Well! I don’t know about you, but I sure needed some good news for 2020. So yes. Unless you missed the headline: My fantasy novel, Queen of None, is going to be published this fall by Vernacular Books!
Queen of None is a dear book to me, one that I wrote as my sister was coming out of her battle with cancer. I often refer to it as the “thesis I should have written” as I began the work just as I was finishing with my graduate studies. It’s seen a couple of different iterations through the years, but I never quite gave up on it. I am so happy to say that this tale has now found a home.
If you’ve read Circe by Madeline Miller, you’ll know what kind of book to expect. It’s a re-telling of familiar tales through the voice of a character often left to the margins. I discovered Anna Pendragon during my early days of college, rifling through old Welsh texts in the earliest forms of Arthur tales. There, she appears, as Arthur’s sister — a sister by the marriage of Igraine and Uther, half-siblings to the famed Morgaine, Elaine, Morgause, and any number of other sisters attributed to Igraine’s first marriage to Gorlois. Anna wasn’t just intriguing to me because she was Arthur’s sister, but because she would have also been the mother to one of my favorite knights, Sir Gawain, as well as Gaheris and Gareth (and my personal favorite, Anna’s Aunt Vivien, the Lady of the Lake).
What was also appealing for me was the fact that Anna would likely have been married very young, and could have been a mother in her early teens. This, too, fascinated me in terms of storytelling.
For a setting, though, I wanted something different. I wanted a version of Arthur’s Britain that belonged more in the Pre-Raphaelites and Tennyson than in the annals of history. I wanted, in other words, something that felt far more secondary world. I figured, without the constraints of trying to shove the narrative into historical context, I’d have a bit more freedom. I also wouldn’t have to make religion such a big deal. I wanted to focus on the characters, primarily the women. Still, you’ll meet all your favorites, too.
I wanted most of the action to take place in Camelot — or, as I call it (and others have before me), Carelon. Though Arthurian tales are often sweeping in adventure and location, I knew Anna would not be privy to those adventures. But she would have a unique place of position and power. It’s a dark story, not a lot of space for laughs, but one about sacrifice, ambition, family, and ultimately, the bonds of love.
When I saw that Vernacular Books was looking for longer fiction — having known J.M. McDermott for years, and having worked with Eric Bosarge recently — I thought it might be a good fit. So, I took the plunge.
And here we are! The book will be available shortly before Christmas, and truly, I am so excited I could dance. Okay, maybe I did dance a little. There are many more tales I’d like to tell in Anna’s world, and I can’t wait to introduce you to my version of this dark and beautiful mythology.