Although I had always intended for the The Lord of Misrule to feature in The Solstice Blade, at the start of the writing process I was not really sure of what his role would be. Further research led on to him becoming a central character of the story.
I encountered the Lord of Misrule again when researching ancient Winter Solstice celebrations, particularly the Roman festival of Saturnalia, for use in the dialogue between Travis, Liam and Evan and the owner of the junk shop when they discuss the origins of Christmas. As soon as I heard of the Lord of Misrule’s role as a kind of prince of fools, I immediately envisaged him in a battered paper Christmas cracker crown. The wooden sword also aids the image of a ceremonial role rather than a real one, as was giving him childlike habits like twisting his foot against the ground when thinking or embarrassed. This is good example of how the act of writing and researching can spark inspiration and cause the story to develop in unexpected ways.
Also and completely coincidentally the Lord of Misrule, in a number of guises, pops up around South West England quite a lot – a fact I was unaware of when writing The Solstice Blade even though it is set in Cornwall. In October 2016, the town of Penryn in Cornwall reinstated their Mock Mayor celebration for the town’s 800th anniversary. The Mock Mayor is another incarnation of The Lord of Misrule. In addition to the Mock Mayor himself Penryn’s parade, also known as The Mayor of Mylor, features two mace bearers who carry cabbages instead of maces. Traditionally the Mock Mayor assumed control of the town for one day and was carried in a chair on the shoulders of four strong men. He made a speech in front of the town hall before visiting various local public houses that were expected to provide him with ale.
These Mock Mayors were especially common in Cornwall in Penzance, Penryn, Helston, Polperro and St Germans, but were also found in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.