What if a forgotten fertility ritual was revived?
Edmonds author Lisa Costantino answers that question in her page-turning novel, ‘Maiden’s Veil,’ just released on Kindle this week. Readers of the book will be transported to a remote English village circa 1730, when Clarinda, a tapestry weaver, performs a sacred marriage with a local landed man – a union that ignites a firestorm. Three hundred years later, American weaver Jessamine Barlow arrives in Maidenvale as the town celebrates a diluted version of that long-ago holy day. Together with the fair’s king of the May, Jess rediscovers and reenacts the ancient rite, unleashing its potency on their lives and those of the community.
My Edmonds News caught up with Costantino as she was preparing her book for launch.
My Edmonds News: Congratulations on the release of your novel, ‘Maiden’s Veil.’ Could you please tell readers a little about why you wrote this book?
L.C.: My original plan was to write a travel essay about Europe’s pre-Christian celebrations, with the intent of providing readers insight into pagan holy days and sacred sites. These old beliefs are our history; even the word “paganus” simply means “villager” in Latin. After observing a number of traditional celebrations in England, I got the idea to combine some of these customs with the Arthurian tale of the Lady of Shalott. I wanted to see what would happen if I brought the Lady out of her tower and into the struggle between pagan’s feminist beliefs and Christianity’s patriarchy.
My Edmonds News: What is your writing process like?
L.C.: I start writing early in the morning and break for an afternoon walk with my dog, Lucy. She’s been there as I worked through each draft over the past five years, revising and polishing. I also have a critique group, along with a few writer friends, with whom I exchanged chapters on a regular basis. Their feedback has been invaluable, particularly in questioning details that I took for granted. I also did a great deal of research, and even learned some basic weaving skills, to accurately depict the livelihood of my protagonists, Clarinda and Jess. I felt it was important to understand what weaving and spinning were to women workers as the Industrial Revolution took root and stole their livelihoods.
My Edmonds News: What have you written in the past?
L.C.: My previous novel garnered positive feedback with agents, and I intend to return to it with a fresh eye. I’ve also written several screenplays that I hope to sell. For my livelihood I wrote for and edited travel publications, including several cover features for Virtuoso Life, a luxury travel magazine.
My Edmonds News: Where can people buy your book and follow you?
L.C.: ‘Maiden’s Veil’ is currently available on Kindle. I’ll have it available on other e-readers shortly, and a print edition will follow soon after. Readers can follow me and see photos that inspired my book on my Facebook author page. And my website has links to my travel articles.
My Edmonds News: What is your next book?
L.C.: My next novel hasn’t a title yet, but it’s about a young woman’s experiences after joining a cult of mysticism, and it explores the merits and dangers of magical thinking. Expect lots of chills and thrills.