From author Scott Farrell:
I recently gave a talk about chivalry, knights, and Arthurian legend to a middle school class – and during the talk, the requisite question came up: “Could a girl become a knight?”
Although I told the class about some of the historical instances of medieval women being granted knighthood, after the talk was done I mentioned to the teacher that there was a 13th century legend called Le Roman de Silence, about a girl knight in the age of King Arthur. The teacher’s face lit up and she said, “The girls in class would love to hear about that!” When I told her that I’d written a novel based on it, she practically begged me for a copy of it to read to the kids in class – and when I emphasized that I was having trouble finding a publisher for the story, she asked if I’d give her a copy of the manuscript and let her share it with the class in that format. (And, I’m happy to report, I did just that.)
But the teacher’s enthusiasm to read The Champion In Silence to her students made me wonder about the rejection letters (and I’ve got quite a stack of ’em) from publishers and literary agents saying they don’t feel there’s any market for an epic fantasy story about a girl who becomes one of King Arthur’s knights. (Knightly adventures appeal to boys, not girls – or so they tell me.) Every time I mention this tale to a class of students, or at a library, or in the many places where I give my live presentations, I get the same reaction of delight and curiosity from most of the young ladies, and many of the young men, in the audience.
Can it really be true, as publishers are claiming, that girls aren’t interested in stories about knights, battles and quests? Are tales of Knights of the Round Table fodder only for male readers?
Certainly, from the reaction of this teacher – and from her students – I don’t think that’s true at all.
I’m definitely looking forward to getting some critiques from the students in this class as they discover the adventures of Silence. And, if there are any other teachers out there who’re reading this, and who would like to share the (as yet) unpublished story, The Champion In Silence, with their students, please contact me through this website. I would be happy to provide you a copy, and possibly arrange an author visit to your campus to talk to your students and introduce them to this wonderful legend.
And publishers … are you listening? There seems to be an awful lot of young readers (and adults too) out there who are eager to read this story. Are you sure there’s no interest in a novel about King Arthur’s knights that features a girl “knight in shining armor”? Or is The Champion In Silence a virtual gold mine that is just waiting to be discovered by some publisher with vision to get beyond the cliched notion that “knight stories are only for boys.”
I’ve got a class full of girls that would beg to differ!