OK, let’s just suppose that my next novel is somehow connected to the King Arthur legend. I know, it’s a stretch, but just suppose. Ignoring for the moment Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail, in which The Grail tells her story (which includes most of the Arthurian figures, treating them in a humorous but in the end, mostly traditional fashion), so far I’ve told stories about:
- Arthur himself, in Return from Avalon (and Points West). Of course, this isn’t the “traditional” Arthur but a later incarnation. Well, the legend does say that Arthur is resting and healing until the world once again has need of heroes. The current Lady of the Lake is also a featured character.
- Morgan le Fay (Strange Bedfellows), who is still alive in the 21st Century because of her ability to move from host to host as the last one is about to die.
- Nimue (Avalon, S.C., or whatever the title ends up being), who doesn’t actually come to the 21st Century, but rather allows the 21st Century to come to her.
So who’s left who needs their story told?
My first serious thought was: Merlin, of course. After all, Merlin is still alive somewhere, trapped by magic. Or at least that’s the traditional tale. It wouldn’t stretch the imagination too much to have him interact in the 21st Century. But a warning: if you settle for the first idea you have, you’re liable to have regrets later. Better to pick it from a panoply of good ideas. Sort of like a police line-up.
Nevertheless, I was well into deciding that this was the book I wanted to write. It was a mere “one more trip to Dayton” away from making the leap from idea to novel. But then, on a drive far too short to generate such creativity, an entirely different idea popped into my brain, like a coy fairy looking for chocolate: Sir Kay.
Kay, the loveable loser. Butt of all the heroic stories, comic foil of mighty heroes. Sir Toby Belch before Shakespeare. To start with, who would name their son Kay? Did Sir Ector come up with that whole twisted boy-named-Sue logic 1500 years before Johnny Cash was even born (actually, it was Shel Silverstein, giving “credit” where credit is due)? Yes, I know in Welsh it was Cei and it just bastardized into a woman’s name as the language evolved. But still.
Don’t we all adore our loveable losers? Hey, the Cubs still sell out.
It would be way too much of a stretch to get Sir Kay to the 21st Century. But how about a novel set in the actual Arthurian times? New ground, but it’d be kind of fun. And if it’s supposed to be funny, there wouldn’t have to be too much research involved — what’s an occasional anachronism among friend?
Here’s another character that needs her story told: Arthur’s other half-sister Elaine, or maybe Blasine (you know a character isn’t very well known if you’re not even sure what her name is). Totally pushed out of the light by his two more notable half-sisters Morgan and Morgawse. Or perhaps, the writers decided that there were too many Elaines already and left her out for the sake of clarity. In Mallory, she is mentioned only in passing, noting that she is the wife of King Neutres of Garlot. OK, that really raises my feminist ire: no woman should be known only my who she married, sister of Morgan or not.
You don’t suppose there’s a budding romance there, do you? No way.