Saturday, August 22, 2015

Character Spotlight: Melora From "Knight of the Blue Surcoat"

So, just in case you didn't know, I have a novel coming out Summer 2016. Knight of the Blue Surcoat is historical fantasy, and you can find a brief description here.
I am planning a series of posts to introduce the novel to everyone, and what better way to do that than by character interviews?

Melora, King Arthur's daughter, is the the main character in Knight of the Blue Surcoat (or KotBS), so it's only right that we start with her. I'm so excited about this, and I hope you end up loving her as much as I do! (All pictures are either in the public domain, or my own, and were inspirations for Melora)

J. W. Waterhouse (public domain) Source

Who is Melora?

Melora is the sixteen-year-old daughter and only living child of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, of Britain. Though her parents rule a large territory, it is in the section known as Cymru (or Wales) that Melora spends most of her time. The Red Hall, one of Arthur's residences, is where the action in Knight of the Blue Surcoat begins.

Melora's older brother (Amhar) died in a hunting accident when she was younger, leaving her terrified of horses and tearing a major rift in her family. As Arthur's heir, she has many suitors and admirers, but she has no idea if any of them are sincere, or if they only want her kingdom. And she really isn't ready to get married yet. The pressure is on as Melora tries to be her brother, a future queen, and herself, but all at the same time.

A quiet, studious girl, Melora loves to read classic works (her unconventional parents made certain that she could), play her harp, and spar with her father and rambunctious cousins.

Britomart (from the Faerie Queene, named after Britomartis)

Melora's Family:

Amhar was the center of young Melora's world. He was her teacher, confident, playmate, and best friend. Melora measures herself against him and his accomplishments, but she is also comforted by her treasured memories of him. Nevertheless, his violent death still deeply affects Melora and their parents.

Her cousins, the Orkney brothers, are her closest companions and friends. Sir Gawain, in particular, has filled a bit of the hole that Amhar left, though he is wild, brash, and significantly older than Melora.

Though Gawain is important to Melora, no one holds more sway over her than her father, the legendary King Arthur. He is her hero and her role model, and she resents herself for not being the heir he needs to carry on his legacy. Though they are close, they rarely speak about Amhar, and Melora constantly wonders if Arthur compares his two children like she does.

Though Melora is close to her father and cousins, she is finding it harder and harder to relate to her mother, the beautiful Guinevere. Guinevere is elegant, poised, gracious - which gives her little in common with Melora. Naturally, Melora loves her mother, but she feels inadequate and awkward in the Queen's presence, and they both have trouble opening up and sharing their feelings.
Britomart again

Merlin, Sir Mador and Prince Orlando:

Merlin is Arthur's confidant, friend, and closest adviser. He is also a skilled mage and wise man. Melora is intimidated by him, but she knows that he only seeks the best for the royal family. However, he sometimes takes this too far. Merlin seems to think anything is justified if it's good for the kingdom (and his definition of good).

As Arthur's heir, Melora has many suitors, even at her young age. However, the chief suitor (and only really important one) is the Spanish knight, Sir Mador. Eloquent and dashing, Mador frightens Melora with both his dogged pursuit and his polish. Still, she's flattered by his attentions, and he isn't a fool or a fop, so she's reluctant to discourage him.

Orlando is newly arrived at The Red Hall. He's from Thessaly (Ancient region of Greece), and the youngest of three (so he's the spare). Unlike most of the younger men, he has zero interest in finding a wife. He's much more concerned with proving himself as worthy as his older brothers. His interests include studying philosophy, eating, and horses. Melora finds him bold, rude, and alarming, especially when he rides a giant horse into the hall itself. (Bad. Breeding.)

Melora and the Witchwood

Outside of The Red Hall is a massive forest. Though most of it is normal trees and average dangerous, the forest also straddles the border of The Otherworld - the realm of spirits and the Faye. As nights grow long and dark in The Red Hall, King Arthur sends restless, hot-blooded knights into the forest to seek "a wonder," some strange occurrence to regale the company with at feasts. Melora wants to enter the forest, but she's not a knight, and she's far too valuable for such a risky enterprise. Still, she chafes at home, surrounded by so many expectations, and she wishes she could prove herself (as Amhar certainly would have) as worthy to serve her king as any of the knights.

Public Domain. Found here

A note on the names and setting:

The Knight of the Blue Surcoat is a novelization of a Irish-Arthurian ballad. All of the main characters' names come from this ballad and Arthurian lore, but I've basically anglicized them, or used a more standardized spelling. The Red Hall (my equivalent of Camelot) is in early medieval Wales, and the rest of the books locations are also based on real world, early medieval locales.
A quick cartoon sketch of Melora (that I did a few minutes ago . . .)