20 October 2013

Guest Blog: Octavia Randolph

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Octavia Randolph whose novel, THE CIRCLE OF CERIDWEN, is set in 9th century England during the Viking incursions of the Anglo-Saxon countryside. The author will offer a free copy of The Circle of Ceridwen to a lucky blog visitor; please leave your email address in the comments as winners are contacted privately. Here's the blurb:

Saxon against Viking.  Christian against heathen. The clash of sword and spear in war-torn 9th century England.  A courageous young women risking all to live - and love.  Enter the Circle of Ceridwen...

The year 871.  Of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, five have fallen to the invading Vikings.  Across this war-torn landscape travels fifteen-year-old Ceridwen, now thrust into the lives of the conquerors. Her divided loyalties spur her to summon all her courage - a courage that will be sorely tested as she defies both Saxon and Dane and undertakes an extraordinary adventure to save a man she has never met.

Book One in The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy

**Q&A with Octavia Randolph**

Why did you choose 9th century England as a setting?

It was absolutely one of the most exciting and perilous times in all of English history, the very making of what England would become.  Danish raiders – who later became known as Vikings – had been landing sporadically for years, taking weapons, silver, and of course, slaves.  But then they’d sail home again.  But by the late 9th century, Denmark was becoming seriously overcrowded, and the raiders had a new focus – emigration.  This led to large, well-organized armies landing, and intending to stay. England was composed of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms at the time, and one by one these fell to the Danes. The year The Circle of Ceridwen is set, 871, five of the seven kingdoms had already succumbed, with Mercia dangerously weak.  Soon only Wessex remained, saved by the brilliance of its young king Ælfred.

But the novel is told in 1st person by a 15 year old girl –

Exactly.  I wanted to tell the story of invasion and survival through the eyes of a young woman. It is a tale about warriors, but most of the people affected by their actions were not warriors.  As is always the way with war.

So tell us about this girl, and why you chose her as your narrator.

Ceridwen is really representative of her times on many levels. She is in the middle of tremendous conflicts. Firstly, she’s half Saxon and half Welsh, two groups traditionally at odds with each other. Early in the book she travels from her priory home to a distant fortress now controlled by the Danes, who are very much the enemy.  Then to add to her conflicts, as she settles into her new home she feels the tug of her earliest beliefs. Even though she had been baptized, she was raised heathen by her uncle, in the Old Religion of Wodin/Odin, Thor, Freyja, and all the other Gods common to both the early Saxons and the Vikings. So she finds some uneasy common ground there, as well.

Sounds like she needs to grow up quickly…

And she does. The Circle of Ceridwen covers six months in Ceridwen’s life, but with, of course, tremendous changes to her experience and world view.  The entire Trilogy spans ten years in her life, but now that I’m working on Book Four that is expanding as well. It’s been a wonderful adventure for me and I’m grateful to my readers for bringing me this far!

The Circle of Ceridwen Book Trailer

Learn more about Octavia Randolph

Buy the book at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk: