Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interview (and GIVEAWAY) with Helen Hollick, author of I am the Chosen King

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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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!

Giveaway Details
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 (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.

Good luck!


  1. I love the fact that Helen points out that to the victor goes the spoils, Sometimes meaning the way history is written. I also love the fact that she is willing to get out there and research and visit for the sake of her book. That makes a wonderful author!
    I side-bared the giveaway.

  2. What a great interview. I absolutely agree that William the Conqueror had no right to England, and treatment of the English people was deplorable. It would be wonderful if Ms. Hollick wrote a third novel - Hereward the Wake, maybe.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. This sounds very interesting! I have always been interested in the Kings and Queens of the British monarchy and have read a lot of Historical non-fiction about it. I am just beginning to discover the fiction side and would love to read this. Thanks!

    Margaret (goodreads)

  4. I love historical novels!

    pocokat AT gmail DOT com

  5. thank you for the guest invitation - and for the nice comments.
    Linda - a follow up "Hereward the Wake" novel is on my rather long "To Do" list!

  6. I loved hearing about how Helen conducts her research for her books. I am always intriged as to why an author chooses a certain subject to write about.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  7. I love reading about the British Monarchy - and especially historical fiction, and this book combines both! I also love the concept of Helen Hollick's new novel "Ripples in the Sand" - I'd love to read about a charming, rogue pirate!


  8. This is a terrific interview, thank you! What intrigues me most is Helen's comment that most of what is in the history texts regaring the Normandy invasion by William the Conqueror was written by the victors so we aren't getting an unbiased, even view of what happened. I'm not sure I have ever heard Harold Godwinesson's name, the last Saxon King. It's amazing to learn now that he should have been where William ended up.

    I so want to read I am the Chosen King now!
    Thank you for this fascinating post!


  9. I love English History. I have never read an historical fiction account of the Norman Conquest. History is written by the victors. I would love to read this book written from Harold's perspective.

  10. I absolutly love medieval history storys about kings and queens!

    I posted this giveaway to my blog:

    dancealert at aol dot com

  11. Wonderful guest post!
    Please throw my name in the hat as well. I am intrigued by all things medieval--it was such a strange and interesting time, and I love to read about castles, kings, and queens.


    I'll post this in my blog's sidebar soon.

  12. I've been really interested in Harold since reading this short book called 1066- he seems like someone history dealt a bad blow to, and I'd like to get to know him better. Also, this reminds me that I want to read more of Hollick's Arthur trilogy... I think she wrote one.

  13. Oh, and would love to be entered in the giveaway! booklustblogger AT gmail DOT com. I think I described why the book interests me in my last comment :-)

  14. I love this time period, and stories that take place from the loser's point of view. I'd love to read this. Thanks!

  15. The author hit what interests me on the dot-everything we learnt in school was propaganda written by the victors. I am attorney and have studied Thomas More both in high school and law school-sure did not here about him burning people at the stake.

    thank you

    chocolate and croissants at yahoo . com

  16. I would love to read this!
    stacybooks at yahoo

  17. I've enjoyed Helen Hollick's books in the past and can't wait to read this one. I also have to get my hands on the Sea Witch books. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  18. European history is always good, and especially medieval! King Harold's perspective should be interesting, too. Thanks for the giveaway!

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

  19. I love historical fiction, especially that which revolves around England. Your interview has made me determined to read this book.

  20. I love historical fiction too. What I find particularly intriguing about this book is the author's perspective of William. I hadn't heard of Harold before. My curiosity is piqued.
    polo-puppy-fluffy at hotmail dot com

  21. I love reading historical novels about England. This sounds really good! The pirate series also sounds good!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  22. I have never read anything from that time period. I would love to read it, because I enjoy historical novels.

  23. I love historical fiction. I have read little or nothing about this time period.


  24. Reading historical fiction is a favorite time period for me. Your interview was very good.

  25. I have been reading great things about Hollick's previous book and now Chosen King. This interview as well as the recent review have really piqued my interest in an era and events that I know so little about. I am going to have to check out her seafaring adventure with a mix of Hornblower and fantasy series for my husband and I to read.

  26. I love historical fiction novels, and I would love to read about England prior to the Norman invasion! I found it interesting that the author developed a loathing for William the Conqueror through researching this novel and came to realize that history is written by the victors.

    Please enter me in this giveaway!

    bookloversarah at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  27. I have always wanted to know more about this time period and I can not think of a better author to teach me. Thanks

  28. Excellent interview! I love reading that an author enjoys the same books that I do. I too enjoyed Girl with a Pearl Earring.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. This giveaway has now ended and the winner has been posted.