Guest Post: Kathleen Cunningham Guler, Author of12:36 AM
Today we're welcoming Kathleen Cunningham Guler to Marta's Meanderings. Kathleen is the author of A Land Beyond Ravens (Macsen's Treasure) and is virtually touring the blogosphere in October on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!
I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Kathleen for being here today! I think you'll find it interesting to read how a character was born.
How it all got started
Thank you so much for inviting me to write a guest post. I am honored!
Where does an author start? In any form of writing fiction, a story starts with an observation, a tiny spark of an idea, a question of “what if this happened? Would it cause that?” or any of a zillion other ideas. From there, it’s sit down at the keyboard and start experimenting: outline, character descriptions, think sessions, a few glasses of wine…
The written word has always been my favorite way to communicate. Must be in the blood—several of my ancestors were writers. I was also the weird kid in school who, if I didn’t like the reading assignment, would make up my own story when I got home. Television’s aspiring writer John-boy Walton was my hero. I faithfully kept journals like he did, wrote short stories, poetry, plays, all with little direction.
Then came the dream and the novel that inspired me to write my own. Grand aspirations! The book, a historical novel, was terrible. Not to sound snarky, but in a moment of great egotism, I muttered, “Bet I could do at least as good as this…”
The dream was literally that: a dream—a brief sequence that took place in a dark, dank, smelly natural tunnel inside a mountain. A dark-haired man in medieval garb, complete with sword and daggers, found a semi-conscious woman lying in the filthy seeping water on the tunnel’s floor. That was all, but it stayed with me as if it were a memory of something experienced in person. Very Freudian, indeed!
So…who was this man? Why was he there? Did he know the woman? Did she know him? When did this take place?
Could it be used in a novel?
Those questions led not only to the creation of a novel but began a whole series. From that brief sequence (in the middle of the first book)—plus the sense that the man belonged to the fifth century—the story and character of Marcus ap Iorwerth emerged. He is not based on anyone I’ve met, but after a lot of research and questions—what kind of man in that time would risk everything to set things right and how would he go about it—answers came. He had to be physically and mentally tough, have a streak of daring bordering on suicide (his dark side!), and have a loyalty to an ideal (freedom from oppression) that drives him. He needed cleverness, “street smarts,” a decent education for the time, stubbornness, political astuteness, an iron will and the ability to love very deeply. He’s also got a wicked, sardonic sense of humor.
Now that the final book in the series, A Land Beyond Ravens, is done, I will miss writing about Marcus and his life. Think I’ll break out another bottle of wine and make a toast to him: here’s to great and sometimes strange dreams!
About the Author
Novelist Kathleen Cunningham Guler is the author of the multi-award winning Macsen’s Treasure Series. Drawing on a long background in literature and history as well as her Welsh and Scottish heritage, she has published numerous articles, essays, reviews, short stories and poetry. The author is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the International Arthurian Society and participates in various writing organizations.
You can visit her website at KathleenGuler.com