Hello Rosalind, thank you for answering my questions on Veronika Asks. Could you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I am an Englishwoman who always wanted to write. I went to a very strict and academic girls’ school, but then I got to university to study and I never looked back.
Then, if you could describe yourself with three words…
Lover, mother, writer.
You’re Capricorn, aren’t you? I’ve heard they’re usually known for being practical, reliable and thoughtful. But they’re also quite temperamental. Do you consider yourself a typical Capricorn?
I’m not temperamental. For me a Capricorn is down to earth, pragmatic, reliable and hard working, and I like to think I am all those things. But the goat must climb. That’s where the creativity, the fantasy comes in. If you tied our front legs together (which all societies try to do with energetic, ambitious and aspiring females) we Capricorns would still climb.
Who were you prior to becoming a full-time novelist?
I had my first job at 13 in a plastics factory when all such work was still done by hand and by female labour. I have worked as a travelling saleswoman, a stable hand, a ganger in a chain factory, all alongside studying and graduating. I then married a fellow student from the university and we had 2 children, a girl and a boy, but I still persisted with graduate work, part-time teaching and trying to write. This was hard because my children were so lovely I really only wanted to be with them!
How did you break into the publishing world?
As a graduate student I had to write 2 theses, one for my M.A. and one for my Ph.D. I then set about trying to get this work published, to no avail. Then I saw an announcement in the literary section of the Times of London that there was to be a new series of studies of the novel, and 20 names were listed, not one of them a woman. I was so enraged I wrote a furious letter to the editor and to my amazement he wrote back to say if you care so much about this, why don’t you write a book for me? Or course I had to write about all the women writers in one volume when each of the men had a volume of their own, but at least it was acknowledged that women wrote fiction too!
That book was called The Fiction of Sex.
Then once I had published that, they asked me what else I wanted to do and I published my doctoral work about Shakespeare, in a book called The Problem of Measure for Measure.
How much time did you spend looking for a publisher (or agent)?
I lucked into my first publisher via the editor who was interested my idea of women writers, but I was still locked into an academic format. But through my husband I met an agent who said if you want to write for the popular market, what would you write? Oh, hold me down! I had a hundred ideas and he sold the first one – Danger: Men At Work.
You write an Arthurian trilogy (composed of three trilogies) with the Guinevere and Isolde trilogies. How was the trilogy born?
The more I studied the story of Guenevere, it was clear that her life fell into three distinct sections.
Also, three is the Goddess number – the old matriarchal religion was based on the holy trinity of a woman’s life: maiden, mother, wise old woman. This concept was hijacked by the Christians who reduced women to the simplest level, virgin and mother (? please!). So all those stories had to be trilogies.
Can you tell us more about the third and final one?
That is still brewing. There are so many Ladies of the Lake in the Arthurian world.
There is a controversy surrounding the Arthurian world: some people suggest Arthur, Guinevere and the Round Table are only part of a legend. Others believe they were real. I even read that some people suggest Arthur was in fact Slavic. What do you know (and think) about it?
In British history, there is no doubt that a national hero emerged at the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire in Britain, who may or may not have been called “Arthur”. There were also many Celtic queens regnant like Boudicca and Cartimandua, so we have no problem accepting Guenevere. Around these people and the knights who served them, many stories, myths and legends naturally grew. I am quite sure that a Slavic Arthur could have fulfilled the same role for his people, fighting to protect and preserve the life they knew.
What is a typical working day for Rosalind Miles?
Get up and get into it, don’t mess around! Up at 6, writing this at 11.30 pm, but don’t do it if you don’t love it, and you have to have a life in between, or where will you get your material?
Do you have writing secrets?
Keep at it. Never give in. Fake it till you make it, keep going all the time.
Thank you, Rosalind!
You can learn more about Rosalind Miles and her books at http://www.rosalind.net