The Origins of Grunsday, The Eighth Day
I was very excited by the invitation to write a guest post for Still Writing to celebrate the upcoming release of The Inquisitor’s Mark, the second book in my Eighth Day series. I knew right away that I wanted to do an Origin post because J.E. does such a great job with them here. I wanted to share the research behind my book series – because, yes, fantasy authors do research, too. We don’t just make it all up!
The idea of a secret eighth day of the week came from a family joke. Whenever my daughters bugged my husband about something they wanted to do (go to an amusement park, the ice skating rink, the beach, etc) and he didn’t have an immediate answer, he’d tell them: “We’ll do it on Grunsday.” The word Grunsday itself, as far as I can tell, originates from a Beetle Bailey comic strip. In one episode, Bailey has been working KP duty for a week and when Saturday comes, he’s relieved there are no more days in the week. Then he looks at the calendar and exclaims, “Grunsday?!”
In my book, the eighth day is nicknamed Grunsday as a joke by some of the characters, but it’s actually serious business. The eighth day is the magical prison of a powerful and dangerous race of sorcerers. I already had many of the aspects of this secret day worked out in my mind before I started researching legends about extra days and alternate timelines, so I was very startled to come across Arthurian legends that matched many of the elements planned for my story.
According to legend, Merlin was tricked by his apprentice (or lover), Niviane, who wanted to steal his powers. (In some legends, she’s called Nimue or Viviane – or the Lady of the Lake who gave Excalibur to Arthur.) Niviane trapped Merlin in an eternal forest (or cave) where his aging slowed down. Merlin could not escape, but Niviane could come and go as she pleased in order to learn more spells from him. (Or maybe for booty calls.)
My story plan called for the eighth day to be a place where the trapped inhabitants aged slowly (because they live one day for every one of our seven). Their jailors would have the ability to enter and exit this day, experiencing all eight days of the week. Once I noticed the similarities, I decided that my eighth day should be rooted in Arthurian legend even though it was set in modern time. Suddenly all my characters began to clamor for famous ancestors!
But wait – it gets a little weirder. I referred to the trapped race of people as the Kin, which was originally meant to be a placeholder name until I thought of something better. But I never did. Every other name for them sounded false, so I turned in the book still calling them the Kin. After The Eighth Day sold to HarperCollins in a 3-book deal, I began to plan subsequent books in the series. Researching Celtic legends led me to the Tuatha de Danann, a legendary race of people gifted in magical powers who arrived in the British isles in ancient times and ruled there awhile. Eventually they were defeated and driven away to a secret, hidden kingdom where they lived extended lives and were never seen by humans again.
The part that freaked me out? Tuatha de Danann translates as the people, the nation, the tribe ...
or you know ... the kin.