Hi Emma and welcome to Passages to the Past! We really appreciate you stopping by and congratulate you on the release of A TRIPLE KNOT!
Thank you! And thank you for inviting me to Passages to the Past.
What inspired you to write about Joan of Kent?
Long ago I read Karl Wentersdorf’s article “The Clandestine Marriages of the Fair Maid of Kent” (Journal of Medieval History 5: 1979, 203-231) with astonishment. It’s an account of Joan’s knotty marital status gleaned primarily from the papal records of Thomas Holland’s petition claiming Joan as his wife. What a story! But I couldn’t think how to use it at the time, so I filed it away. When I was researching Alice Perrers’s life for The King’s Mistress I became aware of how accepting the reputations passed down through generations of scholars without pausing to question them blinds us to how little we actually know, distracts us from delving and discovering the subtleties and the pain that make up the individual. Historians, myself included, had certainly fallen prey to this regarding Alice Perrers. It happened with Joan as well. Wentersdorf said that early historians assumed that she and Thomas Holland made up a story they hoped would free her from an unhappy marriage. Historians simply rejected the idea that such a young woman—though one considered of marriageable age in that period—would do something so radical. Essentially, they preferred to think that the papal court had been duped by lovers telling a painfully obvious lie. Really? Weren’t the more interesting questions how Joan and Thomas managed to secretly wed, and why? Isn’t their steadfastness a remarkable story? That’s certainly the one I wanted to tell.
What do you want readers to take away from your book?
Most of all, I want to engage readers in an emotional experience, and show why Joan chose to be buried beside Sir Thomas Holland.
I see Joan as a poignantly human figure. Tragedy struck her family when she was very young, and I doubt that she, her brother, or her mother ever felt entirely safe at court. Fear provoked her to take matters into her own young hands. I hope that comes through.
And I like to think I’ve poked some holes in the romantic image of Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince. The chronicles make clear that he was as ruthless as his grandfather, Edward I. Surely that wasn’t an aspect of his personality that he shed with his armor.
What was the hardest scene to write?
The one that comes to mind was not so much the hardest to write, but the one I had trouble settling on, and that was the first scene. Originally the book opened with Joan’s mother remembering her husband, Edmund of Kent, supporting young Philippa, his nephew’s wife, at her coronation. Then I tried the same scene from Philippa’s point of view. After going back and forth with those for months, I decided it was far more interesting and to the point to show Joan and Ned together as children, and Joan’s fierce determination that her father should be remembered, honored, avenged. Yet still I couldn’t quite decide on the scene until I settled on the significance of the white hart emblem to Joan. Then it all fell into place.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Joan in the orchard at her aunt’s castle, as the pestilence ravishes the land. It’s one of the few scenes I wrote in the very first draft. Something about the memory of childhood summers—I kept returning to that to remind myself of Joan’s vulnerability.
A very close second is the shipboard scene when Joan and Thomas meet. It’s a scene naturally rich in atmosphere—a young woman on a journey away from all she knows, out on deck at night on a sailing ship on the North sea, the man on whom she’s developed a crush being so kind to her.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer and why historical fiction?
I toyed with writing at a very young age—poetry. Oy. You can imagine. In high school I fell in love with journalism. At some point in graduate school I began to dabble in fiction. I didn’t try historical fiction until Ursula LeGuin encouraged me to do so at a workshop on science fiction and fantasy, a few summers out from grad school. I felt right at home.
Who are your writing inspirations?
Ursula LeGuin for clean, authentic voice and the glimmer of a smile, and for the advice she gave me that set me on my path. For this particular book, Anthony Goodman, the historian to whom I dedicated the book, who shared with me his notes toward a biography of Joan. When I laughingly warned him that my impression of Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince) wildly differed from his, he applauded me and encouraged me to go with my gut feeling. JRR Tolkien for his marvelous evocation of wayfaring life in the middle ages. And far too many gifted novelists to name here. Though I must mention the late great Anya Seton, whose Katherine was for all practical purposes a prerequisite (along with Tolkien) for graduate school in Anglo Saxon and Medieval studies.
What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?
It varies. Of late it’s been WWI. I read Pat Barker’s Life Class and Toby’s Room this past winter, then decided to reread her Regeneration Trilogy.
What was the first historical novel you read?
The earliest one that left a strong impression was a biography of Marie Antoinette—I thought it cruel how, in full view of a number of officials, she was ceremoniously stripped of her clothes and then dressed in French court attire, a symbol that she had left her family and country behind.
What is the last historical novel you read?
Lady Macbeth by Susan King. Magnificent! Actually, after that I read Mary-Rose MacColl’s In Falling Snow, which is partially historical—WWI again. An absorbing read, particularly the background of the hospitals run by women.
If there was a soundtrack for your novel, what songs might we find on it?
Here are the CDs on endless loop: La Bele Marie and An English Ladymass, Anonymous 4; A Song for Francesca, Lancaster and Valois, and The Service of Venus and Mars, Gothic Voices; Codex Chantilly: Airs de Cour du XIVe siécle, Ensemble Organum; English Songs of the Middle Ages, Sequentia.
What are three things people may not know about you?
I’m almost 100% Polish, according to my parents. I’ve begun perhaps a dozen haunted house stories only to abandon them as trite. I don’t know what keeps pulling me back, though the inspiration usually strikes in early autumn. I have been within a foot of lutefisk and lived to tell the tale, with my sense of smell intact.
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I’m working on A Rumor of Wolves, the 11th Owen Archer mystery (writing as Candace Robb). My agent has submitted a proposal for a second novel about Joan of Kent, covering her marriage to Prince Edward.
Pub Date: July 8, 2014 | Broadway Books | eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
The critically acclaimed author of The King's Mistress brings another fascinating woman from history to life in an enthralling story of political intrigue, personal tragedy, and illicit love.
Joan of Kent, renowned beauty and cousin to King Edward III, is destined for a politically strategic marriage. As the king begins a long dynastic struggle to claim the crown of France, plunging England into the Hundred Years’ War, he negotiates her betrothal to a potential ally and heir of a powerful lordship.
But Joan, haunted by nightmares of her father’s execution at the hands of her treacherous royal kin, fears the king’s selection and is not resigned to her fate. She secretly pledges herself to one of the king’s own knights, one who has become a trusted friend and protector. Now she must defend her vow as the king—furious at Joan’s defiance—prepares to marry her off to another man.
In A Triple Knot, Emma Campion brings Joan, the “Fair Maid of Kent” to glorious life, deftly weaving details of King Edward III’s extravagant court into a rich and emotionally resonant tale of intrigue, love, and betrayal.
Praise for A Triple Knot“Emma Campion brings Plantagenet history to life in this 'You Are There' historical novel. A Triple Knot unties a fascinating puzzle from the past and pulls the reader into the loves and losses, tragedies and triumphs of a dynamic woman, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent. An impressively researched and realistically rendered novel.”
—Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The First Princess of Wales
“A Triple Knot is a superbly written, evocative tale of Joan of Kent that captivated me from the first page and held me until the very end. With a deft eye for detail and a wonderfully authentic evocation of time and place, Campion has delivered what is certain to become a classic.”
—Diane Haeger, author of The Secret Bride: In the Court of Henry VIII
“In this meticulously researched, richly detailed and empathetic novel, Emma Campion skillfully brings to life the enchanting Joan, Fair Maid of Kent and First Princess of Wales who was described by the chronicler Jean Froissart as ‘the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving.' With a bigamous union bracketed by two secret marriages—one to the Black Prince—she makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the glittering court of Edward III where intrigue and danger walk hand in hand with royalty and love.”
—Sandra Worth, author of The King’s Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen
“Emma Campion's portrayal of Joan of Kent is exquisite. A Triple Knot dazzled, packed with all the romance and intrigue of Plantagenet England. Vivid, well researched and beautifully written, Campion's Joan of Kent is a worthy heroine and one you will never forget.”
—Ella March Chase, author of The Virgin Queen’s Daughter and The Queen's Dwarf
“With grace, accuracy and authenticity, Emma Campion brings Joan of Kent and her world to vivid, captivating life in A Triple Knot. Campion’s 14th century is as detailed, gorgeous and fascinating as a millefleur tapestry—her history is immaculate, her characters convincing, and Joan, who is sometimes glossed over in the history books as the Fair Maid of Kent and little more, is complex yet sympathetic as Campion clarifies all the questions that historians might raise about this enigmatic woman. This exciting, compelling historical novel immerses the reader until the very last sentence. I loved A Triple Knot and I look forward to more from Emma Campion!”
—Susan Fraser King, author of Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter
“A Triple Knot is the story of a steadfast love pitted against the cold, political maneuverings of 14th century Plantagenet royals. Set amid the hardships and uncertainties of the Hundred Years War, Emma Campion’s portrayal of Joan of Kent and of the men who seek to claim her is masterful, sweeping us into a high medieval world that is both gracious and grim. Brilliantly imagined, this is a complex and ravishing blend of history, intrigue, scandal and romance.”
—Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown
About the AuthorEMMA CAMPION is the author of The King's Mistress and did her graduate work in medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature. She lives in Seattle. Visit her at www.emmacampion.com.
Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, July 23rd: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, July 24th: Historical Fiction Notebook
GiveawayTo win a copy of A Triple Knot please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US/Canada only and ends on August 2nd.
a Rafflecopter giveaway