YA Medieval Adventure
Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.
When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles–along with twists and turns aplenty–await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.
Introducing Gwendolyn & Allen
Brief physical description
Gwendolyn is tall and strong with long golden blonde hair. She thinks of herself as ugly in the beginning, mostly because she doesn’t bother with her looks, but quickly learns that is not the case. Allen is a big, powerful knight with chiselled features and waving brown hair. I’m thinking you can’t go wrong with that.
Actually, Gwendolyn is the first heroine I ever wrote who somewhat resembles me, and a number of people have commented that the cover looks like me when I was younger. LOL. But I’ve been using LeeLee Sobieski, an actress who has played several tough medieval heroines, as my model for Gwendolyn. For Allen, I was picturing Jared Padalecki who played Dean on the Gilmore Girls.
Strengths and weaknesses
Gwendolyn is physically strong and tough. Her brothers thought it would be hysterical to train her as a knight since their father is so determined to keep women in their place. She is also generous, protective, and adventurous. But Gwendolyn has an emotional fragility to her as well, and she sometimes escapes into a fantasy world to avoid hard issues.
Allen is brave, kind, and faithful. He has a very deep connection to God. But he was raised a peasant, and his new role as a knight is causing him some insecurity. As his standing continues to rise, pride creeps in and threatens to lead him astray.
Quirk (if any)
Well, being a female warrior was pretty quirky for that time, but I contrast that with Gwendolyn’s beautiful, haunting gift of playing the pipe to bring out her softer side. There are also some funny scenes where she is trying to act demure to please her father and fails miserably. Allen has a bad habit of falling out of trees. People who have read book 1 will get that.
Your inspiration for the character
The idea behind the whole series is strong medieval women in traditionally male roles, so Lancelot in many ways served as an inspiration for this female knight who longs to fight in tournaments. I was also very inspired a few years ago when I saw a picture of a tough female warrior illustrating spiritual warfare. That woman encouraged me to be more strong and courageous, and the picture was in my mind as I worked on this book.
Allen is a character who just sort of evolved. He was one of the “Merry Men” in my first book, Dauntless, and the publisher liked him and asked me to develop him more and use him as a hero for book 2. I love the results!
Background to the story
The idea was basically to feature a female knight and play with some Arthurian legends. I took the Guinevere and Lancelot story and turned it upside down. But in considering this female knight, I also had to face the fact that she would not have been readily accepted in her society, and that she would likely be stirring up trouble at home.
So I gave Gwendolyn a brutish father and a mother who has been beaten down by him. That really provided the motivation for Gwendolyn to want to be strong and tough, and it makes her very opposed to the marriage her parents demand of her, which creates all sorts of wonderful tension in the story. Bringing in Allen as a hero for this story was the perfect touch and linked it nicely to book 1 in the series.
Dina L. Sleiman holds an MA in professional writing from Regent University and a BA in communications with a minor in English from Oral Roberts University. Over the past eighteen years, she has had opportunities to teach college writing and literature, as well as high school and elementary classes in English, humanities, and fine arts. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three children.