realm inspired by Celtic myths. Not to mention a pickpocket. My world is actually a lot darker and grittier than Camelot, but I’ve been inspired by the Arthurian legends and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s version in particular. My heroine and the other female characters are strong and find their own power even in a society where women aren’t though of as highly as men. And while there’s no love triangle, I’m interested in exploring the idea of whether a king can truly marry for love.
The Mists of Avalon opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities, and that’s what I consider great storytelling.
Kinley, thanks for having me and letting me share one of my favorite books!
Bio and links:
Cindy has always been an avid reader and became fascinated by mythology and Arthurian legends at an early age. She quickly decided she enjoyed creating her own worlds and characters and set to work writing her own stories. At age twelve, she won her first writing contest, a local contest calling for stories written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe. Branching her interests from mythology to classic supernatural tales to medieval history and then to fantasy seemed to be a logical progression. Her fantasy novel, Thief of Hope, was published in May 2011 by Crescent Moon Press and is a 2012 EPIC eBook finalist in fantasy.