When I started my book on Tarot, I knew that there were some things that would be different.
I used the Smith Waite Tarot Centennial edition as the spine and the backbone of Queen of Swords. I knew that each card would be a chapter in the novel and at first, I was almost too overwhelmed to begin. How would I write a book with seventy-eight chapters, with each chapter representing a Tarot card and what it would represent of my story and of Tarot? How could I possibly write that?
I decided to break it down into the three suits of the Tarot: the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana and the Suits. That helped me make the focus of the story to take in. I knew that Queen of Swords would be a novel that focused on the Major Arcana. I also knew that some things had to change for this to be the story that I wanted to tell.
I knew that the main character of my story would be a woman who is on her own journey to find herself. I wanted to tell the Fools Journey of the Major Arcana but set it in a world that was familiar to me, but have it hidden under a shroud of darkness. For me, the Tarot has always given me light when I’m lost in the shadows; I knew that my story would be the same, that throughout the tale, my main character Jackie would have to find the light within in order to find her path.
Though the Smith Waite Tarot is the backbone of almost every Tarot out there in the world, and it formed the backbone and the foundation of my Tarot knowledge, I knew that I would have to change a few things within Queen of Swords for it to feel like my story. I know the cards so well, but I’ve never seen myself within the cards.
I’m gay and disabled. I have never seen either element of myself reflected in the Smith Waite Tarot deck, but have seen representation in countless other decks. I knew that if I was going to write a Tarot novel that there would have to be some sort of representation. I worried about how people would react to those changes for a millisecond. I knew that Queen of Swords had to be my take on things, and it would have to include two elements of what I live with.
The first change that I made was to make the Empress a man. I also made him gay. Gabriel is loving and cares with his whole heart, but he has also obviously been hurt. He has the Venus symbol of the Venus tattooed on his arm, but it is surrounded by a heart which was made to look as if it were made of barbed wire. Gabriel has obviously been hurt, but is still open for love, even if he is a little prickly about it.
This is all me. Though I had been hurt time and time again in my quest for love, I remined open towards the possibility but felt the need to protect myself. That is Gabriel’s mission for Jackie, to protect her and show her how to love herself, how to open herself up to the possibility of self-love. I knew that Jackie would need a lot on the journey that she was going to go on within Queen of Swords.
The second change I made was to make the Emperor a woman. Marie-Claude is a force to be reckoned with but also the ultimate voice of truth. She favours those that play with the rules and do what they are supposed to do, but defends that which surrounds her, especially Jackie. Marie-Claude is also named after a real woman, just like Jackie is named after someone I know. Marie-Claude won a contest to be a character in one of my novels. I’m only sorry it took so long to write.
I loved the fact that the name Marie-Claude means “one who rises/brings up” in Hebrew. I knew that, though her methods were a little rigid, her sense of right and wrong would be able to rise Jackie up to where she needed to be so that she could see the path in front of her a little more clearly.
The third change was that I wanted to include someone who was disabled. I wanted to see someone like myself in Queen of Swords who dealt with other challenges. Being disabled has defined a lot of how I have seen myself and the ways in which I get through life. Living with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis has actually been a lens through which I read cards for myself. A lot of my questions when I do a personal Tarot reading tend to be about how to overcome a particular boundary I am facing physically or how I can look at a situation I’m facing caused by my disabilities in a different way.
I knew that my Hermit would be disabled. As I wrote, I didn’t know the disability that he would have, only that he would have one. When it came time to write his character, I knew that he was in a wheelchair. The Hermit normally symbolizes taking time for yourself, delving within so that you can find what makes your light shine brightly.
Jackie is surprised to find that Ethan is self sufficient, but I wasn’t. I knew that he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Part of being able to shine for me has always been knowing what I am capable of because of, and not in spite of, my disabilities. I knew that it would be the same for Ethan.
I know that with every new deck that I get, the creator will have put their own spin on the story that they are telling with the cards. I wanted it to be the same with Queen of Swords. I wanted people to read it and be able to see people they know and recognize and hopefully a little bit of themselves along the way.
Tarot is a mirror after all and it is what we see in the cards that reflects us most of all.
Queen of Swords is live! You can get your copy at any of the following retailers in ebook and paperback:
I hope you enjoy Jackie’s tale and The Queen of Swords. It’s taken ten years to get to you and I think it was worth the wait.