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10 short story retellings of Arthurian Legends

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S. Prescott lives in Los Angeles, a city that smells either wonderful or terrible, depending on what part of it you’re in. She loves writing, talking to friends, talking to strangers, and shouting the names of animals she sees in the wild. “Never Meet Your Heroes” is her first sale, but you can find some of her other work in Suggest Zines, a monthly collection of stories and art based on a one word suggestion. She is on Twitter as @Expresscott.



I knew I wanted to write about Merlin, but the more I researched the more I realized what a creep he is. Being on the receiving end of that creepiness would make anyone angry enough to trap him in a cave. Plus, I love writing about angry women. Moral ambiguity fits so well in a Western setting, and I’d never done anything like it before, so I had to try. As for the fantasy aspect, I can never resist a little bit of magic.


The Lancelot poems are part of a full collection entitled This Game of Strangers written in collaboration with Jane Burn. Since both of us were interested in the function of myth/legend as archetypes within contemporary culture, we decided to tackle England's greatest love affair and create a dialogue between Guinevere and Lancelot, mixing the mythic and the contemporary realism. The poems were written at an astonishing rate, each of us inspired by one another's take on the stories. With each subsequent poem, we dug deeper into the psychological and emotional complexities of the characters, exploring the temptations, denials, hopes, justifications, and regrets for their actions. 


The full collection is available from Wyrd Harvest Press   

Bob Beagrie is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University,  and co-runs Ek Zuban Press & Literature Development. He has performed at numerous festivals and venues nationally and internationally, and received commissions from Arts Council England, The Hydrogen Jukebox Cabaret of The Spoken Word, the Helsinki Refugee Centre, and many more. 


Bob is also the founding member of Project Lono, a collaborative experiment between electronic music and experimental poetry. To listen to some of the soundscapes he has collaborated on, visit


Publications include, Masque: The Art of The Vampyre (Mudfog Press 2000), Huggin & Muninn (Biscuit 2003), Endeavour: Newfound Notes (Biscuit 2004), Yoik (Cinnamon Press 2008), The Seer Sung Husband (Smokestack Books 2010), Glass Characters (Red Squirrel Press 2011), Leasungspell (Smokestack Books 2016)


His work has also appeared in various anthologies and journals and has been translated into Urdu, Dutch, Finnish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. You can find him on Facebook at


There’s something so excruciatingly pure about Galahad. The stories of his ‘piety’ and ‘godliness’ always left me feeling a little deflated, both as a small boy and a larger one. He’s just so good. I wanted to make him squirm a little. So, I thought it would be fun to have him meet the one character wily and cunning, and just evil enough to put a mark on him for life. I like to think, having met Loki, Galahad would be wiser and more cunning himself in the future and be able to hold his own amidst the secrets and intrigues of Arthur’ court.


Andy Scott is the accidental homunculus of a mad English Alchemist who was trying to make rum from ink and seawater. Andy is still a fan of both. He does not, however, have any comment on what happened to all the ‘No Exit’ signs in Islington Underground Station when he visited for Beltaine last year.


His words have appeared in The Literary Traveller, The Washington Pastime, The VergeSpirit Guides Magazine, and Comic Book Resources. He has written a series of books on his first love - Greek Mythology - and his Alt-History comic “What Happened When …” is now available online: 


You can send him missives by bribing the Right Raven with sour-strings, or:

Twitter: @movescottylearn

Instagram: @ajsscott



'Guinevere's Complaint' was written in 2000 after seeing the place where Princess Diana died in Paris. It had been made into an unofficial shrine where people had placed flowers, notes, toys, and at least one teddy bear. I started thinking about what had tempted Di, despite her beauty and obvious virtues, to be attracted to someone so obviously opposite from Prince Charles. Di must have wanted to cut loose and have the kind of fun that was denied her under the public eye. The poem was published in the Scottish magazine, Poetry Monthly in March 2001.  


While I’d initially known that Merlin would respond to Guinevere, it took me sixteen years to fully shape his poem.  In that time, advances in nanotechnology made Guinevere's desired tiara almost a possibility, but Merlin's living backward mindset remained the heart of the poem.  Although I have been publishing poetry for about 56 years (first published in a Sunday School magazine when I was eleven), I have never spent so long on a single piece. 


Recording was a relatively new experience. I chose Kevin Drzakowski to read Merlin because, along with being Chair of the Stout English Department, he is also an actor and a playwright. We recorded "Simple Folk" in a study room in the English Department of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, an appropriate spot for a poem that spans the history of English literature, from the 5th century to the 21st.

Sandra J. Lindow lives on a hillside in Menomonie Wisconsin, where she teaches, writes, edits, and competes with varmints for the pleasure and sustenance of her vegetables and flowers. Her work has appeared in many magazines including Star*line, Tales of the Talisman, Dreams and Nightmares, Scifikuest, The Rhysling Anthology and Dwarf Stars.  Her book, Dancing the Tao: Le Guin and Moral Development (Cambridge Scholars, 2012) was a finalist for the 2014 Mythopoeic Award for Scholarship in the Study of Myth and Fantasy. 


She has seven poetry collections. The most recent is the Hedge Witch’s Upgrade (2012).  Presently she serves as VP of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and Regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. You can find out more about her at .


A native of South West England, a land soaked in folklore (and often rain), Beth studied for a literature degree before completing her MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Whilst there, she also co-edited the MA's 2013-14 anthology of student writing, Beginnings. She enjoys writing fiction that explores history, myth, and the spaces in between. Her short stories have previously been published in World Weaver Press's anthology He Sees You When He's Creepin': Tales of Krampus. You can read her story in Falmouth University's interdisciplinary journal Revenant

What sort of hero was King Arthur really? It was that question I wanted to explore, especially after reading 'Preiddeu Annwn' ('The Spoils of the Unworld'), an old Welsh poem detailing the heroic exploits of Arthur and his warband as they raid the the Celtic otherworld. The poem is narrated by the Welsh bard Taliesin and full of derring-do, but I began to wonder: what kind of man leads his followers into a place where only seven of them leave alive? Why did his men follow him? And what does the narrator really think? One of the things that caught my eye in the original poem was the mention of a hostage, and I quickly began to see the tale in a modern context — because ultimately, the nature of conflict never changes.




I knew I had to write something for this issue of Timeless Tales, because what lover of the fantasy genre doesn't have a soft spot for King Arthur stories?  I went with the tale of Merlin and Nimue (Nynave), which has been part of my psyche since I read Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave series as a young girl—and, of course, Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon.  But I wanted to do something different, rather than just retell the story.

In some versions, Nimue traps Merlin inside a shrub or a tree (a hawthorn, according to the authorities on such things).  For whatever reason, I had trees on the brain all spring—exacerbated by a poem by Holly Lyn Walrath. Once I decided to explore it from the hawthorn's point-of-view, the poem pretty much wrote itself.

My favorite aspect of creating this was deciding which words and concepts would be part of a tree's native "language", and which would have to be learned.  But it was always obvious to me that there would have been dialog between Merlin and the tree. I mean, what else would a man like that do with himself over centuries, if not talk, and teach?

Shannon Connor Winward is the author of the Elgin-award winning chapbook, Undoing Winter. Her writing has earned recognition in the Writers of the Future Contest and the Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Fellowship in literature. Her work appears in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, Star*Line, The Pedestal Magazine, Eternal Haunted Summer, Strange Horizons, Enchanted Conversation, Mirror Dance, and The Monarch Review, among others.

In between writing, parenting, and other madness, Shannon is also an officer for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, a poetry editor for Devilfish Review, and founding editor of Riddled with Arrows, an online literary journal dedicated to meta-fiction, meta-poetry, and writing that celebrates the process and product of writing as art.  Visit her online at