When I was approached by Sourcebooks about interviewing the uber-fantastic Elizabeth Chadwick for the release of For the King's Favor, I was like heck ya! There's just nothing better than escaping into one of Chadwick's novels and For the King's Favor is no exception.
This is actually Elizabeth Chadwick's second time here for an interview, please check out the one from almost exactly a year ago today when she was here for the US release of The Greatest Knight. Click HERE to read.
And now, the interview....
Your first book, The Wild Hunt, was published in 1989 and a lot has changed since that time with regards to the explosion of the internet, technology and social media. How have your research and marketing methods changed over the years to adapt?
Well the Internet is obviously a massive boon to the researcher in me. I now have access to all manner of primary sources online and many academic secondary sources. The knowledge database has opened up from a small puddle and become an ocean. Of course, there is a lot of rubbish out there, so you need to have a compass of to navigate your way past.. Never take anything at face value, especially on the genealogy sites. The explosion of the Internet and social media means that authors have to work a lot harder on the promotional side than they used to. At one time before the internet, you would receive about 6 handwritten reader letters a year. Now it’s sometimes that many a day via e-mail and you are faced with the dilemma of finding the time to answer versus finding the time to write novels. Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and websites mean that the author is much more available to readers and in the public eye. It also means content has to be provided. I love interacting with readers but it’s just a case of finding that balance to make enough time to produce the books. Blogger and my website I love because it is an opportunity to share the writing process and aspects of research that become added value for the reader – a bit like the extras on a DVD.
It’s my belief that your use of Akashic Records and your involvement with Regia Anglorum re-enactments are what bring such authenticity to your novels. With regards to For the King’s Favor specifically, what did you learn from either of these methods to assist you with writing Roger and Ida’s story?
The Akashic Records is one term used for this phenomenon. I am not up on the science of the thing, but a cutting edge quantum physicist might be more able to tell you. Basically, it involves an ability to tune into the past and experience it like a movie but with full sensory experience too, including accessing the thoughts and feelings of people who have gone before. My friend and Akashic consultant Alison King has this ability. With For The King’s Favor, I used the records to flesh out Ida de Tosney and her relationship with King Henry II, because very little is known in the history books about her. I also used it to discover the childhood of William Longespée, her son by Henry, and to find out more about the hero, Roger Bigod. The records revealed that he loved to wear hats and they were important to his personality, so that had to go in the novel. The physical descriptions of the characters are taken from the records too for e.g. Roger’s sandy colored hair and Ida’s brown eyes.
The re-enactment side helps me to walk in the medieval world with confidence. I may not be a genius at textile work, but I do know how to spin and weave, and have watched accomplished people at the task. I regularly use medieval cooking pots. I wear replicas of the clothing. I have access to experts in the field of practical medieval history, who can relay their own experiences of sailing a medieval ship, or building a charcoal clamp, or using a sword. Basically it brings the research off the page and turns it into 3D.
Another unique trait of yours that I enjoy is that you provide a soundtrack to your novels, which is something I sometimes do as well with my reviews. How do you choose your songs and do you find that they help inspire your writing?
I don’t listen to songs at the PC, but while I am doing housework or at the gym. The songs and the writing kind of go alongside each other. For example, I’ll know that I want to write a battle scene and I will consciously hunt out songs that reflect the hero’s emotional state during that battle. I will know if it’s right because I’ll get a twirl of adrenalin in the stomach! I will listen to the song over and over to fix it in my subconscious where it does its stuff and then it’s ready for when I come to write the scene in the novel. So for the first battle scene at Fornham in For the King’s Favor, I used Meat-Loaf’s ‘The Monster’s Loose’ because Roger, the hero, is fighting his father who has belittled him all of his life and Roger has finally snapped. For the main love scene between Roger and Ida I used Anberlin’s ‘Inevitable’ because it conveys exactly the right mood of poignant bitter-sweetness and innocence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuA3mDHEbTk
Can you take us through a typical day in the life of EC while you are writing a novel?
Let’s start with the night before! I go to bed around 2am. So I get up about 9. So that’s 7 hours sleep. People sometimes see that you get up later in the morning and think you’re lazy, but it’s a case of me being a night owl and working at the other end of the clock. Once I’m up, the first thing is to have a cup of tea, let the dogs out in the garden, and check my electronic mail to see what has come in overnight. If there are any e-mails with short answers required, I will reply to them there and then. After that it’s a quick breakfast with my husband (he has taken early retirement). It alternates between fruit and yogurt, cereal or toast. Then it’s off to start writing. I write in short bursts and in between the bursts, I keep Tweedeck up and drop in there every so often. I do odd bits on Facebook. I write replies to questionnaires like this one, and then I dive back into the work-in-progress for another paragraph. This goes on until 11:30 when it’s time for coffee and chocolate. So it’s a quick detour to the kitchen. Back upstairs (my study is our 4th bedroom converted) and back to work with more of the same. I stop around 2pm for lunch – a sandwich, cheese and biscuits, or a bowl of soup is typical fare. I’ll read a fiction book during lunch break. Then on a full writing day it’s back to work the same as the morning with a tea break about 4pm and then evening meal generally around 8pm. I do all the cooking. My husband does the housework and walks the dogs, but he’s no cook, and I mostly enjoy that job. So I guess I finish around 7 to have food on the table for 8. More reading at the table! Then back to work about 9pm until midnight or sometimes later. Around midnight I’ll join my husband and unwind for an hour before bed-time. We generally head to bed after 1am. More reading and lights out around 2. This is the general routine. Of course I have to take time out to go grocery shopping, visit a friend, go to the gym, do other necessary tasks and see family, so the full routine described above only happens about 3 days a week. I never take a full day off.
|Where the magic happens! Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall or the cat on the window sill?!|
You travel a lot for research, what trip most stands out in your mind and why?
Perhaps our trip to the South of France to visit the Cathar fortress of Montsegur when I was writing Daughters of the Grail. We had the majesty of the Pyrenees all around us, and this ruined fortress perched on top of a very steep climb indeed. It was odd, wandering the ruins with the mountains all around, to think that once this place had been the source of so much bloodshed.
I loved visiting Chepstow Castle too, particularly because the castle doors, commissioned by the great William Marshal himself (hero of The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion) are still in existence and it was wonderful to see something so tangible. Well, I know castles are tangible but so often the stones have been robbed out of them and it takes a greater leap of imagination than it does to actually see intact doors!
Once you’ve completed a novel and sent it out into the world, do you as the writer/creator have a period of mourning after being with the characters on a daily basis for so long?
No, I don’t – except perhaps for John Marshal in A Place Beyond Courage because I feel there is still so much more I could find out about him. It might also have something to do with him having irresistible pheromones! But usually as I put one novel to bed, I am on with the next. I bid farewell to my characters with warmth, and perhaps a slightly poignant smile, but it never comes close to mourning. Why should it? They will always be with me.
Do you usually take a small break in between books or do you usually plunge headfirst into the next one immediately?
I never take a break between books. The most of a break I take is that I begin research reading for the next one and catch up on my admin and reader letters – clearing the decks so to speak. If I know what I am going to write about, I get out the reference books I am going to need and arrange them in front of my work station and file the previous lot onto the general shelves.
What are you currently reading?
While writing up this interview, it was The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I was finding utterly riveting. My tastes are very eclectic. I read across all genres.
If you could have dinner with 3 historical figures, who would they be and why?
John Marshal, William Marshal, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. There would be several reasons for asking them. One would be that I have written about all of them and I intend writing more – about Eleanor certainly. Another would be that the conversation would be fascinating. I could find out so much about life in the 12th century. My questions would be never ending. I’d want to hear all about William’s jousting days, and find out how what he did in the Holy Land for two years – nobody knows. I’d also want to learn from him how a great statesman goes about his tasks. From Eleanor I’d like to know about her real relationship with Henry II and how many of the rumours about her are true (this is a wish list right? I can ask what I want without being rude?). I’d like to talk to her in general, woman to woman and find the real Eleanor behind the legends and some of the sillier stories one hears about her. Actually, I think there is a lot of sadness there in her life behind the smile. With John Marshal, my hero of A Place Beyond Courage. I think I might just be a tongue-tied fan girl, but he’d certainly be the one to walk me home after the ball. I’d like to ask his opinion on the people he knew when he was alive because I value his take on people. It’s always straight down the line.
FOR THE KING’S FAVOR BY ELIZABETH CHADWICK—IN STORES SEPTEMBER 7, 2010!
A captivating story of a mother’s love stretched to breaking and a knight determined to rebuild his life with the royal mistress, For the King’s Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best. Based on a true story never before told and impeccably researched, this is a testament to the power of sacrifice and the strength of love. When Roger Bigod, heir to the powerful earldom of Norfolk, arrives at court to settle an inheritance, he meets Ida de Tosney, young mistress to King Henry II. In Roger, Ida sees a chance for lasting love, but their decision to marry carries an agonizing price. It’s a breathtaking novel of making choices, not giving up, and coping with the terrible shifting whims of the king.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Chadwick lives near Nottingham with her husband and two sons. She is the author of 18 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, The Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards. Much of her research is carried out as a member of Regia Anglorum, an early medieval re-enactment society with the emphasis on accurately re-creating the past. She won a Betty Trask Award for The Wild Hunt, her first novel. For more information, please visit http://www.elizabethchadwick.com.
Thank you to Elizabeth for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions! Thank you also for all the hours of reading pleasure you have provided us!
Stay tuned later today for a 2 copy giveaway of For the King's Favor!
Stay tuned later today for a 2 copy giveaway of For the King's Favor!