Thank you to Pembroke Dock Library for such an enjoyable event last week when I presented my new novel, The Drowned Court, and talked with the audience about medieval life and the process of writing historical fiction. And thanks too, to Bob, my ‘muse’, for driving me around Pembrokeshire again, so that we were able to tread in the 12th century footsteps of Nest ferch Rhys and her husband Gerald FitzWalter.
We visited the splendid Bishop’s Palace at St Davids where Nest’s son was bishop, and the vast Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey (after a very fine lunch at Lamphey Hall).
The massive corn barn at Lamphey Palace stored a huge amount of grain which the Norman overlords took in taxes from the Welsh tenant farmers. The palace’s dovecote, deer park and four ponds supplied the bishop with meat and fish, and three orchards provided apples, and cabbages and leeks for his potage.
The Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey was where Nest’s wily husband Gerald FitzWalter left a faked letter tricking the Welsh attackers of Pembroke Castle into believing that he had plenty of troops and supplies to defend the castle when, in fact, most of his men had deserted and he had no food at all. The ruse worked and he was the only Norman lord who managed to hang on to his toehold in south west Wales during that round of attacks by the Welsh.
The date of my illustrated talk at Downham Market Library has been changed to Monday 11 December, 2-3pm. Booking essential on 01366 383073. (Tickets £3, includes refreshments.)
Since characters in Dublin who appear in my novel trilogy, Conquest, play the Viking boardgame, hnefatafl, I was excited to see a 9th century set of glass pieces from the game in a fabulous exhibition of medieval glass at the Cluny Museum in Paris this week.
I am giving illustrated talks on the Conquest novels
My new historical novel, The Drowned Court, is published tomorrow by Impress Books. It covers the years 1107-1121 and focusses on the tumultuous lives of the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Norman king, Henry I.
I am giving a number of library talks in November in Norfolk and Pembrokeshire to celebrate the new book:
Mon 13 Nov 11am Pembroke Dock Library. Free event.
Mon 27 Nov 2pm Downham Market Library, Priory Road, Downham Market, PE38 9JS. Illustrated talk, £3 including refreshments. Booking essential on 01366 383073.
My new historical novel, The Drowned Court, is published next week and a guest post by me on writing the novel is up today on Tony Riches’ blog, The Writing Desk.
‘I approach writing all my novels by asking questions that I have, after researching the historical evidence.’ The questions that drove my writing in this new novel include:
Was the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, lascivious, or a victim, or is there another way to look at her colourful life?
What kind of man was King Henry I and what motivated his relationships with the numerous women in his life: his wives, mistresses, sisters, and daughters?
Why was Amaury de Montfort such a stubborn opponent to King Henry in Normandy?
What would it have been like to be a spy in the pay of the Countess of Blois (King Henry’s sister) at the great abbey of Fontevraud, which was ruled by women, and housed many illustrious, repudiated wives, including Amaury’s notorious sister, Bertrade de Montfort, the former Queen of France?
‘I could not put this book down from the moment I started it. I practically inhaled the content.’ Poppy Coburn on Daughter of the Last King
To those of you who have already read one or more of my historical novels: I would be grateful if you get the time to post a brief review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks to those of you who already did so. A few lines is enough and it all helps. My next novel is published in a week’s time. Here are some recent reviews:
On Conquest: Daughter of the Last King:
‘As the drawbridge came down, I ventured in. In fact, I remember nothing of what happened in my everyday life until I came out at the end.’ The booktrail on amazon.co.uk
‘Nest is a fascinating character torn between two cultures and … two men. The book offers fantastic insight into the lives of women of the period; the frustration of being kept in the dark about events, the lack of control … and the constant reminders that a woman’s greatest currency is her ability to bear children.’ Lisa D on Madwoman in the Attic blog
On The Viking Hostage:
‘machiavellious plotting … human chess played with lives and land.’ Ani Johnson on The Book Bag
‘brings the historical condition of women to life through vivid storytelling.’ AMM on amazon.co.uk
Thank you very much to those reviewers and all readers who have enjoyed the books.
Publication Day for my new historical novel, The Drowned Court, is approaching. The novel continues the story of Nest ferch Rhys and King Henry I in 12th century Wales, England and Normandy.
A review of the first book in the trilogy, Daughter of the Last King:
‘As the drawbridge came down, I ventured in. In fact I remember nothing of what happened in my every day life until I came out at the end.
The level of detail and care and attention which has gone into this novel is spellbinding but it never gets in the way of the plot at all. It strengthens and improves it explaining how life must have been, how daily tasks were carried out to how the ward of a king must behave. The story of Nest is complex and multilayered but reads like a charm. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this book will be heavy going given the subject matter, it’s not – it’s a brilliantly woven tapestry of historical intrigue where I felt as if I’d been part of the novel, and part of Nest’s life and I missed her for a while afterwards.’