22 June 2018

Interview with Cryssa Bazos, award winning historical fiction author of Traitor’s Knot


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I. Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road
as a highwayman.

I'm pleased to welcome historical fiction author Cryssa Bazos

Tell us about your latest book

Traitor’s Knot takes place during the uncertain era between the execution of King Charles I and the start of the English Civil War. This is a story of love and conflicted loyalty. Elizabeth Seton is a young woman who has been shunned for her father’s role in a failed Royalist uprising. In the midst of this new social order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament. To further complicate her life, she meets James Hart, a former Royalist officer turned highwayman. He preys on Parliamentarians in order to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, Charles Stuart. Traitor’s Knot has been called a thrilling romantic adventure.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My preferred writing routine would be to write on a sunny patio with a great view of the sea, but unfortunately, the reality is that I write in between the demands of a full time job and the needs of my family. I often carve out writing time during my lunchtime as well as during my commute. The longest time that I have to immerse in writing is on the weekends, when I dive into the 17th century from morning until the mid-afternoon.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Live whatever scene you’re writing. This advice was given to me early on, and I apply it to my own writing. Living the scene involves putting yourself into your character’s skin. It makes the story more immediate to the reader. One of the challenges of writing historical fiction is to keep it from sounding like a historical info dump, but by thinking of the character and what they could be going through, the writer can best avoid these pit falls.

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

Making connections on social media has helped me spread the word, mainly through Twitter and Facebook. I’m starting to experiment with newsletters and participating in newsletter swaps, and I find those very effective. My publisher, Endeavour Media, also makes good use of newsletters to reach readers. 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Charles II’s escaped after his loss at the Battle of Worcester, and his six-week adventure evading capture is well documented by contemporary accounts that were written a decade later during the Restoration. I stumbled on a letter written by the Venetian Ambassador of Paris, days after Charles safely arrived in France, where he stated that a highwayman helped Charles in his escape. This was never mentioned in any of the historical accounts, although there were rumours about that possibility circulating London at the time. Did it really happen or did Charles fib to protect those who had helped him? These questions are fodder for historical fiction. Naturally, I used the alternative version in Traitor’s Knot. It was too good to pass up.

King Charles II and Jane Lane riding to Bristol
 by Isaac Fuller via Wikimedia Commons

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Not a specific scene, but settling on the opening chapter was a challenge for me. I must have had about ten different versions of chapter one, and they were all entirely different scenes. Sometimes Elizabeth opened, other times it was James. There were hangings, conspiracies, robberies and even an unnecessary prologue. All ended up in the ‘land of lost scenes’. I do credit my editor, Jenny Quinlan of Historical Editorial, for helping me find the right opening. Once I had settled on that, the first chapter wrote itself.
I don’t believe I’m alone in this. Most writers struggle to find where their story should start. Oftentimes what they think should be the opening is really a note from Muse to Writer about background material that no one really needs to know about.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m working on a second novel that follows the fate of one of the characters in Traitor’s Knot from the disastrous Battle of Worcester to the sugar cane fields of Barbados. In between, I’m also working on a novelette (or a novella) called the Highwayman of Moot Hill. It’s a prequel to Traitor’s Knot, and focuses on the adventures of James Hart before Elizabeth arrived in Warwick.

Cryssa Bazos
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About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction author and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelist Association and is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Her debut novel, Traitor's Knot, is published by Endeavour Media, and is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award (historical fiction), a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards (historical romance) and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. For more information visit Cryssa's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @CryssaBazos.

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