Today, Mice of the Round Table author Julie Leung stops by to tell us about the influences in her rodent retelling of the Arthurian legend! Plus, keep reading to learn more about this adorable new middle grade series and enter to win the first two books.
Top Influences in My Arthurian Retelling (With Mice!)
by Julie Leung
For most of us, we are introduced to Arthurian legend before we even form the concept of fantasy fiction as a genre. For the lucky ones, these stories serve as a gateway drug to an everlasting obsession for all things involving wizards and warriors, myth and magic. When I was offered the chance to recast a classic narrative through entirely new eyes, I felt a great responsibility to the tradition of the storytellers that came before me. And I found small ways to pay homage to some of the Arthurian lore that inspired me.
- The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson. There is so much iconic imagery packed into this lyrical poem. A cursed woman doomed to look at world through only a mirror. Her choice, or perhaps compulsion, to look directly upon the face of Sir Lancelot. Her deathly figure as she floats toward Camelot in a boat. This particular poem had a profound affect on me as a dramatic teen. And you’ll see many visual references to the above scenes in Book Two, A Voyage to Avalon. Also, if you’ve never heard Lorenna McKennitt’s sung melody to this poem, google it now and be prepared for chills.
- The Last Defender of Camelot by Roger Zelazny. This was more of a recent read for me, and a lesser known short story within a collection of works from the famed science-fiction writer. In it, Lancelot meets with Morgana in a modern day setting, both reminiscing on the time when they forged their legends. To me, the story spoke to the immortality of these characters and who they represent to the world. Throughout the series, I will hint at this a lot, of how Camelot is not necessarily a place but an ideal that lasts through the ages. Also, this is one of the few stories that actually features Merlin as a villain.
- The Once and Future King by T. H. White. It is this version of the Sword in the Stone myth that primarily shaped Book One, A Tail of Camelot. What struck me most about this classic was how witty and humorous it was. Sometimes, we get the misconception that Arthurian lore can be stuffy and grandiose. And while that is true of some source material, (I’m looking at you, Geoffrey Monmouth), The Once and Future King is still a pure rollick of colorful personalities. It reminded me that even though I was dealing with epic stakes and grand myths, it was important to include moments of levity.
- The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. I have never read a book that did a better job of portraying the complexities and pressures of becoming Merlin. Even though the wizard is not an active main character in my books, his presence and influence is felt everywhere. And in writing his character, I wanted to infuse as much of Merlin’s humanity as I had felt reading this book by Mary Stewart.
It is my belief that good stories are not written in a vacuum. Most Arthurian-inspired tales are indebted to the predecessors who created the sandbox upon which they play. I know the Mice of the Round Table series would not be the book it is today without these esteemed highlights in the lore.
Young mouse Calib Christopher has nearly completed his training to become a squire to the Knights of the Round Table when news of a deadly plague comes to the castle. Soon all of Camelot is showing signs of the illness, animals and humans alike. Desperate to find a cure, Calib and his friend Cecily set off on a treacherous voyage to find the mythical, healing island of Avalon.
But even as their journey takes them over land and sea, back at home, Calib’s human friend Galahad discovers that the true enemy may have already found a way inside the castle walls…
Perfect for fans of New York Times bestselling series like Wings of Fire and Warriors, Mice of the Round Table brings to life a legendary world of animals and magic that kids will want to return to again and again.
JULIE LEUNG was raised in the sleepy suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, though it may be more accurate to say she grew up in Oz and came of age in Middle-earth. By day, she is a senior marketing manager for Random House’s sci-fi/fantasy imprint, Del Rey Books. In her free time, she enjoys furtively sniffing books at used bookstores and winning at obscure board games. Her favorite mode of transportation is the library.
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