Song Inspires Book: Story of ‘Warrior Queen’ Moves Kellianna from Singing to Writing
“I cannot remember my name
as I lay on the battlefield
and hear the war drums.
I died here with honor today,
Warrior Queen with my sword by my side.”
So begins one of the nine songs on Kellianna’s first album, “Lady Moon,” released in early 2004.
The song, “Warrior Queen,” tells the story of a hero’s death on a battlefield.
“When I played the song for my mom back in 2003, she said, ‘I love it. What’s the story?’ I said, ‘That is the story. She dies.’”
Kellianna remembers her mother saying, “No, that’s the story about her death. I want to know about her life.”
That planted a seed. For 11 years, Kellianna thought about the backstory – who Warrior Queen was and what her life was like.
“I never let go of a good idea, even if it takes me a long time to pull it off. It marinates until the time is right.”
The time was right two years ago.
While performing at the Australia Goddess Conference with her good friend Wendy Rule in 2013, Kellianna met Kaalii Cargill, the author of “Daughters in Time.” The following summer they met again in England at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference.
Picking up a copy of Cargill’s self-published book, Kellianna said, “It was a stunning book, a novel. I loved it. The next morning I was talking to her about [Warrior Queen]. By the next day, she and I had already started doing research on Nordic names. I already had a timeline. In the vending room, we started writing it.”
Cargill insisted the Warrior Queen have a name, and chose Llianna.
“My ego did cartwheels,” Kellianna said.
A year later – after many telephone calls and Skype sessions – the rough draft was completed. In the process, they got close.
“So much so when she tore her rotator cuff, my shoulder hurt for a week,” Kellianna said.
It took another six months to produce the finished version. “Tapestry of Dark and Light: Book One of the Warrior Queen Chronicles (Volume 1)” was officially released in late March.
The first day, Kellianna said, she got 400 likes on its Facebook page. Two weeks later, that number had doubled.
In this first book, Llianna learns she comes from a line of women that were given powers to help beat back the darkness 1,000 years earlier. The darkness is rising again, and at age 14, she realizes she is descended from warrior queens and that she, too, is a destined to become one and save the land. She finds her shield and begins to gain self-confidence.
“When I was that age, this is the stuff I wanted to read,” Kellianna said of the young adult fantasy. “Young girls need to know that you can step into your power, that you can be strong you can be self-sufficient … and do great things. … The time it right for a woman of power to come forward.”
You can read an excerpt at http://www.warriorqueenchronicles.com, where you will also find book tour information and an interview.
“We started the second book already,” Kellianna said of brainstorming sessions she and Cargill have had to develop the story line. “We think we need to kill someone off and we’re debating on who needs to die.”
“We decided to self-publish,” Kellianna said, confident that after getting her music into every corner of the globe, she could do the same with the book – three cases of which are at her home in Western Massachusetts.
Her home on a mountain surrounded by forest, she said, is her sanctuary and her source of inspiration.
“I love the solitude of my environs. I could not survive in the city.”
She’s committed to spending every other summer in the United Kingdom. While there this summer, she will do a vocal retreat in Holland and, for the first time, will be a tour guide for 13 women: Walking with the Goddess 2016: A Sacred Journey To Avalon.
“I started my career in Glastonbury [England] at the Goddess Conference in 2003,” Kellianna said.
Although she’d been singing, playing in clubs and joining assorted bands, it wasn’t until she swapped classic rock for magical themes that her career took off. With guitar and vocals, she tells stories about Gods and Goddesses. Chanting while beating a frame drum, her primal rhythms and captivating lyrics honor the earth and the ancestors.
“Blessed Are We” was another of her songs that “downloaded in my head in a second,” Kellianna said, adding, “I’ve had other songs that took three years to write.”
“She Is Crone” was written for her friend Leandra Walker’s croning ceremony in 2009.
“Who says the crone has to be dirgy and dark? I wrote this as a celebration for a woman stepping into her power,” is how it’s described on Kellianna’s website.
“She was there way before the beginning; she helped me,” Kellianna said of her longtime friend who also inspired what is probably the best-known pagan anthem, recognized around the world: “I Walk With the Goddess.”
Walker once mentioned she’d never written anything except, “I walk with the Goddess and the Goddess walks with me.”
“On the way home from that meeting we were at,” Kellianna said, “I was writing the chant in my head. Then I called Leandra and I sang it to her. She wouldn’t take any credit.”
Where there is a song behind “Book One of the Warrior Queen Chronicles, there is also a story behind the song that inspired it.
Kellianna recalled playing music with friends when Donna Horn, the artist who drew the “Lady Moon” cover art, told her, “Oh! You have to write some lyrics to my song.” Picking up a guitar, Horn played “this little two chord thing,” Kellianna said, “and all of a sudden this entire epic vision flooded my brain. … It was like a purging. It happened in five minutes.”
She took a recording of Horn’s music home and on a Saturday afternoon, she arranged it and wrote the lyrics. Monday she recorded it.
“I’ve been singing and performing that song for 12 years and every single time, I get the chills all over me,” Kellianna said.
“I think everything I do is colored by the ancestors somehow,” Kellianna said. “I come from Norse, Viking and Canadian Indian backgrounds, so I think there’s a lot of my strong spiritual ancestors guiding me in this life.”
The first 10 years of her career were solo years as she wrote songs and promoted her albums. The second decade has been marked with collaborative projects.
In addition to the book, she released a CD this past December with Jenna Greene, “Fairy’s Love Song.” Their two voices harmonize perfectly in the 12 Irish and Scottish traditional songs.
She’s also involved in the “Green Album,” a collaborative project with 13 other bands to raise awareness of the natural world and to support the organization Rainforest Trust with 25 percent of the proceeds from album sales being donated to land conservation. Each artist wrote and recorded a song for the compilation.
“I love this era of my career,” Kellianna said of the “many wonderful projects with friends.”
Greene said she smiles when she thinks about the 10 years she’s shared a stage with Kellianna.
“The first word that comes to my mind is fun. Fun because besides having an exquisite singing voice, she is a gifted storyteller. Whether sitting in sacred circle during her workshop, out to dinner after a show or introducing a song, she tells stories that evoke inspiration and laughter.
“I was so excited to hear of the release of her book because it gives people around the world the ability to experience this gift.
“Another word that describes Kellianna is dedicated. She is dedicated to every word she weaves in song, every note she crafts in the studio, every step of her journey across the world. It is all done with such great heart and passion. She is truly a fiery Warrior Goddess!”
If a movie deal evolves from the books, Kellianna said, “I would want to do a cameo, perhaps the old seer in the cave.”
She noted, “There’s no limit on my dreams. I dream big, I really do. … Anything’s possible.”
Purchase Kellianna’s products from her website: kellianna.com. (More profit is realized when merchandise is order from her directly.) You can also find the CD and book on amazon.com. On Facebook, look for Warrior Queen Chronicles.