Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Explore Ireland with Christy Nicholas on The Legendary Tour

The Legendary Tour may have sparked your interest in the ancient history of England and Ireland. Today we have a guest with us who has an intense love of Ireland. We thought it fitting to interview her as a part of our tour.  She has generously offered one of her e-books for the giveaway to be paired with book 3, Morlanos, which takes place mostly in Ireland. 

Photographer of the Mythical, Magical, Mystical

Christy Nicholas

     First of all, Christy, let me say thank you for taking the time to share with us a little bit about your book, especially as you prepare to head over to Ireland once more. I was very excited to run across it as it not only has pictures of some of the mythical places in Ireland but includes the history as well. It’s one thing to tell people that Marshall has written a fantasy series that includes the history and myths of Ireland. It’s another thing to look at a book and read about the very characters I've heard him talk about for the past five years writing this series. I think your book would be a wonderful addition for anyone reading Marshall’s series to be able to envision some of the settings in his book.

What began your fascination with Ireland? Did you set out to write a book or did the book grow naturally from your love of the country?

I think I've always been in love with Ireland. When I was a child, my mom had an Irish Rovers album (The Unicorn) which I memorized early on. My first trip on my own, anywhere, was a 1996 vacation (traveling solo) to Ireland, London and Somerset, England. I remember having dreams about Ireland before I left, and they weren't far off the mark. I think my soul remembers the place somehow.
As for the writing, I have always made trip reports, telling where I drank, what stones I tripped over, who I met, etc., not only to share with others, but to help me remember later. This book sort of came out of that, and a desire to share the magic of the land with others. 

In your opinion, what is the most fascinating place you have photographed in Ireland?

I have a love of the ancient, and one place where you can drink in the ancient and never be thirsty is Carrowmore. There are a dozen and more Neolithic sites within a mile radius, burial cairns, stone circles, all sorts of different sacred sites. Just walking around and realizing this was all created, with a great deal of effort, 5,000 years ago, is humbling and fascinating.

The Hill of Tara plays a major role in the Guiamo Chronicles books. Can you tell us a little bit about its history and the myths surrounding it?

The Hill of Tara is one of many sacred sites in Ireland. It has been the site, for hundreds of years, where the High King is crowned. For any potential king, he must pass several tests. One is that he must drive his chariot between two standing stones, which form a V. These two stones must widen to let him pass, an indication that the land has accepted him as High King. Another test is that he must drive his chariot over the Lia Fáil, another standing stone, and it would screech in response. That screech showed to the surrounding countryside that Queen Madb, the goddess of the land, has accepted him as king. These stones are on the site today, among many other earthworks and mounds, for you to explore.

I love the section labeled “History and ‘Myth’tery" in the book's introduction. Can you explain what you mean by that? I think it would help the reader to understand how authors can use so many of the actual historical figures from a time period and yet take poetic license to weave an enjoyable fantasy.

Irish history is full of myth, and its myth is full of history. For much of the past, the Irish did not use writing, but relied upon the Druids to maintain their history through memorized stories. When Christianity took over, many of these stories were either lost to time as the Druids died out, or were changed with a Christian perspective. Therefore, we have little archeological proof of what stories remain. Many of the myths do, though, have some archeological basis. For instance, the Book of Invasions tells us that the Sons of Míl (the Celtic tribes) came from Spain to Ireland. Recent DNA evidence suggests that this was, indeed, true.

During ancient times in Ireland, the land was divided into “fifths.” From your study of that time period, can you share with our readers why there would be a vast amount of material for an author to pull from to include in an action and adventure fantasy?

There are many tales within those that remain, full of adventure, war and love. The Irish have been, traditionally, a very warlike people, and would often start a war over things we might consider minor – such as boasting about having the best cow in the country, or because a great-grandfather once owned a spit of land.

Is there a particular photograph you would like to share with us from one of these five kingdoms and could you share its significance? 

Sure! I’ve included one I took of the Lia Fáil, the stone I mentioned above at the Hill of Tara. I’m off to Ireland again in November to visit the Hill of Uisneach, the Hill of Tara, and many other sacred sites.

As I have worked with Marshall more on his books, I have come to discover that the history of Ireland is very intricate and involved. What kind of research did you do to gather the historical information accompanying your photographs and how did you keep it all straight?

I have read several books of tales – translations into English, as while I am studying Irish, I am by no means fluent in it – as well as listened to some podcasts based on those tales. My favorites have been Celtic Myth Podshow and Irish History Podcast. Google has also been my friend, including little things, like the proper spelling and accent in Lia Fáil. :D

How long have you been working on this project?

I started writing the Irish book when I returned from my last trip, which was May 2011. That had been my fourth trip to Ireland. I had self-published a couple of books before, mostly trip reports with lots of photos, but this was my first work that offered other information, such as the history, the hidden places, travel tips and the like. I finished it in January 2013, and found a great publisher, and voila!

Do you have other books planned for the future?

I just sent a similar book to the publisher, but for Scotland. It will likely be out after the New Year. Now I’m working on my first novel – a story based on my parents’ love story.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your book?
I think it’s good for people who want a decent founding in the myth and history of the island, even if they aren’t planning a trip there. For those that want to go, however, I think it would be an invaluable resource. I try to offer places off the beaten path – things you might not find on a regular tour or travel book.

Thanks once again for joining us during the Legendary Tour! We appreciate you taking the time and hope you’re having a wonderful time over in Ireland as our readers have enjoyed hearing more about Ireland and it’s connection to Morlanos, book 3 in The Chronicles of Guiamo Durmius Stolo.

Thank you so much for hosting me! 

We have a couple more days on the tour and then the Grand Finale! If you haven't had a chance to enter the giveaway or have missed posts, click below for more information.

About Christy

My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.


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