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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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Don Hipsher May 28, 2022, 7:33 am

    Just finished Book 7 and starting Book 8. I have never had such an interest in any other set of books like this! I’m not a very avid reader but your C of C series has truly changed that. What I find most exciting is how much of a historic connection there is throughout them. Outstanding work!

  • Myra Clark March 6, 2017, 5:29 pm

    Dear Octavia,

    I love the Ceridwen series. Unequivocally. I just finished book 6 on Sunday, and I very much miss not having another volume to turn to – since I just started the series in January, I have had the luxury of always having the next in the series available. How many books are planned (if such is possible) in the Circle? It seems like there is at least another to come, given the ending of this one! I am also very taken with Ceric, Ashild and Ceric (as well as everyone else) and I hope to hear more of them. However, having now also been drawn to do more reading about the history of the Middle Ages in England, I have fears for what could happen with all of them.

    I have the impression that all of your books are self-published and are available and promoted through your own personal efforts. This is a huge undertaking, and I have great respect for all you are doing.

    I will always remember being introduced to your writing on Facebook, and the conversation we had about book covers! Thank you for the prompting to try out the first book, and the opportunity to enjoy your writing.

    Myra Clark

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