12 December 2017

Book Launch Spotlight ~ Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, by Nicola Tallis

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A significant retelling of the often-misunderstood tale of Lady Jane Grey's journey through her trial and execution―recalling the dangerous plots and web of deadly intrigue in which she became involuntarily tangled, and which ultimately led to a catastrophic conclusion.

"Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same.” These were the heartbreaking words of a seventeen-year-old girl, Lady Jane Grey, as she stood on the scaffold awaiting death on a cold February morning in 1554.

Minutes later her head was struck from her body with a single stroke of a heavy axe. Her death for high treason sent shockwaves through the Tudor world, and served as a gruesome reminder to all who aspired to a crown that the axe could fall at any time.


Jane is known to history as "the Nine Days Queen," but her reign lasted, in fact, for thirteen days. The human and emotional aspects of her story have often been ignored, although she is remembered as one of the Tudor Era’s most tragic victims. While this is doubtlessly true, it is only part of the complex jigsaw of Jane’s story.

She was a remarkable individual with a charismatic personality who earned the admiration and affection of many of those who knew her. All were impressed by her wit, passion, intelligence, and determined spirit. Furthermore, the recent trend of trying to highlight her achievements and her religious faith has, in fact, further obscured the real Jane, a young religious radical who saw herself as an advocate of the reformed faith―Protestantism―and ultimately became a martyr for it.

Crown of Blood is an important and significant retelling of an often-misunderstood tale: set at the time of Jane’s downfall and following her journey through to her trial and execution, each chapter moves between the past and the “present,” using a rich abundance of primary source material (some of which has never been published) in order to paint a vivid picture of Jane’s short and turbulent life.

This dramatic narrative traces the dangerous plots and web of deadly intrigue in which Jane became involuntarily tangled―and which ultimately led to a shocking and catastrophic conclusion. 16 pages of colour illustrations

“Tallis narrates these dramatic events with all the verve and excitement that they deserve. Her portrait of Jane as something of a feminist before her time carries complete conviction. Nicola Tallis combines Jane’s virtues as a scrupulous scholar herself, with a colorful background of how Tudor England looked, sounded and smelled. She has succeeded in drawing Jane out of the shadows.” The Spectator (UK)

“This is a stunning debut from a young historian who deserves to be recognized as a major talent in her field. It's history as it should be written, vivid, colorful, pacy and evocative, but above all authentic and based on sound and innovative research. It's an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of Lady Jane Grey. Most warmly recommended!” Alison Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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About the Author

British Historian Nicola Tallis graduated from Bath Spa University with a first class BA Hons. degree in History in 2011, and from Royal Holloway College, University of London in 2013 with an MA in Public History. Since 2013 she has been studying for her PhD at the University of Winchester, where she teaches History. Nicola also worked as a historical researcher, most notably for Sir Ranulph Fiennes whilst he was working on his 2014 book, Agincourt: My Family, the Battle and the Fight for France. and is the resident historian for Alison Weir Tours. Find out more at Nicola's website http://nicolatallis.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @MissNicolaTal

Special Guest Interview with Author Anne O’Brien


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Queen’s Choice

The untold story of Joan of Kent, the mastermind behind the reign of child-King Richard II. A tale of treachery, power-hungry families and legal subterfuges. ‘What would enhance the pattern of my life further? One word slid into my mind. A seductive word. A dangerous word, perhaps, for a woman. Power.’ 

Today I would like to welcome author Marcia Meara:

Tell us about your latest book


My latest book is The Shadow Queen starring Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, who became Princess of Wales through her marriage to Edward, the Black Prince, and King's Mother when her son Richard II took the throne. For a woman with such medieval notoriety, we know remarkably little about her, particularly about her motivations in making some astonishing decisions. In The Shadow Queen Joan pursues her career through three marriages, one of them bigamous, with all the scandals, the insecurities, the heart-break and, not least, the desire for power. In a man's world, Joan is a heroine par excellence.

What are you planning to write next?

My new novel for 2018 is Queen of the North. This brings together two major medieval families, the Mortimers and the Percys, through the marriage of Elizabeth Mortimer to Sir Henry Percy, the heroic figure known to history as Hotspur. I was encouraged to write it by the dramatic scenes given to this pair by Shakespeare in King Henry IV part one (where Elizabeth is called Kate). 

It is a novel that brings to the forefront the Mortimer claim to the English crown with all its complexity after Henry Bolingbroke's usurpation of King Richard II's throne. It is a tale of rebellion and conspiracy, of love and betrayal, and its high cost in life and in freedom, not least for Elizabeth. I was delighted that Sir Edward Mortimer and Owain Glyn Dwr could make an appearance. 

What is your preferred writing routine?

I am definitely a morning person. I write almost every morning, starting early and writing through until lunchtime. Afternoons are spent in 'real-life' necessities when occasionally housework demands my attention. But even then conversations often play out in my mind, or scenes develop. I keep a notebook to hand because if I don't write it down I forget the best bits. Evenings I might read for research or plot the next day's progress, although I also read fiction for pleasure. Most of my writing is definitely a morning occupation.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Writing is not an easy occupation. Writing can be lonely and is very personal.

Taking advice is good, but it is not a one size/one fit for all ventures. Decide what is the best fit for you in how to write scenes, how to structure your story. When you are comfortable with it, stick to it.

Don't wait for the muse to strike. Sit down and write. You may not like the initial result but it is a base for revisions. Often it is better than you think.

Be persistent! If you are ambitious, will-power is an essential part of writing.

Most importantly; don't be satisfied with less than your best, until your characters, when they act and speak, ring true. Don't forget to watch them and listen to them. And of course enjoy them ...

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Social Media is vitally important these days for an author to get the message out there. I use twitter and facebook and I occasionally blog on my website, particularly if I set up a giveaway to draw attention to my new novel.

I realise that I am blessed with a PR team from my publishers behind me. It is far more difficult, and not least time-consuming, for indie writers.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Not so much discovering new historical information, but realising unexpected family connections always fascinates me and makes for interesting developments. Medieval royals and aristocracy were so strongly interconnected through family and marriage. The Holland family, descendents of Joan of Kent and Sir Thomas Holland, through well-planned marriages is an excellent example. They seem to appear in all my recent novels. Elizabeth Mortimer's sister in law, Alianore Holland, was granddaughter of Joan of Kent. 

Another marvellous realisation which added depth to Queen of the North: after Hotspur's death Elizabeth married Baron Thomas de Camoys who figured strongly in The Queen's Choice. It was like meeting up with an old friend.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Definitely the death of Hotspur at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. It could not be an 'eyewitness' account since Elizabeth- the novel is from her POV - was obviously not there. Nor could it be omitted since Hotspur's death is key to what happened next. Nor did I want it to be simply announced by a messenger or a letter - how un-dramatic that would be. It was too tragic an event to be treated lightly and there was so much potential drama involved in it. 

My choice was to record it by using some mystical foreknowledge of the battle, based on the eclipse of the moon which occurred at that exact time. Followed by a visit to the battlefield long after the event but when the shadows of so much death still lingered. Does it work? I hope so.

Anne O’Brien
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About the Author

Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. She now lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, on the borders between England and Wales, where she writes historical novels. The perfect place in which to bring medieval women back to life. Find out more at Anne's website  http://www.anneobrien.co.uk/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @anne_obrien.

11 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Robert Gately


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A dynamic book set in small town Pennsylvania which explores the intangible ties that form a family, a community and the influence that one man can make crossing social and economic lines. Readers will fall in love with Henry.

Today I would like to welcome author Robert Gately

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book, South of Main Street, has all the human twists and turns that one comes to expect from a Hallmark kind of story. The trouble begins when our hero inherits a multi-million dollar estate when his wife dies. His daughter sues him for financial control of the estate which sends him on a quest to prove he is normal - not an easy thing to do when you are not. Along the way he affects the lives of twelve people in a magnificent way in a town sharply divided by have and the have-nots.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I’m most creative in the morning, so I compose during that time. In the afternoon and evening, when my creative part of the brain is spent, I edit. It seems I’m most effective when I cater to my bi-cameral brain. They seem to be most useful during different times of the day.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

If you have the passion to write I can give no furtive advice that you do not already know or practice. So, I’ll just say this: negotiate with your spouse and children for time needed to write. You may be putting your head in the sand like an ostrich if you don’t. When you decide to see what has been going on without your attention, you could be surprised that ‘life’ has gone on without you.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Right now I’m querying book review bloggers to read and post reviews of my book. The reviews I receive have been great – all 5s, but how does that translate to sales? Only time will tell. I’ve also been asking School Districts to use my book as part of their reading process with the note that I will come in to talk to the class if they want. The jury is still out as far as weighing in on the success of that endeavor.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research?

That it doesn’t make any difference how well you write prose. I must have the skill to write a great query that will knock the socks off the reviewer, agent, producer or publisher.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?
South of Main Street has thirteen characters most of whom had character arcs. In writing one such arc, I needed to show how wine (liquor) affected one character. I had to show, not tell. For me, writing, or showing, one person ‘getting’ drunk was hard. Walk in sober and leave the bar-restaurant tipsy. Very difficult! But it developed into one of the best scenes in the book.

What are you planning to write next?

Although most of my efforts today are in the marketing area, I want to expand a non-fiction work I’ve already completed. The title is “Fillossofee: Messages from a Grandfather”. The title says it all, but I feel it’s incomplete. There’s more proselytizing to do.

Robert Gately
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About the Author

Robert authored of two novels, two non-fiction books, 12 screenplays and three stage plays since retiring early from AT&T in 1998. His body of work has been recognized as finalist or better in over 170 theatre, book and screenplay competitions around the world where his screen and stage plays alone have won a total of 27 contests and came in 2nd place in 19 others. One of his stage plays won a reading series at Abingdon Theatre in NYC and Ohio State University, and another, which he co-wrote, won Hollywood, London and Chicago. That play was showcased at the Venus/Adonis Festival at the Hudson Guild Theatre in NYC. Robert also taught adult education at Northampton County Community College in screenwriting after he retired, and was Temple University screenplay judge for their Senior Project class (Freese Award). Find out more at Robert's website http://www.rgately.com/

Special Guest Interview with Author Ammar Habib


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

After the events of DARK GUARDIAN: A NEW DAWN, the world is changing. Following his deadly battle with Vixen's army, Ethan Daniels was ousted as The Guardian and has temporarily passed the vigilante's mantle to William. Ethan now hunts down his creator and the monster of his nightmares: Daken.


Today I would like to welcome author Ammar Habib

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book is Dark Guardian: Legends. It is the third part of my Dark Guardian Series, which was started by my first novel, Dark Guardian. The series is a darker superhero/vigilante series following the adventures of Ethan Daniels and his alter ego called The Guardian. Reborn through fire, Ethan is armed with advanced skills, an arsenal of weaponry, and vast resources. His sights are focused on one thing, and nothing will stop him. Soon, he will rise from vigilante to hero. And from hero to legend.

This particular third novel was inspired by the idea of “legacy”. What does it mean to be a legend? What does it mean to have a life which acts as a beacon for others to follow? Those questions are what inspired the writing of this newest novel.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My writing process always begins with a theme. I ask myself, “Why should readers read this? What do I hope they get out of it?” As entertaining as I hope my stories are, I want them to hold some sort of moral lesson or theme for the audience as well. At the same time, I don’t want to slap readers in the face with this ‘theme’. Instead, I want to show it in the characters and story arc. So I take a lot of time in figuring out who my characters are. As far as pre-writing goes, I probably spend more time fleshing out the characters than I spend on anything else. Many times, putting in the effort to create three dimensional characters is the separator between good and great writing.

However, with that said, my writing process is very fluid. I like to try and create an outline before I go into the actual writing. But many times I find myself starting the first draft before I’ve even finished my outline. The inspiration comes in bursts so I try to capitalize on those bursts as much as I can. I find that being too stringent on my writing process can actually become a hindrance. 

As far as inspiration goes, I honestly draw inspiration from everywhere. I’ve had a huge imagination since I was a child, so that is usually my biggest source. I have a hard time switching my imagination off, which can be a problem when somebody is trying to talk to you and you’re imagining a battle scene in your head! The other place I really draw inspiration is from the world around me. I try to stay observant because sometimes the best inspiration passes by right in front of you!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I’ve learned a lot about the industry over the past few years. What I’ve seen is that along with filmmaking, it is probably the most subjective industry out there. A writer may spend months perfecting their story, putting their heart and soul into it, staying up the whole night working on it, only for an editor to reject it with a short sentence of vague reasoning. That’s what can make the industry very frustrating.

What I tell people who ask is that you need to write something that you believe in. Don’t worry about what others think about it. If you think it’s a great story and one that needs to be told, then write it! The other thing is that writers need to have thick skin. Editors and agents reject hundreds of works a day, so never take it personal. Even critics give bad reviews all the time. But if you believe in your work and did your best, then never let the opinions of anyone tear you down. Write stories that you’d want to read, regardless of what others say!

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I don’t know if there is one “best way” to raise awareness. But what I’ve found is that a combination of social media use, blogs, events, interviews, and reviews tends to generate a word-of-mouth chain that can really help in the long-run! The important thing to remember with books sales is that it’s all a marathon, not a sprint!

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

I always find a lot of self-discovery when conducting research for any project. For my second novel, Memories Of My Future, I was researching a lot about India during the 13th and 19th centuries, since that’s when the novel took place. During all the research, I found myself questioning my own family’s ancestry and origins, prompting me to dig into where my family comes from and ask my own grandfather about his up-brining. It was one of the neatest things I ever did, and would have never happened had I not researched my second novel.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The hardest scene to write for my newest novel, Dark Guardian: Legends, was the final scene for sure! This series was my breakthrough into the publishing world and it holds a lot of sentimental value for me. Writing the last scene of this novel and knowing that it is the end of this series’ journey was very hard to do at an emotional level. It was a “goodbye” to these characters that have grown very near and dear to my heart. But I believe that the ending they received stays very true to the series’ tone and themes of searching for peace.

What are you planning to write next?

I actually have quite a few projects in different stages of development outside of the Dark Guardian Series. I recently signed a contract for a children’s picture book, which will be releasing next year. I also have a police novel releasing next year as well. My agent is shopping around a Young Adult novel and is also shopping around a non-fiction project of mine. I also have a graphic novel being read by some publishers. So 2018 will be very exciting God-Willingly!
Thank you so much for the interview, Tony! I hope your readers enjoyed learning a bit about my writings as much as I enjoyed answering your questions!

Ammar Habib
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About the Author

Ammar Habib is a bestselling and award winning author who was born in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1993. Ammar enjoys crafting stories that are not only entertaining, but will also stay with the reader for a long time. Ammar presently resides in his hometown with his family, all of whom are his biggest fans. He draws his inspiration from his family, imagination, and the world around him. Find our more at Ammar's website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @AmmarAHabib1

10 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Sarah Bryson


 * * * Released February 15, 2018 * * *
Available for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Today I would like to welcome author Sarah Bryson:

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book is entitled ‘La Reine Blanche Mary Tudor a Life in Letters’. I’m very excited about this book on Mary Tudor, younger sister of King Henry VIII. I have spent years researching Mary’s life, particularly studying the personal letters she wrote as well as documents and dispatches which mention her. I really feel these personal letters are a wonderful insight into the strong and incredibly smart woman that Mary was. I hope that my book helps to shed a brighter light upon Mary who has so often been overlooked throughout history.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I don’t actually have a preferred writing routine. I tend to write whenever I have time and I feel inspired. I work full time and I am also a full time wife and mother so writing tends to be done around other daily activities. I do prefer to write on a desk top computer for some reason! I spread all my books and documents out around me so I can pore through them as I write.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Send e-mails, ask questions, seek help and most of all write, write, write. It seems incredibly hard and sometimes may seem impossible but please, please never give up. Keep on writing.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I post a lot on social media - for me that’s Facebook and Twitter. I try to give people little snippets of information and facts about Mary’s life to hopefully gain their interest as well as to promote my book.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

I think what I found most inspiring about Mary was her ability to manoeuvre herself within a male dominated time. As a woman she was subject to her husband and her brother and yet she managed to marry a man of her own choosing without her brother’s permission while still retaining his love and affection. There’s a common misconception that Mary and her new husband Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk had to repay a huge fine, and yes there was a fine, but the amount they actually ended up repaying was very small. Mary brilliantly convinced her brother that the whole marriage was her idea and avoided both his anger and blame. She was an incredibly smart woman!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

For me the hardest part to write was Mary’s time in France in 1514/1515. Although only covering a short period of time it was the most highlighted period of Mary’s life and there was so much information that I wanted to cover. I wanted to be true to Mary and include everything so it took me a great deal of time to research and write this six month period of Mary’s life.

What are you planning to write next?

I can’t give to many details away, however I will say that I am researching a fascinating family of 15th and 16th century England.

Sarah Bryson
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About the Author

Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Boleyn, Charles Brandon, the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She is the author of Mary Boleyn in a Nutshell and Charles Brandon: The King’s Man. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading, writing and Tudor costume enactment, and wishes to return to England one day. Find out more at Sarah's website sarah-bryson.com and follow her on Twitter @SarahBryson44.

9 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Steven A. McKay


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

Today I would like to welcome author Steven A. McKay

Tell us about your latest book

My newest one is The Abbey of Death which is my first book to be published by a ‘traditional’ publisher (Amazon-Publishing). It’s the final tale in my Forest Lord series and sees Will Scaflock moving into middle-age and feeling like his life has little purpose any more. He becomes a monk but peace is hard to find even in an abbey and his fighting skills are soon called into action again! It’s a novella – I’ve written three of those to explore side-characters from the main series and readers seem to really enjoy them. They’re also fun to write because it’s mostly just action.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I do a lot of walking and driving, both of which are great times to think up ideas for my books. So I tend to make a plan long before I sit down to actually write a new scene which means I never have writer’s block. So far at least! I’ve been lucky enough that my books have sold well and I’ve dropped my hours at work so I have a Thursday off and I use that to write. Sundays are also writing days and I aim to hit about 2-3000 words each day. Outwith the main task of writing, I edit and research almost every day. Even when I’m away on holiday I try and get some research done.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

To me, writing is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t force yourself to do it if you’re really not in the mood. However, that’s not an excuse to play Xbox instead – just to try and keep it fun, rather than a chore. Also, you want your work to be the best it can possibly be, and that means letting other people help you, so hire an editor. There’s been times where I’ve finished a book and thought I couldn’t improve it. Couldn’t see a way at all. Then my editor goes over it and makes amazing suggestions – sometimes just little ones that only take a few lines – and the whole book is improved massively as a result.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

The easiest way is through Facebook. I think that’s a good way to connect with readers. It’s also good to run promotions like Kindle Countdown Deals and pay to advertise them with a site like Bookbub, Kindle Nation Daily or Kindle Books & Tips. There’s no point running a Countdown Deal and not telling readers it’s happening! Some authors seem to think telling their Facebook followers is enough but those people already KNOW about your book and either read it already or aren’t interested, so target NEW readers by using paid ads.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Well, the very day I sat down to start work on The Abbey of Death I was eating my breakfast before getting the laptop setup and I read about some real-life medieval monks who’d been very naughty boys! They were into prostitution, stealing money from their abbey to buy gifts for their lovers, drinking lots of ale, fighting and all sorts of other stuff. I was well aware that there’d been plenty of corrupt clergymen in the middle-ages but to read about a whole group of monks IN THE VERY AREA MY BOOK WAS SET IN was quite an eye-opener. It really gave me a new dimension to explore in the story.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Like I say, I always plan ahead so I have a good idea how a scene will go before I start writing it and, as a result, I’ve not really had any that I found particularly difficult. However, writing all the final scenes in “Blood of the Wolf”, the last novel in the Forest Lord series, was quite hard. It was as if I didn’t want it to end because those stories and characters had been a big part of my life for four years or so. I got there in the end but it took more time (and words) than I expected.

What are you planning to write next?

I’ve actually already finished my next book which is about a warrior-druid in post-Roman Britain, on a quest to find an abducted 7-year-old princess. The main character, Bellicus, has been a great, fun, character to come up with and I think readers will really like him. I managed to snag an agent, Josh Getzler from the HSG Agency in New York, with an early draft of this book so it must have something going for it! So far it’s simply titled “The Druid” but that might change.

Steven A. McKay
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About the Author

Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first book, Wolf's Head, came out in 2013 and was an Amazon UK top 20 bestseller. Blood of the Wolf is the fourth and final book in the Forest Lord series. Steven is currently researching and writing a brand new tale - tentatively titled "The Druid" set in post-Roman Britain. He plays lead guitar and sings in a heavy metal band when they can find the time to meet up. Find out more at his website
https://stevenamckay.com/ and find him on Twitter @SA_McKay

8 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Tracey Warr


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

1107. Henry I finally reigns over England, Normandy and Wales, but his rule is far from secure. He faces a series of treacherous assassination attempts, and rebellion in Normandy is scuppering his plans to secure a marriage for his son and heir. With the King torn between his kingdoms, and Nest settled with her Norman husband, can she evade Henry’s notice or will she fall under his control once more? As her brother Gruffudd garners support in an effort to reclaim his kingdom, Nest finds she cannot escape the pull of her Welsh heritage. While the dissent grows and a secret passion is revealed, the future of Nest and her Norman sons is placed in dire peril. In this sequel to Daughter of the Last King, Nest must decide to whom her heart and loyalty belongs.


Today I would like to welcome author Tracey Warr:

Tell us about your latest book

The Drowned Court has just been published by Impress Books. It is the second book in a trilogy revolving around the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Norman king, Henry I. It is set in the first decades of the 12th century and the action moves between Wales, England and Normandy. The Welsh rulers, Gruffudd ap Cynan in the north, and Cadwgan ap Bleddyn and his son Owain in Powys continue to resist the encroaching Normans, and they are joined by Nest’s brother, Gruffudd ap Rhys, who returns from Dublin to make a bid for his lost kingdom. The nun Benedicta, who is a minor figure in the first book in my trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, becomes an important character in this second book, as she spies on King Henry’s behalf and tangles with the King’s arch enemy in Normandy, Amaury de Montfort.

What is your preferred writing routine? 

I always write best first thing in the morning. Ideally, I would start writing every morning as soon as I wake up and continue until I run out of steam. However, I’m not always able to do that, as I have other freelance work to get done, which pays the rent. So then, I find myself writing in the crevices too – on trains and planes, and in notebooks in the middle of the night.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

Don’t hesitate. If you want to write, do it. Tell yourself that you are a writer and write. Writing is a process. It’s a matter of being persistent more than being inspired. You start with a blank page. You put things on it and then cross most of it out. Slowly, very slowly, a wedge of pages builds up. Your manuscript. Your story, your characters start to come alive and you enjoy hanging out with them. That’s a great feeling. Don’t think about getting published, being a genius or being rich. Some of those things may occur (in the same order: possible, doesn’t exist, unlikely) but none of that gets a story out of your imagination and onto the page. Focus on writing. Try joining a writers’ group or consider doing an MA in Creative Writing or a short writing course. It helps to have writing buddies but it can be difficult to find the right chemistry for that. Enter competitions. It’s good to push yourself to produce to deadlines. Being shortlisted for the Impress Prize was my own route to publication. The publishing world is changing drastically and many good writers are now self-publishing. Consider self-publishing if you have the necessary design, editing and marketing skills on top of your writing skills, or you can manage to pay for them.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books? 

I enjoy blogging about my research and find that is a good way to connect with readers and people who are interested in the early medieval period. I have a blog, a Facebook page and tweet and I’m active on Amazon and Goodreads. My publishers have a feed to my blog on their website. In addition to reading history books and articles, I do a lot of visual, object and map research and I like to share some of this with readers through my blog. So, for example, I went to St Albans Cathedral and saw a wooden ‘spyloft’ there, which enabled the monks to keep an eye on the pilgrims and the cathedral’s treasure. Although that spyloft structure is a little later than the setting of my novel, I used it as a fictional element in my story when King Henry first lays eyes on his last known mistress, Isabel de Beaumont. In my blog, I recounted my research at the cathedral and how it inspired a scene in the novel.

I also do events in England, Wales and France (where I live part of the year) and meet readers that way. I give talks at literary festivals, libraries, local history societies, castles, reading groups, bookshops, book fairs. Meeting readers and hearing what people think about your characters and stories is one of the best things about being a writer. 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research 

I enjoyed researching the Abbey of Fontrevraud, which was ruled by women, as its enlightened founder Robert d’Arbrissel had ordered. There were many noble repudiated wives and widows at the Abbey, such as Bertrade de Montfort, former Countess of Anjou and Queen of France, and Ermengarde of Anjou, wife of the Duke of Brittany. Researching Fontrevraud and the court of Countess Adela of Blois, sister of Henry I and very probably his ‘spymaster’ in France, I gained a sense that women were beginning to kick against their inequality and envisage a different world. King Henry I tried to leave his throne to his daughter, Matilda, after his son died. She was the first woman to claim the English crown in her own right. I also looked into renegade nuns for the story and was interested to come across Katharina von Bora who, in the 16th century (later than my own story), escaped from a nunnery in a herring cart and became the wife of Martin Luther.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The most difficult thing to write in this book was what happened between Nest ferch Rhys and Owain ap Cadwgan. He abducted her from her Norman husband and kept her with him for two years until her return to her husband was negotiated. A romantic interpretation might see Owain as rescuing Nest from the Normans and returning her to her rightful place amongst the Welsh, however the more research I did, the less this seemed likely to me to be what might have happened. I show Nest feeling ambivalent at times about Owain, but largely acting to protect her husband and children. I depicted what amounts to a rape and an increasingly hostile relationship between them. From Owain’s perspective, I felt it was more realistic to show the abduction as a provocation to the Normans rather than a romantic escapade. Writing the rape scene was difficult, but I was aiming to convey that one of the most impressive things about Nest, as I have imagined her, is her resilience and sense of self-worth. 

What are you planning to write next? 

I’m working now on the final book in the Conquest series which is called The Anarchy and covers the years 1122-1146, the final years of the reign of Henry I and then the subsequent struggle for the throne between Henry’s daughter Matilda and his nephew, Stephen of Blois. In these years, Nest’s life continued to be eventful. She married another Norman, Stephen de Marais, the Constable of Cardigan Castle. Her brother Gruffudd attempted to take back his kingdom and was valiantly supported by his wife, Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd ap Cynan. Nest’s half-Norman sons were growing up to contest against her Welsh nephews. I’m enjoying writing about a heroine who is now coming close in age to my own, and considering aspects of later life such as ageing, enjoying grandchildren, looking back on one’s life and reflecting, celebrating, although there are also still plenty of adventures in store for Nest in this final book.

Tracey Warr
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About the Author

Tracey Warr was born in London, lived for several years in Pembrokeshire, Wales and currently divides her time between the UK and France. She studied English Literature at Oxford University and holds a PhD in Art History. She worked as an art curator and university lecturer in art history and theory before starting to write fiction. She undertook an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St Davids in Carmarthen. Her first historical novel Almodis (Impress, 2011) was set in early medieval France and Spain. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize, presented in the Rome Film Festival Book Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel The Viking Hostage (Impress, 2014) topped the Amazon Australia Kindle bestseller lists. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary for work on her Conquest trilogy about Princess Nest and King Henry I. She also received
an Author’s Foundation Award from the
Society of Authors for a biography she is working on about three French noblewomen, three sisters, who held power in 11th century Toulouse, Carcassonne, Barcelona and the Pyrenees. Tracey reviews books for Historical Novels Review and Times Higher Education. She is a tutor for residential writing courses in France with A Chapter Away (www.achapteraway.com). Find our more at: http://traceywarrwriting.com and find Tracey on Facebook and Twitter @TraceyWarr1

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