Rawena is running for her life. Soldiers on her heels, she stumbles into a putrid swamp. Wading in the foul water she becomes ill and covered in pustules. She is in the domain of Pandemia, the goddess of pestilence. In a mix of fear and desperation, Rawena makes a pact with the goddess in exchange for her life. The pact sets her on a path that will alter the course of human history.
Celts and The Mad Goddess is the first book in the Deathless Chronicle series by P.C. Darkcliff. Author Darkcliff studied journalism at Conestoga College and worked as a senior reporter at the Niagara News, Thorold Edition, before heading to Spain to work as a teacher. He was Spillwords Press “Author of the Month” for September 2020 and won an honourable mention for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award. I was fortunate enough to chat with him about his latest book.
The story takes place during the era of the Celts. What inspired you to choose this time in history?
Celts have fascinated me since I was little because of their bravery and their ties to the wilderness. They had such enthralling customs and beliefs that I knew I had to write about them. The Gaulish tribe of the Boii, which I featured in the book, is shrouded in mystery, so I had the freedom to let my imagination fly and fill in the missing facts in whatever way I wanted. As a writer, I couldn’t ask for a better gift.
There was an incredible amount of detail that went into creating the historic Celtic setting. What was your research process like?
I did some general research on the Boii to get me going while writing the first draft. As I progressed to the second draft, I read up more deeply on whatever I needed for the book, from clothing to warfare. Then I got a message from a fellow writer and a Celtic historian, a Canadian lady called Kim Hood, who offered to read the manuscript. Kim corrected several mistakes and provided some fascinating insights into Celtic life, which made the book much more real and interesting.
There are many strong female characters in the book, especially the Druidess. How do you go about creating solid, in depth characters?
I spend more time with my characters than I do with my partner, so I get to know them well. To get me started, I write a long outline for each character and their appearance, background, personality traits, patterns of speech, and mannerisms. When I do the last revisions, I read the manuscript out loud, and I change my intonation and tone of voice for each character to see if what they say fits the way they say it. Since I always read on the balcony, my neighbours might think I am schizophrenic.
The main character, Rawena, can be viewed as both a villain and a victim. How did that influence your story telling?
Rawena was, by far, the most difficult character to create. While she’s the destructive element of the story, I didn’t want to make her pure evil, as it seemed too cheap, so I portrayed her as a troubled, covetous woman who fell prey to an entity that exploited her weaknesses. Once I finally got inside her mind, I was able to mould the story around her, which was fun because she’s so unpredictable.
How many times did you revise the story before you were satisfied with the end result?
I wrote two drafts and made about ten rounds of revisions. The first draft was just a skeleton, only half the length of the final product, and it was basically me telling myself the story. When I was done, I printed it out and wrote the second draft which I sent to my editor and my advance readers. When they got back to me, I changed the manuscript according to their comments and went through the grueling task of rereading and polishing. Months later, when I felt I would either upload the story to Amazon or throw my laptop off the balcony, I opted for the former.
Celts and the Mad Goddess is the third book you’ve written. How have you grown as a writer compared to your first book?
I can see improvement with each book. I’ve learned to use powerful language, show rather than tell, and create solid storylines. The improvement is the fruit of daily practice and working with my editor. She’s got an incredible knack for story development and, as a woman, she has helped me create characters to whom female readers can relate. My advance readers and critique partners have also played a crucial part in my improvement.
What can you tell us about the future installments of The Deathless Chronicle?
I’m thinking of making the series a triple trilogy, so there will be eight other books, which I hope to unleash over the next eight years. Each installment will skip a few decades or centuries and take the readers to the near future. The second book, Celts and the Gladiator, is coming out next summer. It’s set in Nero’s Rome, and I’m writing the second draft. It’s so much fun to write because Nero was such a crackpot!
To see a complete listing of P.C. Darkcliff’s work please check out his website.
— Lesley L.