Leanne Caine has penned an imaginative romp with Eleanor of Aquitaine, combining the fantastic realm of Atlantis in with the story! Here is an interview about her process and her take on all of our Great Ladies:
Leanne Caine was a ghost writer for many years but recently came out of the writing closet. She has been involved in nearly every StarkLight Anthology to date including the very first anthology: StarkLight 1.
Leanne is also a regular contributor to outermost: Journal of the Paranormal from StarkLight and writes answers to people’s questions about the paranormal and all things otherworldly and magical. If you have a question you would like her to answer you can email her at: email@example.com
Thanks for being with us today, Leanne! You’ve been a writer with us for about five years now and a good friend for even longer.
Leanne: Thanks for having me, I’m incredibly grateful to you and Tony for running StarkLight Press! I’ve never really felt comfortable publishing my work ‘for real’ but I always feel at home at StarkLight.
I’m so glad you do! Why have you felt uncomfortable writing as other than a ghost writer in the past?
Leanne: I think it’s because submitting work is pretty much going to the casino. You know that the place is rigged so that ‘the house’ always wins. People are making money off of your thoughts and the stories you create while at the same time they always bash you around and make you feel like shit for what you made. I know that the feedback I get from the editors etc at StarkLight is honest and that you aren’t going to let me publish any old crap but I also know that you aren’t going to power trip over me. Writers are vulnerable. They are open and they share their souls with the world. In a lot of ways they’re more like children than any other demographic and it’s like shooting fish in a barrel to make writers feel insecure.
How did you feel about joining in on The Great Ladies Anthology
I was excited to find out who I was going to get and then ecstatic when I got Eleanor of Aquitaine to write about. I think about how strong she was to fight against the currents of the era she was in and she managed to keep power to a large extent. She also ended up locked in a tower but trying to kill a king will often have that effect on a person.
Why did you go to Atlantis with your story?
When I was invited to take part in this anthology I was told that we could take the story anywhere, to any genre, so long as the spirit of the lady remained intact and it was true to their character. It seemed a little too pat and easy to write a historical story and while historical novels are a fun read, I wanted to do something that had never been done with Eleanor.
Eleanor taught her children about romance and chivalry and love and she acted out grand pageants with them and made up stories to tell her kids. I wanted to focus on this aspect of Eleanor, the part that imparted creativity and a love of romance and doing the noble thing into an entire generation. Her love of those concepts infected her court and her children and as a result descended into even the age we now live in. I thought about doing other things with Eleanor’s story telling powers but in the end I decided to have her walk into a story that I thought she would tell if she knew about Atlantis.
Atlantis is such a romantic notion, it was a good match for Eleanor’s ideas of high romance and so I decided to have her walk into my idea of a noble and romantic story.
There were a lot of questions raised for me when I read your story. It seemed to me that she had a familiarity with King Percival and the situation with her incestuous romance was brought up again at the end. We are left with Eleanor telling us that, ‘…sometimes love hurts’, but you left us hanging about what happened next. Do you have any intentions of developing the story further and explaining more?
I would have loved to get into her relationship with King Percival, that was something that I had strong ideas about, definitely. I would have loved to explore Atlantis more too and really flesh it out but I was working on a deadline with a finite word count so some parts had to be axed and left out.
But now that you have the story, would you want to develop it further? It seems to me that you have nearly a novel worth of information started here.
Hmmm, yes, that is something I’ve thought about but I’d like to keep my aspirations on that front quiet for now.
What was your experience like, writing for Great Ladies and being intimately involved with the other writers and their writing processes as they explored the history of some of the great women of history.
I was bemused. I saw a lot of people fold and say they couldn’t do it at all. Not even that they couldn’t work with the history or the woman they were given, just that it was too hard. I’m sure they all had good reasons for it but it was a way higher dropout than any other anthology I’ve been involved in.
I also noted that the research had an effect on the other authors that acted like quicksand on them. They were burying themselves in the entire life of the women from birth to death and I think that was what accounted for the drop out rate. It wasn’t ‘tell their life story’ which was something that people missed. It was one anecdote to give people an idea of how these women impacted the world. I noticed that a lot of writers worried over it like it was an essay for school or a report on the authors and it took some poking and prodding to get some authors over the bump of that. It was like they were suddenly in high school and worried about what grade they were going to get.
Once people got over their fear of touching history it got a lot better but that part was a tripping point for a lot of people.
Is there anything you would have done differently in retrospect on your story?
I still wish I had time to explore the relationship with King Percival. I wanted to give people an allegory of Eleanor’s strength of belief and her fire. In real life she married the King of France first off and when she got to Paris it was not the Paris we think of now. It was mud and dirt and smokey little houses that they passed off as castles. It was real step down from her home. Eleanor made the first strides to making Paris the city it is now because she was filled with the idea of beauty and goodness in life. When reality let her down she made it into something better. All of what we now call ‘gothic’ architecture was first introduced to France by Eleanor. She moved England forward when her marriage in France was annulled and she was married to the King of England instead.
I think that for someone who reads my story with an idea of how amazing Eleanor was at making something wonderful out of even the most pathetic remnants (like Paris) into something worthwhile. I guess I wanted to show what the world might have been like if where she had first been sent had exceeded her expectations rather than defeating them.