Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Blog Tour Q&A with Nicole Evelina, Author of Camelot's Queen

Please join me in welcoming author Nicole Evelina to Let Them Read Books! Nicole is touring the blogosphere with her newest historical fantasy novel, Camelot's Queen, Guinevere's Tale Book Two. Don't you love that cover? I do! I designed it! I've so enjoyed working with Nicole, and I'm thrilled to have her here today answering my burning questions about researching and writing Guinevere's story. Read on and enter to win a paperback or ebook copy of Camelot's Queen!

History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.

Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.

Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.

Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.

This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but be prepared to suffer its downfall as well.

Hi Nicole! Thank you so much for joining us at Let Them Read Books!

What inspired you to write your own version of Guinevere's story?

I’ve loved the character of Guinevere my whole life; she was one of my childhood heroes. In fact, I tried to take Guinevere as my confirmation name, but the nuns wouldn’t let me because there is no saint with that name.

When I was in college, a friend gave me a copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon as a gift. I read it and loved it (it changed my life in more ways than I can say), but I hated her portrayal of Guinevere as meek, Christian, and agoraphobic. That led me to seek out other fictional books written about her, and I came across Parke Godwin’s Beloved Exile, which covers her life after the fall of Camelot. That got me thinking that you don’t hear too much about what happened to Guinevere outside of her time with Arthur.

Around that time, Guinevere came into my head and said previous portrayals have done her wrong and it was time for me to set the record straight. We made a deal that day that I would tell her whole life story, from before Arthur through after his death. Here we are 17 years later, and the first two of three books are out.

As such an enduring, popular figure, how did you balance providing readers with something original while staying true to their perceptions of Guinevere?

It’s a tough balance. Part of the originality comes from her voice, which I hear in my head as different, stronger than any portrayal I’ve ever seen. To me, she’s a real person, as three-dimensional as you or I. Part of it also comes from the circumstances I’ve chosen to have her in and the people who are around her. They are what you expect, yet I put my own twist on things. For example, you expect she would be involved with Camelot, the Holy Grail, and Lancelot as an adult, and she is in Camelot’s Queen, but it’s not in the way you expect. I’ve chosen to make her a battle queen who rules equally with Arthur (which is historically accurate for the time because Celtic women had a lot of rights and were sometimes battle trained). She has an affair with Lancelot, but for a different reason than you’ve been led to believe, and the Holy Grail is there, but it’s a bit different than others have portrayed it as well. In addition, I have cast some of the familiar characters in slightly different roles than people may be used to. This is especially true for Morgan, but also holds for Isolde, Elaine, and Merlin. Plus, I’ve added a few of my own characters to the mix.

What types of sources did you draw on to bring Guinevere and her world to life?

Sometimes it feels like the better question is what DIDN’T I consult. I spent about 15 years studying everything I could get my hands on about Arthurian legend, Celtic and post-Roman Britain, the Druid faith (historical and neopagan versions) and related topics so that I was as well-versed in the subject as I could be. Most of it was books, but I also watched several documentaries. A full list of the sources I consulted can be found here: 

I was fortunate to consult with two men who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley with her research, Jamie George and Arthurian scholar Geoffrey Ashe, both of whom were so wonderful to me. I met Jamie when he led an Arthurian Legend tour of England I took a few years ago. Which leads perfectly into your next question.

Did you get to do any traveling for your research?

Yes. I try to travel to as many locations as possible when writing my books because it gives an authenticity like nothing else. Even when you are writing about the distant past, knowing that the hills, mountains, and rivers that you see are still pretty much the same, even if everything else has changed, gives you a bit of feeling of what the place must have been like. Every location has its own energy, and when you’ve been there, you can incorporate it into your stories.

I went to England twice while I was writing the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy. The first time was in 1999, the same year I started writing. That trip gave me the breathtaking location of Camelot in what is today called the Lake District in northern England. (There is a historical argument for a northern Arthur, as opposed to having his seat of power in Cadbury or another southern location. There’s a great book by David Day called The Search for King Arthur that makes a convincing argument for a northern location for Camelot.) I was also able to visit Bath, which ended up becoming my chosen location for the Battle of Mount Badon.

About three years ago, I took a two-week Arthurian Legend tour of England called From Avalon to Camelot hosted by Gothic Image tours. That was how I met Jamie and he connected me to Geoffrey Ashe, who lives in Glastonbury and led us on a tour of Glastonbury Abbey. That trip gave me so many details for Avalon (for which I follow tradition and place in Glastonbury), as well as the idea for Arthur’s southern power base at Cadbury, where a good portion of Camelot’s Queen is set. That, plus having Jamie and Geoffrey’s undivided attention, was so important.

What can readers expect in the final book of the trilogy?

More adventure, romance, and intrigue! I can promise you my Guinevere did not end her days in a convent! You’ll see the fall of Camelot, the battle of Camlann, and what happens to Guinevere afterward, which is significantly more than the medieval legends would have you believe. I’ll give a hint in that Guinevere’s Votadini heritage is very important and that a familiar character from Daughter of Destiny becomes important once again…

I’m hoping to have the book out by the end of 2016 or in early 2017. That’s my ideal timing, but I also want to make sure the final book is everything it can be and is just as strong as the first two have been. Trust me, you are in for one hell of a ride…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author:

Nicole Evelina is a St. Louis historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, has been short-listed for the Chaucer Award in Early Historical Fiction. Camelot’s Queen is its sequel.

Later this year, she will release Been Searching for You (May 10), a romantic comedy that won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests, and Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, which has been short-listed for the Goethe Award in Late Historical Fiction.

She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

She spent 15 years researching Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain and the various peoples, cultures and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome. Other historical interests include the Middle Ages and women who made their mark on history. She’s also a frequent visitor to Chicago, where Been Searching for You takes place.

Her website/blog is and she can be found on Twitter as well as on PinterestFacebookGoodreadsInstagram and Tumblr.

Camelot's Queen is on a blog tour!


  1. Thanks for this fascinating historical which interests me greatly. The author is extremely talented and creative. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Great job on the cover! I love the Mists of Avalon, both the book and the movie. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.


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