Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Post: Freya Robertson Talks Costumes and Heartwood

Today Freya Robertson, author of the recently released HEARTWOOD is here. Epic fantasy, warriors from different lands and a quest, this one was on my TBR list the second I heard about it.  Since Freya was visiting on the most wonderful holiday of the year, Halloween, I asked her to write about the clothing of her characters and which characters she would love to see fans dress up as at a con. Take it away, Freya!

What an interesting question! First of all, I have to say that if Heartwood ever reached the stage of fandom where readers want to dress up as one of the characters, I would explode with excitement! Cosplay and fan fiction are, in my opinion, a wonderful way to compliment writers and creators of games. I can remember as a child writing to William Horwood who wrote the Duncton Chronicles because I loved his stories so much. I didn’t go as far as to dress up as a mole, but maybe I would have if cosplay had been more of a thing then!

Anyway, back to Heartwood. Like many epic fantasies, the story has a large cast of characters but focusses on a core few who take part in the adventures to rescue the heart of the Arbor—the holy tree—from the bottom of the ocean after the Darkwater Lords steal it, and who travel to all four corners of Anguis to try and get the energy flowing throughout the land again. Heartwood has a traditional epic fantasy quasi-medieval European setting, and the clothing and armour worn by the characters will hopefully seem very familiar to readers with an interest in that period.

I decided to concentrate on the early to high medieval period for clothing, and women in the novel mostly wear a long dress with a shorter tunic over the top of a contrasting colour, while men will wear leather or woollen breeches with an overtunic. One character I would be very interested in seeing portrayed is that of the man they call the Virimage, whose name is Teague. He is from the Komis lands, distinctive for his brown skin, black hair and striking golden eyes. He dresses in the usual tunic and breeches, but Teague can control the Veriditas or greening, and without any effort at all, he can conjure up flowers, leaves and acorns to amaze and entertain. I have visions of him looking like the Green Man from folklore, covered in vines and leaves and with similar embroidery on his tunic to emphasize his talent. I’d love to see a representation of him.

The story focusses mostly on the Heartwood knights (the Militis), however, and therefore much description of clothing centres on armour. In keeping with the high medieval period, the Militis wear mostly chain mail with occasional pieces of plate buckled over the top. I’d love to see a couple dressed as the main two characters in the book, Chonrad and Procella. Chonrad is the hero of legend, an ordinary guy without magical powers, but brave, honourable and trustworthy, like one of the Knights of the Round Table. He’s a talented horseman and skilled with a sword, and I don’t think it would be too difficult to recreate his “look”. I’m thinking…Russell Crowe for the movie :-)

Procella is the Dux, or leader, of the Heartwood army, and she would be the interesting one to portray. I wanted to create a female character who could convincingly lead an army while managing to retain some semblance of her femininity. Procella is tall and strong, and wears her long brown hair braided and then coiled at the nape of her neck. It’s traditional for women to wear a dress for ceremonial occasions at Heartwood, but at the beginning of the story tensions are running high and Procella chooses to wear her usual armour, with a coat of mail over a leather tunic and breeches, the latter tucked into thick leather boots. I think Cate Blanchett would portray Procella perfectly; elegant and beautiful, but very strong-willed and sure of herself.

If anyone ever wants to draw or dress up as one of the characters from the book, I’d love to see the result! I’ll put it on my website for everyone else to see!



Thank you, Freya! I would want to see Teague and Porcella cosplay myself. That would be awesome.

HEARTWOOD is out now: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

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