My characters aren’t behaving today. Admittedly, this happens to me a lot. After all, characters live in the author’s subconscious (maybe–it’s possible that they live in an alternate universe where they frolic with other characters, as in Bruce’s fictional world). And, since I grew up in the 60s, my subconscious is not unexpectedly rebellious at its core. But not usually this bad.
And who is leading the insurrection? No surprisingly, it’s Morgan le Fay.
Morgan has become my favorite character from the Arthurian legends. It didn’t start out that way. In my first book, Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail (which now I’ll have to go back and rewrite, since an evil Morgan is no longer acceptable), she followed the typical party line of the evil half sister trying for her own nefarious purposes to destroy Arthur’s kingdom. But that’s only because I didn’t know her well.
Getting to know her happened in Strange Bedfellows, where Morgan lives on in the 21st century because she’s learned how to jump into a host and co-occupy their brain. So she’s 1500 years old and yet still kicking. Of course, she doesn’t have a body of her own. But she still has all her memories, and much of her former abilities.
Many of my readers weren’t fond of Morgan. They thought that occupying the mind of another is an inherently evil action, and to occupy the mind of the heroine, Amy the former stripper–why that was just too much. But I loved her. I mean, you have to forgive a few minor indiscretions. She’s Morgan le Fay, for Pete’s sake!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MORGAN IN THE ARTHURIAN LEGENDS
When Morgan first made an appearance, in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini (c. 1150), she wasn’t very different than her predecessors in Welsh mythology. A wise woman, a healer, certainly not evil. Even as late as the romances of Chrétien de Troyes (late 12th century), Morgan is described as a giver of healing ointments, and sometimes even Arthur’s healer. But by the time of Malory’s definitive Le Morte d’Arthur, she had completed the conversion into evil witch. One common opinion is that she was transformed by the Cistercian monks who wrote the stories in the The Vulgate Cycle (1215 to 1235). The monks would have been prejudiced by the earlier concepts of the Welsh demigoddess Morrighan, while considering the idea of a non-religious female healer as blasphemy.
Morgan’s evil reputation stayed pretty well intact until the 20th century, which began to revive her earlier personna. She is the leading character in The Mists of Avalon (1979), where she is recast as a pagan high priestess, trying to stay true to the old religion despite the inroads of Christianity into Britain.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MORGAN IN RUSTY’S VERSION OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGENDS
Morgan, the youngest of Arthur’s 3 half sisters, was sent to a nunnery to protect her from the lecherous advances of her step-father, Uther (Arthur’s dad). She escapes to spend 17 years in Faerie, where time stops so she didn’t physically age, and some more in Avalon; in both places she studies sorcery. By the time she comes to court, she appears younger and more beautiful than Guinevere. Guinevere is jealous, and gets Arthur to marry her off to the elderly King Uriens, who abuses her sexually and emotionally. When she finally escapes his clutches (by seducing his Captain of Arms who insults Uriens and kills him in a duel), she goes quietly about the business of running the kingdom and raising her son, Yvain. But when Arthur summons Yvain to Camelot so he can meet the young king (he’s 8), Guinevere talks him into appointing a regent to rule Gore on Yvain’s behalf, since Morgan can’t be trusted with such an important post. That is the last straw. Morgan sets up her little “Valley of No Return,” where she enchants any Knight of the Round Table who passes by, eventually releasing them to return to Camelot with enchanted instructions to find evidence that Guinevere is sleeping with Lancelot.
So Morgan’s not really evil, even though her actions are not beneficial to Arthur’s realm. After all, in her value system (and mine, I confess), he deserves it.
OK, SO WHAT HAPPENED TODAY?
Morgan is a key character in the novel I’m working on, working title The Adventures of Sir Kay. This story takes place in Arthurian times, and so we get to see Morgan in her original body. She has enchanted and seduced Sir Kay earlier in the story, although he’s in love with her older sister Elaine (which totally pissed off my writing partner, SusanH). But Morgan and Kay have become old friends through the course of the novel.
In today’s chapter, Kay is at Morgan’s manor, which is between Camelot and the castle where Elaine lives. Kay has stopped to talk to Morgan because he’s all tied in knots trying to figure out how he’s going to win his lady love, is puzzled by a new concept that the legend of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is going to live on for 1500 years, and wants her opinion on the Holy Grail. Today, they’re supposed to be talking about the Holy Grail.
So what does Morgan do? She professes her love for Kay!
Good grief. Morgan, get a grip. You’re supposed to be cold as ice, utterly self-confident, and in total command of yourself and your emotions. This is so not like you!
So I’ve paused for the nonce. I’m going to let this new direction simmer in the back of my mind for a while, see what I really think of it. Maybe Morgan will behave herself on Monday.