Mastodon The Writing Desk: August 2022

30 August 2022

Book Launch Spotlight: The Portraitist: A Novel of Adelaide Labille-Guiard, by Susanne Dunlap


New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Based on a true story, this is the tale of Adélaïe Labille-Guiard’s fight to take her rightful place in the competitive art world of eighteenth-century Paris.

With a beautiful rival who’s better connected and better trained than she is, Adélaïde faces an uphill battle. Her love affair with her young instructor in oil painting gives rise to suspicions that he touches up her work, and her decision to make much-needed money by executing erotic pastels threatens to create as many problems as it solves. Meanwhile, her rival goes from strength to strength, becoming Marie Antoinette’s official portraitist and gaining entrance to the elite Académie Royale at the same time as Adélaïde.

When at last Adélaïde earns her own royal appointment and receives a massive commission from a member of the royal family, the timing couldn’t be worse: it’s 1789, and with the fall of the Bastille her world is turned upside down by political chaos and revolution. With danger around every corner in her beloved Paris, she must find a way adjust to the new order, carving out a life and a career all over again—and stay alive in the process.

“Written with breathless drama, The Portraitist follows the rise of the gifted portraitist Adélaïde Labille-Guiard in Paris during the last years of the late eighteenth century. The novel is a luminous depiction of Paris and those terrible times seen through the astute, compassionate eyes of a woman who had to paint. Every bit of lace or royal carriage or bloody cobblestone is alive in the writing. The rain drumming on the skylight and a misbuttoned coat speak. Go to those streets with this book in your hand to follow her footsteps and those long-gone, turbulent times will come alive to you as if they were yesterday.” —Stephanie Cowell, award-winning author of Claude and Camille

“Deeply researched and imagined, The Portraitist offers a fascinating and dramatic plunge into the world of a brilliant female artist struggling to make her mark before and during the turbulent and treacherous era of the French Revolution. I loved this novel.” —Sandra Gulland, internationally best-selling author of The Josephine B. Trilogy

“In The Portraitist, Susanne Dunlap skillfully paints a portrait of a woman struggling to make her way in a man's world--a topic as relevant today as it was in Ancien Régime France. Impeccably researched, rich with period detail, Dunlap brings to life the little-known true story of Adelaide Labille-Guiard, who fought her husband and society to make a name for herself as a painter to the royal family, the very apex of success--only to find everything she had built threatened by the Revolution. A stunning story of determination, talent, and reversals of fortune. As a lifelong Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun fan, I am now questioning my allegiances!” —Lauren Willig, best-selling author of The Summer Country

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About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her PhD studies in music history at Yale University, partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair was a first place CIBA award winner. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College and lives in Northampton, MA—moving to Biddeford, Maine in two weeks with her little dog, Betty. Find out more at Susanne's website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Susanne_Dunlap

26 August 2022

Special Guest Interview with Alison Morton, Author of JULIA PRIMA: A Roma Nova Foundation Story (Roma Nova Thriller Series Book 10)


New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

AD 370, Roman frontier province of Noricum. Staying faithful to the Roman gods in a Christian empire can be lethal. Half-divorced Julia Bacausa is condemned to an emotional desert and a forced marriage, Lucius Apulius barely clings onto his posting in a military backwater. Strongly drawn to each other, they are soon separated, but Julia is determined not to lose the only man she will love.

I'm pleased to welcome author Alison Morton back to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book 

JULIA PRIMA was inspired by my Roma Nova series readers. They wanted to know how and why the 21st century Roma Nova was founded back in the 4th century. Most of all, they wanted to know about the people who had shown the courage to stand up for their values in the face of lethal threats and eventually leave everything they knew behind them. But first, who were Julia Bacausa and Lucius Apulius – the modern Roma Novans’ legendary ancestors and what was their connection with the Roman frontier province of Noricum? 
 
As the first of a new strand called ‘The Foundation Story’ within the Roma Nova series, JULIA PRIMA hopes to answer some of these questions plus hint where that red hair of the modern heroines comes from!  This first foundation story is set between AD 369 and 371 when the Roman world was riddled with religious strife and on the brink of transformation.

What is your preferred writing routine?  

I’m glad you said ‘preferred’, Tony. I’d like to write 8.30 to 1pm, with a tea break. Sadly, that rarely happens, especially when getting a new book out. 

Being an independent author means liaising with the editing and design team, contacting advanced and beta readers, creating ebook and print versions, scheduling upload to retailers for pre-order and drawing up a launch and promotion plan. Carving out an independent career also entails organising speaking opportunities, writing blog posts and guest posts, contributing to collective work with other authors, sending in my monthly magazine column, designing PR and marketing graphics and running social media accounts. Then, as with any historical fiction, there is a mountain, no, a universe of research. I love it all, but writing takes priority and somehow amid the organised chaos, it happens.

What advice do you have for new writers?  

Four things: persist, hone your craft, collaborate with other writers and learn to take genuine critiques on the chin.

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

Lesson learned over ten years: there is no silver bullet. It’s harder now than it used to be to gain traction but being authentic and participating are the key strategies. Interact with others about common interests, e.g. I know and enjoy the company of many Roman fiction writers and historical fiction writers in general – they’re fun! And I’m getting to know a good number of crime and thriller writers. 

Go to conferences, write posts about the background to your books, be visible on social media, offer to give talks, write articles – in short, be in as many places on and offline as you can. Sure, tell people about your book and be passionate about your story, but never, ever shove it in people’s faces.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research  

I’d forgotten how often Roman towns changed their names! Over the twelve hundred years of Ancient Rome’s existence in the West, names often changed depending on the emperor, his pet project, his aim to obliterate his predecessor’s existence or as a reward. For instance, Pula in Istria, Croatia, was a major port and the administrative centre of Istria from ancient Roman times until 1991. 


Known to the Greeks as Polai, the "city of refuge” and enjoying the prestige status of a Roman colonia for a long time, it was destroyed in 42 BC by Octavian (the future Augustus) for taking the wrong side in the civil war. Rebuilt at the request of Octavian's daughter Iulia, it was then called Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea, short form Pietas Iulia. Two hundred years later during the reign of emperor Septimius Severus (AD 193 to 211), the name of the town was changed to Res Publica Polensis. By the time of JULIA PRIMA, that’s its formal name, but I bet the locals simply referred to it as Pola.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?  
None in particular, but however well it seems to flow, every scene has its own needs and traps. To avoid the obvious gaps, I ruthlessly asked other for help. The lovely Helen Hollick stopped me making daft mistakes with horse details; all I knew about Roman horses was that there were no stirrups and the saddles had four supporting horns.  Fellow Roman fiction writer Ruth Downie gave me some excellent advice about travel and recommended the wonderful Travel in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson. 

The most intensive work was checking the towns and way stations had existed in AD 370 and pinpointing their correct names and locations so I could make maps for the readers. Some swearing and perspiration were involved at that stage…

What are you planning to write next?  

As usual, I found I had too much story for one book. The happened with AURELIA which was just going to be a one-off novel taking in the late 1960s to early 1980s and not turn into the three full-length novels plus a novella that actually emerged. The foundation story of Roma Nova is only part told in JULIA PRIMA. Now we have many of the main characters in place, I’m going to start the other half of the story – the exodus.

Alison Morton

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About the Author

Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her nine-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21st century and is governed by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache with with a sharp line in dialogue. She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history. Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her latest two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Now that JULIA PRIMA has been published, she’s writing the next part of the Roma Nova foundation story.  Find out more at Alison's website  https://alison-morton.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @alison_morton

24 August 2022

Special Guest Interview with Dr Mickey Mayhew, Author of Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots: The Men Who Kept the Stuart Queen


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots covers the lives and careers of the men and women who ‘kept’ Mary Queen of Scots when she was a political prisoner in England, circa 1568/9-1587. Mary’s troubled claim to the English throne - much to the consternation of her ‘dear cousin’ Elizabeth I - made her a mortal enemy of the aforementioned Virgin Queen and set them on a collision course from which only one would walk away. Mary’s calamitous personal life, encompassing assassinations, kidnaps and abdications, sent her careering into England and right into the lap of Henry VIII’s
shrewd but insecure daughter.

I'm pleased to welcome author Dr Mickey Mayhew back to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book 

My latest book (Published by Pen & Sword Books) covers the English captivity of Mary Queen of Scots - The plots, the perpetrators, the castles and the comfortable manor houses, and even the secret messages secreted in the beer kegs. It's the first book to focus on her captors rather than Mary herself, but obviously her dramas - both domestic and dynastic - had a tendency to explode all over their own lives and that forms the narrative, rather than the standard perspective...

What is your preferred writing routine?

I write from 9am through until 2.30 (very precise); after that I'm just too burnt out.

What advice do you have for new writers?

The old cliches are the best; you can achieve at any point in your life, so never give up - I got this six-book deal not far from my fiftieth birthday, so there you go

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

Twitter and Instagram are priceless, but word-of-mouth isn't to be underestimated either. Now that I've got a few books under my belt I've started to build up a following, and to find that people enjoy my somewhat sardonic, tongue-in-cheek approach to the Tudors 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

That Mary Queen of Scots was on friendlier terms with her last jailer, Paulet, than previous research has led us to believe; amusingly, 'Most Haunted' psychic Derek Acorah has something to say about that, as readers will soon learn...

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I don't find it hard as such, but obviously - despite the aforementioned sardonic slant - I'm always keeping an eye on the facts even when I'm doing my best to be wry and amusing. 

What are you planning to write next? 

My book on Rasputin and Alexandra is out in March; beyond that, something very special and unique regarding Anne Boleyn...

Mickey Mayhew

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About the Author

Mickey Mayhew is an author from London, working mainly on Mary Queen of Scots and the Tudor reign; he has a PhD focusing on the online 'cult' surrounding the 'tragic queens' Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots. He wrote The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots (published by The History Press) in 2014 and then I love the Tudors (published by Pitkin Publishing) in 2016. House of Tudor - A grisly history is due to be released by Pen & Sword Books in 2022, to be followed by his new book concerning Mary Queen of Scots; these form part of a six-book deal, with four more titles to follow. Find our more at Mickey's website http://www.mickeymayhew.com and follow him on Twitter @Mickey_Mayhew

23 August 2022

Special Guest Post by Jacquie Rogers, Author of The Carnelian Phoenix: A Quintus Valerius Mystery


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

AD 224: Former Praetorian Guard Quintus Valerius travels from Britannia to visit his family in Rome. A skilled swordsman, Valerius has an unerring nose for danger and death. He is travelling with his optio Tiro — a lover of brawling and drinking from Londinium — and the woman he loves, Julia. In Gaul, Valerius receives a mysterious legacy from his long-dead father — a carnelian intaglio ring. On the road they stumble over a platoon of dead soldiers, also travelling to Rome. One of their two high-level political prisoners is dead; the other is missing. 
But the mystery has only just begun.

Inspiration for The Carnelian Phoenix

My interest in writing the Quintus Valerius series is mainly about Roman Britain — its place in the Roman world, and how it felt to be both British and Roman at the apogee of the Roman period. What better way to show that version of ‘Roman-ness’ than to take some Brits to Rome, via tantalising Gaul?

I had already promised readers at the end of the previous Quintus Valerius mystery, The Governor’s Man, that Quintus and Tiro would visit Rome in the next book. Londoner Tiro is eager to see how Rome compares with the greatest city in the empire — his beloved home town Londinium — and Quintus wants to introduce his betrothed, Lady Julia Aureliana of the British Durotriges tribe, to his Roman family.

I also had in mind that the attempted insurrection to create a British emperor in my first book — something that actually happened later in the same century under Carausius — would be only part of a wider conspiracy stretching across the empire to Rome itself, in the follow-up. So I needed to know more about what was actually going on in Rome in the 220s.
 
To my great joy, I found that a terrible fire, food riots, and the assassination of the Emperor’s Chief Minister had all happened in Rome, very neatly at that time. There could be no better inspiration for a historical novelist!

But I needed my main characters to do their job, and still live to see another day in the next book, The Loyal Centurion (to be set in York and Scotland). So where could they find help in what was promising to be a bloody conflagration? I was aware that arms-carrying, and soldiers in general, were frowned on in Rome. I looked more closely into which military bodies were allowed to be stationed inside the city. What I found surprised me, but also inspired the solution to that plot problem.

My research

For information about the movers and shakers of Rome in AD 224, I relied on the contemporary historian and Roman senator, Cassius Dio. In fact, I grew so attached to him that I gave him a little cameo in the book. You’ll be pleased to hear I let him enjoy himself at a highbrow palace party, while catching up on all the latest gossip. I owe much of what I know about the real historical figures in this book to Cassius Dio. These include the boy Emperor, Alexander Severus, and his forceful, clever mother, Augusta Julia Mamaea, as well as their most senior counsellor, the famed jurist Ulpian.
 
There is always a tension for historical fiction writers when dealing with real people. How close to the known facts must one stick? How much licence is allowable? In this case, although facts about places of origin, roles in imperial life, and the ultimate fates of famous Romans are often recorded, less is known about personalities and motivations. 

I used that to my advantage. For example, the man in charge of the essential grain supply that kept Rome’s two million citizens in daily bread, Prefect of the Annona Epegathus, is known to have come to a sticky end. I merely decided why, and helped that happen. In the case of a colleague of Ulpian, a lawyer whose career is noted by Dio but whose origins and life details are speculative, I used considerably more licence.
One of the benefits of writing fiction.
 
To provide some competition for the corrupt Praetorian Guard, who had long since switched from being a principled imperial bodyguard to becoming armed kingmakers in Rome, I turned to an alternative: the detached body mentioned in my first book, The Governor’s Man. These were a body of officers, the peregrini, set up by Emperor Hadrian as imperial investigators/spies/boundary police. They were stationed all around the empire, but conveniently headquartered between missions in Rome itself, at the Castra Peregrina.
 
Sorted.

There was a lot more research needed: Mithraism; Roman beliefs in ghosts; where you could and couldn’t legally carry a weapon; the road system and cities of Gaul; when stirrups came into fashion. Even how far south Gaulish Romans wore trousers (yes, they did!)

One final example of research, and my favourite in The Carnelian Phoenix, is Roman commercial shipping. Like most of us, I had always assumed that Roman shipping consisted mainly of the classic slave-rowed sleek galleys so beloved of Hollywood. Boy, was I wrong! Now stop me soon, because this is an area of research I could go on about endlessly. From a wide range of sources, including the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and an obliging professor of marine archaeology in Bournemouth, I discovered the wonderful world of Roman harbours and shipping trade. I was transported, and had to be dragged away before I wrote an entirely different book.


This is a Roman corbita, a cargo vessel. They could be very big ships, sailing long distances with cargoes of hundreds of tons. No larger or more seaworthy ships were known till the 18th century. There are even records of Roman commercial ships trading as far as Viet Nam -- but that’s another story…

Jacquie Rogers

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About the Author

Jacquie Rogers worked in advertising, then teaching and research, before discovering that writing suited her best. Her Quintus Valerius mystery novels, set in third century Roman Britain, begin with The Governor’s Man, published by Sharpe Books in 2021. The series continues with The Carnelian Phoenix, out in July 2022. A linked short story appeared in Aspects of History’s anthology Imperium in November 2021. In both 2020 and 2021, Jacquie was runner up in the Lincoln Book Festival short story competition. Jacquie lives in the Malvern Hills of England, where she walks with her husband and their Staffie-cross, Peggy. Jacquie loves travelling by motorbike, and enjoys discussing politics, travel and books with friends and family. She spends a lot of time in cafés and pubs. Find out more at Jacquie’s website https://jacquierogers.substack.com/ and follow her on Twitter @rogers_jacquie

21 August 2022

Guest Interview with Richard R. Pyves, Author of Sir John James Taylor – De Facto Ruler of Ireland


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The story of the author's great-grand-uncle, Sir John James Taylor, Assistant Under-Secretary of Ireland, who was the de facto ruler of Ireland from 1918 to 1920. It is the story of a commoner, born in Umballa, India, who joins the British Civil Service as a young teenager in 1877 and rises through the civil service ranks while in Ireland to a position of influence during the Anglo-Irish War of Independence.

I'm pleased to welcome author Richard R. Pyves to The Writing Desk:

What is your inspiration and motivation for writing?

I have a particular interest in historical non-fiction with a direct linkage to my family. Over 80% of my writing effort is directed at painstaking archival research to understand and document my relatives’ life experiences and key events. I position their lives in the broader global context in which they occurred, so that the story is more attractive to a broader audience. With three books published, all of my non-fiction stories are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things when faced with extreme challenges including danger and possible death.

Tell us about your latest book.

Sir John James Taylor – De Facto Ruler of Ireland – Assistant Under-Secretary of Ireland – 1918 -1920 chronicles the incredible story of my great-grand uncle, Sir John James Taylor, Assistant Under-Secretary for Ireland, who was the De Facto Ruler of Ireland from 1918 to 1920. It is the story of a commoner, born near the Khyber Pass in India who joins the British Civil Service in 1877 and rises through the civil service ranks while in Ireland to a position of influence during the Anglo-Irish War of Independence.

The story of the Irish Easter Rebellion, Anglo-Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War is experienced through the exploits of the Taylor and Hynes families in Ireland who lived through those troubled times. Sir John James Taylor’s younger sister Mary Taylor married into the Hynes family in 1880 and had five sons who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.). The R.I.C. was targeted by the Irish Republican Army during the Anglo-Irish War of Independence as was Sir John James Taylor and his immediate family.

Rich in historical detail, Sir John James Taylor – De facto Ruler of Ireland provides an intimate portrayal of life in Ireland and particularly in Dublin, leading up to the creation of the Free State of Ireland in late 1922. It provides key insights into the mindset of Sir John James Taylor, who when presented with an opportunity to impact the course of Irish history, took action even under the threat of assassination and death.

What is your preferred writing routine?

Once I am finished my research, which literally can take years, unlike many writers, I don’t prepare a chapter-to-chapter outline of my story. I just start with a blank page and tackle each chapter as it comes. The advantage of writing about history is that you know where the story will end up and you just need to break the events into cohesive chapters that move the story forward. Writing almost daily, it takes about 6-9 months for a first draft.

What advice do you have for new writers?

The most important things for new writers are to complete their first draft and then edit and also to develop the discipline to dedicate some time each day to write. I find that if you write from personal experiences and about things that you are passionate about, then the writing comes easier.

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

As someone who has practiced in the fields of marketing and public relations for many years, I believe that the most effective way to market your book is to interact on a personal level with potential readers. This may not be the most efficient way to market your book broadly but the most effective way to make a sale. Through personal interactions, Reader’s can sense your passion and excitement about your book and become more emotionally involved in your story.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

All references that I came across before I started my research on Sir John James Taylor referred back to one negative article published by a disgruntled civil servant in 1924 in Blackwood’s Magazine in England. It was only when I did my own research that I discovered eight very positive descriptions of Sir John’s character including those by the Chief Secretary of Ireland (Ian McPherson) and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Viscount French) that dramatically changed my opinion of the man. When I started my research, I had no idea how pivotal Sir John’s role was in the British Administration of Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War of Independence.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

There are so many experts on Irish history and one of the key events in Irish history is the Easter Rebellion in 1916. I wanted to make sure that I depicted the key events and players in this important week in Irish history accurately.

What are you planning to write next?

I have just completed my first draft of my next book entitled “The Show Must Go On”. It is the story of my maternal grandfather, Bert Eason who was a chauffeur by day and a professional singer, pianist, comedian and master of ceremonies at night. During the Great Depression in Montreal, Canada he was involved in over 250 vaudeville shows to raise money for the needy and unemployed.

Richard R. Pyves

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About the author

Rick Pyves is a published author, avid historian and genealogist who grew up in Montreal, Quebec. Rick is a graduate of Concordia (Sir George Williams) University and McGill University and holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration in Marketing. Prior to embarking on a new career in writing, Rick held a senior management position with a major financial services company as SVP Marketing responsible for both marketing and public relations. After leaving his most recent management position, Rick decided to devote his energies and time to writing, with a particular interest in historical non-fiction with a direct linkage to his family.  Rick’s first book, Night Madness: A Rear Gunner’s Story of Love, Courage, and Hope in World War II, about his parents - was published by Red Deer Press in October 2012. Rick’s second book, Courage, Sacrifice, and Betrayal: The Story of the Victoria Rifles of Canada – 60th Battalion in the First World War was released in March 2018 by Helion & Company Limited in the UK and by ECW Press in Canada. Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal chronicles Rick’s grandfather, Edward Lewis Pyves’ (Military Medal) experiences along with his fellow soldiers in the First World War including A. Y. Jackson, future Canadian Group of Seven artist. Rick has just completed his trilogy with the story of his great-grand uncle, Sir John James Taylor, Assistant Under-Secretary for Ireland, who was the de facto ruler of Ireland from 1918 to early 1920.  Most recently the author was the honoured recipient of the 2018 City of Pickering Arts Award for his outstanding contributions to the arts both inside and outside the City of Pickering. Find out more at Rick’s website https://www.richardpyves.com and find him on on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RichardPyves.

16 August 2022

Book Launch Spotlight: Judgement Call, by E B Roshan

Available as eBook

Kiva is handsome, generous, and very much in love with recently-widowed Preen Enda. But the thought of becoming his wife fills her with dread—especially when men from her past—men who know too much—begin appearing in her peaceful town. It's only a matter of time before her secrets are revealed. If Kiva learns the truth about what happened to Preen's first husband, will he still want to become her second?

I'm pleased to announce the release of "Judgement Call," the fifth novel in Shards of Sevia, the ongoing Dystopian/Romantic Suspense series.

Excerpt:

Thursday afternoon, our first winter butchering, I caught Kiva at the door before he headed into the tub room to wash up. He'd done the work of two all day, and looked it. Flecks of blood spattered every inch of him the butcher's apron hadn't covered. Fresh blisters from the bone saw swelled between the calluses on his hands. A rip in his jeans showed a matching scrape down his shinbone.
   The freezer truck from Duna Market had driven up half an hour ago, but I hadn't expected them to be done with the loading until after dark.
   "Three down, three to go," he said. "But the rain's coming in, so we decided to call it a day."
   "Kiva." I took a deep breath to calm the jitters in my stomach. "I need you to do something big for me. For me and Sitabi both."
   "Tonight?"
   "No. When you have time."
   The mud caked on his boots crumbled to the floor as he jerked the laces open. "Say the word and consider it done." He rubbed a sleeve across his weary face and smiled up at me.
   "Help me find out where Rama's buried."
   If I knew for certain Rama had a place to lie—hadn't just been thrown away like trash—maybe I'd be able to tell Kiva what he had a right to know before I became his wife.
   'Rayad fighters took your husband's body,' Sanjit had told me. 'They honored him with a funeral and a grave.'
   I hadn't believed him, but what if he'd been telling the truth for once?
   Kiva stared at me.
   "I want you take me to Duna tomorrow to see Erkan," I said.
   Kiva's eyebrows drew together. "Why?"
   "He might know where Rama is buried." Kiva shook his head, puzzled.
   "I don't see what Erkan has to do with it."
   "Didn't you hear what Dr. Neyrev said? They've been working to get the missing fighters identified. Tracking down relatives and friends. Finding grave-sites." I swallowed to get the rasp out of my voice. "I want to see Rama's—if I can."
   He leaned his broad shoulders back against the wall and blew out his breath so it lifted a loose twist of hair on his forehead.
   I waited, standing still but with my heart galloping. Trying to fit the mismatched pieces of my life together—past and future—hill farm and ruined city—Kiva and Rama—made me wonder if even God could fix the mess I'd made.
   Kiva groaned. "It's over. He's gone. Why do you have to keep going back there?"
   "I don't know."
   "When I look back at our life together, all the way from when we were kids, I don't see nothing but years and years of happy days," Kiva said softly. "New calves in the spring, fresh meat in the fall. You sneaking away from your loom to follow me and Arjun when we checked the hill pastures. Weren't you happy?"
   "Mostly."
   "You seemed like a girl who'd hardly have a sorrow her whole life long."
   I shook my head. If that's how he saw me, no wonder he was confused. He was a man—he'd never understand what it was like to grow up knowing exactly how many cows you were worth. He'd never been scared he might end up sold to someone awful.
   "But then you ran off with Rama and he brought you nothing but shame and sadness and almost got you killed."
   "He loved me," I said. He loved me, but I killed him, I tried to say, but my mouth wouldn't form the words.
  Kiva set his boots side by side underneath the bench beside the red rubber boots I used in the mud. He moved mine so the toes would all be even. "I love you more," he said, very low. "Not that you care."
   If only I could take the truth that hurt too much to speak aloud and plant it in Kiva's brain. "When there was fighting in our neighborhood, I wasn't hardly ever scared if Rama was around," I said. "Having him was like having a wolf to guard me. Didn't matter who might be in the street, or outside the door. He was so brave, he made me brave." Some nights he'd stand for hours, staring into the dark outside our apartment window. His slender body looked as much a weapon as the rifle he held.
   "Maybe Rama wasn't a good man," I said. "But he would have bled every drop for Sitabi and me. If you can't honor him for that, then..."
   Kiva sat so still a fly landed and crawled around on the back of his hand. He didn't swat it away, just stared at me, a long, deep stare that made me wonder if he could see in my face what I didn't dare say. His eyes got wet around the corners.
   "That's how I feel, anyway," I whispered. For a little while, Rama had been my adventure. My fighter. My taste of freedom.
   A long time later—it felt like an hour—Kiva finally moved. Leaning forward, he caught both my hands and pressed them between his grimy ones. He kissed the tips of my fingers. "I'm going to take care of you better than Rama ever did."

E.B. Roshan

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About the Author

E.B. Roshan has enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for several years, living in the Middle East, Asia and various places in the U.S. Now she is temporarily settled near Philadelphia with her husband and children. When she's not cooking, cleaning, or correcting math homework, she's writing the latest instalment in Shards of Sevia, her ongoing romantic suspense series set in the war-torn (and fortunately fictional) nation of Sevia. To learn more about E.B. Roshan and the Shards of Sevia series, visit: https://shardsofsevia.wordpress.com

12 August 2022

Special Guest Post By Adele Jordan, Author of The Gentlewoman Spy (Book 1 in the Kit Scarlett Series)


New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Join Kit in a thrilling historical espionage novel! What happens when the spymaster’s right-hand man turns out to be a woman…?

The Women that Inspired Kit Scarlett

A churlish reader once asked me, ‘Surely women from the past don’t have many stories to tell?’ This was a question posited which as you can well imagine, left me dumbstruck and finding it difficult to pick my jaw back up off the floor. Not only is the past full of women’s stories that are yet to be heard, but they can truly dazzle. Perhaps it’s not always so easy to hear women’s voices in a world where men had most ruling positions and wrote the written records, but the voices can be found, if we take the time to look for them.

As a result, I would like to introduce you to three such women’s tales who have inspired me. In their own way, each of these women from the Renaissance helped to create Kit Scarlett, the protagonist of my debut book, ‘The Gentlewoman Spy.’ Whether you agree with them, or question some of their choices, it cannot be denied they lived fascinating lives, and certainly have a story of their own to tell about their clandestine activities.

‘The Wicked Lady’ – Katherine Ferrers (1634 – c. 1660)

This seventeenth century woman, sometimes coined ‘The Wicked Lady’ is somewhat enshrouded in myth and legend. To some extent, who knows where the line between fact and fiction sits, but the real woman gave life to this myth, and has enthralled people for centuries. A female highway robber, or highwaywoman, if you prefer, it’s said she attacked travellers in Hertfordshire with her accomplices before dying of gunshot wounds in a robbery. Clad in men’s clothes and leaving her fine gowns at home in the manor she owned, Katherine led something of a double life.

This is the myth. As for the known facts, they paint the picture of a woman who grew up without much of a steady home, or guiding parents, who might have been left much to her own devices.

Born into a wealthy protestant family, Katherine’s family home was Markyate Cell, now known as Cell Park, which stands to this day. After the death of her brother, Katherine was named as the sole heir to her grandfather’s estate. It’s fair to say her upbringing was a complicated one. She was raised partly by her mother, before her death, and was then handed into the care of her stepfather, and after his imprisonment, was sent as a ward to her step uncle. Used as something as a pawn thanks to her wealthy inheritance, she was married to her stepfather’s nephew, when she was of the very young age of fourteen.

With the failing of the protectorate after Oliver Cromwell’s death, Katherine’s husband, Thomas Fanshawe, became involved in the Booth uprising and was imprisoned in September 1659. This is where the legend begins.

According to local tales, to make up for her dwindling fortunes Katherine turned to highway robbery. In the company of a local farmer, Ralph Chaplin, the two waged war together on the local area, though there is little fact to support this rumour of her connection to Chaplin. Supposedly, the tale grows out of her ghost haunting Markyate Cell to this day. 

Whether you want to believe this tale or not, its very existence is what intrigues. What if there is a germ of truth in this story? While her husband was imprisoned, did Katherine take her fortunes into her own hands? Some say she died of gunshot wounds after a robbery gone wrong. Found outside her house bearing her wounds and wearing men’s clothes, she was taken inside but could not be saved by her staff. Records show that she was buried at St Mary’s church in Ware, 13th June 1660, most likely at the age of twenty-six. 

If we return to the idea of there being truth in this tale, how would we know for certain? If Katherine dressed as a man while doing her crimes, then she went to great pains to hide her identity, and it is plausible to think that any surviving family member would want to protect their own reputations from the stain of a criminal and distance themselves from this story. Who knows, perhaps there is some truth in the tale after all.

‘Scottish Prioress and Spy’ – Isabella Hoppringle (1460-1538)

Little is known about Isabella’s activities as a spy for England in Scottish borders, but it is her survival in this time and location that impresses. Spies could be anyway in Tudor England, even hiding in religious priories.

Born in 1470, Isabella was part of the Pringle family that frequently sent prioresses to the Coldstream Cistercian convent. In order to understand the era Isabella lived in and the tensions, it’s important to recognise the political and military landscape around her. Following the treaty of ‘Perpetual Peace’ in 1502, James IV of Scotland married Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor, to cement the alliance. Though clearly, the treaty’s name has a certain degree of irony, as in 1513 peace ended. Following Henry VIII’s attack of France, James IV agreed to assist France, and gave notice to Henry VIII of an impending invasion in Northumberland.  

Isabella was stationed at the border during these activities and growing tensions. One can read what evidence exists on Isabella and claim she was a spy for England, barely within Scottish borders separated by half the width of a river, or there’s another way to read the evidence entirely. With her convent in the middle of what could become an area of battle, where her priory could well be taken to be used as sanctuary, Isabella’s communications may have been the very thing that saved her convent. By playing the ruling powers of England and Scotland off against each other, she never let the convent be seen as an enemy to either side, thus securing its position. What is more, she gave sanctuary to Margaret Tudor, the Scottish Queen, and the two remained friends. With a wealthy alliance, she was seen as a confidant to the Scottish, while maintaining this important tie to protect the convent and the women who lived there. 

In 1513 when war did flare up between the English and the Scottish, the damage was significant. Some sources claim up to 10,000, or even 14,000, Scottish men were killed at the Battle of Flodden. It was a battle that took James IV’s life. In the aftermath, Isabella and her community in the convent assisted the wounded, taking them in and helping as much as they could, and buried the dead. It shows a willingness to defy the English and protect the wounded Scottish, and yet, the convent was never touched by the English forces. It survived the battle, which led many people to question how Isabella had ensured the English did not attack. One theory is that the English believed her to be their greatest ally on their border.

Much is clouded in mystery of Isabella’s motivations and her communications. What can be drawn from the facts though is that up until the reformation, she led the priory through a time of not only great political turmoil, but military upheaval, and she managed to keep it safe. If only we knew what was in her letters that may well have been burned around half a century ago, keeping her secrets forever.

‘One of Medici’s Flying Squadron’ – Charlotte de Sauve (1551-1617)

Born into French nobility, the daughter of Jacques de Beaune, Baron Semblançay, Viscount of Tours, much is recorded and known of Charlotte’s life, including her early marriages. The most fascinating part of Charlotte’s time comes about in 1572, when she is reputed to have been recruited by Catherine de Medici to a group called the ‘Flying Squadron,’ or in French, ‘L'escadron volant,’ a group of beautiful spies and informants. It is believed Medici’s purpose in hiring Charlotte was to persuade her to seduce Henry of Navarre, who would come to reign France as Henry IV 1589, to divide him from his wife. Charlotte was so successful in her aim that Henry’s wife wrote of her, “Mme de Sauve so completely ensnared my husband that we no longer slept together, nor even conversed.”

Clearly quite the accomplished charmer, it would not be the last man Charlotte charmed at the bequest of Medici, nor her last task in the aim of protecting the throne, or rather, the Queen mother’s control of it. Charlotte has been cited as the source of information that helped lead to the execution of Joseph Boniface de la Môle and Annibal de Coconnas, who planned to overthrow Medici and her reigning son, Charles IX. In 1575, Charlotte was instructed by Medici to seduce Medici’s son, and the younger brother of the King, François, Duke of Alençon. The affair drove a rift between Navarre and Alençon, a rift so strong that according to written accounts of the French court, the men busied themselves with their argument over Charlotte more than they discussed state affairs. 

The progress that Charlotte made through the court of France is well talked of and much documented in Marguerite de Valois’s memoirs, yet there is a lack of Charlotte’s own voice amongst the records that survive. Did Charlotte see her part in the Flying Squadron as a necessity to survival in French court? Did she resent it? Or maybe, she relished the power her association with Catherine de Medici gave her.

These three women have fascinated me for years. Two are spies, one a supposed criminal, and yet their own minds and opinions are a mystery. It is their stories, as much as what is hidden and what is known about them, that has created Kit Scarlett. She might not have Charlotte de Sauve’s talent for seduction, nor Isabella Hoppringle’s need to protect a home, but Kit has goals that manifest themselves in much the same way. Willing to push herself to extreme limits to protect the cause she believes in, Queen Elizabeth, Kit learns to deal with the challenges before her in much the way these three inspiring women did.

To discover more on Kit Scarlett’s tale, visit getbook.at/GentlewomanSpy. 

Adele Jordan

Sources:

The Reivers: The Story of the Border Reivers, Alistair Moffat, Birlinn, 1 Jul 2011 

Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, Elizabeth Ewan, Sue Innes. Siân Reynolds,  Copyright Date: 2007, Published by: Edinburgh University Press

Women of Power: The Life and Times of Catherine de Medici, Strage, Mark (1976).  New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 

Queen of Hearts: Marguerite of Valois, 1553–1615, Haldane, Charlotte (1968).  London: Constable. OCLC 460242. 

Mémoires de Marguerite de Valois, edited by Yves Cazaux, Paris: Mercure de France, 1986

Catherine de' Medici, translated by Charlotte Haldane, Heritier, Jean. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1963.

Catherine de' Medici, Knecht, R. J. (1998).   London: Longman

"Ferrers [married name Fanshawe], Catherine (1634–1660)".  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). White, Barbara (2004).  Oxford University Press.

"Katherine Ferrers the Wicked Lady". Barber, John (2009).  Retrieved 2 May 2018.

History of Hertfordshire. Cussans, John Edwin (1881).  E. P. Publishing.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Pepys, Samuel. Sunday 23 February 1667/68

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About the Author

Adele Jordan is a writer with a fascination for history. Her focus is fiction in the Tudor era, telling the stories of women and adventure. Whether it’s inspired by true events or created purely from imagination, she desires to write stories from this captivating era that haven’t been written before of those on the edges of society, the paupers, the spies, the workers and those who have not had a voice. Adele studied English at the University of Exeter before moving into an eclectic career of publishing and marketing. Having worked with the National Trust’s photography department for two years, Adele travelled the country to visit the landscapes and historical places that have carved England and Wales’ heritage. When Covid struck, the job disappeared overnight, and Adele committed her time to ghost writing and authoring her own stories. Since then, she has had over twenty successful books published as a ghostwriter and hopes to turn that success into stories now written in her own name. Find out more at Adele's website and follow her on Twitter @ALJordan_writer

8 August 2022

Guest Interview with Robin Isard, Author of The Guild of Salt and the The King’s Messenger


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

AD 1173: England is on the brink of war. Loyalties are divided across the nation and nobody is safe. Young acolyte, Ralph and his friend, Harold, are thrust into the chaos of the warring factions when they are tasked to deliver a vital message to the Royalist forces. Esmé, a young noblewoman, sets out on a quest to recover her inheritance while escaping the abusive grasp of her betrothed.

I'm pleased to welcome author Robin Isard to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

My debut novel, The Guild of Salt and the King’s Messenger, is a story set in the 12th century and centres around the 1173 - 1174 revolt against Henry II initiated by his oldest son. The protagonists are a group of young people who take advantage of the chaos to try and improve their station.

Ralph is a young man of the lower nobility who’s disgraced his family and been consigned to a backwater. Being a second son, he was foisted into the priesthood and now works as an attendant to a parish priest. Nevertheless, he dreams of being more worldly and becoming a celebrated success for his family.

Esmé is a young noblewoman who’s fallen into wardship. She comes to a crisis as the date of her marriage approaches. She has no confidence in her betrothed to manage her family legacy and fears pregnancy as both her mother and grandmother died having their first child.

The chaos of the revolt provides the characters with a chance to escape their situations and perhaps write a new future for themselves. I was heavily influenced by Bernard Cornwell’s books, notably his Sharpe series and C. S. Forester's Hornblower novels. Both feature protagonists striving against their circumstances. I’ve always thought stories like that have universal appeal and wanted to write something similar.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My preferred writing routine would be to get up early and put a solid four hours of writing in every morning, then edit the previous day's work after a break. However, I have a full-time job working as a university librarian and archivist, I have to live with a more spartan approach.

I spend a lot of time outlining and have developed a template to organise my chapters. It’s easy to add a bullet point about the plot or character development using my cellphone between meetings or during transit. I write in the evenings, after work and try to get seven hundred words written each night. With the help of my outline, I usually hit my quota.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Steep yourself in your research. It’s important to know the dates but just as important to know what people would have eaten and when. What would have passed for entertainment? What kinds of news and events would have mattered to them? The more you understand these things, the easier the writing will be because you won’t need to stop and check for a reference about appropriate food for such-and-such a religious festival.

I always encourage people I know who are interested in writing historical fiction to get a community user's library card from their closest university. There are thousands of scholarly papers and journals with excellent, current information that just can’t be accessed via Google.

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

So far, it seems Twitter gets the most results, but it’s early days. I’m trying out different avenues to measure their performance accurately.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The fact that 12th Century culture showed a much broader intellectual curiosity than I had anticipated. It’s easy to see that time as one steeped in superstition and religious fanaticism, and naturally, there was plenty of both. Nevertheless, a strong current of rationality permeated people’s thinking. As the Oxford historian Christopher Tyerman points out, even a king — Amalric of Jerusalem — could openly question the lack of verifiable evidence outside of scripture for the resurrection. As Tyerman goes on to say, it’s hard to imagine a modern American President showing the same level of scepticism and keeping his job.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

It’s not so much a scene as it is trying to avoid anachronistic expressions. It’s so easy to use modern turns of phrase when writing dialogue, but going back and trying to give the same meaning using something more appropriate for the time can be tough work.

What are you planning to write next?

The Guild of Salt and the The King’s Messenger
is the first book in a trilogy and concerns the beginning of the revolt. The next two books will see it to its conclusion. I plan to continue the series if there’s interest.

Robin Isard

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About the Author

Robin Isard is a faculty librarian and archieral arts university in Canada. He studied history at Western University and has worked in both church and military archives. He has lived many years overseas, primarily in West Africa, building IT infrastructure in The Republic of the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry. He also worked in Ethiopia and Uganda on a telehealth project on behalf of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. Find out more at Robin's website  https://robinisard.com/ and find him on Facebook and Twitter @RobinIsard

5 August 2022

Historical Fiction Spotlight: The Du Lac Chronicles (Book 1 of The Du Lac Chronicles) by Mary Anne Yarde

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

A generation after Arthur Pendragon ruled, Briton lies fragmented into warring kingdoms and principalities.

Eighteen-year-old Alden du Lac ruled the tiny kingdom of Cerniw. Now he half-hangs from a wooden pole, his back lashed into a mass of bloody welts exposed to the cold of a cruel winter night. He’s to be executed come daybreak—should he survive that long.

When Alden notices the shadowy figure approaching, he assumes death has come to end his pain. Instead, the daughter of his enemy, Cerdic of Wessex, frees and hides him, her motives unclear.

Annis has loved Alden since his ill-fated marriage to her Saxon cousin—a marriage that ended in blood and guilt—and she would give anything to protect him. Annis’s rescue of Alden traps them between a brutal Saxon king and Alden’s remaining allies. Meanwhile, unknown forces are carefully manipulating the ruins of Arthur’s legacy.

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About the Author

Mary Anne Yarde is a multi-award winning and bestselling author of Historical Fiction, as well as an award-winning blogger. She studied History at Cardiff University and went on to study Equine Science at Warwickshire College. Mary Anne is a passionate advocate for quality Historical Fiction and founded The Coffee Pot Book Club in 2015 and became a professional Editorial Reviewer in 2016. Mary Anne's award-winning series, The Du Lac Chronicles, is set a generation after the fall of King Arthur. The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood. Find our more at her website http://www.maryanneyarde.blogspot.co.uk/ and find her on Twitter @maryanneyarde.

3 August 2022

Special Guest Post by Joanne Wilcock: Visiting the Tudors at St. Gredifael’s Church, Penmynnyd, Anglesey, Wales


 St Gredifael’s church.

My sister has lived on Anglesey for five years. Unbeknown to me she lives about fifteen minutes drive away from a small village that many North Wales people say is the true birthplace of the Tudor dynasty, a tiny hamlet called Penmynnyd.

Having visited Peterborough Cathedral earlier this year, burial place of Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, followed by trips to mighty Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry VII and then on to Edmund Tudor’s tomb in St. David’s Cathedral Pembrokeshire, my interest in the Tudors started to grow. I was also intrigued by Henry VII’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, who married Edmund Tudor and then was protected by his brother Jasper when she was widowed aged 13. Wales and the Tudors seemed to be intrinsically linked. 

I needed to know more and so was delighted to find an excellent book called Tudor Wales written by Nathen Amin published by Amberley Publishing.

I was not surprised to read in his book that the large Welsh castles such as Carew, Pembroke and Harlech castles, amongst many others, have Tudor connections but baffled to read that a little church, just 15 minutes up the road from my sister’s house, and effectively in the middle of nowhere, but with stunning views across to the Snowdonia mountains, was the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty. This surely merited a visit even though it was not a grand Cathedral nor a mighty Welsh castle.                

View from the church across to the Snowdonia mountains.

Information about the church on the internet advised me that the church is now no longer in use but is cared for by a group called The Friends of St Gredifael’s and Bangor Diocese. However, there were no details how to obtain the key. I emailed a lady at Church in Wales.org.uk in Cardiff to make enquiries. She forwarded my email and I received this reply, “Your email to the Cardiff Office sent to the Archdeacon of Anglesey forwarded to our Area Leader has finally reached me! I gather you want to visit the above- named Church.” I was given the email address and telephone number of the key holder who, fortunately, lives just a five minute drive away - and what a heavy key it was, promising to open the door to some real Tudor treasures.

Armed with Nathen Amin’s excellent book, I read that St Gredifael’s “is said to have been founded as a Celtic church by the Breton St Gredifael in the sixth century, with the first stone church being constructed in the twelfth century when the area was still under the rule of the princes of Gwynedd.” The current church dates from around the fourteenth century and is about half a mile north of the village between two minor country lanes. If you are not looking for it, you could easily pass it by without really giving it much of a thought. It has the most wonderful views across the fields to the Snowdonia range of mountains.

Once I’d managed to turn the huge key in the little-used lock, my sister and I went in search of the Tudor treasure, a marvellous alabaster tomb of Goronwy ap Tudur and his wife Myfanwy.  The tomb was probably originally in the Friary at Llanfaes, but moved to the church after the Reformation. So, who exactly are the Tudors in this tomb?  I quote verbatim from Nathen Amin’s book, 

“Although it may not be discernible to the casual visitor, Penmynnyd was the base from which one of Wales’s most powerful families grew into Britain and Europe’s most notorious dynasty. The family that would become known as the Tudors began its mercurial rise with the accomplishments of Ednyfed Fychan, the thirteenth century seneschal to the great Gwynedd princes. As steward and chancellor to Llywelyn the Great, Ednyfed was a valued and loyal servant to his prince, and, as expected, was well rewarded in riches and land. Among his acquisitions was the Lordship of Penmynydd which would become both his and his descendants’ power base..."

Ednyfed’s powerful North Wales descendants were his great-great-great grandchildren the Tudors of Penmynydd. There were five of them, all brothers, born to Tudur ap Goronwy and loyal to King Richard II. The probable eldest of the five sons was the incumbent of the alabaster tomb before us in the aptly named Tudor Chapel – Goronwy Fychan ap Tudur, who Amin tells us became Forrester of Snowdonia in 1382 as well as becoming the Constable of Beaumaris Castle shortly before he died from drowning. 

Maredudd ap Tudur was the youngest of the five brothers and he fathered a son Owain. With his disgraced father and uncles all dead, some of whom had become rebels in campaigning against the new king Henry Bolingbroke who had usurped Richard II, Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur was forced to leave Penymyndd to make his living in London. He incredibly met and fathered two sons, Edmund and Jasper Tudor with Katherine of Valois, dowager queen of King Henry V. The two boys were brought up as members of the Lancastrian royal family as half-brothers of King Henry VI.

Margaret Beaufort went on to marry Edmund Tudor and together they had Henry who would become Henry VII who fathered Henry VIII. The rest, as we know, is all history. So, the alabaster tomb is that of Henry VII’s great-great uncle and aunt and Henry VIII’s great-great-great uncle and aunt.

As Amin writes,

“As Owen Tudor’s paternal uncle, Goronwy would become a great-great uncle to the king of England and related to every British monarch since.”

We circled the tomb several times studying the great detail of the late fourteenth century tomb showing the effigy of Goronwy next to his wife Myfanwy. 

He is dressed in his medieval surcoat with his head covered in chainmail. His legs, missing their feet, rest on a lion. His hands were also missing. His moustache looks grand and he looks very much at peace.

Myfanwy, wearing a wimple, has a lapdog at her feet (apparently there were two but one is missing where the repair is) and her hands held in prayer are still in place. Myfanwy and Goronwy’s heads are supported by winged angels holding cushions. There are shields around the tomb but their detail has worn off.


The repair to Myfanwy bottom right
 

Looks like R.S. Parry got here before us


Goronwy has his missing feet resting on a lion.

In the church there are many pews edged with the fleur-de lis motif representing the union of the Tudors to the French Royal family through Owen Tudor’s “morgantic marriage with Katherine of Valois” (Amin pg. 83). There is also a replica stained glass window, showing the Beaufort portcullis and the Tudor rose; the original was apparently smashed by vandals two weeks after a visit from prince Charles in 2007. 

Because of its links to the Tudors and queens of Britain the church has apparently had a long association with royal patronage. In 1850 Queen Victoria donated £50 to its upkeep.


When we were there, the church was full of cobwebs and needed a good stiff brush taking to the floor. But it was a rather special place, all the more so because it did take some detective work to finally gain entrance.  As Nathen Amin writes in his book Tudor Wales,

“Any visit to the north-east of Wales warrants a trip across the Menai Strait to explore the village where, it could be argued, the seeds of the British Empire were first sown.” 

Joanne Wilcock

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About the Author

Joanne Wilcock is a history fan with a particular interest in the Tudors and the Brontes of Haworth. You can find her on Twitter @JoanneWilcock2