Today’s guest post — which comes with a wonderfully generous offer — is by long-time HogPro All-Pro and author of Quest of the Warrior Maid: A Romeo and Joan of Arc Love Story, Linda C. McCabe, aka ‘Pallas Athena.’ As she explains in her post, we have been corresponding since 2003; I am happily obliged to add that she ‘took me to school’ about the Hogwarts Saga and the world of Harry Potter fandom, a world in which more than once she has had my back in discussions with those wanting to run a virtual sword through me. I remain a grateful student, reader of her blog, and I love her book, which I hope Potter-philes will read alongside the original Orlando epics. Without further ado, then, I give you Linda McCabe!
John Granger is graciously allowing me a guest post to tell his HogPro readership about my debut novel, Quest of the Warrior Maid, and how it relates to the Harry Potter series.
The inspiration for my novel is directly related to my participation in the online Harry Potter fandom. I spent several years re-reading and studying the series. I formulated theories and shared them online with other likewise obsessed fans. I wrote some fanfiction fleshing out my wacky theories as to where I thought things might go in the fifth year. It was after that was completed that I wrote a post on the Harry Potter for Grown Ups list serv that dealt with shipping. I thought it was a good post, so did others and I was asked for my permission to have my words quoted on another HP centered site. I started reading that board and began posting there as well. That is what drew me into the shipping debates.
Yup, I was a shipper.
I engaged in the most divisive topic that created endless online flame wars and drove a wedge between fans of the series. I became notorious in the HP fandom for my advocacy of the Harry/Hermione (H/Hr) ship, my numerous and lengthy(!) essays on the subject and I was even a representative of the Harry/Hermione ship at the one and only live ship debate. That was at the Nimbus 2003 Harry Potter Symposium in Orlando, Florida, the first event organized by the Harry Potter Educational Foundation (HPEF). This was held in July 2003, barely a month after the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
I should have met John at that gathering, but didn’t. I was too busy preparing for my debate and missed out on the morning sessions. Later, as I was in the airport waiting for my return flight, I was talking with another attendee and heard her rave about John’s presentations. Once I was home, I ordered his book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, read it, and wrote an email to him giving him my detailed feedback. Thankfully he wasn’t put off by my nitpickiness and instead he took it with the spirit I intended, an attempt to start a dialogue with another devoted fan of the series.
We struck up an email correspondence and friendship.
As it turned out, his initial instincts on alchemical symbolism indicating the future romantic relationships of the characters in the Harry Potter series were correct. I had approached the same passages with a different perspective that did not include a background of literary alchemy and I came up with an entirely different conclusions. I tried to offer John other possibilities should Jo Rowling choose to not be strictly bound by alchemical formulas in her complicated plotlines. He was open minded enough to consider my arguments as possibilities and did not just dismiss them out of hand.
One of the theories floated by my H/Hr shipmates was the idea that hippogriffs were a symbol of love. There were several essays written about the image of Harry and Hermione flying alone together on the back of a hippogriff indicating a strong symbolic image of a future romantic pairing.
I decided to follow up on that lead and I read the epic poem Orlando furioso since it was the first time in literature a hippogriff was a character. I doubt that I would ever have read Orlando furioso had I not participated in the online Harry Potter fandom debates.
I had no idea what to expect from this classic, but largely forgotten poem. I found a sprawling tale with an immense cast of characters and multiple plotlines. Think of it as a medieval fantasy of swords and sorcery set against a backdrop of a holy war between Muslim and Christian forces set in the time of Charlemagne. The poet would engage his audience with one intense duel between famed warriors and then stop at an exciting part and pick up where he left off on another storyline that had been similarly paused with something like, “Let us leave Rinaldo and Gradasso’s fight here and go back to Orlando who was battling…”
My first attempt at reading this poem was using a public domain version that can be found online for free and translated by William Stewart Rose. I found the nineteenth century language to be stiff and difficult to follow. That’s being too nice, I found it confusing and I became easily lost. I found the story much easier to understand once I got my hands on the Penguin Classics version translated by Barbara Reynolds.
It was in reading her words that I became immersed in a Medieval world of knights. I was captivated by the love story of the kick-ass heroine Bradamante and the virtuous warrior Ruggiero. I skimmed the storylines featuring other characters and anxiously waiting for the return of the Bradamante and Ruggiero plotline.
My intent of reading Orlando furioso was to see the usage of the hippogriff in context and I learned that this mythical creature symbolized the impossible love between Bradamante and Ruggiero.
Bradamante is the niece of Charlemagne and Ruggiero is a Saracen warrior descended from Hector of Troy. They are both respected warriors, but theirs is an impossible love since they sworn to serve opposing leaders in the midst of a holy war.
Hippogriffs are the personification of impossible love. The first mention of a hippogriff dates back to Virgil’s Eclogues where it is mentioned in a few lines:
“soon shall we see mate
Griffins with mares, and in the coming age
Shy deer and hounds together come to drink.”
Here is the pertinent background legend: Griffins were known as fierce protectors of gold and avengers of evil. The legendary one-eyed Arimaspi rode on horseback while raiding gold guarded by griffins which was the source of the long standing enmity between griffins and horses. Hippogriffs are the offspring of the impossible love between griffins and mares.
Bradamante is a fierce warrior maid who has the difficult task of maintaining her reputation and honor while at the same time rescuing her beloved who is being held prisoner. That’s right, the maiden rescues a knight who is locked away in a castle.
I loved that reversal in plot conventions and was impressed that literature included such a powerful female character. That this story featuring such a strong female was written centuries ago by a man impressed me even more.
There were many powerful obstacles to Bradamante and Ruggiero’s ultimate union. I remember being overcome by emotion when I read one of the ending passages of this poem where Ruggiero was willing to die out of love for Bradamante. I was reading this on my lunch break, and crying on the patio.
Upon finishing the story, I wondered why I had never heard of Bradamante and Ruggiero before. I felt this literary couple deserved to be as well known as Tristan and Isolde or Arthur and Guinevere.
After publication of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the online interview that dispelled all doubt as to JKR’s planned romantic pairings, I was disinterested in continuing my same level of active participation with the HP fandom. I needed a new writing project and it was then that I remembered my desire to see the Bradamante/Ruggiero love story reach a larger audience and became inspired to adapt this classic work. That was the genesis for Quest of the Warrior Maid.
I began reading extensively about Medieval history and Charlemagne. To further my research, I traveled to France to see the settings of my story and discovered real life magic in the Midi Pyrenees region. I scoured many museums, trekked hilltop villages and castle ruins. My novel became infused with detail that I could only learn from being there in person.
Quest of the Warrior Maid is the first book in the Bradamante and Ruggiero two volume series. So for those who enjoy epic historic fantasy, please consider reading this saga of chivalry, secret romances, betrayal, revenge and magic.
Special Limited Time Offer:
For John’s HogPro community, I am offering a special deal of a third off the ebook. The ebook is normally priced at $2.99, but it is now available for the low price of $1.99 (that’s less than the price of a latte!) until December 31, 2011. Just go to Smashwords.com and find my title Quest of the Warrior Maid, (or use this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56136 ) and enter this coupon code in the checkout: SK96Z to get your discount.
Smashwords has downloads for multiple different formats, so you should be able to find a version to work with whatever ereader you have, e.g. Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo, Sony, etc.
Quest of the Warrior Maid is also available as a trade paperback and can be ordered from your favorite bookstore or at online retailers. It is globally distributed, so those outside the U.S. should be able to get an electronic or physical copy.
I would also like to extend an offer to join book clubs either by speakerphone or Skype. My website is www.LindaCMcCabe.com where you can find my copious author endnotes, a sample set of reader questions, and more information about the legends of Charlemagne. You can also visit my blog at lcmccabe.blogspot.com to see pictures from my trips to France and a recent trip to Italy.