ThroneThrone by Philip Tucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I originally intended for this novel to be entitled MOTHER MAIDEN CRONE (which I still feel is a kick-ass title), and for it to follow three women as they grew entangled with the world of the fae. It started well with the Mother and Maiden (Maribel and Maya) sections flowing easily, but the Crone part limped and straggled along until I finally cut it out altogether. The Crone had discovered the secret to eternal life by sacrificing her relatives to a banshee that haunted her family, but upon hearing its wail in 2010 she realizes that her last living blood relative resides in NYC, and so she crosses the Atlantic to hunt him down.

Which was a great idea and all, but somehow didn’t gel with the rest of the novel. So I took an axe to it, and suddenly I was left with MOTHER MAIDEN, which wasn’t nearly as cool a title.

I sat back, eyed the manuscript (I had about 30k words at that point), and tried to figure out where it was going to go. Two characters a dichotomy make, and somehow it made sense to have Maribel and Maya fall into opposition. Two characters, two fairy courts, and before I knew it all the pieces had realigned themselves and I had the Seelie and Unseelie Courts struggling to acquire their Queen before the other, and in so doing attain supremacy over the Isle of Apples.

The Isle of Apples? Yes. What first started as a pun on the Big Apple (get it?) quickly grew into something more, as I realized that coincidentally it was also the name of the fabled island where Excalibur was forged and King Arthur taken to heal from his wounds. Said realization led me to examine the myth of Excalibur, and discover Caladbolg/Caladcholg, its Irish predecessor and analog whose own duality further deepened the Seelie/Unseelie theme.

From there I ran with it, wrote the whole 90k in a torrent, and in the process followed the tale into the lands of the dead as Maribel sought to confront Kubu (a real Sumerian demon whose role in killing babes dovetailed with the Irish myth of changelings) and into the world of the fae. I drew (as most do) a vast amount of inspiration from Brian Froud (look up his picture of a phooka), and from a number of texts on the fae that helped me delve past the gilded depictions of Tinkerbell and into the darker, more troublesome nature of the old school fae (check out the Nuckalevee to get a sense of how awful they used to be).

Much has changed since the first draft. Maya was originally Sita, a refugee from Bombay, and most of the characters have been reworked, deepened and strengthened in some manner. Yet at its heart it’s still a story of two women driven by desire, by passion and despair, both fighting to survive in a cruel world as they transition from one stage of their lives to the next. It’s a story I’m immensely proud of, and I can only hope that others enjoy reading it as much as I did researching and writing it.

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