Champion of Sherwood
by Laura Strickland
When Gareth de Vavasour, nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham, is captured by the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, he knows he will be fortunate to escape with his life. Amid the magic and danger that surround him, he soon realizes his true peril lies in the beautiful dark eyes of Linnet, the Saxon healer sent to tend his wounds.
Granddaughter of Robin Hood, Linnet has always known she is destined to become a guardian of Sherwood Forest, along with her sister and a close childhood companion. She believes her life well settled until the arrival of Gareth. Then all her loyalties are tested even as her heart is forced to choose between love and the ties of duty, while Sherwood declares its own champion.
He spun once more. A man stood behind him, wreathed in white mist pure as the moonlight. Gareth reached for a weapon he no longer wore.
"Peace," the man said.
"Who are you? How come you here?"
"I am the spirit of this place. Some call me the Green Man. Others call me Robin Hood."
"Robin Hood is long dead." Gareth had heard the tales. Who had not?
"Aye, long dead," the man agreed, "as are many here. This is our bastion, our refuge, a place of faith and strength."
"What do you want with me?" Surely, and surely, he was back asleep on his tether, and dreaming.
"Nay, lad, you are not dreaming."
"Can you hear my thoughts?" What madness was this?
"I ask of you, young man, only one thing, one boon, one favor if you would survive this night."
"Of course I will survive. This is but darkness, and trees, and moonlight."
The man waved one of his hands. A creature appeared beside him, a pure white wolf with its hackles raised. Another subtle movement and he stood flanked on the other side by a great, white hart, its sides streaming mist. The trees overhead tossed their branches and Gareth felt the power gather, sharp and vital, around this being who faced him.
Fear such as he had never known – not even when awaiting the arrival of his father with the strap – engulfed him. He said, "What do you seek of me? What boon, what bidding?"
"I ask of you but one promise, that you should follow what is in your heart." He smiled again. "Does not a true champion, always follow his heart?"
Our Author Interview
Thanks for inviting me to this fun interview here today with the Angels with Attitude!
What would you have done differently if you were the main character of your book?
If I were Linnet, I think I might have made more of an effort to communicate with those around me, once I began developing feelings for our Norman enemy, Gareth de Vavasour – especially with my twin sister, Lark. Of course Lark is notoriously hard to handle, with a very short temper. She just might have slit Gareth’s throat with one of the many weapons she keeps about her person if she thought he posed any sort of danger – even to my heart. But we’re a close-knit bunch and act always one for the other, so it might have been worth a shot to sit her down beside me and try to explain that one can’t choose where one loves. And it might have prevented some of the misunderstandings that later cost such a very high price …
What was your inspiration behind this book?
I’ve always loved myths, lore and legends. When I was young I read all the Andrew Lang fairy books and every other compilation I could find. I’ve previously written a series of books set in ancient Scotland and Ireland, but the inspiration behind The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy was my daughter, who adored anything about Robin Hood. When she was small we used to play “Robin Hood Barbies” together and act out all the well-known tales. The very handsomest of the Ken dolls was Robin, and the space under the dining room table was our Sherwood Forest. Eventually we got so into it, I even sewed them all period clothing! All that play became the foundation for this series, which actually deals with Robin Hood’s descendants and takes place after his death. That’s why I dedicated the first book, Daughter of Sherwood, to my own daughter.
Why did you become a writer ?
My desire to write grew out of my love of reading. I was fortunate enough to have an older sister who was an avid reader. Every Saturday she look me to our local library where I had the privilege of prowling the shelves and choosing books to take home with me – each and every one a treasure trove just waiting to be opened. I especially loved the books that created whole worlds within their pages. But I always felt devastated when the story came to an end – I wanted more! Eventually it occurred to me that if I wrote the story I could continue it as long as I wished and create whatever world I could imagine. Sheer bliss!
As a reader and writer I think it is important to get to know your fans and make a connection with them as an author who takes the extra step to hear what their fans think and want in their continued writing is continued success and key to selling more books .Do you agree with that ?
Yes, I do agree and I love to hear from my fans. Writing a book is a bit like tossing a pebble into the water. You make ripples, but you can’t see quite where they reach. Many of the books I’ve read have made a profound difference in my life and I’ve always wished I could tell the author … if I could only find the words. When my readers drop me an email or leave a message on Facebook, I receive the gift of knowing who I’ve touched, and how they feel about my work.
Of course a writer likes to know what her readers wish would happen in her future books, especially during the creation of a series. I do get that kind of feedback, especially from my online writing community, and I’ve found we’re often on the same page … but sometimes I surprise them, and that’s fun too.
Do you have a favorite author or authors?
I have many authors I value very highly. It would be so difficult to choose a favorite. When I was a girl I loved Louisa May Alcott. Reading her, I learned a great deal about characterization and adding emotional content. As a teenager I loved Tolkien and Robert Silverberg. A few years later it was Barbara Michaels. These days if I selected one name, it would have to be Sir Terry Pratchett. I adore his prowess at world building. His characters are wacky, yet believable and consistent. The best part of his writing, though, is that dry, wicked and quite devastatingly clever humor. Every time he releases a new book, it’s like Christmas morning for me!
Do you like to write your books in a continuing series ?
Yes, because writing a series is a little bit like time travel. An author creates a world in the first book, populates it with characters and sets it running. Usually after the book is completed, she misses that world, and those people. Sometimes they even continue talking in her head. With a series, the author gets to return to that same setting, perhaps a year or a generation later, and spend some time there again.
I’ve written two series: my present work The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy and my Celtic Series, of which four books are now in print. The Celtic Series takes place in pre-Christian Ireland, Scotland and Gaul and like The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy follows several generations of a single bloodline.
If you could date any character from any book, who would it be and why?
Do you mean a character from one of my own books, or any book at all? If it’s from one of my own books, I would have to choose Gabhan out of The Waking Dream. The bastard son of a Celtic chief, he’s tall, raven-haired, blue-eyed and tattooed with the markings of his mother’s Pictish tribe. Best of all, he’s a harper who can create musical magic out of thin air. Since I love Celtic music and especially ancient harp tunes, such as those of Turlough O’Carolan, I would be willing to follow Gabhan just about anywhere.
If asked to select a character from someone else’s book, I might just be tempted to choose Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. It’s good to date the King!
What kinds of books do you like to read in your spare time ?
I read avidly and pretty much constantly, so I go through a large number of books. Sometimes I read on my Kindle and sometimes with a flesh-and-blood book in my hands. I tend to choose my reading material based on the mood I happen to be in at any given time. I’ll read anything from Romance (Historical, Contemporary and Romantic Suspense) to Mystery (traditional and cozy) or Suspense to Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult and even Westerns. Luckily for me, I work for a library system in Upstate New York, so I never have any lack of reading material.
Incidentally, my litmus test for any book I pick up is to read the first line – if it grabs me, I’ll read the book. If not, I’m quite likely to put it back down.
Do you cry when writing sad scenes?
No, never. I’m usually too caught up in the moment. But I’m likely to choke up a bit when I read them back, later.
Did you have a Cover Designer ?
Yes – my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, provides a cover designer for each of my books. Authors contribute details and descriptions, and our input is welcomed throughout all stages of the design. Their artists are very talented and go out of their way to do a wonderful job. I just love the cover Diana Carlile created forChampion of Sherwood!
Who is your fictional boyfriend or girlfriend crush ?
Not sure I have one. Does Aragorn from the “who would I want to date” question count?
If you were able to dine and have a one on one with your favorite writer/author who would it be ?
Oh, I’d love to have a long dinner with my favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett. I’d pick his brains about how he came up with the concept of Discworld and how he crafts all those wonderful, intricate and off-beat plots. I’d also like some details about how he makes his characters so weird yet believable. He’s the best I’ve ever seen at persuading his readers to suspect disbelief.
And what would we eat at this dinner? Some delicacy bought from a street vender in Ankh Morpork, no doubt – possibly even sausages on a stick.
Do just re-read your favorite books ?
Yes, definitely! I think a really good book warrants re-reading. And the very best books stand up to it, because they offer up something different each time they’re read – a little more beauty, wisdom, magic or humor. A good book has depth. I’ve readWuthering Heights many times, also The Master of Blacktower, Witch of the Glens, and many others too numerous to list here. I always think curling up with a well-read book is like spending time with a well-loved friend, don’t you?
Do you ever get in a reading slump like your readers do ?
No, I don’t think I get into reading slumps. Honestly, I’d read the back of a cereal box, if I didn’t have anything else available. Sometimes I do bog down in the middle of a book, if I have too much else going on and become distracted. But I have this little peculiarity – I absolutely hate to abandon a book once I’ve started it. I feel as if I make a commitment when I decide to read something, and with very few exceptions I stick to it. I think I’ve dropped a book in the middle only two or three times, ever.
There’s such a wide range of books available right now – both digital and print – it’s almost impossible for me to get bored. With a single click on my Kindle, I can have the whole world before my eyes. Whatever I want, it just comes to me – it’s like magic!
What is the funniest book you ever read ?
Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys – without question! I quite literally laughed till I cried. Then I read it to my friend, and she laughed too. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination often takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Currently she is at work on the third book of the Guardians of Sherwood series.