Monday, 18 November 2013

Guest Post by Petrea Burchard

About the Book

Telling lies is second nature to Casey Clemens, whether she's talking to strangers on national television or to her mother on the phone. Casey's got a cushy Hollywood condo, an efficient cleaning lady and a rich boyfriend. (Never mind that he's married.) When Casey feels dissatisfied she fantasizes: about winning an Oscar, about finding real love or about her childhood hero, King Arthur.
It feels like an acting career, sort of, until the day before Casey's 40th birthday when she loses everything she never cared about, falls through a gap in time and lands in the 6th century war camp of King Arthur himself. He mistakes her for a wizard and takes her in. But as she finds her feelings warming to him she also finds enemies. War is fast approaching, and the Dark Ages are a perilous time for an actress with an honesty problem. That is, if she wants to make it back to the 21st century alive. Not that she could if she wanted to. Not that she wants to.

Guest Post ~ Falling in Love with Your Book

Writing a book is like being married. First you have to fall in love, then you have to make a commitment.

I was working as an actor in Hollywood, doing the occasional commercial or small role on a TV show. I was getting nowhere, and supplementing my income with typing jobs. The most fun I had was writing a humor column about acting, and I loved doing that. But was I an actor? Was I an artist at all? Without career success could I be in love, and stay in love, with acting?

I made a last ditch effort.

At the British American Drama Academy's four week summer program at Oxford, I began to answer my questions about my abilities and dedication. And it was after the course ended, during two weeks of being a tourist in England, that I began to see other possibilities.

On a visit to Glastonbury, my friend and I climbed the famous Tor with our guide. The damp, cloudy day was almost dark. We moseyed around the top of the Tor, not a big area. To the southeast was a huge, low mound, and I asked the guide what it was. "That's Cadbury Hill," he said. "Legend says it was Camelot."

Camelot! I knew there had never been a place so-named, or at least we had no historical record of it. But could King Arthur have lived there, or someone on whom the Arthurian legends are based? If so, what had his life there been like? When? What if I could go there? I mean really go there, back to the Dark Ages, back to King Arthur? And off went my mind, imagining.

Once again I was in love——this time, with the idea that would become my novel, Camelot & Vine.

Back in Los Angeles I began reading about Cadbury Hill: its present, its history and its archaeology. A great warlord had indeed lived with his entourage atop Cadbury Hill in the early 6th century. Geoffrey Ashe has written three books on the historical possibilities of an Arthurian figure. There was no person named “King Arthur,” but there were people on whom such a mythic figure could be based, and he would have been around in the late 5th or early 6th centuries. Basically, 500AD.

Though I wanted to go I couldn’t send myself to the Dark Ages, so I sent my heroine, Casey Clemens. She and I have little in common: she’s an actress who lives in southern California, but beyond that she’s a much different person and not always likeable (unlike me!). But I fell in love with her and all her flaws.

I fell in love with the Arthur I created, and the Guinevere and the Lancelot, and all the other characters. I fell in love with 6th century Cadbury Hill (Cadebir), a setting I was able to research in detail. And I fell in love with the story of how Casey learns from her fears, her powers and her loves.

It wasn’t easy to get it right. I wrote draft after draft. But I was committed to my characters and my story, and eventually I had a novel I could be proud of.

When it was finished my heart broke a little. I knew I would miss living in that story, and I do.

I’ve started on the next novel. I like my characters. I haven’t fallen in love with them yet but I will, as soon as I get over my relationship with Camelot & Vine.

About the Author

Petrea Burchard started as an actor. Then she wrote about it.

She began her acting career in Chicago at The Second City, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens Theaters, later moving to Los Angeles to work in television, film, and voice-over. Auditions, jobs and the people she met (famous and infamous) became fodder for her popular Act As If humor column at
Petrea also drew on her acting experience to write her first novel. During a summer Shakespeare acting course at Oxford, she fell in love with the English countryside, and the idea for Camelot & Vine began to take shape.

Other published works include a short story, "Portraits," in "Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition," a new anthology from Prospect Park Media, articles for Patch online newspapers, flash fiction like "Belinda's Birthday," and an essay in "A Cup of Comfort for Christmas," an Adams Media paperback.

Petrea writes mostly full-time now, and continues to work as a voice actor. She's known as the original English voice of Ryoko, the sexy space pirate in the animé classic, Tenchi Muyo!. She is currently the radio and TV voice of Stater Brothers Markets in southern California.


  1. So wonderful to fall in love with a great book, even better when it's your own!

  2. I read the book and really enjoyed it. Nice to get the back story of how it came about!

  3. Like a first trip to an exotic place, you recall your Ah Ha! moment most vividly. Did I spell "vividly" correctly? It's my first trip to that word. For example, my word verification on this site is Asscoww, and I've never used that either.

  4. Thanks for your comments!

    altadenahiker, you spelled "vividly" correctly, and even found a way to correctly use two adverbs in a row. I don't think I've seen that before. I've seen an asscoww, though.

  5. I love hearing about the writing process. So interesting that you sent Casey because you couldn't go yourself. Lucky her - she had a fabulous adventure.

    1. Yeah, I'm a little jealous. Though honestly, it's dangerous in the dark ages, and not exactly sanitary! But the food's good.

  6. Sienna, thank you for hosting my guest post! It's been fun being here.


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I know word verification is a pain, but spam is worse.

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