Maiden’s Veil, historical fiction by Lisa Costantino

Maiden's Veil was born during a trip to the UK, in which I planned to do research on a travel guide to Europe's oldest festivals. As I witnessed a number of centuries-old traditions, many of them honoring May Day, or Beltane, I became inspired to write a story that reflected the essence behind these celebrations.

The manner in which the May Day—the symbolic day of rebirth—is feted at these events varies. One may involve following an "obby oss," under whose black leather form lurks the promise of fertility. Another celebrates a May Queen as a personification of birth and growth, while still another sees villagers rolling a flower-bedecked wheel of cheese around its church and then partaking of it to protect their fertility. And of course, there's the phallic Maypole looming above those dancing beneath its beribboned crown.

Having some knowledge of what was known (or speculated) about ancient pagan fertility rituals from Frazier, Campbell, and other mythologists, I decided to structure Maiden's Veil around the banishment of a longstanding ritual, and of its resurrection—throwing in a shadow framework that echoes the Arthurian story of Elaine of Astolat, the "Lady of Shalott," cursed for her love of Lancelot to remain in her tower and weave. For this, I read more Arthurian lore (not a chore!), and also enrolled in weaving classes through Seattle's fine Weaving Works.

Researching and writing Clarinda's story was so enjoyable, I've decided I'm not quite finished with her. As a kind of prequel/alternate universe version of her life, my next book, this time a YA novel, will set a young woman very much like Clarinda in the woods, but as a healer who comes upon a mysterious injured man. Stay tuned.

Maiden's Veil is a finalist in Chanticleer Reviews' 2012 Blue Ribbon Award for Indie and Self-Published Novels.