Friday, March 8, 2013

Finding the Hero’s Journey: Or how Shadows and Strongholds Came to be Written a Guest Blog by Elizabeth Chadwick (and GIVEAWAY!)

I am honored today to have one of my all-time favorite authors, Elizabeth Chadwick on Laura's Reviews today with a guest blog about her new novel, Shadows and Strongholds.  I just started it yesterday, and I'm already hooked! Elizbeth Chadwick has no equal when it comes to historical fiction - she brings medival times to life!  Thank-you Elizabeth Chadwick for being on my blog today!

Finding the Hero’s Journey:  Or how Shadows and Strongholds Came to be Written by Elizabeth Chadwick

First let me explain:
Shadows and Strongholds was born out of the novel I wrote before it, about a medieval outlaw called Fulke FitzWaryn, who ran rings around King John. That novel will be coming to the USA in the autumn as The Outlaw Knight. In the UK where these books were first published, it was the other way around and The Outlaw Knight (titled Lords of the White Castle there) was published first, followed by Shadows and Strongholds. I have a tendency, you see, to write prequels. I become very fascinated while writing a novel in what makes the people who they are and then my curiosity often leads me to the ‘what happened before.’ In this case, I wanted to know all about how Fulke’s parents got together, and when I trawled the history of the family, I found a tremendously exciting story.

The primary source historical document for the tale of Brunin FitzWarin and Hawise de Dinan comes from a document written in the 13th Century in Anglo-Norman called Fouke le Fitz Waryn. It is partly a family chronicle with information that can be verified from other sources, and partly an adventure romance with invented or altered material. It tells the story of the FitzWaryn family’s rise to power on the Welsh borders and their struggles against fellow barons and tyrannical kings to hold on to what they had.

The hero of Shadows and Strongholds is Brunin FitzWarin. The chronicle gives us the detail that in his adult life he was known as Fulke le Brun (The Brown) because of his dark hair, eyes and complexion – imagine the colouring of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom or Keanu Reeves. A Medieval historian friend well versed in Old French, told me that a childhood nickname might be Brunin, or Bruno, so that became his name.

The novel begins in his childhood when he goes to become a squire to his father’s ally and friend Joscelin de Dinan. The piece below from the chronicle, translated from Anglo Norman French by Professor Glynn Burgess is what set me on the path to finding out more about Brunin and Hawise and how I should go about creating their personalities and their story.

"When the boy was seven years old, they sent him to Joce de Dinan to be educated and brought up, for Joce was a knight of great experience. He received him with great honour and great affection and brought him up with his children in his own chambers. For he had two daughters, the younger of whom was the same age as Fouke, and she was called Hawyse...”

The chronicle goes on to say that there was discord and war between Joce and his rival marcher lord Walter de Lacy, who coveted Ludlow. When Brunin was in his late teens, there was a battle between Joce and de Lacy right in front of the walls of Ludlow, and Joce found himself in deep trouble...
“The lady and her daughters in the tower saw their lord so hard pressed that they could scarcely endure it. They cried out, fainted and lamented greatly, for they did not expect to see their lord alive again. Fouke FitzWaryn (Brunin) had been left in the castle, for he was only 18 years old. Hearing the cry from the tower, he went up quickly and saw his lady and the others in tears. He went to Hawyse and asked her what the matter was and why she appeared so unhappy.

'Hold your tongue,' she said, 'you are not so much like your father, who is so bold and so strong. You are a coward and always will be. Do you not see my lords there, who has cared for you greatly and brought you up lovingly? His life is in danger for want of help, whilst you, wretch, run up and down in safety, without giving him a thought.'

The young man became flushed with anger and distress. Then he climbed down the tower and found in the hall an old, rusty hauberk, which he donned as best he could. He grabbed hold of a large Danish axe and went to a stable beside the postern leading to the river. There he found a packhorse, which he mounted, and going out through the postern he soon crossed the river and reached the field, where his lord had been unhorsed and was on the point of being killed if he had not suddenly come up. Fouke had a wretched helmet, which scarcely protected his shoulders, and at his first attempt he struck Godard de Bruce, who had seized his lord, with his axe, slicing right down the middle of his spine. He put his lord back on his horse, turned towards Sir Andrew de Preez and with his axe dealt him such a blow on his helmet of white steel that he cleaved right through it down to his teeth. Sir Ernalt de Lys thought that he had no chance of escaping, for he was seriously wounded. So he surrendered to sir Joce. De Lacy defended himself, but he was soon captured."

Then everyone goes back into the castle, the hostages are locked up in the Pendover tower, and Joce thanks Fouke (Brunin) saying: 'My dear son, blessed be the time I have spent bringing you up, for effort expended on a worthy man is never wasted.'

This scene became one of the major dramas in the novel and illuminated for me the path I was going to take with the story line, and also firmly defined the characters. Brunin is a young man of great potential who has to come to terms with himself and face the demons that hold him back, and Hawise is a strong young woman, plainly not afraid to speak her mind. She has known Brunin since they were children. What is her relationship with him? What had it been like before that moment, and where was it going to go now? I had my characters, I had my conflicts, I had my storyline: A 500 page novel written from the inspiration of 500 words in an 800 year old chronicle!

Fascinating - although I will shallowly admit to being caught by a hero that  has the "colouring of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom or Keanu Reeves."  I can't wait to finish this intriguing story, although I always am sad that a Chadwick book has ended - I want to keep reading them forever.  Thank-you again for the great guest blog!

Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick.
If you would like to win this prize pack please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or this wonderful giveaway by Elizabeth Chadwick.

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 (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 on Friday March 22, 2013.

Please make sure to check the last week of March to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!


  1. This book sounds really interesting, and I love the cover! I would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Elizabeth Chadwick is a favorite author, and this novel seems especially appealing. Last spring while doing some genealogic research my daughter discovered a possible family link to Brunin FitzWarin. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This historical novel sounds fascinating and memorable. Thanks for this lovely giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Your comments peaked my interest in this book which is interesting. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. I love medieval novels! Such an interesting time period of knights and castles and stories of magic.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    mestith at gmail dot com

  7. The time period is intriguing.


  8. historical fictions is intriguing to me!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  9. I think this sounds absolutely fascinating, Laura. I enjoy novels set in the medieval period.

    I'll post this giveaway in my blog's sidebar. Thank you for hosting this!

  10. This book is on the top of my list now. I would've gotten it for the book cover alone. kr _ moreau (at) doglover dot com