When I saw that S. P. Hendrick had written a series called “The Glastonbury Chronicles,” I was so happy to have more to read about one of my favorite sacred sites in the world, so I invited her to drop by and tell us about the series, the latest book in it and her other work. Please welcome S.P. Hendrick.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, California, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from San Fernando Valley State College which is now California State University at Northridge. I also studied at UCLA Extension, taking classes in Television writing. My first TV script, which was for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., was on the story editor’s desk when the show was cancelled. Under the nom de plume Jennifer Starkey I did publicity for such rock groups as Buffalo Springfield (you can find my photo with Neil Young, Stephen Stills and the rest of the group in their boxed CD set) and others. During that period and under that name I was a columnist for Teen Life, a national magazine, and my first novel, Sunset Offramp was published.
In 1991 my husband Jay Mayer and I went to a gathering in Millom, England and met my future publisher, Peter Paddon (Pendraig Publishing). I returned to Britain in 1994 to research the first volume of “The Glastonbury Chronicles”, Uneasy Lies The Head, and visited him in Luton while I was there, sending him a draft of the book when it was finished. He replied that if he ever got around to publishing fiction, he would love to publish it.
A few years later he came over for a visit, fell in love with our housemate, Linda, and moved over here to marry her. By 2010 he had decided to begin publishing fiction and took on not only that book, but my other series “Tales of the Dearg-Sidhe” and its first Volume, Son of Air and Darkness. The two series dovetail, though one takes place in the future and the other begins in the distant past, for the heroes of one series keep reincarnating together , while the hero of the other series is an immortal, and their lives are constantly crossing.
Would you please tell us about your latest book?
Volume VI of The Glastonbury Chronicles, The Barley And The Rose, finds the protagonists as Arthur and Gavin, son of the King of Britannia and Lord Tyrell, Prime Minister. After the first five volumes in which they and the King’s Companions, Knights of the Order of the Sword and the Rose (an ancient Pagan Order which preserves the arcane history of the lineage of the Sacred Kings whose blood and bloodline preserve the Land and its people) this volume finds them far in the future on the last outpost of the British Empire, a distant planet called Britannia. This time they are born remembering all that has gone before them instead of the way it has been in the past, when something triggers their Awakening. The two are telepathic with each other, their bond stronger than that of brothers, for they have lived and died together throughout history, throughout legend.
An ancient evil, one they recall from the far past on long-lost Earth, one they had believed to have died with their home world, has begun to make its presence known on a planet once more peaceful following years of revolution. Can they, aided by Dubhghall, the immortal foster-son of the ancient Goddess Morrigan, stave off this new threat, or will their foe put an end to everything they have known and sink the Universe into eternal darkness?
What inspired you to write this novel?
I had no choice. These characters announced they were back, they had a new adventure, and it was time for me to start writing it down as they dictated it to me.
What does a typical writing day look like?
There is no typical writing day. Each day is different. It is not unusual for me to be awakened in the middle of the night with “The Lads” as I have learned to call them, chattering away in my head and chiding me for sleeping when I should be at the keyboard writing. Sometimes it is in the daylight, sometimes the TV is on in the background, sometimes it is dead silence. The first book was written with black pen on lined yellow paper. Somewhere along the line I learned to compose on the computer and it now flows more easily that way.
Can you describe your writing process?
There is an initial “What if” and an examination of history for odd facts and people my characters might have been in prior incarnations. Then there’s the connecting of the dots in the same manner an ancient astronomer might have looked at the night sky to form pictures associated with mythology. And then I listen to the characters, most of whom I have been living with since about 1994 in some form or another.
How did you prepare to write about the book’s specific area or field of study?
I read history and mythology, then try to visit as many of the places which actually exist as I can. For the future history I try not to step on the toes of the past, but to echo it, as cycles keep repeating themselves over and over throughout time. And I look for quirks in mythology…folks who are mentioned perhaps once and then never heard about again, and try to give them lives.
How did you come up with your title?
Barley and Roses have been symbolic throughout the series. Barley is the symbol of the Sacred King and is used in several rituals in the books. It comes from the old notion of John Barleycorn Must Die, which is in itself a reference not only to the making of beer and whiskey, but to the sacrifice of the King. The Rose is the symbol of secrecy, and has also been used in the books to symbolize the women in the book.
What advice do you have for writers who have not yet been published?
Never give up. It was about 30 years between the publication of my first book and my second. If the ideas are good, you will eventually find yourself in the right place at the right time with the right publisher. Just keep writing.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Robert Heinlein, Robin Williamson and William Shakespeare
If your book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Dark chocolate, about 85% cacao. Rich, sweet, but somewhat bitter, complex and for an adult palate, because that’s the way my characters and their relationships are.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
There are really two protagonists, the King, in this case Arthur, and his Knight, Gavin, who is so close to him that in one life they were born conjoined twins, both the firstborn son of the King of England. One cannot exist without the other. They are the two sides of the same coin. The King must die and the Knight must slay him, usually taking his own life soon after. They are Hamlet and Horatio in the scene in which Horatio tries to drink the poisoned cup. They are who they are and what they are because they have been through that scenario countless times over millennia, each time trying to stay alive until the proper time and place, no matter what the Gods or their fellow man have thrown up against them, and when the time is proper and the place is right, they complete the cycle and are at peace for a time, until the Need arises once more. They have died unknown and unseen, behind their own lines at Ypres to bring about the end of The Great War, in the Tower of London to precipitate the end of the Wars of the Roses, in a sealed cave as the Revolution surrounded them to bring the blood of the Sidhe to a blue world to make it green and fertile. They have not always been seen as King and Knight, but their Order knows who they are and so do they, and so will they always.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Hamlet, Valentine Michael Smith, and King Arthur
If you could host a magical dinner party, who are the six people (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Robert Heinlein, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robin Williamson, Peter Jackson, J. K. Rowling and Joseph Campbell.
What are you working on right now?
A deck of Tarot cards which are based upon the characters in my novels, Celtic Mythology, and British folklore. I am hoping to get to Britain next fall to work on the physical research of the next couple of books in the “Tales of the Dearg-Sidhe” series, and working on a third companion series “The Glastonbury Archives” which will have a lot of back story on other characters and the Order of the Sword and the Rose, and there’s a detective novel I have written the first three chapters on, which I would really like to finish. Also a novelization of a modern mythological rock and roll screenplay I wrote some years back called The Midas Chord.