25 October 2017

Writing Conquest: The Drowned Court, by 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.

I’m enjoying writing a trilogy where some of the characters carry forward across the books and it’s possible to explore their motivations and experiences over time. I approach writing all my novels by asking questions that I have, after researching the historical evidence.

A key question to ask for The Drowned Court was whether Nest’s colourful sexual career (mistress of the king, abducted by a Welsh prince, and a series of marriages to Norman and Flemish lords) could be explained by her being lascivious, as some commentators have suggested. Or is there another way to look at the events of her life? 

I wondered about how she coped with loyalties torn between a Norman husband and children, and the struggle of her brother Gruffudd ap Rhys to regain his kingdom from the invaders? I was also intrigued to think about why Amaury de Montfort was such a stubborn opponent to King Henry in Normandy. 

Was Amaury simply ambitious, pugnacious, or did he have a sense of entitlement from his own kinship to the Dukes of Normandy or the status of his sister, Bertrade, former queen of France? And what would it have been like to meet King Henry? 

He holds the record for the highest number of mistresses and illegitimate children of any English king and he forced his Norman lords to acknowledge his daughter as his heir, enabling her to be the first woman to claim the English throne in her own right.

In particular, I had to make a decision about how to portray Nest’s kidnap by the Welsh prince, Owain ap Cadwgan. Was she a willing hostage (as some Welsh historians would like to believe) or was she raped? And what was the impact of this event on her marriage to the Norman, Gerald FitzWalter? Most of the action surrounding Nest takes place at the castles of Pembroke, Carew and Cilgerran, and she also spends some time in Dublin in this novel.

King Henry’s control of Normandy was ably supported by his sister, Countess Adela of Blois, and her network of spies. The nun, Benedicta, who played a small role in the first book, becomes a central character in The Drowned Court. What would it have been like to be a spy in the pay of the Countess of Blois at the great abbey of Fontevraud, which was ruled by women, and housed many illustrious, repudiated wives, including Bertrade de Montfort?

Tracey Warr
# # #

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

No comments:

Post a Comment