Sophie Keetch chats writing fiery characters in Morgan is My Name

Le Fay, the second book in the trilogy, comes out in July.


Forget Greek myth retellings – Arthurian legend retellings might be our new favourite thing, especially after reading Morgan is My Name. To celebrate the paperback release of this empowering retelling, we are chatting with Sophie Keetch all about the first book to her trilogy.

Do you still remember the first time you learned about King Arthur? Which book was it and which part was the most fascinating to you?

Arthurian legend has deep roots in Welsh culture, so has been woven into my life from childhood. However, my father introduced me to Monty Python’s The Holy Grail — at probably too young an age — and I’ve been obsessed with its humour and cleverness, and the Arthurian mythos ever since. Of course, the Arthurian source texts are what I love best, but T.H. White’s masterpiece, The Once and Future King, blew me away when I read it, and is a retelling I keep returning to.

The most fascinating part of the Arthurian mythology has always been the way the characters are portrayed as the legends expanded and became more complex. They are often remarkable people living in extraordinary circumstances, living with magic and strange beasts and performing incredible feats, yet when you look deeper they are still men and women that feel very real, with human emotions, ideals, desires and flaws. This leads to all manner of drama, tragedy, absurdity, grandeur and complexity, and keeps these stories endlessly compelling.

And when retelling the story in Morgan is My Name, was it easy to decide what you want to keep?

Retelling Morgan’s story in the first book was as much about uncovering the story that existed in the gaps in the source texts in terms of her early years. That was both fun and a challenge, as I had to use what I knew of her as a character, and the wider context of the Arthurian legend, to inform a version that felt authentic and fitted into the parts of the story that are more well known. Portraying some of the more famous incidents story through Morgan’s eyes was also very interesting, as I got to use the settings and touchstones we recognise, but explore a familiar narrative through her specific lens. This was great fun for me as both a writer and lover of the mythology.

All the women portrayed here are very strong, even if they might not all be as defiant as Morgan, and you made every one of them shine brightly. Was it easy to ensure you weren’t putting other female characters down in order to lift Morgan up? 

Yes, it was very easy! I like to treat every character with equal empathy and try to view situations through their eyes, even if I’m only writing from the perspective of the main character. In terms of writing, this helps to make every character well rounded, and understanding they have wants and opinions of their own makes it easier to create meaningful interactions where the complexity can be seen, even when told from Morgan’s point of view. This helps ensure that the other characters are strong in their own right, and feel like they exist as individuals beyond the view of the protagonist.

Obviously, Morgan is My Name, being so beautifully written and heart-wrenching, destroyed us completely. But please tell us, what was your main mood when writing the book? Were you angry about the women’s sufferings, or empowered by Morgan etc.?

Thank you! It’s always my intention to emotionally destroy readers with my books — in a good way, of course! Writing a book is such a long and involved process, so there is never just one prevailing mood. That being said, writing Morgan was a very empowering experience. She is unlike me in many ways, so being in the mind of a character with such fierce spirit and impulsive nature was inspiring. You’d have to ask those around me, but some might say writing her often justified fury may have made me more fiery in my own life for a while!

What was it like having Vanessa Kirby narrate your book? 

It was incredibly exciting and a little surreal. Vanessa is so talented, and her voice as she read it was almost perfect for I how I had always heard Morgan in my head. The audiobook is fantastic and it was such a thrill to hear my words brought to life in such a wonderful way.

Morgan is My Name is the first of a trilogy. What made you decide to tell this story in a trilogy and what can we expect in the next one?

This story decided to tell itself in a trilogy. During the early research phase for my ‘Morgan Le Fay project’, I wrote a detailed outline of the story I wanted to write, intending for it to be one book. But Morgan’s character was so complex and her story so rich, I realised the dramatic events of her life would never fit comfortably in one book. So it became two books. Then, once I started writing, Morgan had a lot to say, so it became three books. Luckily, I feel like her story fits really well into a trilogy — a true beginning, middle and end, if you like!

In the second book, Le Fay, Morgan is a couple of years beyond the events of the first, when the age of Camelot is just beginning. She is settled but still fighting some old battles, while dealing with the restrictions of living within such a famous, idealistic court. When a face from her past reappears, it throws her life into disarray, putting new challenges and old adversaries in her path. Things turn darker, choices get more difficult, and she is forced to decide what true freedom really means to her. Hopefully it’s as dramatic and heart-wrenching as the first book!


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