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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, historical fantasy author Angela R Hughes talks about her new King Arthur story, Elanor And The Song Of The Bard.

the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed historical fantasy author Angela R Hughes about her life and career, what inspired her to start writing, and the work that went into her latest release, Elanor And The Song Of The Bard.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I am a wife, mother and historical fantasy and romance author based in Waco, Texas.My ambition has become to write stories that grip and inspire readers, alluring them into my fascinating world of myth and legend.

Angela R Hughes on The Table Read
Angela R Hughes

I really believe in the power of dynamic, inspired storytelling. And I have always been intrigued by folklore and legend, and have always desired to create my own. I have been particularly drawn to Arthurian legend and its ancient roots in the history of the Cymraeg (Welsh) people, and have extensively ‘nerded out’ in the study Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology. Much of my fascination with the Celtic world began during when I lived in Ireland, where I fell in love with the history and landscapes of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England.

In addition to being a full-time author, I am an Executive Leader with Kingdom Writers Association, and also work as a writing coach to other Sci-Fi and Fantasy writers. In my spare time I enjoy painting, going on family adventures, chatting with fellow fantasy nerds over coffee, baking, visiting wineries, and traveling.

The Once and Future Chronicles, Book One: Elanor and the Song of the Bard is my first published novel. I am currently working on sequels including Book Two: Merlin and the Magic of Time, and Book Three: Arthur and the Golden Dragon.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I have always been inspired by fiction fantasy, and was an avid reader ever since I was a kid, but I never really thought of myself as someone who could, or even should write a book.  I had been highly creative all my life as an artist and painter and loved story-telling, but had excused myself as someone capable of writing. Even through the Subject of English and writing had always come easy for me, I had disqualified myself on the basis that I wasn’t one of the ‘smart people’ who wrote books.

But in 2017, as I was taking a mastery course on Arthurian Legend (Arthurian Legend and Celtic mythology a particularly favorite subject of mine), a story began to develop in my imagination out of my dissatisfaction of how the legend ends with Arthur’s death.  It seemed so tragic to me, and not at all worthy of all the promise and destiny that had been building up to the final climax. 

I began to ask myself – ‘how would I have ended it differently?’, or, ‘how could I bring back hope from out of the ashes?’. This thought process, amongst other events in my life, stirred a story that would not let me go.  But it took me another 2 years to embrace the story, and the call to write it. 

When did you take a step to start writing?

In 2019, I was in Northern Ireland, standing on a mountain that overlooked a beautiful landscape.  Behind me was a large stone that ‘is said’ to have inspired the Stone Table in CS Lewis’s, The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe. A friend approached me from behind, not knowing the growing desire in me to author a book, and said, “Angela, it’s time to pick up the mantle that C.S. Lewis has handed you, and to write your story.” I was awestruck. How did he know I wanted to write a book?  I took that as a clear sign it was time to write. And write I did.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

When COVID hit, the opportunity arose to write, and I took it.  I wrote and did not stop until I was finished.  The first draft of my book was written 8 months later, and my life has never been the same since.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

My latest book, Elanor & The Song of the Bard, was just released this last June, 2022.  While Book Two is on the editor’s desk and is in the process of being published. Book 2, Merlin & the Magic of Time, in the The Once & Future Chronicles, took me 6 months from start to finish. I am currently 1 month into writing Book 3.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Elanor And The Song Of The Bard?

I answered this a little in the earlier questions, but to expound a little bit more – beyond my inspiration of Arthurian Legend, and the pull to tell a continuation of that story – I felt that the story had been given to me as a gift, and I had to do something with it.  I couldn’t just leave it in my mind to someday disappear and never give it the opportunity to be shared. I also thought about my children. I wanted to leave them something of value.  A story they could take with them, hopefully even into the next generation.  Because really, I wrote it for them out of a desire to inspire them to always be fascinated. 

One day my 7yr old daughter said to me, “Mom – when I grow up, I can do anything I want.” I said, “Of course you can, but what makes you say that?” She replied, “Well – I saw you dream you could write a book, and you did. So, I figured I could too.”

That – right there…is enough of a reason for me to write books and keep on writing.

I also had to write this book because the longer this story danced in my mind, the more I fell in love with the characters.  I just HAD to introduce them to the world.

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What were your biggest challenges with writing Elanor And The Song Of The Bard?

Some of my biggest challenges were my own insecurities.  Overcoming all the self-chatter that was negative and the self-doubting that aimed to kill my creativity.  I had to constantly give myself permission.  I was unsure I was welcome in the world of fantasy writers, or if I would even tell a story good enough for others to want to read. 

I had the Testimony of JK Rowling in my ear – how she had divorced and had lost everything.  All she had left was a story about a little boy named Harry Potter, and she chose against the hard season of her life to write.

I also had another Fantasy author, that I was fortunate enough to befriend, that coached me, and told me I was a FANTASTIC STORYTELLER. That alone gave me motivation when my own self-doubt tried to sabotage.

Also – TIME to write was a huge challenge. Especially having to balance my time as wife and mother, yet making this book a priority. I had to choose to see writing this book as a job and a calling – NOT A HOBBY.  If it was only a hobby, I would have never gotten there. Writing the over 160,000-word epic, took me entirely putting aside my television watching in the night time hours – after I put my children to bed. I had this bug in me – I had to complete the story, and not take the gift (the story) I had been given for granted.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Merlin & Elanor are my two protagonists.  Merlin was my more specific inspiration at first.  I remember watching the BBC’s Merlin Series and loving the younger take on the Merlin Character.  It made the mysterious magical character feel more relatable and tangible. 

Though I have my own take on Merlin, I certainly started from the place of knowing I was going to make him both young and ageless. I was also inspired by the older tales of Merlin in books like the Mabinogian and older prose, that described Merlin not as an old man, but as Fae (or fairy) that was more of a changeling. These inspirations helped me to really create an unexpected and heroic Character that will hopefully make people fall even more in love with the character of Merlin.

Elanor on the other hand – I think was inspired by a conglomeration of a lot of different people in my life, including myself.  As many authors know, “Your characters are never you – but also – they are all a variation of you.” – Especially when I allowed myself to really be vulnerable on the page as I developed this character – this became true.  

Elanor And The Song Of The Bard by Angela R Hughes on The Table Read
Elanor And The Song Of The Bard

I got to see through Elanor’s eyes and walk back through time – into the old ancient Post-Roman Celtic word of 500AD (This story is not your typical medieval telling of Arthurian Legend – No Castles – No Knights).  Her invisible life – suddenly becoming visible in a world that should be impossible.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

Kind of like Sauron in the Lord of the rings, my Antagonist is more of an insidious poisonous darkness that is bent on destroying everything good – cleverly hiding himself in shadow to remain enigmatic. I was a little inspired by CS Lewis’s Screwtape letters, as I introduce my Antagonist.  He being a nefarious force that sends his demons on assignment in evil conversations in the dark.

My Antagonist is also in the despair, grief and fatherlessness of my hero’s.  These obstacles of pain that my characters have to walk through have definitely been inspired by my own life, and the lives of people I have been in relationship with.  My hometown in Oregon was being burnt to the ground by arsonists in 2020, and then shortly that next year a dear friend died tragically.

Personally, this was hard to walk through, but even more so for the friends of mine that lost everything in the fire. Or my friends who lost his wife, and was now faced with raising his 9-month-old daughter alone.  “What happens next” when everything you have been working for – everything you have been promised – has been dashed to pieces. Is there still hope on the other side of these events?  Can things ever be okay again?

This definitely inspired me as I developed the pain inflicted by my antagonist, and then the experiences of my heros.

What is the inciting incident of Elanor And The Song Of The Bard?

I think the beginning premise of my book is very inciting.  It starts where the Old Arthurian Legend ends – Arthur in an epic battle with Mordred.  The scene so painfully paints the tragedy that occurs as the fields of Camlan are painted red with the blood of both Arthur’s enemies and his faithful men.  Arthur is mortally wounded, and he crumbles under the weight of his own negligence and pride. This clash leaves Merlin disillusioned and in the depths of despair. 

The grief being too much for him, he runs away; leaving behind the kingdom he and Arthur built, to plummet.  This sets the stage for a new story to begin – and our new hero, Elanor, to be introduced.

What is the main conflict of Elanor And The Song Of The Bard?

The main conflict surrounds the mystery of Elanor. Who is she? Why is she important? And most importantly, why do the dark agents of evil want her dead.

Did you plot Elanor And The Song Of The Bard in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I plotted the entire series.  The story came to me in one big chunk, and as I plotted it out, I realized that this wasn’t just one book, but three.  I outlined the entire story with all the leading major events – many of these becoming my chapters.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Elanor And The Song Of The Bard need?

Yes – I received a lot of support.  As Elanor & The Song of the Bard was my first book, I knew I needed to pull from other’s experience.  I hired a writing coach to go over my first few chapters – which helped to set my book on the right trajectory.  As I rewrote the first draft, I had several beta readers – and then I hired a professional editor to do a story edit.

After the story edit, I think I rewrote three more times, before submitting the novel to a publisher. Then once with a Publisher, my book when through another Content edit, and line edit. 

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

First, throw out perfection, and just write your story.  At least in the realms of fiction writing, this is your best chance as an adult to engage your imagination in the best game of pretend you will ever play.  But you’ll destroy that if you are too afraid of making a mess. Make a mess.  A big one. One that you can clean up later.  All the golden nuggets I have written, I discovered because I felt free enough to imagine. Don’t worry so much about perfect grammar. That comes later.

Also, the more you write – the more you learn.  Book two was less of a mess than book one; because I had learned so much about the art of storytelling.  Now that I am onto book three, I am making even less of a mess.  Writing grows as a craft as we engage in it.  We will not become writers or authors without writing.  So just write.

You may start out as a level one writer, but you will never become a level 10 if you don’t practice your skill without fear.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Elanor & the Song of the Bard, is only book one in a series of three in The Once & Future Chronicles trilogy.  Merlin & The Magic of Time is on the editor’s desk right now, and should be releasing in 2023.  Anyone who has read, Elanor & The Song of the Bard, will be anxiously awaiting this one.

My current ‘work in progress’ is book three.  Arthur & The Golden Dragon will be the completion of the saga, and I cannot wait for it to complete.  My characters have grown so much, and really come so far.  This one is set to hopefully be release 2024 – or sooner.

I have so many more stories to tell.  Now that the writing bug has gotten into me, the list is growing of other myths and legends I can put my own spin on. I am grappling with ideas about Beowulf, Jason and the Argonauts and even the Nephilim. While even burning to tell more tales about King Arthur, Morgana and the Grail. 

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

It was entirely worth every drop blood, sweat and tear that went into it.  To have this story out in the world for other to enjoy has been one of my proudest accomplished.  My story is beautiful.  I am proud of it.  And I hope many others get to experience the new adventures I re-imagined in the old world of Celtic myth and Arthurian legend.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

FB @onceandfuturechronicle

Insta & TikTok

Twitter: @ARHughesAuthor

Pinterest: @AuthorARhughes

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