Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dragon is born...part II

In my last post I explained how I discovered the hero of my first book while doing historical research on the era of King Arthur. Welsh king Maelgwn the Great, a.k.a. the Dragon of the Island, more than filled my requirements for a compelling protagonist.  Now all I had to do was find a heroine capable of holding her own against his larger-than-life persona. I came up with Aurora, a Roman British princess whose passion and determination is more than a match for Maelgwn's. To secure peace for her people, she is forced to marry the barbarian warlord. But it's not dread of his fearsome reputation that unnerves her, but rather the way his kisses and caresses make her feel.
Although I created these characters from my own imagination, I really wasn't prepared for the way they sprang to life. About halfway through the book, I remember having the sensation of watching a movie, and all I had to do was write down what happened. The rest of the plot took a lot more thought and effort, but the love story seemed to write itself. I knew these people. They were as real as my own family.
But it wasn't until my husband read the book and told me he adored Aurora because she was obviously based on me, that I realized where my heroine had come from. Yes, Aurora does share a lot of my characteristics. Of course I don't have super-model looks (I imagine Aurora as resembling model Christy Turlington, although with a little more meat on her bones. The raw, challenging environment of the dark ages hardly favored the anorexic-prone.) I also doubt that I'm as brave and determined as Aurora. And I hope I'm not quite as rash and impetuous. But if Dragon of the Island is a "book-of-the-heart", then Aurora is some sort of spiritual sister. (In fact, her sisters in the book were loosely based on my own sisters when they were young.)
I also have to say that I am much happier with my own real-life hero than I would be with my fictional creation, as my husband is a definitely more civilized and easier to live with than a dark-age barbarian. (As much as my husband liked Aurora's character, he thought Maelgwn was "sort of a jerk".)  Therein lies the beauty of fiction. I get to thrill to the dramatic heart-pounding adventures of my characters and vicariously experience their passionate romance. But whenever I want to, I can get up from the computer and return to my comfortable, safe and relatively uneventful life, with its modern benefits of antibiotics, indoor plumbing and refrigeration (not to mention chocolate, as many of my friends would add). This lovely balance of imaginary excitement and the calm, mundane everyday perfectly suits my temperament. That's the reason I hope to write fiction until the day I die.
Meanwhile, my characters never really have to face that sort of mortality. In my books, the bold, glorious Dragon and his beautiful consort can endure forever!

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you immerse yourself in history, Mary! Your storytelling is magical--something really special. Keep bringing those stories to us!!!