There is nothing I like better than an intriguing historical fiction novel. One author who is consistantly at the top of my list is Helen Hollick. I am excited to have her on my blog today answering questions about her novel I am the Chosen King, which is newly published by Sourcebooks this month.
I am a bit behind on reviews after a long weekend of out of town family visit for my eldest son's fifth birthday and my youngest daughter Penelope's baptism. I will have my review of I am the Chosen King up either the end of this week or beginning of next! Until then, you can get a feeling for this novel from Helen Hollick's great interview!
LAG: What sparked your interest in writing of the Norman invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066? What made you want to write from the prospective of Harold Godwinesson, the last Saxon King of England?
HH: Harold Godwinesson is a local hero as I live about 5 miles from the town of Waltham Abbey (Harold founded the abbey.) I had always thought him to be an interesting character, but the more I discovered as I started researching, the more I realized how fascinating he was – and how much I loathed his adversary, Duke William of Normandy.
William had no right to the English throne whatsoever, Harold was our legitimate crowned King of England, yet William, a foreigner, invaded, conquered and destroyed most of what was English. He was a greedy tyrant wanting England because it was a wealthy Country. The more I read the more I realized that much of what I had learnt at school about this period - and what is portrayed in the history books – is what was written by the victors, most of which was Norman propaganda
I decided to write a novel based on what might have really happened, from the English point f view.
LAG: The medieval historical detail is riveting in I Am the Chosen King. What is your method for researching your novels? Did you visit any of the settings in I Am the Chosen King during your writing of the novel?
HH: I mostly read works by respected historians: in this case, Frank Barlow, Pauline Stafford, David C. Douglas etc. I visit museums and as many of the actual scenes as I can; Waltham Abbey, as I said, is just up the road from where I live; Battle Abbey in Sussex, the site of where the actual battle took place (William built the abbey as penance for causing the death of so many) York, Chester….
I visit as many places as possible to get the feel of the area. Is it hilly or flat? What sort of trees? How close is the river? Things like that.
LAG: It gets kind of confusing with your novels printed in England and in America with different titles. What are the titles of the novels in the Lost Kingdom series? Are there any other books after this in this series?
HH: I agree with you about the titles, it is as annoying for me as it is for you! The change of title in the US was my US publisher’s decision, not mine. It is very tedious having to type Harold the King (UK title) / I Am The Chosen King (US Title) and A Hollow Crown (UK title) / The Forever Queen (US title)
I also dislike change of title, because unless it is made clear, readers may think it is a new and different book.
The two titles above are the two in The Lost Kingdom Series. There may be a third at some time in the future, but there are so many books I want to write, I haven’t enough time to do them all at once!
LAG: What are you currently working on? Is it a secret or can you give us a hint?
HH: I am working on Ripples In The Sand the fourth in my nautical pirate-based adventures, the Sea Witch Voyages. These are a little lighter than my serious historical fiction; I like to describe the series as “A darn good Sailor’s Yarn” A blend of Indiana Jones, Hornblower and Sharpe – fun to read and write.
I started the series soon after the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was released. I wanted to read fiction that reflected the idea of the movie – the hero, a charmer of a pirate rogue who was always getting into scrapes; romance, action, adventure – and a touch of believable supernatural fantasy. All good yarns have mermaids, sea-sirens, ghosts and such. I wanted a white witch and the sea goddess, Tethys – believable supernatural elements.
I found plenty of plain nautical stories – Patrick O’Brien, C. S. Forrester, James L. Nelson…. The wonderful Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier, but nothing with that extra little bit of “other-worldliness” in it.
So I wrote my own.
LAG: What types of books do you read? What is in your night stand right now?
HH: At the moment I am reading C.W. Gortner’s The Last Queen – thoroughly enjoying it. I have just finished The Girl With A Pearl Earring; one of those books I have been meaning to read for a long time. I saw the painting when I was in Holland – it’s tiny, just a small picture. And very lovely.
Next to read is another Sharpe novel on my Kindle.
Thank-you Helen Hollick for answering my burning questions!
Sourcebooks has been kind enough to offer one copy of I am the Chosen King by Helen Hollick for a giveaway.
If you would like to win a copy of I am the Chosen King, please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or this interview.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.
I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday March 18th.