***NOTE*** Mary will be giving away a copy of The Dragon Prince, the third book in the series, to one lucky commenter.
When I decided to write my first historical romance, I knew exactly what time period I wanted to set it in. Inspired by Mary Stewart’s Merlin books and the movie Excalibur, there seemed to me to be no era quite as compelling as the Arthurian age. I envisioned evocative landscapes of deep forests, mysterious mists, gleaming valleys and wild coasts. Manly, long-haired heroes on horseback wielding swords, fighting for ladies clad in long romantic gowns. I imagined smoky halls filled with stirring music and lively banquets and dramatic hilltop pagan rituals. Conflict, passion and enchantment—this era had it all.
I began researching the historical time of King Arthur, digging through dusty books on dark age and medieval history and literature at the local libraries. It was there I found my hero, a Welsh king known as Maelgwn the Great. In one of the few written histories of the era, the monk Gildas rants on and on about Maelgwn, calling him a “tyrant of tyrants” and also referring to him as the Dragon of the Island. In a time of upheaval, he is a larger than life figure. Indeed, to this day, places all over Wales are named for Maelgwn.
Somehow reading about this long-ago king triggered in my mind images of a fierce, dark-haired warlord with a haunted past. The rest of the story flowed from that and soon I had my passionate but vulnerable Roman British heroine Aurora and the rest of my plot. I wrote the book in less than a year, and having barely finished it, realized Maelgwn’s story wasn’t finished and that I’d have to write another book. A second novel came to be, Dragon’s Dream. Then Maelgwn’s sons appeared and demanded their own stories be told. A few years later I wrote The Dragon Prince to tell Rhun’s tale, in which King Arthur himself plays a fairly large part. Finally, I finished The Dragon Bard, Bridei’s story, set mostly in Ireland and just released this year in print and ebook formats.
I’ve been to Wales three times now and have found the place to be as beautiful and inspiring as I imagined. I know I’ll have to go back to this world, and at the end of The Dragon’s Bard, one of Bridei’s sisters appeared, practically demanding her story be told. (I have a sneaking suspicion she’s going to end up in Scotland, so the book might have to wait until I visit there.)
Dark age Britain doesn’t naturally come to mind as a setting for romance. But I promise you this world has all the ingredients for gripping tales of love, adventure and intrigue, with a bit of magic and some hot sex thrown in as well.
Welcome to the world of the Dragon of the Island, a place you’ll want to visit, as I have, again and again!
You can find Mary at www.marygillgannon.com
Thank you Mary for coming to Heart of Romance and sharing your books with us!