How I Wrote The Circle of Ceridwen
The Circle of Ceridwen is told on a very simple level through the voice of a fifteen year old girl. The story deals with her emotional and sexual coming of age, the powerful attachments she forms to other characters, her attempts to reconcile her pagan upbringing with her later Christian training, and the conflicts of her divided personal and social loyalties.
But Ceridwen is the mouthpiece for the unfolding of a much larger, and true, drama: the story of the survival of the Anglo-Saxon people against almost incredible odds. Circle deals with the slowly-growing consciousness that the Anglo-Saxons of Britain faced certain subjugation and cultural extinction by the attacking Danes. From this extraordinary crisis emerged not only a leader, Ælfred the Great, who could unify the remaining free Anglo-Saxon peoples and repel the Danes, but the first inkling of a truly national – English – identity.
The Circle of Ceridwen is written as a first person narrative. The cadence, phrasing, and rhythm of the language is very similar to that found in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and in heroic contemporary Anglo-Saxon poetry. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the first history of the Anglo-Saxons written by them, and was begun during, or slightly before, King Ælfred’s reign. It has been a primary reference source. Anglo-Saxon poetry such as Beowulf, Widsith, The Wanderer and many other fragments have provided further touchstones.
The use of repetition, compound words, and anastrophe are key stylistic traits of Circle and are found throughout the collection of historic manuscripts that inspired it. The spelling employed is that of British English, and archaic non-standard forms appear throughout. Important nouns (Sun, Moon, North, South, Summer, Winter) are capitalised. Unusual terms and Anglo-Saxon words are explained in context on the first occurrence. No word appears that is not found in The Oxford Dictionary of the English Language.
Characters in Circle interact with actual historic personages; thus I have imposed rigorous standards of scholarship. Political, economic, geographic, social, and religious information is largely substantiated by contemporary primary sources and archaeological evidence. Where these are lacking or sketchy I have constructed what seems to me to be a tempered imagining. See both Suggested Reading and Scholarly Bibliography for the most important reference books used in my research.
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