Hi Micheál, we are here to discuss your latest work, Milesian Daughter of War.
Hello. Yes indeed.
The in-depth research is obvious in your books. Putting aside The Tain, what other research went into writing Daughter of War?
I obviously read The Tain several times. My go to version was the Thomas Kinsella translation. There is a great deal of other research required, not only in terms of the mythology, but also the Celtic way of life. It is a little problematic because there are no written records of pre-Christian Ireland. I read everything I could get my hands on, but one of my favourite sources of information on Celtic life was The Gallic War by Julius Caesar.
Many of the feats related in Irish Mythology are, quite frankly, ridiculous. How did you handle that?
I ignored them. The monks who committed the myths to paper from the eighth century on, were prone to embellishment. An example would be Cuchulainn’s throwing a spear and then running along its shaft during flight: ludicrous. I am not the first to take out the ridiculous: the monsters and talking rocks. I aspire to be like the greats, like Henry Treece, Mary Renault and, more latterly, David Gemmell.
Queen Medb comes across as a very conflicted character, with her vulnerability and failing marriage to Ailill. How difficult was she to write?
It is an onus on all novelists to give their characters depth. Reading between the lines of Irish Legends, Medb had little depth, being the Evil Queen personified: she was promiscuous and evil, drowning her pregnant sister and sleeping with anyone who would further her cause. I tried to make her a lot less one-dimensional, giving her some human frailty. It was hard, but enjoyable.
I like the character of Genonn, pulling the strings in the background. Was he part of the mythology, or did you invent him?
According to legend, Genonn was one of the sons of the druid Cathbadh. He does not feature much in the mythology, so I borrowed him. He is quickly becoming my Cadfael, featuring in a short story (Genonn Rising) and he is the main character in my next book in the series (Milesian Brother of Justice).
I read Milesian Son of Light, a great book, by the way.
What I have noticed in both the stories so far, is there is a good deal of cross contamination between Scots, Welsh, and Irish mythology. Are the characters just similar or are some the same?
I have not studied the Welsh and Scottish legends yet. I will soon, because I will be writing a book about the extermination of the druids next year, but I do know that there are characters who straddle the myths. For example, Scathach was Scottish and does appear in the Scots Celtic mythology.
Thank you, Micheál Cladáin. I believe Milesian Daughter of War is available from Amazon.
Yes, it is available at the following links: