Monday, November 7, 2011
Guest Post & Giveaway: AWAKENING by Scarlett Valentine
Hi Everyone! I would like to welcome author Scarlett Valentine to the blog. She has a great new historical romance, Awakening out that you will definitely want to read. Scarlett is here today to talk about the history and inspiration behind the setting and characters for this wonderful novella.
Snowdonia and Rhyd Ddu Castle
First let me say, thanks for having me here today. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. And thanks for asking me to talk about the setting for Awakening.
Let me start by saying, I love Wales. Yeah, I know. I’ve lived in Ireland for nearly fifteen years and love it too, but I loooooove Wales. From the moment I stepped onto Welsh soil, I fell madly, deeply and irreversibly in love. Everything I love about Ireland is multiplied with Wales—the people are proud to be Welsh, the scenery is amazing, the culture is fascinating, the history is incredible, and I can’t forget the castles. Welsh castles are simply stunning. And fortunately, Wales is about three hours by car ferry so my husband and I go over as often as we can.
My favorite part of Wales is north Wales, particularly around Gwynedd. Snowdonia is a range of peaks in the Snowdonia National Park, which is at the heart of the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. Mount Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales and England at 3560 feet above sea level, but not as high as some in the Highlands of Scotland. But from Snowdon’s peak, on a clear day and in the right conditions, one can not only see southern and eastern England, but also mountains in the Scottish Highlands AND across the Irish Sea to Ireland. As the crow flies, that’s about one hundred to one hundred and fifty miles in each direction. Until then, I thought it was cool seeing Scotland’s Kintyre Peninsula from the shores of Northern Ireland . . . a distance of only about ten miles! But seeing over a hundred miles? Wow!
As mountain ranges go, Snowdonia is as diverse as any, with rocky slopes, low-growing grasses and tiny wild flowers. But due to its unique microclimate, Snowdonia is perfect for rare yet thriving Alpine flowers, such as the Snowdon Lily.
Wales is also the traditionally richest place in Great Britain for mining, both coal and slate. Particularly around Snowdonia where slate has been mined for the last two centuries. Some of the old narrow gauge rail lines have reopened over the years, now taking tourists to the top of Snowdon for the outstanding views.
Today, the ancient Kingdom of Gwynedd is now just one of several Welsh counties, but it has retained its uniqueness in the country. It’s the largest county in Wales, but it’s also the most sparsely populated. Probably due to such a huge mountain range in the center of it! The people have fought for centuries to keep their Welsh identity intact. They’ve succeeded to such a degree that nearly everyone grows up speaking the native Welsh language as a first language. It’s heard everywhere from cafes and shops to the dinner table at home. And while this part of Wales has welcomed the modern world, they have not forgotten their rich and diverse history as the most powerful of the medieval Welsh kingdoms.
It was my love of North Wales and Snowdonia, and its medieval history that inspired me to write Awakening. While Awakening is first and foremost an erotic tale of love, the historical backdrop is based on real Welsh history—of two kings vying for more land, wealth and power who eventually become related through dynastic marriage and return to war as brothers-in-law. King Owain Gwynedd had twenty one documented children, most of whom were illegitimate, so it was easy to create my Bedwyr.
But as the tale goes, Bedwyr is also being forced into a dynastic marriage to the Prince of Powys’ ward. A man of war, Bedwyr argues with his father until the pot is sweetened to the point that Bedwyr cannot refuse—land, a keep, title and wealth. Unheard of for a bastard son in those days.
So, I had the setting for Awakening—Snowdonia; my time period—1149; and my characters—Bedwyr and Ysbail. Now I just needed a keep, one that promised everything Owain promised his son, and one as formidable as Bedwyr himself. Dolwyddelan Castle.
I love Dolwyddelan Castle. It’s a boxy stone keep set high on a precipice overlooking wide valley. It served as an important outpost to protect the Kingdom of Gwynedd. The site itself included the keep, outbuildings and courtyard, all surrounded by high, protective walls. Compared to the grander castles in Wales, Dolwyddelan was a simple keep meant for a small retinue of soldiers, a few household staff, and a small family. Small as it was, it was also stately enough to welcome guests for a night or two. This was the kind of keep I wanted for Bedwyr and Ysbail, and Rhyd Ddu was created.
While Rhyd Ddu Castle is a work of fiction, there is a small village of the same name located on the southwestern side of Snowdonia. From the late 19th century, Rhyd Ddu was one of the stops on a narrow gauge rail system linking slate mines in south Snowdon with harbor towns such as Portmadog where slate was exported.
I’ve been on some of the narrow gauge rail journeys around Snowdonia, and it’s a very interesting mode of transportation. And I can tell you, the view from the top of Snowdon is truly breathtaking and remarkable. Standing at the summit with Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland at one’s feet, one can image all is right and peaceful in the world.
Thanks for visiting me today and letting me share one of my favorite places on Earth.
Thank you, Scarlett for sharing with us. Wales sounds lovely!
And now for the blurb and an excerpt of Awakening. Please come back tomorrow for my review.
Scarlett Valentine is the alter ego of award-winning romance author, Kemberlee Shortland. Together they write Erotomance -- Erotic Romance.
Originally from Northern California, Scarlett has spent the last fourteen years living in Ireland. She's traveled extensively through Ireland and Wales. When she's not writing, she can often be found castle hunting.
Scarlett's stories cross subgenres to explore hetero, gay and bisexual relationships in a series of stories that include time periods from historicals and contemporaries, futuristics and science fiction, paranormal and suspense, and more.
Awakening is the first book in The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series and is available 2 November 2011 though Highland Press.
Scarlett will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, plus she will occasionally give "surprise" gifts to other commenters on the tour. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
Leave a comment or question with your email address.Be sure to visit the other blogs on this wonderful tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.