When I started writing the first book in my Dark Goddess trilogy, I only had a vague idea for the hero. I knew I wanted him to live in Scotland and I was thinking of a Scottish man, a noble of some kind. I started doing research and was reading a book on the Picts that lived in Scotland before it became known as Scotland. I came across a sixth century Irish king who ruled Dal Riata (Kintyre and nearby islands). This king had a shadowy past and was believed to have fathered a Pict king. Aedan mac Gabrain was also known as one of the most feared warlords of his time. I found information on him in various texts like Adomnan’s Life of St. Columba and he is mentioned in the Welsh poems as ‘Aedan the Treacherous.’ He was a contemporary of St. Columba, King Riderch of Strathclyde and King Urien of Rheged.
I had found my hero.
This was the first time I based my hero on an actual person, and naturally I had to pick a man referred to as ‘treacherous.’ I gave that some thought and decided that his enemies wouldn’t call him something nice. Still, he was a successful king and, to be a successful king in the Dark Ages, he had to be tough and ruthless. It was challenging, but I think I managed to turn a fearsome warlord into a likeable hero that readers would like and the heroine could fall in love with. This required just the right amount of balance. I decided that my hero would be flawed, but not too flawed.
Below is an excerpt from Cat’s Curse of when my hero and heroine first meet.
Blurb: A Celtic prince, an ancient vampire and two curses…
The man started at her sudden words, turning toward her with the sword blade stopping just before the blade cut into Cardea's neck, the coldness of the iron striking a shudder in her. That was the second time in one night she almost lost her head to his sword blade.
“Why are ye following me?” Irritation filled his voice.
“You look like you need some help starting that fire.”
“I do not need yer help.” He stared at her. His brows knitted together, his eyes scrutinizing her. “A good Christian lass would not be out here all alone in the forest at night,” he remarked with a sneer.
Cardea’s mocking laughter filled the air.
“Do I amuse ye?” He peered at her, eyes narrowed in annoyance.
She found her courage again. “You presume much of me, but what about you? I can only imagine what dreadful act you committed to be banished into these dark-winged woods. Though I can assume your misdeeds had nothing to do with fire,” she smirked, crossing her arms and planting her feet firm to the ground.
“Ye lass, are a rude minion of the Devil himself.” His handsome face rippled with indignation.
“That I may be indeed.” She stared hard at him. His ranting recalled images of the hated Levite priests. A shudder tore through her body and rage fumed inside of her, threatening to rise. She flirted with the temptation to rip his neck open and drink him dry. No one would find his rotting corpse out this far in the forest. The beasts would clean the bones of all flesh. She did not understand why she held back, but her hesitation had something to do with the odd way this man stirred her senses.
He turned around and strode with great arrogance back to his fire pit, striking the blade with the flint rock in angry thrusts. After watching him for a few moments, she approached him.
“Do ye have more insults for me?”
“No. I just cannot stand to watch you make a mockery of fire starting.”
“I can start the fire,” he insisted, turning back to the fire pit.
She watched him struggle again with the stone and blade, trying not to laugh.
“Please, allow me to assist you. It is much too cold tonight to be without a warm fire.” She did not understand why she felt compelled to help him and reached for the dagger she carried on her belt. His cold blade touched her throat before she could blink. Three times now his blade touched her throat and she wondered if it were a portent. “I need my dagger to start your fire.”
He eyed her with suspicion, but withdrew his blade from her throat.
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