They have been reprinted here with permission.
Interview with Dee Marie, author of Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy
by Lillian Hawkins (August, 2008)
I am truly delighted to finally get the chance to do this particular interview. I've been impatiently waiting to interview Dee Marie about her debut novel, Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy, for almost four years. You see, I've had the pleasure of working closing with this phenomenal woman for several years at one of the largest digital art sites on the Internet. During the time I've known her, I have greatly admired her professionalism, attention to detail, sense of fairness, her warm, generous and gentle nature.
Dee Marie, as well as a novelist, was also the toughest, most exacting, and picky editor you could possibly imagine. And I LOVED her for it...well, at least most of the time. Although we have never met in person, I know we are kindred spirits and I will always consider her a dear friend. Dee Marie is an award-winning author, editor and artist and I am admittedly one of her biggest fans.
When we started working together Dee Marie was the Editor-in-Chief of a an internationally published computer graphic magazine, and later became the Editor-in-Chief of the Front Page News at the Renderosity Art Community. She is an accomplished interviewer and skilled writer as demonstrated by her long list of credits, which can be found here.
While we were working together I discovered Dee Marie's hidden passion for "All things Arthurian" and that she was writing her first Arthurian novel. I've been on the side-lines prodding, I mean encouraging, her along the way, and not so patiently waiting for her to finish this brilliant labor of love.
Lucky for me, during this creative process the tables turned and I got the chance to edit her work! (Yes, that was a interesting turn of the tide.) While reading the manuscript, I knew this book was something special, something magical. The vivid tale she spun about The Sons of Avalon had me in it's masterful grip immediately, and then left me breathless and wanting more even after the final chapter. While we celebrate the release of her first novel, I admit I am already eager to read the next book.
I would like to introduce you to Dee Marie as she shares some of the secrets behind The Sons of Avalon:
What was the inspiration behind your novel, Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy?
One night, when I had just slipped into slumber, I felt the soft breath of a whisper upon my ear. I rolled over, thinking it was perhaps one of the dogs (although the dogs don't whisper in my ear at night, they often have the overwhelming urge to explore my inner ears with a tongue at the oddest of hours).
Over the next few nights, the whispering re-occurred, until in an audible voice, I could hear Merlin's soft-spoken words, his breath a sweet mixture of honey and cloves (this time I knew right away that it wasn't the dogs, as their breath smells of...well anyone who is owned by a dog knows what a dog's breath smells like). [soft laughter]
"Get up...I have a story to tell you." Merlin's breath tickled my earlobe as his words flowed subtly into my imagination, awaking long forgotten ancient memories. So it began, years of nightly visits and endless nights of sleep, as I fell under Merlin's spell.
How long have you been working on the first book of your Sons of Avalon series?
The logical answer, Merlin first came to me in a lucid dream, over ten years ago. However, I have been working on the book a lifetime.
My personal library is overflowing with both novels and research books that delve into the Arthurian Legends, as well as works of Druids, Stonehenge, and Celts.
The setting and characters are so well developed. What kind of research did you do to make it so believable?
I consider the book a work of historical fantasy. Although it is a retelling of Merlin's youth, I have also been cognizant of historical surroundings of the story's time-line. For you cannot truly understand 5th and 6th century Britain, without first studying the ancient Romans and Greeks. It is both a fascinating, as well as a complicated era, and I have an extensive collection of British, Roman, and Greek history.
I was especially interested in the history of London, as a great deal of my novel takes place within the ancient walled Roman city of Londinium. Where, in 1988, archaeologists unearthed a Roman Amphitheatre. This modern day discovery was a pivotal setting in the first book of my Sons of Avalon series.
When the book was in its many final draft stages, I felt an overwhelming need to visit Britain—to experience the land on which Merlin walked. Four years ago, I traveled to the home of the Arthurian Legends, and was privileged to be granted permission to walk within the ancient ruins. It was truly a mystical experience to touch the ancient stones, and humbly amble within the shadow of the ancient gods. From that visit, three essential chapters were born that deal exclusively with ancient Druid ceremonial events, and Celtic lore within and surrounding Stonehenge.
However, the favorite site that I explored was Tintagel. The castle nestled atop a massive stone island jetting out of the sea on the wild northwestern coast of Cornwall.
Who did the cover art?
I originally asked my good friend and amazing artist, Tony Sellars (better known as Bigt) to create the cover for the first book. Unfortunately, at the time I first contacted Tony, the book was still in its infancy. Needless to say, the original cover art was beautiful, but unfortunately during marketing previews, it did not reflect the final version of the book.
Fortunately, my closest friend, and sometimes alter ego, D. M. Haskell, came to my rescue. After researching the book, she came up with the concept for the final design for the current cover. She is also working on the covers for the next two books. I would also like to thank you, Lillian, and Client, for spending time previewing the variety of cover ideas.
Why did you choose to publish your own novel, when there were interested publishers waiting in the wings?
There are far too many pros and cons to fully list why I co-created my a publishing company, instead of going with one of the big publishing houses. However, I will do my best to give a condensed version to your question.
First, and the most important reason I decided to co-create a publishing venue...I fell head-over-heels with the art of publishing while working as a Managing Editor (and later Editor-in-Chief), of an international print publication. I had the itch, the craving, the knowledge, and along with Adobe's amazing InDesign software bundle, I had all the resources. So, publishing my own novel felt like the logical progression.
Secondly, once the book was written (and edited ad nauseam), I wanted to follow in the footsteps of one of my favorite authors, Virginia Woolf, and discover the fun and frustration of establishing a small publishing house.
There is a fine line between the downside and upside of publishing your own work. Being responsible for every aspect of the book is extremely time consuming; from editing (although I was blessed with several professional editors, ultimately the final edits were my responsibility), to page layout, printing, promotion and marketing.
There have been many days that I wish I could spend on the creation of the second and third book of the series, but instead my hours are currently consumed with the business of promoting and selling the first novel. I admit, that on those days, I do have second thoughts about doing it all myself.
Also, the worst obstacle of publishing my own novel was the stigma that self-publishers endure. Many people often erroneously put self-publisher in the same category as vanity publishing. The reality is, that anyone (with an idea for a story and enough money), can become a published author. The bottom line...what truly sets self-publishing apart from vanity presses is the professionalism of the finished product. I am proud of C. I. Publishing, and consider it a legitimate and professional small publishing house.
The advantages and pitfalls of going with a big established house are also numerous. The biggest advantage is having the publisher do all the grunt work: editing, publishing, printing, distribution, and marketing. The disadvantages: the author relinquishes control over the book to the publisher (which can include the cover art as well as the book's title).
Would I ever go with an established publisher? Possibly—if the timing was right and the contract was to my liking. [Puts a pretend phone to her ear, and mouths the words..."Call Me!"]
Has the book been released yet? Where can people buy it?
I received the first galley copy in February of this year. It then went through additional editing and fine-tuning before officially going global in April. The book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and nearly all online bookstores.
If your local bookstore does not carry Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy, be sure to ask them to contact our distributor, Ingram and order a copy...heck, ask them to order tons of copies. [Way evil grin]
Do you have plans for a second book? Will it be a continuation of the first story?
The first draft of the second book is nearly complete, and an outline for the third book in the series has been compiled.
The first novel in the Sons of Avalon series explores the birth and adolescence of Merlin, climaxing with the conception of Arthur. It also delves into Druid ceremony and Celtic Lore. Although I have followed the traditional Arthurian Legends, what makes my story different is that it also explores Sir Lot's coming of age, his relationship to Merlin and Uther, and his initial love affair with Morgause.
The second book begins with the birth of Arthur. The third book in the series ends with the demise of Camelot.
Was there anything unexpected you discovered during the creative process of manifesting the book from an idea to final print?
Along the long road from conception to publication, my biggest discovery was that my characters (especially Merlin) came to life. I would often find myself in deep theological discussions with Merlin about seemingly mundane details. At first, it was a very surreal experience to have several distinct personalities mulling around my imagination...in armor no less.
What words of encouragement would you give to other aspiring authors?
Stay positive. Never stop learning about your craft. Read, read, read...not just in your genre, but read everything you can get your hands on. Write, write, write...even when you do not feel like writing. To get a sense for dialog, eavesdrop on conversations in public places.
Listen and learn from your critics...don't get discouraged...take away what you think is important and let go of the rest. When sending out your work to potential publishers...remember that every "no" is closer to a "yes." Most importantly, don't be afraid to succeed, and never give up on your dreams!
Thank you so much for sharing your creative soul with us!
Thank you so much Lillian and Clint for your continued support and your friendship!
Fun Questions and Answer on Gothic Blend with Dee Marie
by Lillian and Clint Hawkins
Lonely Werewolf Girl, by Martin Millar...and (with no sense of modesty) Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy, by me. [laughter]
Alexander Revisited The Final Cut ... It only took him three tries, but Oliver Stone finally got it right! I especially love the scene between the black stallion, Bucephalus, and the Elephant. Anyone who has seen the movie knows the scene. It was even more remarkable, because the horse hopped fearlessly on his rear legs, three times toward the rearing elephant, truly an amazing feat.
I have two...Hunter Green and Burgundy.
Favorite horror movie?
Warm Bodies, I like my horror movies with quirky humor.
Favorite kind of music?
Celtic, especially anything by Loreena McKennitt
Worst song you've ever heard?
Barbie Girl by Aqua. Need I say more?
Favorite Warner Bros cartoon character?
Pepe Le Pew...a skunk who thinks he's a cat ... just too much fun!
Favorite Star Trek Captain?
It would have to be the "yummy" Captain Jean-Luc Picard. As a side-note: I rubbed elbows with "Scotty" (James Doohan), while in Las Vegas at a cocktail party for Barney (the big purple dinosaur). Now that was surreal.
Favorite dead rock star?
Janis Joplin, the queen of Rock and Roll.
Mary Shelly or Emily Bronte?
I love the Bronte sisters, so it would have to be Emily
Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom?
Love them both, but will have to go with my first TV crush, 21 Jump Street, Johnny Depp.
LeStat or Dracula?
Without a doubt it would be LeStat. I like my vamps with sex appeal.
Who would you cast as Dracula?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, now he could bite me anytime, anywhere...whoops, did I say that??? Blush...Evil Grin.
Who would win in a fight between Godzilla and The Incredible Hulk?
It would have to be Hulk, only because he has cognizant abilities, and has one hell of a man-attitude when he is pissed-off.
Which three fictional or theatrical characters would you invite to dinner? What (or who) would you serve?
2. King Arthur
3. Sir Lot
I would serve a red wine and a copious consumption of questions.
Ever seen a ghost? If yes, please describe.
Yes, I have experienced many otherworldly experiences; and yes, I have also seen a ghost.
When I was two-and-a-half-years-old, I saw my recently deceased grandmother in our backyard. She was holding out her arms to me in a welcoming farewell embrace. It freaked my mother out, as she was sitting in the backyard with several neighbor ladies drinking tea. I am sure she was mortified watching me run across the yard, wearing a big smile, with hungry arms reaching toward nothing, yelling, "Grandma, Grandma."
Later that night, there was a huge thunderstorm, and my father was away. I was sleeping in bed with my mother, and a huge bolt of lightning struck outside the bedroom window. At the same time, my grandmother appeared at the foot of the bed. Needless to say, once again my mother freaked; as this time we both saw the vision of the lady we loved so much.
Who were you in a past life?
Lady Nimue, Merlin's paramour.
Please finish this sentence: My cats are in...
the backyard, pushing up daisies. I miss my cats.
Playing guitar, fencing (with swords and words, but not with barbwire).
Things that scare you?
Power outages just before bedtime.
Places you want to visit?
I would like to re-visit England, and explore more of the Arthurian legend sites. I want to walk among the Dancing Stones once more. When I die, I want my ashes to be spread within Merlin's Cave in Tintagel, Cornwall.
Things you want to learn?
I want to learn to be patient.
What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you?
Drinking wine with Barney the Big Purple Dinosaur, at a Las Vegas cocktail party held to celebrate his new video.
You build a time machine. Where would you go?
Straight to the US Patent office!
If you could bring back any famous dead person who would it be and why?
My first thought was Merlin, but he is constantly alive in my imagination. However, if I could bring only one person back (although she may not be famous to anyone but me), I would bring back my mother (she was one of those ethereal fairy-like people, and she died far too young). I would love to sit across from her and watch her read my novel. I can think of no greater joy.
Anything else you want everyone to know about you?
That Lillian and Clint are two of my best friends, and that we go way back...and that my life is richer from knowing them.