Hello, Magical Musings readers! I am so excited to introduce you to new feature here on the blog. We have decided to turn my posts into a question/answer session with an author! I love getting to know authors and introducing them to readers so this works our perfectly. Some of you know, but for those that don’t, I run the review blog So Many Reads. When trying to come up with a title for this feature a friend recommended So Many Questions. So, there we go! I hope you enjoy this feature and meet some new authors along the way!
Today, my guest is Author Gwendolyn Beynon! Let’s get to know her a little.
My books are low fantasy historicals set in sixth century Wales. They take real characters of Welsh dark age culture, merge them with ancient mythology and Arthurian legend, and then brush everything over with a healthy dose of dragons (yay!). The first in the y Ddraig series, ‘Sacrifice’, is built around a real virgin hermitess called Melangell who lived alone in the Welsh mountains for years and later founded a sanctuary for the dispossessed there. I re-imagined her story by wondering what if she wasn’t alone out there in those woods at all, what if she was protecting something very ancient and very secret—a dragon egg. And what if the King wanted the egg’s power badly enough to send his warrior brother, Cai, out to hunt it down in the name of the Christian God.
I hadn’t planned on using a character quite so close to the Arthurian panetheon but Cai’s story really intrigued me. Early Welsh literature speaks very highly of him and then suddenly something happens and history begins speaking of him in downright scathing terms. It wasn’t a long leap to imagine that his powerful brother, Artwr, might have had something to do with the sudden shift and that became the springboard for the story of love and loyalty between Cai and Melangell.
Why do you love that genre?
I didn’t know I was going to love historical fantasy quite so much. I took half a year off from writing contemporary romance (after twenty books) to write a ‘palate cleanser’ and I wasn’t even sure what story I was going to write. I just knew it was going to be very different from my usual works. My grandparents were Welsh and everything about Wales’ history and culture and myth and landscapes just captivate me so much; overturn a rock in Cymru and an ancient myth will be wriggling around underneath it. I let all those aspects inspire me and looked for synergistic moments to inspire and steer the story points.
For instance…who knew I was going to write about dragons! It wasn’t my plan. At all. But I was standing in Melangell’s valley deep in Montgomeryshire visualising how the amazing circle of ancient yew trees might work in a story and the magical spring up the valleyside with its healing powers and the whole legend of Melangell (the patron saint of hares) and I turned around and saw a massive rib bone mounted on the wall of the Church dedicated to her. Some say giant’s rib, some say Auroch, some say it was a whale bone pushed high into the mountains by glaciation and kept by Melangell since the sixth century. But I knew as soon as I saw it…. Dragon bone! How completely perfect. The y Ddraig series and Melangell’s dragon valley were born (y Ddraig is Welsh for ‘dragon’.)
As an author I love moments like that. I live for them.
With my contemporary romance and romantic suspense stories (as Nikki Logan) I create the synergistic moments (or my sub-conscious does) but with my Welsh dragons history created them. I just get to have fun with them.
What type of books do you like to read? I am always curious if authors read in the same genre they write.
When I read contemporary fiction of any kind I find it harder and harder to immerse because my writer’s mind can’t turn off. If I’m reading for pleasure (*sigh* remember reading for pleasure??) then I read something that will whisk me away to another world. Paranormal or fantasy or steampunk or even a bit of soft sci fi. YA. NA. Historical. Not really fussed. If it couldn’t possibly be, I’m there!
The thought has crossed my mind that I might be ruining Fantasy (as a genre) for myself, too, but… I don’t care. I love the whole y Ddraig world too much. If it all burns, it will be worth it.
What is the last new-to-you author you have read and would recommend?
I recently read The Dragons Path by Daniel Abraham after I’d read him as MLN Hanover and loved his voice in his Black Sun’s Daughter series. If you enjoy YA, then I’d recommend that series but if you like fantasy then The Dragon’s Path was a strong opening book to what will be a very complicated and involved world. He has a gift for writing strong female characters. Not necessarily ‘kick-arse’ but complex and real and flawed and just…crunchy. I think we’re all more than ready to read females with a bit more subtlety now, right?
For someone a bit newer to the game, I loved Daniel deLorne’s M/M ‘Beckoning Blood’ in which a pair of vampire brothers slaughter their way across the eternity that has been foisted on them. No-one can keep that up forever, right? The protag is technically Thierry who just wants to be a good guy, but his twin brother, Olivier, totally won me from the start. He’s cruel, and bloody, and merciless and morally broken but somehow deLorne has made him so appealing. Redeemable. And that always interests me, when a character I shouldn’t like ends up being my favourite. I’m counting on him getting his own book at some point and fighting for his own HEA. (I give this one a medium horror rating and medium M/M themes, tho, in case you prefer your vampires sparkly and straight).
Definitely ‘Sacrifice’. Partly because it’s the only one out yet (ha!) but more importantly because it sets up the world of y Ddraigand lays all the groundwork for the rest of the series. And, you know, because spoilers! Nothing worse than starting a book with all its surprises already revealed.
Are you on social media? If so, which platform do you prefer to interact with readers? Or do you prefer email?
What is the craziest response you have ever received from a reader after they finished one of your books?
A reader contacted me right after reading ‘Sacrifice’ (like…right after) demanding to know why she couldn’t buy the next in the series. When I told her I was still writing it she asked me if I could tell her what happens because she couldn’t bear not knowing and couldn’t wait until later in the year. That’s the kind of crazy that warms an author’s heart.
What are you working on next?
I’m tag-teaming between Book 2 in the y Ddraig series (‘Ascension’) and my next Nikki Logan contemporary (set in the wilds of Canada). So it’s dragons and polar bears. Predators to the left of me, predators to the right…. Just how I like it.
Anything else you want to tell these awesome Magical Musings readers?
Other than how awesome you truly are? No, just a massive thank you for having me and my dragons along today. They’re slowly getting used to being out in public and I’m thrilled they’ve managed not to scorch or eat anyone yet.
Thank you so much for visiting us today, Gwendolyn!
* * * * *
Gwendolyn’s books sound pretty good, huh? Check out the awesome trailer below for Sacrifice!
Who are the fantasy lovers out there? When you read fantasy, do you like to read about anything in particular? Dragons, faeries, etc?