Friday, October 19, 2012

Words From An Author: Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D.

Originally Posted on The Palmetto Queen

As many of you know, I love to read. I mostly read business books, with occasional brain candy. The problem with that is that its not enough to satisfy my thirst for knowledge. So, I enjoy reading books that are more classical education in nature. That's where Tyler R. Tichelaar and King Arthur's Children come in. 

My love of the Legend of King Arthur began in elementary school and has grown immensely since. The movies and spin offs just feed my obsession. Naturally, when I was given the opportunity to read King Arthur's Children, I had to accept.

Today I’m interviewing Tyler Tichelaar about his book “King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition.” Tyler is a long-time enthusiast of the Arthurian legend, as well as a scholar who has a Ph.D. in British literature from Western Michigan University. He is also the author of numerous historical novels including “Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance” and the award-winning “Narrow Lives.” He is currently busy writing a series of Arthurian historical novels. You can find out more about Tyler at his website

Cari: Welcome, Tyler. First of all, tell us how you first became interested in the legend of King Arthur?

Tyler: Hi, Cari. Thanks for having me. I knew about King Arthur since elementary school and had read some children’s versions of the legend, but my interest really grew when I was in ninth grade and read an old copy of Sidney Lanier’s “The Boy’s King Arthur” with N.C. Wyeth’s wonderful illustrations. After that, I couldn’t get enough of King Arthur and read everything I could—Mary Stewart’s novels, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon,” and scholarly works such as those of Geoffrey Ashe. And perhaps most of all, I fell in love with the musical “Camelot.” I had the record of the movie soundtrack which I played over and over to the point where my brother and parents grew sick of hearing it. I still play it almost every day.

Cari: What about the legend captured your attention?

Tyler: I think the sadness that King Arthur had such good intentions but things beyond his control resulted in the downfall of Camelot. Also the sense that anything was possible; the knights go on adventures and meet all kinds of sorceresses, hostile knights, and unexplainable mysteries. Like any boy, I longed for adventure myself.

Cari: What made you decide in writing your book to focus on King Arthur’s children specifically?

Tyler: I came across references to his having children other than Mordred, which surprised me. I was also very interested in genealogy when I started writing the book. I was going to write about Arthur’s many relatives, but narrowed it down just to his children. When I came across Geoffrey Ashe’s suggestion that Arthur was the progenitor of the British royal family and claims by the royal family itself to be descended from Arthur, I wanted to investigate the possibilities. As you read in my book, if King Arthur actually lived, it’s likely everyone of European descent and many others today are descended from him.

Cari: Do you think there may be even more children that you have not found reference to?

Tyler: Oh yes, especially in modern fiction. I have since discovered several novels I missed including, such as Helen Hollick’s powerful “The Kingmaking” and its sequels. I predicted more and more novels would mention King Arthur having children, which has been the case in recent years. I even had one author pay me a real compliment in recently creating an Arthurian descendant in his novel after reading my book. And wait until my own Arthurian series comes out. I’m hoping that the first book will be out in the fall of 2013. As for actual historical children, I think I probably found all the likely references, but it’s possible I missed some; by historical, I mean children who show up in non-modern sources—whether they are historical in the sense that they were real people is questionable and probably impossible to prove since we’re still debating and likely always will debate about whether or not King Arthur was a real person. That said, perhaps I’ll write a second edition someday with all the research and findings I’ve come across since I wrote and published the book.

Cari: As a teenager, I remember reading a reference to Lancelot and asking, “Was he actually Arthur’s son?” Are there hints at this in the main legend that just happen to be overlooked?

Tyler: Hmm, sounds like a great plot for a future novel. It would be interesting if Lancelot were Arthur’s son since he’s in love with Arthur’s wife, Guinevere; a sort of incestuous plot, not unlike ideas that Mordred tried to marry Guinevere. But no, I don’t believe anyone has suggested Lancelot as Arthur’s son. Lancelot is definitely a fictional creation from the eleventh century writer Chretien de Troyes. He has no basis in the earlier Welsh and Celtic stories that Arthur sprang from. Traditionally, Lancelot is depicted as the son of King Ban of Benwick and Queen Elaine.

Cari: Do the modern versions of the legend that create children for Arthur actually rely on the legend or do they just make up children for entertainment?

Tyler: I would say most just make up children, but there are some exceptions. In my own novels I’m writing, I’ve tried to include the Welsh children and other mentions of descendants of Arthur to be faithful to the legends. Other writers like Bernard Cornwell in his Warlord Chronicles included the Welsh children as well. Of course, most writers include Mordred, but the Welsh children of the legends, Llacheu, Gwydre, and Amr, are ignored.

Cari: Can you suggest some specific versions of the legend for my readers to read if they want to learn more about King Arthur’s children?

Tyler: That’s difficult because most of the references are very obscure and I had to piece together a lot of information. I honestly think my book “King Arthur’s Children” is the best starting point for all the references if you are interested specifically in Arthur’s children, but some modern novels that significantly treat Arthur’s children include Vera Chapman’s “King Arthur’s Daughter” and Debra Kemp’s House of Pendragon novels—both create fictional daughters for King Arthur. I already mentioned Bernard Cornwell’s books and Helen Hollick’s books—and I think Elizabeth Wein’s novels, beginning with “The Winter Prince” have quite an interesting take that brings Arthur’s descendants to Africa.

Cari: Do you have any tips for my readers who may want to research classic Arthurian literature and its alternate versions?

Tyler: A lot of universities teach courses in the Arthurian legend, so that would be a good starting point. Anthologies like James Wilhelm’s “The Romance of Arthur” and Peter Goodrich’s “The Romance of Merlin” can introduce you to many early texts. The absolute musts are “The Mabinogion” (Welsh tales that include Arthur in many of them), Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “The History of the Kings of Britain,” Chretien de Troyes’ “The Knight of the Cart,” Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur,” and then among modern texts, most will tell you to read T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King” and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon.” Those books will give a good foundation of the legend. I would recommend a few films as well—“Excalibur,” “Camelot,” and “King Arthur.” I’m always posting book and film reviews on my blog at so you can see my recommendations there as well. Lately, I’ve been reading my way through all the volumes of the Prince Valiant comic strip and writing reviews of them.

Cari: I would love to see your book as a dramatic documentary; are there any plans for this?

Tyler: I’m not sure my book would lend itself to a good documentary, although it does read a bit like a detective story. But there are some good documentaries out there about the Arthurian legend already, including an A&E biography of King Arthur and several by the History channel and others.

Cari: Will you tell us about your King Arthur novels you’re writing?

Tyler: Sure. The first book “King Arthur’s Legacy” will offer quite a unique retelling of the legend, incorporating some rather obscure medieval stories to draw new conclusions about what really happened at Camelot. My main character, Adam Delaney, lives in the modern period but discovers he is descended from King Arthur and learn the true story of what happened at Camelot. From there, in the three successive volumes, I will trace Arthur’s descendants across the ages from the sixth to twenty-first centuries, blending in several other European legends. I think readers will find it fun and epic both. My newest book “The Gothic Wanderer” just went on sale—it’s a study of nineteenth century British Gothic novels, and I mention it because some Gothic elements will work their way into my Arthurian novels as well. Visit my website for updates on the series.

Cari: Thank you, Tyler. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from reading “King Arthur’s Children” and talking to you today.

Tyler: Thank you, Cari. I feel we have to keep the dream of Camelot alive and keep talking about it, and people seem to be more interested in it than ever before so I hope I’ve helped to spur that interest a little.
I am so excited for the release of his novel, and any future Arthurian books.
I have really enjoyed working with Tyler. He has inspired me to study more in depth many legends. He has not only brought my interest in King Arthur back to the surface, but has inspired me to look at the other legends I have found myself loving over the years. I want to find Camelot and prove the legend to be true, even if I do live in my own version of the royal land.

I hope that you all pick up King Arthur's Children and read it. It is enlightening and refreshing. This is definitely a book that will stay in our family library. I cannot wait to teach the prince about King Arthur.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Modern History Press in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own, I really did enjoy the book.

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