Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
Why I Love Writing Medieval
Some of the first romances I read as a teen were set in medieval England. I loved the passion of the period—the High Middle Ages (11th – 13th centuries) in particular—and the lure of the British Isles. Ultimately, that love led to a degree in history and a minor in British Studies.
During college and grad school, I studied in England, Scotland, and Sweden. I jumped on every opportunity to explore castles, monasteries, and other medieval buildings throughout Europe. The older the structure, the better! In ruin after ruin, the whispers of the past seduced me. I hear their voices still. With any luck, they add a magical twist to the medieval romances I feel compelled to write and give my readers a world they’ll want to enter again and again.
BIO: Judith Sterling's love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven and Soul of the Wolf are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in her young adult paranormal series, Guardians of Erin, will be released soon. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books--My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories—have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Visit me on Facebook @judithsterlingfiction. You can find my books at https://judithmarshallauthor.com/my-books
The Highlander's Viking Bride is live today!
The inspiration for this story began when Highland Escape was so well-received. It seems readers are as eager to read about strong heroines as we are to write about them. And thus, the Hardy Heroine series was born. There will be more!
Calder MacGerry, laird of an impoverished clan, has resolved to end the bitter feud between the MacGerrys and Sinclairs. He jumps at Laird Sinclair’s offer of marriage to his only daughter, Katja, to seal the agreement between their clans—only to get more than he bargained for.
Katja’s chance to escape her father’s harsh treatment appears to be too good to be true. But becoming Lady of a clan that despises her because she’s a Sinclair, doesn’t make her life any easier. When the attacks turn deadly, she fights her way out, making a dangerous passage to the Shetland Isles for refuge with her Viking family.
Calder and Katja’s marriage, built on mistrust, rushes quickly into disaster. As Calder seeks to repair the damage, Katja discovers not another enemy, but a husband who pledges a new beginning.
Why I Love Writing Medieval:
Where History takes a passionate turn says it all! My medieval stories take place in the 11th and 12th century, the High Middle Ages. I love the fact that survival was not guaranteed and life was not easy. Babies died, food was fought over, and enemies were everywhere. This lends itself to creating complex characters that live life to the fullest, seeking satisfaction in all their pursuits whether it be in warfare or love, while knowing how brief there time may be. That equals passion! The fact that they live in a Christian society adds restraint to their decisions while they struggle with the many things, seen and unseen, and their pagan past hovers over them like a storm cloud.
This is an amazing time period where universities were just coming into prominence, empires were being established, and human ingenuity was on the upswing. I write my characters without an eye toward the outcome of history. Just because we know William of Normandy will conquer the Kingdoms of England in 1066 doesn't mean we have to act like the Saxons were ripe for an invasion. Just the opposite! Let's extol their strength and unity and their proud, though diverse, heritage. Let's not give the ending away!
BIO: Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.
Find all my books at: https://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com/books
"Why I love writing Medieval Romance" by Mary Morgan
I’ve often been asked this question, “Why Medieval romance? Why not Regency, Victorian, or Western?” In truth, I love them all, but my heart belongs to one. It started when my fingers opened a book about the great Irish King, Brian Boru (941-1014A.D.). His story is legendary, especially with the people of Ireland. King Brian led the Irish to the peak of their Golden Age—from poetry, arts, saints, and scholars. A spark ignited within my soul for more.
I sought out tales of knights in shining armor and folk heroes, delving into a life teeming with richness, though at times harsh and violent. Yet, it wasn’t until I devoured the history of Brian Boru that I became immersed in medieval life. From there, I treasured tales of life in castles, traveling on horseback, studying foods and herbs. My list is endless and always growing on medieval ways. Yes, there are even days when I long to travel back in time and explore the history, lore, and beliefs.
Therefore, when it came time to pen my own stories, it only made sense for me to place them all in a medieval setting. One might say I live vicariously through my characters. It’s a love affair with all things medieval.
For more about my stories, please visit my book page: http://www.marymorganauthor.com/books
Why I Love Writing Medieval-Barbara Bettis
I’m not sure what calls to me so strongly from the Middle Ages, but whatever it is, has done so my entire life. I think it may be rooted in the stories I devoured when I first started reading. Myths, folk stories from different cultures, tales of Knights of the Round Table, they all captured my imagination. It was a different, fascinating world where anything was possible—in theory. Throughout school, history was a favorite subject, and I loved to delve into the events—and lives of the people—of the past.
As I did so, I recognized that the knightly tales of derring do from my childhood were set amidst times of turmoil, deprivation of the many and reward of the few. I usually root for the underdog, so when my studies introduced me to mercenaries and the bad reputation many of them enjoyed (and they probably did enjoy them), I immediately thought, “But they all must not have been bad. What of the ones who fought to better themselves and didn’t practice cruelty?”
Life was not easy for most people. In the eyes of society at that time, bettering oneself usually meant acquiring land. Few folks had the means or opportunity to do so. Later in the Medieval period, landed-society’s restrictions didn’t allow for commoners to aspire to knighthood, except for very limited exceptions. But in the earlier days, it wasn’t all that unusual for a commoner to rise by reason of bravery, strength, and audacity. All but one of my stories have featured such mercenaries who strive to better themselves by acquiring power and land.
All my stories feature strong women, not at all the norm of the period. Yet discoveries tell us there were more strong women than we realize, although most of them were wed or in the church. I imbue my heroines with strength of character given the times in which they lived.
I love creating the stories of strong heroines we women would like to be and of heroes we’d love to live for.
Barbara Bettis grew up in the rural Midwest, where reading was a reward for chores well done. So you can bet she did her chores well—and fast. She loved history and English. She’d intended to major in English, but when she arrived at her small, Liberal Arts college, one of the European history professors was on a Rhodes Scholarship. Once she met the English professors, she defected.
Thus, she received her BA in English with a strong minor in history and her Master’s in English. After working as a newspaper reporter and editor, Barb returned to college and taught English and journalism, later earning a doctorate in Higher Education with an emphasis in journalism.
After her husband died, some former students lured her into their critique group, where she began writing fiction. A trip to Scotland and England solidified her love of the Isles (the small tour group set up a ‘Barb’s Castle Alert’ on their train journeys). Her earlier fascination with the Middle Ages led her into her medieval stories, where she’s been roaming around ever since.
Now that she’s retired from teaching, her ambition is to write an angst-ridden, tortured hero set in the High Middle Ages, but somehow her guys end up with inappropriate senses of humor. Perhaps in the future…. www.barbarabettis.blogspot.com
5/1/2017 0 Comments
Today brings the villain theme and blog hop to an end. Here is the excerpt in its entirety from The Highlander's French Bride.
Sometimes betrayal is closer than you think.
“Come with me to settle the child,” Lucienne ordered as she lifted her daughter to her hip. With misgivings, Melisende followed her sister up the narrow stairs. Arielle’s large dark eyes stared at her over her mother’s shoulder, and Melisende wrinkled her nose at her in a friendly way. Arielle ducked her head.
Lucienne set Arielle down and ushered her inside the room with a small push of her hand. The little girl stepped inside the room, fingers fisted tight in her mother’s skirt. Lucienne brushed her hand away. “You are wrinkling my gown, ma petite. Haven’t I told you not to rumple my clothes?”
Arielle dropped her gaze then lifted it slightly to stare at Melisende. Her heart breaking to see the results of her sister’s callous behavior, Melisende gave the child a tender smile. An answering one tugged at Arielle’s lips.
“She is not muette, she is shy,” Lucienne declared, irritation coloring her voice. “Say bonjour to Tante Melisende, Arielle.”
“Bonjour,” the little girl whispered with a quick glance to her mother.
“Bonjour, Arielle,” Melisende replied. “Comment vas-tu?”
“She speaks Italian more fluently than French,” Lucienne informed her. She rifled through the pile of clothes, snatching a tiny gown from the jumble.
“Oh, I see,” Melisende said, thoughtfully. She gave Arielle a kind smile. “I suppose if I’d been born in Italy, I would, too.”
Arielle’s gaze slid away and Melisende stepped closer to the bed and picked up a small gown to fold. “How bad is it, Lucienne?” she murmured.
“I brought her back for you to raise.”
Melisende cast her a startled look. “You cannot be serious.”
Lucienne bent to unlace Arielle’s gown. “You mean, why would I trust you with my child after you failed so miserably with me?”
“Lucienne! That is not what I mean at all. How can you think of giving up your child?”
Tugging the travel gown over the little girl’s head, Lucienne quickly replaced it with a thin undergown with a plain drawstring at the neck. “There. Hop into bed. It is time you were asleep.”
Obediently, Arielle climbed onto the thin mattress as her mother pulled back the blanket. Lucienne tucked her in and placed a quick kiss to her forehead. “Someone will come for you in the morning.”
Melisende could scarcely believe her ears. There had always been stories or nursery songs for Lucienne as a child. Did Lucienne not remember? She acts as though she can scarcely be bothered by her daughter.
Lucienne motioned her to the far side of the room near an open window. “I am not a good mother. I want to go to parties and wear pretty dresses. Not read bedtime stories and worry about stains on my gowns.”
“But Lucienne, if you are in such difficulty, you will not have these things to worry over as you cannot afford them. You can stay here and—”
“With Oncle Ramon?” Lucienne gave a harsh laugh. “He barely tolerated me the last time I was here.”
“He is family. He will not turn you away,” Melisende declared, though she rather doubted the extent of his goodwill.
“You think not?” Lucienne waved a hand dismissively. “No matter. I have grown accustomed to court life, and I intend to return.”
“But how? If you have no money . . .”
“There is a system. I do not linger long after a party, but the houses are large and an extra guest or two is rarely noticed for a few days. There is always the next weekend retreat.”
“How will you receive invitations as a divorced woman?”
“That is hardly a problem,” Lucienne drawled, her world-weary voice sending chills along Melisende’s spine. Her sister’s eyebrows lifted and a deprecating half-smile pulled at one side of her mouth.
“As poor a mother as I may be, I do not wish to raise my daughter in such a world as I live in. She is old enough to interest some men who are fascinated by young girls. In my position, I would not be able to deny them.”
Melisende’s eyes widened in horror. “She is scarcely three years old! Please tell me . . .” She could not say the words, and her hand flew to her throat, attempting to relieve a choking sensation.
Lucienne shook her head. “Non. But it would be only a matter of time. I have seen the looks.”
“Lucienne, you do not have to go back.”
“Eh bien? And where would I live? With you and your new husband?” She scowled. “You are such a saint, Melisende. Everyone likes you, everyone has a kind word for you. Do you know what it is like to depend on the next person’s grace for an invitation to their home for a few days, for you do not have one of your own? To laugh and pretend `tis a new stain on your gown so your hostess will offer something of hers? To know if no invitations arrive, you will sleep on the street?”
Melisende raised her hands to embrace her sister. “Lucienne, stop! You can live with us.”
Lucienne waved her away. “Non.”
Melisende’s arms fell to her sides. “Why would you go back to such a life?”
“To the parties,” Lucienne answered, “and the gowns of fabrics so fantastic they make you cry from the sheer pleasure of them. Laces so delicate they can scarcely withstand the needle. Embroidery so fine it takes four seamstresses a week just to produce one sleeve.” Her eyes closed and rapture lit her face. “The men so courteous, so eager to woo me. Dancing, stealing kisses behind the fountain. They tell me how beautiful I am, how much they desire me.”
She opened her eyes, settling her gaze on Melisende’s shocked face.
“Once Raul began annulment proceedings, their interest increased a hundredfold. I will have no lack of sponsors once I return.”
“That is a shameful way to live, and you know it, Lucienne.” Tears burned in Melisende’s eyes. “How can you do this to yourself?” She swept a hand toward the bed. “To her?”
The scorn returned to Lucienne’s face, casting ugly shadows beneath her high cheeks. “You think you know what is right for me. That I should be exactly like you, drowning behind a polite façade. You believe everything is perfect in your little world with your adorable new husband who loves you?” Her eyes narrowed as she slid her gaze to Arielle. “Have you not wondered why she looks like him?”
Melisende immediately looked at the child asleep on the bed. Her dark hair spilled across the pillow like a shadow in the dimly lit room. She glanced back at her sister. “Why do you say that? I think she looks just like you.”
“She has my nose and eyes, oui. But her dark hair comes from her father.”
“Raul,” Melisende asserted.
Lucienne slanted her sister a look. “Non. From your oh-so-sweet husband.”
Melisende’s gaze bounced from Lucienne back to the child. Lucienne’s parting words so many years ago loosed themselves from the depths of her mind. What do you think went on whilst he slept in our house—only me and him? He would be unable to look you in the eye if you knew everything that happened.
She shook her head. Non! It is impossible to think of it! He has already assured me there was nothing between himself and Lucienne. But her heart grew cold in her breast.
Lucienne strolled to the bed and stroked her daughter’s hair. “She looks so much like me. But she has Kinnon’s hair.” Her smile set an arrow in Melisende’s heart.
Brushing aside her doubts, Melisende stepped forward. “Do not be absurd, Lucienne. Her hair is much like mine, and Raul’s is dark as well.”
Lucienne tossed her head. “You do not seem to recall Arielle was born early—or so I told Raul.”
“Lucienne, did you have relations with someone whilst we lived in Randon?” Melisende demanded. “Did you marry Raul knowing you were already enceinte?”
Lucienne sent her a mocking look. “You would love to believe that, wouldn’t you? To keep your lover innocent of the deed.”
“I do not believe you,” Melisende replied firmly, against the reservations that gnawed at her.
Lucienne’s eyebrows raised, a lofty smile taunting Melisende. “Yet you see the resemblance, non? No matter what you tell yourself, you will always know there is the possibility. We spent an entire week together, unchaperoned. You know how insatiable he is, n’ai-je pas raison?” Her eyes glittered. “No matter what you try to believe, you will always wonder if he shared his body with me first.”
Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.
Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.
Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover nothing more than a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.
Buy link: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B018OHXKHK
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