Excalibur: movie vs Legend!

Greetings folks! I hope you have been doing… as well as it’s possible to do at this point. I confess that I really thought we’d be pulling out of this thing by now, and my mind’s pre-conceived narrative is that we should be pulling out of this… and yet we’re not pulling out of this. All I can do is hope you’re well and wish you patience.

But hey, there is something new to read, at least! I have taken it upon myself to break down the ways in which everyone’s favorite King Arthur movie Excalibur does or does not adhere to the actual Arthurian legend, and you can read that sucker right here at: Excalibur: Movie vs. Legend!

I’ll never forget watching Excalibur on cable for the first time, which was considered a bit naughty at the time because of the fully-armored sex in the first few minutes. I then watched it again as I was first reading Le Morte D’Arthur about ten years ago, and that’s the first time I realized that it just has way too much story to tell in two hours and a bit. But it does an amazing job of capturing the tone and feel of the legends, which is an amazing and magical achievement.

Excalibur was also quite influential on my book series in two ways. The first, that the telling of the legend needs to be slowed downso that everything can have it’s impact and importance, not sped up, as we’ve decided everything else needs to be these days. The other is that the whole opening with Uther definitely influenced my decision to have three whole novels before Arthur is born… because I really liked that whole “story before the story” aspect the film has. Although as I write the novels I see that the events of the first three are far from forgotten as we get further into Arthur’s life. The past is very much present in these books.

By the way, I am 318 pages into Book 5,which covers the period between when Arthur first pulls the sword and all of his training before he is coroneted as king.

By the other way, I have a publication where I am posting movie reviews over at Medium. That requires a membership, but you can read five articles a month without paying. My site tends to cover “bad” or “cheesy” movies with a focus on horror and sci-fi, so if you feel like it, head over and check out Telekfilm on Medium. 

Thanks for reading, be well and stay safe. 

Why are there no good King Arthur movies?

Greetings friends! Hope you’re all well and safe and feeling okay. I’ve been a bit on the bummed side lately as I am remembering the days when I really thought this whole pandemic thing couldn’t go on through the summer… could it?

Anyway, I have a new post on the site which takes a look at why there are no good King Arthur movies. Yes, there is Excalibur–which I adore–but even that, you have to admit, is a mess and is wildly overdramatic (in the best possible way). But the piece really isn’t about the movies so much as the reasons WHY it’s so hard to turn the legend into a movie… mainly that it’s too huge, it’s too weird, and it just doesn’t chop down neatly into little, crowd-pleasing stories. You know, all the stuff that makes it great.

And yes, not ALL the King Arthur movies and TV shows are awful. Just most of them. But we’re making big, grand, sweeping statements because that’s what you do to get attention on the internet.

So when you’re ready for a coffee break, head on over to the article and ask yourself:

Why are there no good King Arthur movies?

Loneliness in Fantasy Fiction

I have a guest post today from Steve Gladwin, Wales-based druid bard, storyteller and blogger, co-creator of the mindful storytelling site Stories of Feeling and Being, as well as the author of The Seven, discussing the place of loneliness in fantasy fiction.

Steve wrote to me–via this site–to share his enthusiasm about the books and ask to interview me, which he did in two parts. Since then, we have struck up a corresepondence. Steve is one of the few who commented on the emotional aspect of my novels, which I was eager to hear, since to me they are very emotional and I work hard to (attempt to) make them that way. Since one of my goals is to bring the blank Arthurian characters to life, of course I want to make their emotions real and relatable, as well as to convey the thrills and heartbreak their stories can evoke, so I was very happy to hear that the novels had an emotional impact on him.

One of the things I love about writing fiction is that it reveals hidden aspects of oneself as a writer or one’s preoccupations that one doesn’t necessarily intend, so when you see them emerge in one’s writing you understand a bit more about yourself. In this case, Steve observed that several of my characters struck him as very lonely. This was a surprise to me, as I hadn’t intended to convey any of thm in this way, but as I thought about it, I had to admit it was true.

From the first novel, Merlin’s mother Meylinde is isolated and alone. First her whole family is killed, then she is locked in a tower, only able to trust herself. Then Merlin, her son, must often reflect that he is the only one of his kind of earth, and can never truly encounter anyone who understands him. In the second novel, Vortiger, who Steve responds to especially, has backed himself so into a corner in life that normal human companionship is forever lost to him. And then Uther, in the third novel, is so desperate for love that he is losing his sanity–and his kingdom–over it.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it that way before… although I have realized in the past that I like my characters to endure the greatest hardships possible, haha. But it did make me reflect on how my own emotional states make it into my writing, and also on how isolated these characters are in the original Arthurian legend… for if the lonely king and others of his court appear in fantasy fiction, the King Arthur legend is surely one of the largest inspirations for them.

So please, head over to read Steve Gladwin’s Upon the King: Thoughts on Loneliness in Fantasy Fiction.

Book Excerpt: Arthur and the Little People

Hi everyone, I hope you are holding up well during this long, unprecedented pandemic. By now there have been so many different phases to it that… well, I don’t know what to say. I feel like we were in panic mode, then it went on long enough that we all kind of decided it was over (although it wasn’t), and now I feel like a new kind of normality has set in, and one feels like one should be getting back to normal… only you can’t. And that brings us to today.

Anyway, I have a new excerpt from the most recent book I’d like to share, and it comes with a bit of a story. A friend of mine lent me this book The Journey Through Wales by Geoffery of Monmouth, from 1191. It was said to be a description of his trip through Wales, but it turned out to be much more interesting as a repository of folklore. Geoffery is a clergyman who traveled around to all the different churches in his association, and in doing so he collects all the different interesting stories from each town that he visits, and writes them all down. So while 70% of the book is actually filled with descriptions of the towns and churches that he visits, the rest is jam-packed with all sorts of interesting little folk stories.

Now Book 4  of my The Swithen  series, The Flower of Chivalry,  depicts King Arthur’s childhood, and in the book he develops a sort of “boy and his dog” relationship with a strange amphibian creature. His parents don’t really like it, and think that he should play with normal boys. Now, in The Journey Through Wales, one of the stories Geoffery comes across is about a boy who became friends with a group of little people, and how he eventually lost their trust because he became lonely for his mother. That said, there was also a footnote in the book saying that one of the editor’s students was a Welsh woman, and remembered hearing the story told when she was growing up.

Since I love to expand on the folklore of my novels with… well, more folklore, it occurred to me that this little tale could be woven into the actual novel in quite an organic way, as Arthur’s parents telling him a cautionary tale about why it’s better to have human friends. P.S., it wasn’t the only bit of folklore from Geoffery’s book that made it into the novel.

Discover the story in this excerpt from The Swithen Book 4: The Flower of Chivalry.  If you like it, please share it, leave a comment, you know, whatever it is you do. If you like it, you might like to check out the entire book. In any case, I always love to hear from you. Be well, stay safe and wear your mask.

Read the Excerpt from The Swithen Book 4: The Flower of Chivalry – Arthur hears about the little people.

Screen Shot 2020-07-18 at 5.49.04 PM


New book free on NetGalley

Greetings, everyone, I hope you’re well.

Right to the point: the new Swithen novel, The Flower of Chivalry, is available free on NetGalley. That’s a site that gives you free, usually pre-publication books for perusal in exchange for an honest review wherever you review books. You can get it for free on NetGalley right here.

If you don’t know, The Flower of Chivalry  is a vision of King Arthur’s childhood until he pulls the sword from the stone. But even if you “know the ending,” you don’t know how it happens or all that happens to Arthur to bring him there.

The book explores his relationships with his loving foster mother and gruff foster father–but of course, Arthur has no idea that he’s adopted, and they are forbidden to tell him. He spends his days exploring the forest and comes to help a new friend that is shunned by all others. When one of his adventures is an unexpected success, he drifts into overconfidence and makes a disastrous mistake that nearly ends his life before its begun.

The novel is light, fun and lyrical (until it turns dark and terrifying) and is filled with family comedy and drama, fun boyhood adventures, lots of adolescent confusion and an abundance of magic. I’m thrilled that it has been getting universally great reviews so far, and I’m happy that most people are finding its light, fun vibe an antidote for these grim times. If you’re on NetGalley, give it a shot!

Find The Flower of Chivalry at NetGalley