Your book, Apollo’s Raven, sounds fascinating. Can you share with me what the first idea was that made you decide to write this story? It might be very different from how the story ended up being, but I am curious, if you don’t mind sharing. And, if the story is very different, would you mind sharing the process by which you ended up with your current novel?
Thank you for featuring me as an author of Apollo’s Raven (Book 1 Curse of Clansmen and Kings) in the blog tour. You pose an interesting question, because the evolution of the characters and storyline has been a lifelong journey. Since childhood, the characters of a female warrior and her Roman lover have lived in my head, in part, as a way for me to deal with challenges in my own life. Both characters are bigger than life, but I never had a cohesive tale until I discovered historical figures who inspired me to develop the overall arc of the storyline.
A pivotal point for creating the story was during one of my business travels to the United Kingdom. I was intrigued by the statue of a warrior queen and her daughters in a chariot, alongside the Thames River in London. After I did more research, I learned that she was Boudicca—an Iceni warrior queen who united the Britons in a rebellion against the Romans in AD 61 to expel them from Britannia. Roman historians describe her as a powerful druidess who sacrificed some of her victims to the war goddess, Andraste. Although the Celtic society was becoming more paternalistic, women were still held in high regard and could rule. The legacy of warrior queens in ancient Britannia and in Irish mythology inspired the primary protagonist, Catrin, in the series.
The legacy of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and his tragic downfall with Cleopatra inspired the creation of Catrin’s Roman lover, Marcellus. Mark Antony’s son (Iullus Antonius) from a previous marriage also suffered a similar tragic fate— he was forced to commit suicide for his scandalous affair with Augustus Caesar’s only daughter, Julia. Little is known about Iullus’s son, Lucius Antonius, except that he was exiled to Gaul as a young man, most likely as a condition to escape his father’s fate. During the period in my series, the Antonius family legacy is cursed by the act of damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) for Marcus and Iullus Antonius, who both died in disgrace as a consequence of their liaisons with women. One of the burning questions I had is how would the tragic Antonius legacy impact Lucius Antonius? How would he react if his own son went down the same fateful path as his ancestors?
And thus, Marcellus, the son of Lucius Antonius, was created and cursed to meet the tragic fate as his ancestors. Catrin also lives under the curse cast against her father, King Amren, that foretells she and her half-brother will overthrow their father and rule the Cantiaci Kingdom in southeast Britannia.
I drafted a three-page summary in 2010 for initially three books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series, which is now envisioned to be at least five books, a sequel, and other books associated with the characters. The series spans the time period between AD 24 through AD 40 in the backdrop of ancient Britannia, Gaul, and Rome. Prior to the Roman conquest of Britannia, tribal kings fought each other for power and sought interference from Rome to settle political differences. The series is an epic tale with universal themes of love versus duty, political corruption, otherworldly forces, loyalty, vengeance, and redemption.
When I look back at my original summary, the storyline has changed substantially. Apollo’s Raven starts earlier in southeast Britannia to give a taste of the Celtic culture and beliefs to contrast with the Romans. Since the Celts left few written records, most of the backdrop for Celtic society is based on Greek and Roman accounts and archaeological findings. Interestingly, Julius Caesar left some of the most detailed accounts about the Celtic society in Gaul and Britannia.
Fantastical elements were added to reflect the culture and religious beliefs of Britons to contract with the paternalistic Romans. The magical elements are based on Welsh and Irish mythology and legends, similar to Arthurian legends. The story was changed so that Catrin can connect with ravens, which is seen as a bad omen. As she is struggling to understand this unnatural connection, she is romantically drawn to the captivating Roman hostage, Marcellus—her family’s enemy.
Likewise, Marcellus is confounded by Catrin’s mystical ability to travel to other worlds through her spirit guide, the Raven. She co-exists in the realm of mankind and in the Otherworld of the gods and the dead which empower with the ability to see through the eyes of a raven, foretell the future, and hear his thoughts. His intimate relationship with Catrin could unravel the volatile politics between Rome and Britannia.
One of the most fascinating concepts of Celtic religion that I incorporated into the series is the Celtic belief in the reincarnation of the soul. Their belief is consistent with the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who believed in metempsychosis, or the “transmigration of souls.” Every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. I freely use this concept to explain shapeshifting and other magical powers, which was not originally included in the series.
In essence, seeds for the characters and storyline germinated over time in my mind, but then evolved to include fantastical elements after I developed the original summary of the plotline. After that, characters directed how their stories should be told in my head, and I was further inspired from further research and travels.
Thank you so much for sharing with on the blog. I wish you huge success with the series.
Here’s the blurb:
A Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people.
AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
Sex, Violence, Sacrificial Rituals
Meet the Author
Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids.
Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include Apollo’s Raven (Book 1), Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2), and Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3). Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4) is anticipated to be released in late 2021 or early 2022.
A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
Connect with Linnea