Robert Treskillard is the author of The Merlin Spiral, a YA fantasy trilogy that retells the Arthurian legend in a new, historically-informed way. Robert is something of a Celtic expert (though he would call himself a student, no doubt) and his tales brim with realistic settings and linguistic authenticity. Rob’s work is grounded in his Christian faith and that is evident in this trilogy.
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How long have you been interested in Arthurian legends and when did you decide to write your own story of Merlin, Arthur, and the rest?
I’ve been interested in King Arthur since I was 12 or so … about the same time I fell in love with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, as well as The Hobbit.
But, along with a lot of imaginative reading, my interest waned as adulthood took over, and it wasn’t until I read Stephen Lawhead’s versions of Arthur and Merlin that my interest was piqued again. What amazed me about his telling was how historical it was compared to the legends of my childhood … to the point that there was little resemblance. But this was closer, somehow, to what Arthur would have really been like.
I read Lawhead in the early 90’s, and after that the legend slept again for me until my 9 year old son wanted to learn blacksmithing and bladesmithing. I bought an anvil, built a forge, and we set out to learn the craft. My sister, our family genealogist, was fascinated by this, and told me that we were descended from a blacksmith who lived in Cornwall, England.
Cornwall? You mean that land so strongly associated with Arthur? Could it be? This made my imagination soar, and so one night I lay in bed pondering the legends and couldn’t figure out how the sword got stuck in the stone. Not only that, but the legends are confused … some say it was stuck in an anvil, some in both a stone and anvil simultaneously. Strange … was there a blacksmith involved? Why would he drive a sword into a stone?
The only answer that made any sense was if the blacksmith was trying to kill the stone .. and that only made sense if the stone was, somehow, evil.
Well, one imaginative idea led to another, and soon I had a six book plot spinning in my head! So I wrote one chapter, showed it to my wife, who encouraged me, and then I spent a year researching. I finally began writing in January 2007.
As an author, how do you hope families receive your stories?
It would be my hope that they would be encouraged to face their problems and fears with faith, trust, and courage—because God is faithful, and the story he’s telling with our lives has a wonderful ending.
On the flip side, it would also be my hope that families would learn something of the history of 5th century Britain. I’ve tried to be as accurate as I was able to the era, and I hope that I’ve fostered a love and appreciation for these ancient Christian heroes.
What’s next for you as a storyteller? More Arthurian legends reimagined, or is there something else on the horizon?
Right now I’m working on the second trilogy in the series, book 1 of which is tentatively titled Arthur’s Blade. In this series the stakes get higher as those Arthur loves most become endangered by Morgana in a plot to destroy him.
But … I also have a secret story up my sleeve that I’m going to shop around a bit at the upcoming ACFW conference. So we’ll see what happens!