Author Interview & Giveaway: The Once and Future Queen by Nicole Evelina

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog please welcome Nicole Evelina, author of The Once and Future Queen! I have for you a wonderful interview with Nicole and a chance to win a copy of her latest book!

Hello Nicole and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Once and Future Queen!

Thanks for having me!

To begin, can you tell us a little about yourself and The Once and Future Queen.

I am a historical fiction, non-fiction and romantic comedy author whose four novels have won more than 20 awards, including two Book of the Year designations (my Guinevere novels, Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen). The Once and Future Queen is my first non-fiction book and my most recent publication. It traces the evolution of the character of Guinevere from her Celtic roots all the way to fiction published in 2016, emphasizing how she changed based on the views of women in the society for which she was written.

What inspired you to write The Once and Future Queen?

I was asked to give a presentation on Guinevere for Women’s History Month at one of our local libraries. I was thinking “Oh crap. She’s fictional. What am I going to say?” So I decided to look into how she has changed over time. The more I read, the more I noticed a pattern: she changed with society’s views on women. Being a feminist and a strong believer that Guinevere really hasn’t been given a fair chance in literature, I decided to write a book using the 30,000+ words worth of notes I gathered for that presentation. There is only one other non-fiction book out there dedicated to Guinevere (at least that I found), The Book of Guinevere by Andrea Hopkins, and it stops after considering her role in Tennyson’s Idylls. It has a different focus than mine, plus I wanted to be able to show how she has changed up to our present time.

What research did you undertake when writing The Once and Future Queen?

I read a lot of source material, as I had read very few fictional portrayals of Guinevere prior to writing my own novels about her. For example, I had never even heard of William Morris before I started researching. Then I read many articles and books of literary criticism related to Guinevere. My favorite part was reading people’s theses and dissertations, because they contain such great information that is not readily available to the public. Part of my reason for writing The Once and Future Queen was to get that information out of the halls of academia and into the hands of average Arthurian lovers.

Did you come across anything in your research that surprised or fascinated you?

There’s a lot that surprised me, especially some of the rather gruesome endings that Guinevere has met over the years. I also didn’t know that there are a few authors (Chretien de Troyes in particular) who let Guinevere and Lancelot get away with their affair; in those versions, Arthur either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. I also find fascinating the way the second wave of feminism in the late 1970s and 1980s helped redeem Guinevere’s reputation. There is a marked interest during that time in making sure she is seen as a three-dimensional character with a family, a backstory, feelings and motivations, rather than just as a pawn of the court or a wanton woman.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Once and Future Queen?

I want them to know that Guinevere is much more than she appears on the surface. She is a changing character who has played many roles over the years and who will continue to evolve. Because of the long history of emphasizing her sin, we sometimes jump to the conclusion that Guinevere is evil or misguided, but she is really so much more. In fact, if you look deep enough (and through an admittedly feminist lens) she becomes a heroine for the modern woman because she made her own choices and followed her heart.

When did your fascination with Guinevere and King Arthur begin?

I actually can’t remember NOT being fascinated with them. My dad likes musicals, so I grew up on the musical and movie version of Camelot and my mom used to read me the stories of Arthur and his knights before bed. I actually tried to take Guinevere as my confirmation name, but the nuns wouldn’t let me because there is no St. Guinevere. So, I went with Marian instead (as in Robin Hood and).

Do you have a favorite fictional book on Guinevere? What about non-fiction?

Besides my own, I would have to say Parke Godwin’s Beloved Exile is my favorite. His Guinevere is so strong and so intelligent; she’s a woman I can respect. There really aren’t many non-fiction books about Guinevere, but the one I consulted the most in my research was Lancelot and Guinevere: A Casebook, edited by Lori Walters. It’s a collection of essays about how the two characters have been treated in literature and has many fascinating theories.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Oddly, I was just thinking about this the other day. I was a freshman in high school and I came across a book called Dumacus and Sheba, which was about the good thief who was crucified with Jesus. Until I read it, I had no idea that books existed that took you back in time. I was hooked! Oddly, I can’t find anything on the Internet about that book. If I didn’t still have the book report I did on it (I got an A, in case you are wondering), I would think I was misremembering.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk, by Kelli Estes. It’s a dual-period book about a 19th century Chinese woman and a modern woman who both live in the same part of the Pacific Northwest. They don’t realize it, but their stories are linked, and the reveal of that will expose a dark period in our country’s history. It’s so, so good!

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love that historical fiction teaches as well as entertains. It is way more interesting to experience history, or at least what we think history was like, than to learn a bunch of dates and names; historical fiction brings the past to life. When done well, it is as close to going back in time as we can get. And I love the recent trend of people telling the unknown, little-known, or covered up stories in history, especially women’s stories (that is why I write what I do, after all). It gives a more well-rounded picture of history than what we typically learn in school.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I have loved the Middle Ages since I was a young girl. I’m convinced it is a past life thing. (I’m also obsessed with castles and crowns. I can turn anything into a crown. Seriously.) I also really like the late Victorian period in America because that’s when we started to see strong women emerge as the first feminists/suffragists. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. And I have a weakness for the 1920s – flappers, gangsters and all – especially those in Chicago. Those gangsters make me swoon as badly as modern musicians!

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I have a few projects in the works. Currently I’m writing Mistress of Legend, the final book in my Guinevere trilogy. I know people are anxiously awaiting it and I’m determined it will be out in 2018.

I’m also researching two non-fiction books. One is a biography of an early 20th century mystic named Marie Rose Ferron, who I have been fascinated with since I read a book about her in my sophomore year of high school. The other is on the history of feminism in the United States, wherein I argue that we are currently in the infancy of a fourth wave. This book is still very much in its beginning stages, so I expect my thesis to evolve as I conduct more research.

Finally, as soon as Mistress of Legend is done, I am going to write a historical novel about a French nun who aided the Resistance during WWII and died a martyr’s death at Ravensbruck concentration camp, after volunteering to go to the gas chamber in place of a mother (and daughter, according to some sources). She died on Good Friday. The camp was liberated shortly thereafter (anywhere from three days to a few weeks later, depending on the source). But yet, unlike St. Maximillian Kobe, who died a similar death, she has not been recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint.

Thank you so much for a great interview, Nicole! I am very much looking forward to your next projects!

The Once and Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend by Nicole Evelina

Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Lawson Gartner Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 281 Pages

Genre: History & Criticism/Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

Guinevere’s journey from literary sinner to feminist icon took over one thousand years…and it’s not over yet.

Literature tells us painfully little about Guinevere, mostly focusing on her sin and betrayal of Arthur and Camelot. As a result, she is often seen as a one-dimensional character. But there is more to her story. By examining popular works of more than 20 authors over the last one thousand years, The Once and Future Queen shows how Guinevere reflects attitudes toward women during the time in which her story was written, changing to suit the expectations of her audience. Beginning in Celtic times and continuing through the present day, this book synthesizes academic criticism and popular opinion into a highly readable, approachable work that fills a gap in Arthurian material available to the general public.

Nicole Evelina has spent more than 15 years studying Arthurian legend. She is also a feminist known for her fictional portrayals of strong historical and legendary women, including Guinevere. Now, she combines these two passions to examine the effect of changing times and attitudes on the character of Guinevere in a must-read book for Arthurian enthusiasts of every knowledge level.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction, romantic comedy and non-fiction writer, whose four novels have collectively won over 20 awards, including two Book of the Year designations (Daughter of Destiny by Chanticleer Reviews and Camelot’s Queen by Author’s Circle). Her most recent book, THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, traces the evolution of the character of Guinevere in Arthurian legend from her Celtic roots to the present day, showing how the character changed along with the period’s views of women. Nicole is currently working on MISTRESS OF LEGEND (2018), the final book in her Guinevere's Tale trilogy.

As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, as well as a member of the Historical Fiction Writers of America, International Arthurian Society - North American Branch, Romantic Novelists Association, Novelists, Inc., the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

For more information, please visit Nicole Evelina's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads. Sign up for Nicole's newsletter to receive news and updates.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, January 31
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, February 1
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, February 2
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, February 6
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Wednesday, February 7
Excerpt at What Cathy Read Next

Thursday, February 8
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, February 9
Interview at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, February 12
Review at Bookworms Anonymous
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Tuesday, February 13
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, February 14
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, February 15
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, February 16
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, February 19
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, February 22
Feature at A Holland Reads

Monday, February 26
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, February 27
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Wednesday, February 28
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of The Once and Future Queen! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Once and Future Queen

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