In my historical novels I’m always imagining in the gaps and with the mysteries:
what happened to the 10th century Viscountess Emma of Limoges during the three years she was held for ransom by Vikings before her husband paid up? (The Viking Hostage)
why did the 11th century Count Ramon Berenger of Barcelona kidnap Countess Almodis from her husband Count Pons of Toulouse, risking war, incurring excommunication for himself and Almodis, and causing the alienation of his eldest son by a previous marriage? (Almodis the Peaceweaver)
how did the 12th century Princess Nest of Deheubarth in Wales come to be the mistress of King Henry I of England, marry two other Normans and a Fleming and get kidnapped by a Welsh prince, and how did she cope with all that? (my forthcoming trilogy, Conquest)
These have been the questions arising from my historical research that have driven my historical fiction, and I have invented around the facts to create my stories.
However, in response to reviewer and reader feedback on my first two novels, I’m also now thinking not only about what I can add to, and emphasise in, the historical research, but also what I can take away, how I can work selectively with the historical evidence. What and who can I leave out in order to focus the story better for the reader?