Sharon Kae Reamer (author of The Raven’s Curse, in The Phantom Queen Awakes) writes:
Jump into the Wayback Machine and turn the dial to the year 50 BCE in Central Europe. The Romans are encroaching. Just about everywhere. What did this mean for the multitude of tribes usually lumped under the heading “Celtic” across the continent? Nothing less than total devastation.
This theme began to occupy my attention as I started writing about a family of Druids living in Central Europe today with all the knowledge and keeping to the ways of their Iron Age Celtic ancestors. Not that there are any, of course, at least any that I know about. (If you are one and are reading this, please send me an email. I have lots of questions I’d like to ask.) But the ‘what if’ of the idea intrigued me to the extent that I just couldn’t let it go. What if a family had survived with all the inherent knowledge from that long ago time? How long ago would it have to be? And what would they be, anyway? Priests, alchemists, scientists, herbal practitioners?
While I hadn’t really intended it at first, as I wrote my way through the better part of three novels, I decided those questions absolutely had to be answered by adding in at least some of a pantheon of Celtic beings. Such is the nature of storytelling that these things have a tendency to sneak up on you (at least for me, the undisciplined writer). And in addition, the story I was trying to tell had to have themes that resonated with those cultures and their beliefs – things like death, transformation, and resurrection. In other words, in order for such a family to have survived over the many generations and centuries, they would have to have a supernatural connection and one relevant to the continental Celts, especially those of a Bretonic character.
My Druids had half of their heritage in Brittany, a part of France that still has a very viable and enthusiastic identification with its Celtic history and half in Germany, in particular near the Rhine River valley, where several Celticized or at least Celto-Germanic tribes had dwelt. The original myths don’t really exist any more since the literature that has survived, as with most things Celtic, has been colored by the influence of two thousand years of Christianity. While such a vacuum is good for writers because we then have all the excuse we need to make things up, for a history buff like me it was frustrating not knowing what I was actually deviating from.
Children’s tales are often the best place to start, and I did find one lovely book with a lot of nicely written stories that I used for a jumping off point. Before I knew it, I had the beginnings of a pretty good tale and – even better – I had acquired a whole shelf full of literature, both in German and English. If I was fluent in French, I could have added even more.
About the same time I had my idea ready and a crude draft of the backstory for my novels written, I saw the call for submissions to The Phantom Queen Awakes anthology. The only problem was one of time, and I frantically mashed the story into coherence in order to send in to Mark on time, hoping that the idea and the writing were good enough to pique his and Amanda’s interest. Luckily for me, they were.