Zoe Brooks Guest Post: The Creation of Lupa, the gypsy queen

The creation of  Lupa, the gypsy queen

I have always been fascinated by the gypsies. Maybe it was because my nickname at school was “gypo”, maybe it was because I have reason to believe that my grandmother might have been half-gypsy. So it was not surprising when I included a gypsy character called The Queen Of The Roads in a children's book I wrote a few years ago. The book sits abandoned in a drawer never to see the light of day, but the character stayed with me. People who read the book were fascinated by the old woman. "What was her story?" they asked me.

By chance I was on a tour of a castle in the Czech Republic. The guide was droning on in Czech and I found myself at the back of the group looking at some primitive pictures. With a jolt I realised they were depictions of the oppression of the gypsies from the 18th century. A woman sat with a babe in her arms with blood pouring from a wound where her ear had been. Behind her in the distance a man was hanging from a gallows. Their crime was simply being gypsies. On doing more research I discovered that at that time gypsies were routinely hunted as if they were vermin and such a hunt became a major event in the book. The gypsies never were able to join together under one leader to defend themselves, but what if they had? What if the leader had been a woman?

The British gypsies have had some formidable gypsy queens over the years. There's a wonderful short Pathe News film (http://www.britishpathe.com/video/gypsies-bury-queen) about the burial of one. And there was a famous Gypsy Queen Margaret Finch who was visited by Samuel Johnson and other notables. She died at the age  of 108. And yet in most parts of the world the gypsies (as with non-gypsies) were patriarchal for most of their history. So the story of Lupa allowed me the chance to explore what it takes for a woman to rise to be leader in a man's world.

Gypsy society is tribal and the tribes often are led by men with titles (such as Duke) assumed from the non-gypsy world. The gypsies are bound by codes of honour, ties of blood, and customs that date back to their roots in north India. They call themselves the Rom, which simply means the men or the people. At the heart of their identity is that they are people of the road. Lupa has to spend some time living in a house which she regards as a prison, instead she prefers to live in a tent (the covered wagon was a late development). As Lupa says: “Do you feel that, boys? The open road at our feet, the sky above. What it is to be free again! We are Lords of the Earth!”

Mother of Wolves Blurb:
Mother Of Wolves is a gripping story of a woman's struggle for justice in a man's world.

Through the marshes and rich farmland of the great river, Lupa hunts and is hunted by her husband’s murderers. On the estuary islands her sons and their protector are just one step ahead of the killers. Everyone underestimates Lupa, if they consider her at all. They are making a mistake. The odds may be against her, but Lupa is the daughter of a fox and the mother of wolves.

This fantasy adventure is a revenge story with a twist, an alternative history of the gypsies and a
profile of the rise of a woman leader all in one book.

Mother of Wolves is available http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082BT6G8  &
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0082BT6G8 (for the UK)

About the Author:

Zoe Brooks is a British writer and poet, who spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry. Zoe aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader's skin.

Zoe was a successful published poet in her teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). In May 2012 she published her long poem for voices Fool's Paradise as an ebook on Amazon. Girl In The Glass - the first novel in a trilogy about the woman and healer Anya was published on Amazon in March 2012. Mother of Wolves is her second novel.
She has a liking for books in which reality and fantasy meet. Her favourite books include Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Marquez), Good Omens (Pratchett and Gaimon), Jane Eyre, Bull From The Sea (Renault), and Woman Who Waited (Makine).