19 June 2014

Special Guest Post ~ Why Write A Trilogy? by Patricia Bracewell

A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

Set in England when Vikings are on the brink of invasion,
this is an epic tale of seduction, war, and unrequited love
from an outstanding new voice in historical fiction

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Trilogies. Some people love them, devouring them voraciously and then looking around eagerly for more. Others find them annoying, perhaps considering them an irritating trend or maybe a tactic by an author to pad a perfectly adequate book with enough filler that it can be released in three separate volumes, thereby earning piles of money (hah!) for its avaricious author.

Frankly, when I decided to write a trilogy about Emma of Normandy, I had no ulterior motives. I was simply trying to figure out the best way to tell what I hoped would be a gripping tale.

Emma lived well into her sixties, perhaps even into her seventies (we’re not certain of her birth year). Either way, she lived a very long life. I decided at the outset that I had no wish to write a novel that would cover her entire lifespan, mostly because I didn’t know how to do it without diluting the drama inherent in her story. I knew from my research that there were two distinct periods of Emma’s life that were fraught with conflict: Sixteen or so years in the first quarter of the 11th century when she first arrived in England as the adolescent bride of King Æthelred, and another nine-year span much later in her life when she was probably about fifty years old. All of these years were marked by massive unrest and political upheaval in England, but it was the earlier period that really intrigued me. I wanted to explore the difficulties that Emma would face as a young, foreign queen; I wanted to imagine the turmoil of that time – not from the point of view of a king or a warrior, but from the point of view of a woman.

Because the women obviously were there, although their experiences have gone largely unrecorded.  I hoped to explore what Emma must have lived through and to stay very close to her, writing a story that would reflect the turbulent history that she witnessed and the emotions she must have experienced. It seemed to me that I could only do that if I whittled those sixteen years down into more manageable chunks.

So I divided them into three. The first book, Shadow on the Crown, spans only three years, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entries of that time are chock full of dire events that needed explaining, dramatizing, and re-imagining, not just through Emma’s eyes but also from the viewpoints of a few select characters who I included to broaden the story. Once written, the book was no easy sell.  A debut author isn’t likely to find a publishing house willing to take on a book that goes beyond a certain word count – that’s just a fact of publishing life. And so that first manuscript – infinitely shorter than if I had written a tome covering sixty years instead of three  – had to be cut even more.

Now that the second book, The Price of Blood, is completed and in the pipeline toward publication, I can reveal that it begins about a year after the final events in Shadow on the Crown, and that it covers a further seven years of Emma’s story. Frankly, this sequel doesn’t end where I originally intended. A certain character tried very hard to wrest control of the plot line and make it all about her. I had to fight her every step of the way, and I ended up adding scenes just to get her to behave. That’s called revision and it, too, is a fact of publishing life.

As for the third book, I’ll be getting started on that very soon. It will take Emma’s story about six years further into her future. And after that? Well, I have to get a little further into my own future before I can answer that.

 Patricia Bracewell

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About the Author

Patricia Bracewell was born and raised in Los Angeles and majored in English Literature.A Masters Degree was followed by a California teacher’s credential and she taught high school English. Eventually moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, she  met and married a Canadian and now has two sons.

Her passion for writing began with short stories before she fulfilled a long ambition when she discovered an English queen whose name was unfamiliar. Intrigued, Patricia began research, including journeys to England and France  - and wrote  the novel that became Shadow on the Crown. The first book in a trilogy, Patricia has now completed the second, The Price of Blood. She will be the Writer-In-Residence at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, Wales this year from 27 October to 10 November, participating in Gladstone's weekend Hearth Festival as well as conducting a day-long Fiction Writing Workshop. Find out more at http://www.patriciabracewell.com/ and find her on Twitter


  1. Eagerly anticipating The Price of Blood. Any chance you may do a book tour? Seattle? Third Place Books does book signings very well..

    Kris Holtan

  2. Hi Kris. Not sure yet what's going to happen on the book tour front. I would love to take a run up to Seattle/Portland area though. Now I can tell my publicist that at least one person would attend!

  3. So now, eons after I "voraciously devoured" the first book of your trilogy, I am furious to discover that the book I so loved, the book I wanted to go on forever, the book I could hardly bear to put down when I came to the very last page, "had to be cut". Who are these Olympian Gods who determine the fate of author, heroine and readers ?? I loved your first volume so much that, while waiting impatiently for the second volume to be written and published, my only resort was to re-read the first volume several times !! What I would have given for it to have been even a little longer !! What I would have given for it to have been many chapters longer ! I know you are so gracious that you would never criticize the editing process, but was it at all painful to you, as the person who brought Emma's story into the world, to have to relinquish chunks of it to achieve your final end of being published?


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