Sunday, January 08, 2006

In Deira wudu

Carla's blog on the Role of Women in Historical Fiction - Anglo-Saxon England nicely brought together the various options regarding women characters. In SoD I was playing around with the idea of a female warrior. It was always going to be a challenging subject - from the writing skills to present it, to the research required. I was extremely intrigued by the idea, but much more comfortable with LOTR, which is comparatively straightforward. There was too much going on in SoD, particularly as I wanted to explore 6th century Deira, and the founding of Anglian Bernicia.

In my book, Bernicia is founded by some disaffected Deirans. There's no reason why not. The Anglian element of Deira is around pretty early (as attested by cemeteries; then again, perhaps not, according to Pryor ...), whereas Anglian Bernicia seems to be confined to the 6th century onward. Not to say there weren't Anglians up there before then, but as a ruling elite, unlikely.

During Alex's Adventures in Critique Wonder Land, one of my critiquers enquired if Ida (legendary first king of Bernicia) was a rather effeminate character due to his name. But I had a strategy to get round that if it became a major problem; Ida sounds like a nick-name, or shortened name, to me. No sweat. One of the main things people pick up on is unfamiliar names - someone pointed out that one of my characters names sounded like a brand of tinned rice! All I can say its that there wasn't tinned rice then, and he came first, so tough (he-he)

In SoD, I also wanted to do a little bit mucking around with Arthurian legend - mainly for the hell of it, not to expound any amazing theories. But some slightly familiar, if random, elements were slated to appear. So much for petty jumped-up warlords; I shall have my revenge ;-)

I still the love the idea, which is why I'm certain I will return to it one day.


At 5:54 pm GMT, Blogger Carla said...

I love the idea too. Ida's story must be well worth telling, and there's no reason at all (as far as I know) why he couldn't have come from Deira. How do you handle the snippet from the Hengist/Vortigern story about Ochta and Ebissa who were sent to the lands about the Wall?

Was your female warrior character inspired by the female weapon burials?

I sigh for the critiquer, but modern preconceptions about names are an occupational hazard in historical fiction, especially in an unfamiliar period. I try to use compound masculine names where possible too, for the same reason as you mention. Tolkien said he got round it by changing Froda to Frodo, and so on.


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