A queen or a prisoner?
Freshly widowed, with a child she can’t possibly have in safety and two grieving daughter, Igraine must negotiate the dangerous politics of a court in turmoil, unsure of if she is its new queen or a prisoner. With Uther’s promises not yet kept, and him slipping further under Merlin’s control, to protect her unborn child, her daughters and the home she has left behind, Igraine is forced to make deals with people she knows are not to be trusted.
MERLIN’S CURSE is the second book by Lavinia Collins in the Igraine Trilogy. Check out the first in the series, THE CORNISH PRINCESS, out now on Kindle.
#1 Arthurian kindle bestseller The Witches of Avalon is available for just 99p for a short time only!
“As always, Lavinia Collins doesn’t disappoint. This first book sees Morgan grow from an innocent child to a young woman who discovers betrayal, the cruelty of a men’s world, and sex.
Once again, Collins has created complex, intriguing characters, and a vivid world that makes you forget the Arthurian legends are just that, legends. They seem real. It’s also refreshing to see them told, for a change, by the female protagonists who are often relegated to one-dimensional characters in the background. Here, Morgan comes forward to tell her own story. And it’s a very compelling one.
If you like the Arthurian legends, or even just a good story, check it out.”
Read the review in full here.
Find out for yourself!
A young noblewoman is caught in between warring factions in dying King Uther’s realm.
The life of the Queen of Lothian explored for the first time in fiction in depth since Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
MORGAWSE features all three books in the trilogy, previously published in single volumes on Kindle, as part of Lavinia Collins’ fantasy chronicles exploring the lives of Arthurian women. Look out for GUINEVERE and MORGAN.
The three books collated here have been described as “stunning”, “gripping”, “simply beautiful” and “enthralling”. Try this volume today and see what all the fuss is about!
A Fragile Crown
Part II of the Morgawse: Queen of the North Trilogy
Ruthlessly dismissed from Camelot by King Arthur, Morgawse returns to Lothian Castle with her sister, Morgan. Her pregnancy remains a delicate secret from her vile and domineering husband, Lot. But he is endlessly suspicious, and discovers her swelling belly. Fuming with anger, he pledges war on King Arthur to regain what he considers the only thing worth living for – honour.
Morgawse is indifferent about the fate of her husband but she fears terribly for her sons as they join their father in battle. She plans to visit Arthur again to try and persuade him to a peace agreement. Despite his hostility, she reminds him that he is, after all, the father of her child. But Arthur has other plans.
You can also find Part I, THE EMPTY THRONE: a gripping medieval romance on Amazon.
Book I, Part I
I didn’t think I would be doing another series of The Editing Diaries. Fool that I was, I thought I had learned so much the first time round that I wouldn’t have that much to share. (This is just one of many examples of my not-so-youthful hubris.) So when I settled down to edit part I of my Morgawse, Queen of the North trilogy, The Empty Throne, I thought, dear readers, that I knew it all.
Spoiler: I knew it only some.
Working closely with an editor the first time was great, and I felt like I learned so much about my own writing process. Not necessarily what to write, but how what I had written could be reshaped into something better. That it was OK to cut (and that cutting is the most important part of editing), and that sometimes it just helps to have someone confirm what you know. It’s easy to become self-indulgent when you’re writing for yourself (which is how I started out) and sometimes you just need to kill those darlings! (Sorry darlings.)
The lessons learned this time were very different, and I’ll come to them properly one by one. But overall, without being too lifelong-learning-y about it, my first experience of it was that realisation that there is always more to do. I thought that I had learned so much from editing the Morgan trilogy that I would have this down in a cinch. I worked through my early draft of The Empty Throne, and I thought to myself, I thought: Oh, ho, ho. Joe will be so impressed with me; he will have almost nothing to change. Ho, ho. (Joe is the name of my editor. Hello, if you’re reading this – and thank you.) Well, dear readers, I’m afraid I was rather wrong. Because, you see, what good is an editor who thinks that everything you have written is fine? I’m a big fan of taking a critical view of my own habits (most of which are awful – life habits, I mean, like only doing the washing every two weeks when I run out of clothes), but that doesn’t make it the most pleasant process. An editor’s job is to point out when you can be better, so when you think you’ve taken on the lessons from the first one, you’re giving them the chance to make the next one (hopefully) even better.
And that’s what’s been so great about the second phase of this, I think. I’m certainly getting different comments and advice from what I had for Morgan. And these are worth sharing again, and I am going to share them with you. I hope you’re going to enjoy them!
Love from Lav xxx
Morgawse I, The Empty Throne, out now!
This post was originally published at the Chapterhouse Blog.
Don’t miss your chance to get the collected version of the bestselling Morgan trilogy completely free for your kindle!
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“Once again, Collins has created complex, intriguing characters, and a vivid world that makes you forget the Arthurian legends are just that, legends… Here, Morgan comes forward to tell her own story. And it’s a very compelling one.” History and Other Thoughts Blog
“An exciting and entertaining tale of a woman who is a witch, an enchantress, a seducer, a lover, a leader, a sibling, a friend, a foe, a victim and a perpetrator. Morgan is the embodiment of feminine power and feminine struggle.” Crystal’s Many Reviewers Blog
The Witches of Avalon, the first instalment of the trilogy, also featured in Crystal’s Many Reviwers’ Top 50 Books of the Year.
Fresh off the press – the first part of my Morgawse, Queen of the North trilogy is available on kindle from today!
THE EMPTY THRONE tells the previously untold story of Queen Morgawse.
A gripping new take on a secret treasure of medieval romance hidden in Arthurian legend
Old King Uther is dying. Morgawse’s greedy and ambitious husband Lot plans to take over and seize the crown. But a strange young boy is found claiming to be the rightful heir to the throne. Overwhelmed with anger, Lot sends Morgawse to the court at Camelot to spy on young Arthur.
As Morgawse gets more and more involved with Arthur she doesn’t realise the dangerous path she is treading.
Morgawse enjoys herself in the elaborate banquets in the great hall, the music and the dancing, and her new found freedom. She hates the old King Uther, but she is glad at the brief opportunity to get away from her capricious husband. A relationship with Arthur quickly develops, despite the risks. Morgawse senses a chance at a better life in Camelot. But the thought of her sons back in Lothian Castle troubles her. And then her mother Igraine arrives in Camelot with some deeply shocking news.
Whilst young King Arthur must prove himself if he is to defend his kingdom and secure lasting peace in the realm, Morgawse must stay strong and defiant .
“I could not put this book down. I cannot wait for the next in the series” Richard Ellis, Glastonbury
THE EMPTY THRONE is the first title in Morgawse, The Queen of the North Trilogy by best-selling historical romance and fantasy author Lavinia Collins. In this extraordinary retelling of the cherished King Arthur tales, follow the tenacious Morgawse on her journey through the intense and fascinating medieval world of jealousy, love, war and witchcraft.
Lavinia Collins is the author of two other epic chronicles of women in Arthurian legend. Check out her GUINEVERE and MORGAN trilogies, both available as single editions on kindle, and in collected versions on kindle and in paperback.
Don’t miss your chance to get the collected version of the best-selling Guinevere series completely free for your kindle!
“a mix of romance and legend along with rich descriptions, I was sucked in by the end of the first chapter.”
“Collins skillfully intertwines legends and magic with historical realism. The world she creates is, obviously, fictional, and yet it feels very real and vivid. It’s full of witches, intrigues, plots, knights, conquerors, love, and quite a bit of sex too! It’s just got everything that a great story should have.”
To read more reviews, click here.
What started your passion for writing fiction?
That’s a difficult question — I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading or I didn’t love to write stories. My parents love to wheel out the anecdote that when I was a very young child of two or three I used to insist on taking a pen and paper to bed to ‘write stories’ (squiggles, but I’m sure they were great). But then again, I also used to insist on wearing a pink woolly hat to bed, and I didn’t become a hat-model. I wrote a bizarre and rather terrifying book when I was about 5, which I won’t relate here, as I read it again recently and the events described were far too disturbing.
What are the main challenges you have found in creative writing?
One of the main challenges I find is getting anything else done. When I’m supposed to be doing the washing up (boring), organising my life (boring) or getting on with my academic work (not boring, but harder work), I have to fight the urge to be lazy and self-indulgent and stay in bed writing instead. I’ve got better; I now only let myself write after 6pm; if I do it in the morning, it’s on my mind all day.
When I was an undergraduate, I wrote less. I was crippled by the idea that I had to write something “literary”, and ended up writing a lot of rubbish that I didn’t enjoy and that will never see the light of day. I did a wonderful masters degree that opened up my mind to the value of popular fiction and it was like an immense freedom settled over me — I could read and write what I enjoyed, and didn’t have to participate in some snobby idea of “high fiction” that I hated reading and was terrible at attempting to write anyway. I think getting over myself and realising that it was alright to enjoy myself, and for things to be fun, was one of the main post-undergraduate-pretension challenges I had to overcome.
Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write the Morgan Trilogy?
When I finished Guinevere, I felt that there was so much story left to be told. I think Morgan is by far one of the most intriguing characters in the whole Arthurian cast, and one with whom I identified quite strongly. On the edge, too educated to fit comfortably in a deeply patriarchal society, and causing disruption by refusing to quite fulfil any of the models set out for her.
How has your academic study of medieval literature influenced your writing?
It’s certainly been a huge source of inspiration for me. There’s so much beneath the surface of medieval texts, and particularly if you look for women, and the ways in which they act (and don’t act) within both the confines of medieval literature and of medieval society. I wanted to show the rich life behind some of these figures that seem, in the original, to move without much emotion or motivation. It’s there if you look for it, and I felt that it was something that I could share and bring to life. Textuality as well is something that has made a deep impression on my work; people in the medieval period often deliberately emulated texts they read, and everything you read from that period is very cross-referential. I wanted to get across a sense of that both in the borrowing of tropes from medieval romance in my own writing and in characters like Morgan’s constant reference to and reliance on books and the written text. I’m fascinated by medieval books, and medieval ideas of the power of the written word and the physical object of the book; that’s why books and reading became such an important part of Morgan.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider as a mentor?
What a question! I was deeply inspired as a child by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, and certainly that’s stayed with me, though I would hesitate to call her a mentor for various reasons that I won’t go into here. I think it’s always complicated, the relationship we have with the heroes of our youth. I don’t think we need to put them away, but it’s important to revise that model of admiration when you get older, even as you acknowledge that someone and their work has had a great influence on you.
If I could pick anyone in the world ever, I would have Christine de Pizan. She was a fourteenth-century French writer who supported herself and her children after her husband’s death with a prolific writing career which mainly consisted of sticking it to the patriarchy. She took on this huge antifeminist tradition of literature and culture, and she both made a success of herself on her own and made a huge impact in the way women were represented in the high medieval literary scene. I love her so much I named a character after her!
I’ve also been lucky enough to have a real-life author mentor. The American crime-fiction writer Kenneth Abel, who has known me pretty much since I was wearing that pink woolly hat to bed, has been generous to give me invaluable advice and support along my journey to here, both on this and the other side of the pond, and I really can’t thank him enough. He’s certainly been a mentor to me on the publishing world, and on writing genre fiction alongside a career in academia. I couldn’t be more grateful for his support.
What did you learn from writing your books?
I actually learnt more from editing Morgan than I did from writing it. I tend to write in a frenzy of (partially wine-induced) typos, so for me working with Joe, the editor, was an eye-opening experience. (I’ve talked about it more fully in a series on my blog.) I was a little nervous to begin with, but I found that working with an editor has already made me a better writer. It’s easy when you’re writing for yourself to become self-indulgent, and also to keep everything you ever write “just in case” — working with someone who clearly ‘got’ Morgan gave me the freedom to be more self-critical of my own work, but also to make the cuts that I needed to make to make Morgan a better book. Sometimes you just need someone else, someone whose judgment you trust, to say ‘yes, this bit is better than that, and that other bit could go’. As a writer whose main foible is endlessly making more words, I’m now learning to make fewer! Wish me luck…
What do you have in store for readers to look forward to in your next book?
Ooh, exciting! I’ve been working on another three-part series, this time through the eyes of Morgawse, the sister who is often (unfairly) chopped out of modern adaptations of Arthurian legend. In this series, we see both further into the past, into a pre-Arthurian Britain through Morgawse’s memories, and further into the north. The history of Arthurian adaptation (and until recently, study) has been rather Anglo-centric for my liking, and I was excited about the chance to represent a different kind of ancient British kingdom, and the politics within it. I’ll be excited to see how it’s received — there’s absolutely nothing out there written about Morgawse since she’s usually sidelined or erased, and I certainly felt this was a wonderful story waiting to be told. Readers can look forward to seeing a lot more of characters who have only been on the very distant horizons of Guinevere and Morgan, like Lot and Uther, and to see the scheming and plotting of Camelot from an entirely different perspective. So that’s (pretty much) ready to go, and I do have something else in progress as well, although I am going to keep that under my (pink woolly) hat for now…