Interview & Giveaway: Mercedes Rochelle's A King Under Siege

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am hosting Author Mercedes Rochelle on the final day of her blog tour for A King Under Siege! I have a fabulous interview with her and a chance for you to win a copy of her book! Enjoy!

Hello Mercedes and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about A King Under Siege!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’ve been writing historical fiction even before I realized it was a genre. Back in my college days, I thought of this kind of fiction as the nineteenth-century novel. It wasn’t until I discovered Sharon Penman in the ‘80s that I realized this was something we could do today. Years as a reenactor taught me many things I now take for granted: costuming, hand combat, period food. My fascination with pre-conquest England inspired my first four novels, and now I’ve jumped into the world of the Plantagenets. Both of these periods were inspired by Shakespeare—first Macbeth, then Richard II.

What inspired you to write A King Under Siege?

The first time I saw Shakespeare’s Richard II was back in the late ‘70s, when the BCC was producing their incredible RSC series for public television. I saw Derek Jacobi as Richard, who I knew absolutely nothing about. It didn’t matter! I was smitten with this character and I carried him around with me all those years in between, while I got Harold Godwineson out of my system. It didn’t sink in that Shakespeare’s play only covered the last two years of Richard’s life until I started doing research. The back story was every bit as fascinating as his end, and I saw that it would take two novels to cover Richard’s life.

What research did you undertake when writing A King Under Siege?

Thank goodness for the internet. In the old days, you were limited to books you could find at the local library, and then you were limited to how much you could read in a sitting. Now, I’ve discovered a whole new world of academic journals at my fingertips. Aside from the two full shelves’ worth of books I’ve purchased on the internet (and read completely through), the academic journals bring my research to a “microscopic” level. These scholars go deeply into particular aspects of the story that the broader histories gloss over; they have provided insight into the most problematic passages in my book and shine a light on Richard’s motivations.

What would you like readers to take away from reading A King Under Siege?

Just like Richard III, I believe that Richard II has been largely villainized by the usurper and his sycophantic chroniclers. The winners dictate the history. Richard II was no angel, but I want the reader to see what he was up against and how his enemies pushed him past the breaking point. No wonder he wreaked revenge in my upcoming release, THE KING’S RETRIBUTION. Without reading this first book in the series, there’s no way to understand what brought Richard to such a pass.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Wat Tyler, the guy on the cover about to lose his head, was a colorful figure. He was the main leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, and his word was law. Early on, during the revolt, the rebels went after John of Gaunt’s famous palace of Savoy. They totally destroyed it—building bonfires, throwing treasures into the Thames, and having an all-around good time—until someone tossed a barrel of gunpowder into the flames. Kaboom! I don’t know why I took such pleasure in destroying the Savoy. I was just one of the gang at the time.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

It was very hard for me to write the Parliament scenes. There’s not a lot of action here—much like a courtroom drama. You’ve got a bunch of people arguing with each other. How does one keep the interest going? Fortunately, stakes were high and we were talking life-and-death situations, and a lot of unfair, despicable behavior went on. But I really sweated these passages out.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Can I count the time I was a kid and fell in love with Black Beauty? I told my mother I wanted to be a writer and she pooh-poohed me. That was the end of that. Subsequently, the first time the light went on in my head was due to my fifth-grade teacher, who recognized something different about me and gave me special assignments. Though I really didn’t take my writing seriously until I went to college and became an English major. The nineteenth-century novel captured my attention (back to the first question!) and I fortunately read every historical novel I could get my hands on.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I think of writing as a seasonal task. After all, nobody really cares when my next book is coming out. When the weather is gorgeous, I go outside and work in my garden. During bad weather (like all winter), I stay inside and put my nose to the grindstone. It works for me! I don’t have a daily routine. I sell Real Estate for a living, so my schedule varies according to my work load.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Back when I wrote my first novel (around 1990) I acquired an agent and thought I was on my way. I didn’t realize that she would only query the publishers she did business with. After a couple of tries, she returned my manuscript with a curt note that there was no market for that kind of book (historical fiction). I was so devastated I put it on the shelf and gave up writing for the next 20 years. No kidding. I started my own business and pretended I was channeling my creative impulses through my business. It didn’t work. When I was ready to try again, the whole market had changed! I found a small press who was willing to take a risk on me (same book). Then I tried my hand at indie publishing and I’m much happier.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I still go back to my nineteenth century authors! I adore Alexandre Dumas, Sir Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle. They keep me on track.

What was the first historical novel you read?

The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I didn’t recognize it as historical fiction at the time, but I got the idea! Then I discovered Sir Walter Scott and Ivanhoe. The rest is history, as they say!

What is the last historical novel you read?

I just finished “The First Actress” by C.W. Gortner (about Sarah Bernhardt). It was delicious. I couldn’t help myself; I jumped right into “Marlene”, which I am reading now. I do love biographical historical fiction.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I find that a good history is much more interesting than fiction. As the expression goes, “you just can’t make this stuff up”. The things I uncover in my research sometimes make my spine tingle. It’s up to me to translate it into good historical fiction by adding dialogue, color, and motivations which are often missing from the history books.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I love the high middle ages. This might have a lot to do with my years as a reenactor; I feel that I understand what’s going on. I like the pre-gunpowder era, when people must get up close and personal in warfare. Everything seems more immediate to me.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love my gardening. This takes up much of my time when the weather is with me!

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I am just finishing book two of The Plantagenet Legacy which takes us through Richard II’s abdication; it’s called THE KING’S RETRIBUTION. This covers the same period as Shakespeare’s play, but with much more explanation. Then I’ll be moving forward to Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI. So I have at least three books ahead of me, depending on how much I uncover during my research. After all, those last three kings died young. Still, Henry IV’s story is already more complicated than I first thought. Half the fun is piecing together the various characters and how they interact.

A King Under Siege by Mercedes Rochelle

Publication Date: January 5, 2019
Sergeant Press
eBook & Paperback; 310 Pages

Series: The Plantagenet Legacy, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants' Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years he struggled to assert himself against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grandfather Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard's inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.

"This story is rich in historical detail. It has so obviously been meticulously researched. I cannot but commend Rochelle for this exceptional work of scholarship. A King Under Siege: Book One of The Plantagenet Legacy is one of those books that once started is impossible to put down. This book is filled with non-stop action. There are enough plots and conspiracies to satisfy any lover of historical fiction. This is storytelling at its very best." Mary Anne Yarde from Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Blog

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercedes Rochelle graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of Missouri. Mercedes learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, February 27
Review at A Darn Good Read

Saturday, February 29
Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Monday, March 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, March 4
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Friday, March 6
Review at Books and Zebras

Tuesday, March 10
Review at Nurse Bookie

Thursday, March 12
Feature at I'm All About Books

Friday, March 13
Review at bookramblings
Review at Impressions In Ink

Monday, March 16
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, March 18
Interview at Passages to the Past


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of A King Under Siege! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on March 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

A King Under Siege

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