Friday, November 5, 2010

Persia Woolley's historical fiction, Child of the Northern Spring

Hi Persia: Welcome to author interviews. Several people have requested that I interview you about your new book. Could you please give us a brief synopsis?
Persia: Child of the Northern Spring is Book One of my Guinevere Trilogy where I tell the stories of King Arthur as seen through the eyes of his queen, Guinevere.  It deals with Guinevere's childhood, introduces a number of the famous characters, and culminates with the marriage to Arthur and their establishing of the Round Table.  My books are unique in that they are not fantasy or woman's romance and when I began work on them, no one else had thought to write the story from first-person Guinevere.

Can you tell us briefly without giving the story away about the best part?

Persia: My Gwen is a feisty northern Celtic tomboy who doesn't want to leave her own country to go south and marry the new young King.  She constantly hopes to escape this fate until there is an unplanned meeting and their first real interaction establishes their relationship for the next 1400 years.

Please tell me why you wrote about this particular period of time and why it is special to you.

Persia: My rendition of Camelot is based on history so the period was dictated by when Arthur and Guinevere would have lived, if they were real people.  That was at the beginning of the Dark Ages, following the collapse of the Roman Empire and before the Saxons fully conquered Britain (roughly 450 to 550 A.D.).  It was the characters and story that fascinated me--if they had lived during the Middle Ages, I would have set the books then.

How many historical fictions have you written?

Persia: The three Guineveres are the only ones published and they took me a total of eleven years of research and writing.  All three were Book of the Month Club selections, have been published in seven other countries and made into a terrible movie for TV.

Do you read other author's historical fiction of the same time period?

Persia: I don't read other authors when I am writing, but during the research phases I indulge in a wide range of reading.

About how long did your research take on this book?

Persia: "Child" took 6 years of research and writing before it was published.  Book Two, "Queen of the Summer Stars" took 3 years, and Book Three, "Guinevere--the Legend in Autumn" was done in six months.  By then the characters were so complete, I just reported on what they were doing and thinking.

You are very well-known in this community. Could you tell us something about yourself that we would be surprised to hear?

Persia: I used to be a journalist and specialized in interviews and profiles of artists, musicians, actors and writers for the San Francisco Chronicle--it meant 'opening night tickets on the aisle' for everyone from Maya Angelou to Norman Mailer, Anais Nin to Elton John--as well as the Lipizzan Stallions, all the stage productions in town and whatever Bill Graham concerts were on tap.
I also had a season on live TV in S.F. where I produced and hosted my own interview show which included the film maker Richard Attenborough--before he did 'Ghandi' and became Sir Richard-Lyle Tuttle, the renowned tattoo artist who did the Jackson brothers and Janis, etc. He was a trip, and we became friends as a result.
After moving to Auburn in the Sierra foothills, I began to write for the local weekly paper doing interviews, business profiles and reviews of anything vaguely cultural; also had my own column about life in general whenever I felt like it.
I love journalism because it gets you behind the scenes and gives you an excuse to meet fascinating people and ask impertinent questions--plus you have a reason to chase the fire-engines and be in the midst of the excitement.

I know what a prolific writer you are. What are you working on now?

Persia: Ophelia's Tale is a finished manuscript, set in 1600 A.D., the year that Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet." It is in need of an agent.

Do you have a web site?

Persia: I'm in the process of designing one.  I do have both FaceBook and Twitter accounts, and they are very useful for communicating with friends and fans.

Who is the publisher of the Child of the Northern Spring and where can it be purchased?

Persia: Sourcebooks is re-issuing the entire Trilogy, and Child can be found at Copperfields, Borders and on line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and various independent stores right now.

Please tell us about what events we can visit you.

Persia: On November 16th I'll present "An Evening With King Arthur" at Copperfields in Sebastopol.  This is an hour that begins with 10 minutes of my reading and talking about "Child of the Northern Spring" and then is thrown open to questions.  I'm glad to answer questions about the legend and its growth over 1400 years, or the historical reality of Arthur and Guinevere, or my own experiences hiking all over Roman and Celtic ruins, staying in hostels and carrying everything in my backpack.  And if anyone has a question about writing and getting published, I'm willing to talk about that too.  This is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. and naturally I'll be happy to sign books.  Future programs will follow in other bookstores and libraries around the area.

That event sounds very promising as well as exciting. Thank you, Persia!

The winner of the autographed book Crucial Time by Elsbeth Benton is Margaret Murray, congratulations!

Please comment on Persia Woolley's interview and be eligible to win an autographed copy of her book. Child of the Northern Spring. Comment by Wednesday, November 17.

NOTE: How to comment: Go to bottom of interview, press blue comments. go to end of everyone's comments, under Post a Comment, write comment, under COMMENT AS, Select NAME/URL, write your name and email address on ONE line, NO URL necessary, Then press POST Comment! Thank you!


  1. Wow, after reading this interview, I think Persia should write a memoir about her writing life. So many wonderful and exciting experiences.
    Am so glad her books are in print again, as they are hard to find. Even with Amazon. Looking forward to the Ophelia book, too, once that agent is found.
    Thanks for another great interview, Jeanne.

  2. Charles Markee - ctmarkee@gmail.comNovember 5, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    A delightful interview that exposes Persia's depth as a writer and showcases just enough of her personal history to make me want to hear more. I was lucky enough to sit next to Persia at the author's table last Saturday and we shared some of our common interests in Celtic history. Some of this same information bubbles to the surface in this interview and reminded me that I want to buy her book. I tried at the conference, but she had run out. Drat! Nice interview, Jeanne, with well thought out questions. And I agree with Malena, we need to have Persia's memoir. Charles

  3. We definitely need Persia's memoir! And I want to know what Anais Nin was like! Thanks for the intriguing interview, and I hope I can make the Nov. 16 Sebastopol date.


  4. Great interview, Jeanne. Really get to know Persia and it would be wonderful if she did a memoir. I've always loved reading about King Arthur, but to have it told from the Queen's viewpoint sounds fascinating. Will have to read those trilogies. Thanks for the interview and letting us get to know the writers.

  5. I read Persia's King Arthur trilogy years ago when she still had copies of the original editions. I so enjoyed the unusual take Persia had on the settings of Arthur's court during this medieval period---quite rustic---not at all like the splendid castles we often imagine. Persia was true to the period, mud houses and straw floors, countrified manners. Yet in all the realism of the time, her characters shine.

    Congratulations to Persia, an inspiration to us all!
    Kate Farrell

  6. Thank you Jeannie for a great interview. Makes me feel like I know Persia better, although we met briefly at the recent Redwood Writer's Conference. I enjoy memoir and would love to read Persia's one day. Barbara Toboni

  7. Arletta Dawdy arletta_dawdy@yahoo.comNovember 6, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    Dear Jeanne,
    The interview was as wonderful as the subject. I couldn't find Child of the Northern Spring and am delighted that Sourcebooks has re-issued the series. I look forward to hours of reading Pesia's lyrical prose poetry, filled with historical detail and accuracy.

  8. Can't wait to read about King Arthur and Gwen's court, with authentic historical details. 11 years of research, wow.

  9. Osha osha@renaissancecs.comNovember 7, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    I love the question: "Could you tell us something about yourself that we would be surprised to hear?" It draws out those rich, juicy details that give us a sense of the author's passion for her work.

    It was inspiring to hear how each book took less time to produce as the work developed an almost autonomous life.

    Thanks for highlighting the author's life!

  10. barbara moehring - barbm30@hotmail.comNovember 8, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Fascinating inspiring woman. Your questions were perfectly designed to capture the essence and dynamics of the writer, the artist, the woman.

  11. I fell in love with Persia's Guinevere when I read Child of the Northern Spring a couple of years ago. She's a spunky girl and her meeting with Arthur is so Gwen- a horse race! I have the third book yet to read and savor, and I'm so pleased the whole trilogy will be available again.

    It is very interesting to learn how authors write. I'll look forward to your blog entries, Jeane!

  12. Great interview with Persia. She is an inspiration as an author, doing the necessary research and sticking with her projects no matter how long it takes! Can't wait to read her book.

  13. A few years ago I tried reading a well-known Guinevere historical by a different author and frankly found it unreadable. This trilogy sounds far more enticing and I look forward to reading it so I can get to know this down-to-earth accessible "Gwen."

  14. Persia Woolsey epitomizes the best of what my imagination brings up when I think of "woman writer"! I can't wait to read her well-researched historical fiction (if that's what she would call it.) I'm so glad it's being reissued now. And congratulations to Copperfield Bookstore in Sebastopol, CA for hosting her reading tomorrow night. --Margaret Murray,

  15. Great interview, Persia & Jeane. Loved this. Look forward to reading my copy.

  16. Books on the King Arthur period include so many differing and varied renditions of the tales including those of Mallory, Bradley, White, Cornwell, Stewart and scores of others that I've voraciously read. Many of those authors made the women of Arthur's court seem like simpering, fainting lilies. When I read Persia's trilogy so very many years ago (ladies don't tell...), her 'take' on the tale became my favorite because her female characters had guts, determination and wisdom. The brave, capable, strong women of Camelot suited my sensibilities.

    I later adopted the name 'Gwen' as my chosen online ID since a strong Celtic woman like Persia's Gwen is something I've always tried to be. I carried the books through all my many moves and life changes; keeping them part of my growing library of treasures. Never realizing that my last move to California would bring me so close to one of my favorite authors, I packed them into the U-Haul for a cross-country adventure with my daughters. Recently, I re-read the trilogy (I don't even want to guess how many times I've read those books)and discovered that another of my favorite authors, Charles De Lint, had done the book review on the back of one!

    Small world...smaller still because of the internet and the chance to 'friend' people like Persia and Charles. Persia is, indeed a fascinating woman and an inspiration. I look forward to buying Persia's reprints for my eldest daughter who lives back in Ohio so she can share them with her daughters and launch another generation of Persia fans.

  17. sivani Lloyd sivani108@sbcglobal.netNovember 17, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    I am looking forward to reading all of Persia's books after this interview. Considering my love for legends and fantasies, I am a little embarrassed that I did not know this author before.

  18. Jonnie Luong jonnieluong@yahoo.comNovember 17, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    How exciting!! I've only read about King Arthur through fairy tales as a child so the adult perspective on this legend sounds very interesting and refreshing. Great interview, Jeane. I especially enjoyed reading the section on Persia's experiences as a journalist.

  19. Persia is as feisty, strong, loving and determined as is her Gwen. "How much is she like you?" someone in the Copperfields (Sebastopol) audience asked last night when she read from Child during "An Evening with King Arthur." "Oh," she replied with a sly look and mischievous smile, "I'd say there are some similarities." The audience laughed and her smile got bigger.

    Persia makes you think, laugh, and soar along with her when she talks and with her characters when she writes.

    I finished reading all 3 books, back-to-back within 5 days. Her attention to historical details blew me away - each and every page. I laughed out loud, cried my heart out and cheered Guinevere, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table onwards in their quest for honor, truth and civility.

    Live long and prosper Queen Persia!

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  21. Thanks, Jeane for this interview with Persia.

    Luckily, I was able to attend Persia's author night at Copperfield's Books and enjoy Persia's flowing enthusiasm that she still has for her writing, readers and books. "Child of the Northern Spring" is on my table beckoning a dip into Celtic history. And thanks to Persia's eleven years of research and travels, my storehouse of the tales of King Arthur just became richer.

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  23. The genre of historical fiction allows the author to transfer us to a completely unusual world of the book.