April Writing

March was very busy and I’m hoping to get some settled writing done this month. I’m working in two opposite directions – the future and the past – and trying not to go mad with that!

I’m editing a book called The Midden with Jenni Nurmenniemi, which relates to the Frontiers in Retreat art and ecology research project. I have just returned from Helsinki and a very productive meeting with Jenni and the book designer, Serge from NODE. The book will be published in the summer and includes essays by Taru Elfving, Emma Itaranta, Jenni Nurmenniemi, Jussi Parikka, Antti Salminen and myself.

1 Annantalo
My Water Age workshop with children at Annatalo Art School, Helsinki

I’m also finalising a series of books, The Water Age, that I will self-publish, which are the culmination of my own work in the Frontiers in Retreat project. One book is a collection of my future fictions. The other two books present art and writing workshops, one for adults and the other for children. More on the publication dates for those coming soon.

And work on the final book in my historical trilogy, Conquest, published by Impress Books, is underway. The new novel, The Anarchy, is set in 12th century Europe and focuses on the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys and the continuing struggles between the Welsh and the Normans. I have a couple of guest blogposts coming up this month on M.K. Tod’s A Writer of History and Mary Anne Yarde’s Myths, Legends, Books and Coffee Pots. Her first guest this month, is Tom Williams, a British writer who has written a novel about a man he describes as ‘the James Bond of the Napoleonic Wars’. If you are interested in historical fiction this sounds like a good read.

New newsletter and books giveaway

urinal Cluny
Urinal used for medical diagnosis, from the Cluny Museum, Paris

My latest newsletter has just been published. It includes news on my novel in progress, The Anarchy, depicting the continuing conflict between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century in the aftermath of the sinking of The White Ship, when King Henry I lost his heir.

The newsletter also includes items on my recent talks with writers and readers, my visual inspirations for writing from the Cluny Museum and news on two new guest blogposts coming up.

And finally there is a competition to win a free book by answering a simple question about Henry I.

If you don’t already subscribe to my newsletter you can sign up here.

Images from the medieval world

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am running a series of daily image trailers on Twitter prior to an illustrated talk that I am giving at Downham Market Library on Monday 11 December, 2-3pm.

A lot of the research I undertake for my historical fiction involves images, objects, places and maps.

To celebrate the publication of my latest novel, The Drowned Court, I will present some of these fascinating images in the talk. I aim to show how I use them to help me write and how some of these objects, faces and places have found their way into my fiction.

Booking for the talk is essential on 01366 383073. (Tickets £3, includes refreshments.)

The images above are: Statue of the Virgin, Albi Cathedral, France; December from a Book of Hours; Locust in a manuscript; the Witham Pin in the British Museum. Follow me on Twitter for more images over the next week.

Palaces and bishops

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.

 

St Davids Bishops Palace cropped
Bishop’s Palace, St Davids

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).

Lamphey Bishops Palace
Bishop’s Palace, Lamphey
Lamphey Bishops Palace drawing
Artist’s impression of the 13th century Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey

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.)