Lucifer's Crown

Behind the Scenes of Lucifer's Crown

Lucifer's Crown begins when a young woman finds a dead body in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey in England, on the morning of All Saint's Day. Another body turns up later on in the book, so it's a mystery novel, right? But wait -- both Rose and her older, more cynical teacher, Maggie, each find romance--in very different sorts of ways--so it's a romance novel, too. Also, two characters in Lucifer's Crown are immortal, and Maggie, Rose, and the others encounter paranormal events and places. 

Lucifer's Crown plays out in England and Scotland over the two months between Halloween and New Year's Eve of the year 2000.  The characters must race to achieve a task before the turning of the millennium. Of course it's not easy for them--if it were, I'd have no story. They must make difficult choices, and are often tempted away from their path by their opponents, who are clever and devious enough to play to their weaknesses.  The story is set at real places: Glastonbury, Canterbury, Salisbury in England, the Eildon Hills, Fortingall, Edinburgh in Scotland.  The legends and history the characters encounter are for real. All I do is show how intricately the stories are interwoven.

This is the "big" book I always wanted to write. I started it in 1995, and took it through many different versions before publication. I've always been intrigued by the way the past lingers on into the present, how history and fantasy (legend and myth) affect our views of reality. Obviously I mean "fantasy" as a positive force, not in the disparaging meaning of "lies", as though fantasy exists only for immoral purposes! 

All my books explore this tension between past and present, fantasy and reality. It's in Lucifer's Crown I bring out the heavy artillery, the Arthurian legends and the stories of the Holy Grail. The origins of, and the truth behind, these legends have fascinated me since childhood, probably because they're such universal tales of heroism and redemption.

The background material for Lucifer's Crown is taken from material I've been reading my entire life.  Specifically for the book, I spent hours walking around Canterbury Cathedral, notebook in hand. I bought several books about the archaeology of Glastonbury at the Abbey book shop--and then picked up some "alternative" booklets at a New Age bookstore across the street.

I couldn't begin to pick out one of the thousands of little bits and pieces of information I collected--very few of which actually make it into the book--but I can recommend one book that really got me to thinking. It's Avalonian Quest by Geoffrey Ashe, about Glastonbury and how the legends surrounding it tie in to its reality. His description of the labyrinthine design of the terraces on Glastonbury Tor was invaluable to me for the chapter where the characters actually trace that labyrinth around the Tor.

I refer to Robin, the villain, as "a polished devil". In his first, original life he was Robert the Devil, the father of William the Conqueror, who killed his brother for power and wealth. In my story, he then sold his soul to the devil for more. He's  smooth and handsome, a seducer in every sense of the word, who manipulates people to empower himself. He simply cannot see outside his own ego.

Oddly enough, in the first draft of the book, the villain was just a demon named Robin. Then I decided that if I was using one historical character as my protagonist, I should have another as my antagonist--and I literally stumbled over Robert the Devil when I was looking up something else! (Twilight Zone music here)

As for Thomas Becket, known historically as "England's greatest saint", his story fascinates me. He must have been an enormously intelligent and ambitious man. In Lucifer's Crown he isn't murdered in 1170. In a moment of cowardice he allowed another man to take his place. That man was canonized in Thomas's name, something he's kept secret until now. I refer to him as "a tarnished saint", because he's been struggling to atone for his crime and learn humility for 800 years and still wonders if he can ever overcome his own pride and accept forgiveness. I thought it was only fair to let him have an offbeat sort of romance, after all those years of living alone.


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