Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Michael E. Dellert, about his fiction book entitled, The Wedding of Eithne. Enjoy!
Where did the idea for The Wedding of Eithne come from?
“The Wedding of Eithne” (and my books before it) have their origin in the first complete book that I ever wrote. In rewriting that book, I created a “Cuts” file as a place to dump a lot of back-story and exposition that was superfluous to that story. The “Cuts” file eventually came to some 191 pages of good story ideas in their own right. So in a sense The Wedding of Eithne is the last of a series of “prequels” to a book I’m still polishing for publication.
How did the title of this book come about?
For this book, I wanted a simple functional title that linked well with the last book in the series, since this was a continuation of that story from a new perspective.
I also wanted something that spoke to the particular story question: Will the Lady Eithne actually get married after everything that’s happened in the series to date, and what obstacles will come between her and the final decision to accept or reject the arranged marriage of the title?
What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?
“The Wedding of Eithne” is primarily a heroic fantasy novel, like the other works in my Matter of Manred series. The title heroine, Lady Eithne, is of relatively humble origin (being from the lowest rung of the aristocracy, and a bastard branch of her family besides), and has been reluctant for three books now to become an arranged bride, but she’s thrust into making this choice by events beyond her control. I wanted a smaller, intimate, character-driven story that explored questions of fate, free-will, pre-destination, family, and obligation, without the world-shaking overtones of epic fantasy.
What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?
I was raised Catholic, and have read a lot of “Chosen One” fantasy fiction over the years, and as a father of daughters, and a feminist-friendly person in general, the question of choice and free-will in relation to romance and religion is important me. So questions about fate, free-will, and the nature of evil feature prominently in the heroine’s development. It’s something of an “Abraham & Isaac” story, told from a female viewpoint, with marriage as the sacrificial altar. So these are the predominant themes in “The Wedding of Eithne.”
Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.
Parts of “The Wedding of Eithne” go back fifteen years, and the original draft from which the core of this story emerged was written two years ago in about 90 days. And then this particular book was drafted last year in another 90-ish days, and went through about six months of rewrites before I was happy with the final draft. The process involved many years of researching medieval Irish culture, particularly marriage practices, myths, and legends. I even went to Ireland for a few weeks to immerse myself in the culture.
Tell me about the main storyline within this book.
The Lady Eithne has lived her whole life under a magical prohibition: she may not marry until the portents are favorable, but she’ll always have the right to choose her husband. Now, the portents are favorable, AND they coincide with an ancient prophecy. Eithne is left with little more than a day to decide whether to accept marriage arranged for her. But rival religious and political factions have their own ideas about her wedding plans. How can she avoid becoming a pawn for one side or another, yet still exercise her free right of choice?
Who is the protagonist of this story?
The Lady Eithne is the daughter of a minor aristocratic family, raised in a remote mountain village. Because of her magical prohibition, she aspired to a life beyond the typical fate of being married off as a teenager to the first man who could afford her bride-price. When the years went on, she began to think she’d end up an unmarried “spinster,” and learned about “men’s ways” in order to make an independent life for herself. Now that an arranged marriage has been contracted for her, she has to decide what love really means to her.
Who is the antagonist of this story?
This was actually an interesting problem in writing this novel. The visible antagonist is His Reverence Inloth, a priest who believes that his local religious institutions are corrupt and in need of reform, particularly its marriage practices. He is a native of the milieu, but studied abroad and returned with “foreign ideas” and a mission to make his countrymen “see the light” of the larger religious order. But there are also political opponents and “hidden” antagonists. Inloth’s reformation isn’t all that it seems to be, and not all of his villainous allies are honest and earnest.
What is the major conflict in this story?
As a divorced Catholic, I am myself something of an oxymoron, faced with the question of whether my marriage is actually still valid (no according to the State, but yes according to my Church). So the fundamental question in “The Wedding of Eithne” is whether Eithne really has the free-will to choose her own marriage partner, and what the consequences of that choice might be. She is also faced with the problem of whether her choice (if it is truly free) would be legitimate and valid, given the political and religious conflicts currently dividing her land.
Where and when is this story taking place?
“The Wedding of Eithne” is set in the dark, medieval-style milieu of my Matter of Manred fantasy series. The setting and political culture were influenced by 12th-Century AD Ireland in the decades preceding the Anglo-Norman Conquest, and the religious culture was inspired by hybridizing Irish myths and legends and mystic Pythagorean philosophy with real-life Catholic Church conflicts of the period. Robert E. Howard, Evangeline Walton, CJ Cherryh, and Glen Cook were the primary influences on the writing style, but I could probably spend 100 words just naming authors that have influenced me, there are so many.
Who is your favorite character in this book?
Although I love Lady Eithne and her betrothed, two minor characters who first appeared in my second book recur here: Adarc and Corentin. The first is essentially a fourteen-year-old seminary student, acting as a guide and interpreter for the second, a foreign merchant’s apprentice “studying the market” for his trading company. I love them because they have such divergent world-views, the spiritual versus the commercial. In a way, they represent the warring halves of my own soul, the writer (an act of faith) and the publisher (with all my American capitalist commercialism).
Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?
I’ve already mentioned a few of the elements of my own life and personality that have wormed their way into “The Wedding of Eithne,” like my Irish Catholic upbringing, my divorce, and my daughters. I think any writer worth his salt tells very personal–and sometimes uncomfortable–stories. I’ve certainly taken my own fears of failure and success, and my reluctance to disappoint, and weaved these into the characters. I’ve also drawn on my own family history in developing these characters, though it wouldn’t be appropriate to name names, considering how much the characters have diverged from their inspirations.
What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?
I suppose the whole book is an act of wish-fulfillment in one way or another. I wish I could find the sort of love that the characters in “The Wedding of Eithne” are looking for, a partner that isn’t just obligated to be a part of my life, as a consequence of chance and circumstance, but who really wants to be there. Someone I can believe in and encourage, and who believes in and supports the person I am and want to become as well.
What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?
I most certainly never want to be attacked by giant bats, spiders, or snakes!
Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.
Two songs come to mind: “When Will We Be Married” by the Waterboys and “Short-Change Hero” by The Heavy. As for casting the film, I’ll have to say Keira Knightley from her roles in “King Arthur” and “Domino,” and F. Murray Abraham as the villain Inloth.
Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?
This book closes out what I call “The Eowain Cycle” of my Matter of Manred Saga, setting up the background for the story in my next major book. But one thing I’d like to do with “The Wedding of Eithne” is create an omnibus edition that combines it with the previous three books in the series. I’d also like to create hardcover editions of my books. Several readers have already asked about it. Like many writers, I’m a total narcissist, so I wouldn’t mind having such a thing on my own shelves, something that will really last the ages.
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To Pre-order your copy of The Wedding of Eithne (March 28th release), please visit the links provided.
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