INTERVIEW WITH PRISCILLA ROYAL

December brings many good things—Christmas, the first snowfall of the winter, a new Priscilla Royal mystery.   Covent with Hell is her latest, set at one of the most celebrated of medieval shrines, and once again I am losing sleep as I steal time each night to re-enter her world.   Most of you know that I am obsessive-compulsive about historical accuracy; I’ve never been able to decide if that is a blessing or a curse. As a result, I am really put off by novels in which the characters could be my next door neighbors; I think of these books as “The Plantagenets in Pasadena.”   But that is never the case with one of Priscilla’s novels.  Her people are firmly rooted in the Middle Ages.  Readers never doubt that they are reading of men and women who live in thirteenth century England, and that is why we read historical novels, after all.  We turn the pages to time-travel.   So I am delighted to announce that Covenant with Hell is now out and I have persuaded Priscilla to stop by to talk about it.

Tell us about Covenant with Hell.

Covenant with Hell contains a hint of Canterbury Tales and a dash of George Smiley. While I was finishing Sanctity of Hate, I watched the two Alec Guinness portrayals of George Smiley, read John le Carre’s books, and fell in love with the character. I had never tried a spy story but knew it must have a firm medieval context. The spy system of the late 13th century was not as sophisticated as it was under Elizabeth I, but every historical era has its secret agents.
As I was prowling through Edward I’s activities in the year after Sanctity of Hate, I found the perfect setting for my story. Walsingham was one of his favorite shrines, and he decided to go there on Palm Sunday of 1277. (Being a practical man, he combined the pilgrimage with a trip to buy 200,000 crossbow bolts for his invasion of Wales.) Fortunately, this famous and very interesting medieval shrine is also close to where I have placed Tyndal Priory.
After The Sanctity of Hate, Prioress Eleanor has been deeply troubled over a rumor that she was found worthy to receive a vision of the Virgin Mary, a story she wishes had not gained credence but fears she might have fostered some way. Her concern led me to suggest that she might fancy a penitential pilgrimage to this lovely shrine. My prioress quickly agreed. What she and Brother Thomas didn’t know is that I planned for them to fall into the midst of an assassination plot against the king and a swarming of spies.

You have said that each of your books presents you with a different challenge. What was it in Covenant with Hell?

I do not want to write “costume dramas”, but I also acknowledge the universal nature of human experience. The more I read, the more I realize that many things we think of as modern enlightenments were found in more ancient times, although the manifestation would have been era-appropriate. The union of the twelve tribes of Israel, albeit under a king, bears resemblance to the union of the thirteen colonies that formed the United States. Athens practiced a form of democracy, and many monasteries elected their own leaders. And if no one in the past ever questioned the accepted beliefs (always called truths in any era), we would never have advanced our knowledge of general science, medicine, or the complex nature of the human creature. So I took a chance and introduced a character whom I believe would have fit into his time but who also resisted convention just a bit with a little quiet courage in the face of his own terror of consequences. To say more would be a spoiler.

What was the most enjoyable part of writing this story?

As is often the case, it is the research. The shrines of Walsingham have a remarkable story, one I have told in more detail in the Author’s Notes. Not only was it a popular medieval pilgrimage site, regularly visited by King Henry III, Edward I, and on a par with Canterbury and Santiago de Compostela, it was also highly favored by King Henry VIII—before he chose to destroy it. It was supposed to be the only place in England where the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision. She came to a local woman in a dream and took her to Nazareth where she showed the woman the house where the Annunciation occurred, then ordered the woman to construct an exact replica in Walsingham. Unlike most shrines, the house was kept simple, although the many gifts received were lavish. In addition, there were wells nearby that remained full, pure, and very cold despite the weather or any drought. These were also believed to be gifts of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps the most miraculous part of the Walsingham story is the fact that it has returned as a significant pilgrimage site. The Holy House has been reconstructed. The wells remain. It is visited by both Catholic and Protestant pilgrims today.

You have written ten books in your series. Do you now feel you have a firm grasp on the craft of writing?

The short answer is no! After I finished the first book, I realized that the second would have its own problems. That one felt even harder to write than the first. I will say that the third wasn’t as terrifying, but I have learned that every book is its own lesson in how to write unless you fall into a pattern. Sometimes I hate myself for making each book a challenge, but I am happier once it is written. Covenant with Hell was my attempt to be so devious about the killer that the herrings, red or otherwise, would be especially fun for readers. Even though I have always wanted to keep the solution secret for as long as possible, I admit that I often get caught up in character development, the question of acceptable justice, and the historical background. None of that is really a bad thing. We all read mysteries for different reasons. But good herrings were the craft lesson for me in this book.

What are you working on next?

Prioress Eleanor has been sufficiently successful as both a manager of priory recourses and a sleuth that she will have gained enemies. In the next book, someone has accused her of an unchaste relationship with Brother Thomas. Since the Order of Fontevraud was under the authority of Rome, the abbess in Anjou, who enjoyed unusual authority over her many daughter houses, would not have wanted any hint of scandal in her Order, one that many already believed to be unnatural because of female leadership over men. She would have sent a trusted priest of high social rank (to match that of Prioress Eleanor) to investigate so that she could assure Rome that innocence had been proven or due punishment ordered. Of course, Prioress Eleanor is innocent of acting on her lust for Brother Thomas, but nothing is ever simple for her. Murder happens. The innocent are accused. Subplots cause her additional angst. I confess that she will be pretty miffed at all I plan to put her through.

How can readers contact you?

Should anyone have questions about my books, they can reach me through my website at www.priscillaroyal.com. And I am one of several mystery writers blogging on The Lady Killers at www.theladykillers.typepad.com.

Thank you so much, Sharon, for inviting me to post on your blog. Not only have you taught me much about research, but your books have long been an inspiration. In fact, I learned something from one of them that gave me an idea for a character in Covenant…

And you are not going to tell me more than that, are you?   You’re getting too good at keeping secrets!   I am about halfway through Covenant and I confess I haven’t a clue who the killer is yet.  There are a few hateful characters I would happily volunteer as other victims for the killer, though.   And there is a very appealing young girl, a street urchin who will touch the hardest heart, reminding us that there were few safety nets for the poor throughout most of history.   Thank you for agreeing to talk about Covenant.  I do sympathize with Eleanor; she yearns only for spiritual peace and you keep dragging her into murder investigations.  But as you say, “Murder happens, and we, the readers, benefit greatly from it.

December 4, 2013

157 Responses to “INTERVIEW WITH PRISCILLA ROYAL”

  1. Ken John Says:

    Very interesting Sharon and Priscilla. I did not know of Priscilla’s writing before but have now visited her page and will purchase some of her books. They are about the thirteenth century for goodness sake! That’s where I live most of the time.

  2. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    Ken, you must buy and read all Priscilla’s novels posthaste. They are brilliant! While you are in Upsidedownyland I would recommend getting them from The Book Depository. Some book stores stock them but they are few and far between. Of course, I would be willing to lend you my copies.

    You can also get them all on kindle. I have a second (or third in some cases) copy of then there.

    I am also enjoying Covenant with Hell. I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Brother Thomas. He is very appealing :)

  3. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    Ken! It’s great to see you here ;)

  4. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    Ken! It’s great to see you here ;)

  5. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Just like Ken I haven’t had the occasion to read Priscilla’s novels yet, but the interview has whetted my apetite. Even if the thirteenth centurey is not my cup of tea :-)

    Still on a medieval note, I would like to mention a novel, first of the trilogy, by Austin Hernon, who kindly wrote to me recommending his “Robert. The Wayward Prince” about Robert Curthose. I am certain you are going to find it as interesting as I do. The Conqueror’s oldest son was a fascinating figure in his own right and at some points his story reminds me of a certain young king I’m rather fond of :-) I’m not providing the link, but you can check it on Amazon.

  6. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Hello Paula :-) I absolutely agree with you: it’s great to see Ken here. And you too!

  7. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Kasia! And Ken and Paula…

  8. skpenman Says:

    People have asked me which of Priscilla Royal’s books to read first, so I am posting the series in chronological order here. Is there anything more fun than finding a new author and then discovering that writer has a lengthy backlist?

    Wine of Violence
    Tyrant of the Mind
    Sorrow without End
    Justice for the Damned
    Forsaken Soul
    Chambers of Death
    Valley of Dry Bones
    A Killing Season
    The Sanctity of Hate
    Covenant with Hell

  9. skpenman Says:

    People have asked me which of Priscilla Royal’s books to read first, so I am posting the series in chronological order here. Is there anything more fun than finding a new author and then discovering that writer has a lengthy backlist?

    Wine of Violence
    Tyrant of the Mind
    Sorrow without End
    Justice for the Damned
    Forsaken Soul
    Chambers of Death
    Valley of Dry Bones
    A Killing Season
    The Sanctity of Hate
    Covenant with Hell

  10. skpenman Says:

    The world has lost one of its brightest lights in the death of Nelson Mandela.
    I hope my friends in the US in the path of that winter storm are staying safe and warm, and the same for my British friends coping with a nasty storm of their own.
    I may not be around again for a while, as Holly, my spaniel, was suddenly taken ill this week with what was diagnosed as pancreatitis. She is being treated for it, but is not responding as quickly as we’d hoped. As most of you are animal lovers, too, I know you’ll understand how upsetting this is.

  11. Joan Says:

    The death of Nelson Mandela was still a shock, though we knew he was not going to recover. Some figures are & remain immortal in our eyes.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery Holly…..we are all rooting for you!

    Another list of very interesting books!!

  12. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Joan, I say after you: Speedy recovery, Holly!

  13. Emilie Laforge Says:

    Thank you Sharon and Priscilla for this interview. Must really pull Priscilla’s books from the TBR mountain.

    Nice to see you here, Kasia and thank you for the book recommendation. I owe you an e-mail which I plan to send you this weekend. ;)

  14. Teka Lynn Says:

    Oh dear. Best wishes for Holly’s health. Poor thing!

    We are staying as warm as we can in our winter storm area. My husband and I have been looking after a couple of neighborhood stray cats and feeding them on the porch. With our landlord’s permission, they’ve been staying in our laundry room while the overnight temperatures remain below freezing. One of them, Joseph, a tough old silver tabby, is an old hand at dealing with snow. The other, the little flame-point Siamese, Darcy, was born this summer. The first time in his entire life that he ever saw snow was this morning, and he Did Not Like It. In the evening, Joseph was quite happy to come in, but we couldn’t find Darcy anywhere, and it was snowing harder than ever. My husband finally found Darcy huddled under the house, too terrified to climb what must have looked like a mountain of snow in front of him. We flattened a path for him, and he jumped inside. Thank goodness we found him before he froze to death. The cats are now safe and warm inside.

  15. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    Sending healing thoughts for Holly. I hope she bounces back soon.

    I am feeling a little of the melancholia that has been known to inflict Brother Thomas. I have just finished Covenant with Hell. What an ending!

    5 stars!

  16. skpenman Says:

    Holly is still sick, but she seems a little better than she did, and she is eating the prescription low-fat dog food, a good sign. Thank you all for your concern, and my sympathy to those of you who shared their stories of their own stricken dogs.
    I just discovered that the upcoming paperback edition of the new Sunne in Splendour is now up for pre-ordering on Amazon.co.UK. I don’t think they’ve set a definite date yet, but I believe it is likely to be in March, around the time that A King’s Ransom will be published. Here is the link. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sunne-Splendour-Sharon-Penman/dp/1447247841/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1373755647&sr=1-2 I’ll be curious to see how you all react to the cover. I like it myself.

  17. Gabriele Says:

    Lol, characters should not be miffed at what authors put them through. They never read the small print of the Character in Novel XY-contract. Instead, they are lining up and giving me more novels than I can juggle at a time. And then they complain that I kill their friends and have them tortured.
    Blog research doesn’t help, either. Some old castles and non fiction books are full of plotbunnies. Who breed. :)

  18. Koby Says:

    I have returned for a brief period, after some three weeks in the army. I have not much time, unfortunately; but I am glad to know everybody is doing well, and join the others in wishing Holly a swift recovery. Officer’s Training is going well, with 8 weeks yet remaining. Let us hope it will pass swiftly and joyfully. All my best wishes to all of you.
    Today, Gilbert de Clare died. He was Simon’s ally, and later betrayed him and fought with Edward I at Kenilworth and Henry III [IV] at Evesham. Also, yesterday, Henry VI [VII] was born.

  19. skpenman Says:

    Welcome back, Koby. We always miss you.
    Here is my Facebook note for today.

    December 8th mattered to the Angevins. On this date in 1154, Henry and Eleanor landed in England to claim the crown and begin the Plantagenet dynasty. Henry insisted upon sailing in a savage gale, a very bad habit of his that could not have endeared him to his sailors, courtiers, or his wife. Eleanor must have been especially frustrated when he did this in 1174, for their young children, Joanna and John, sailed with the fleet, and Eleanor, about to begin her long English confinement, had no say in the matter. Henry passed on this insanity gene to son Richard, who attempted to sail from Portsmouth to Barfleur in a storm in May, 1194, so desperate was he to get to Normandy and challenge the French king. The winds were so strong that he was forced to return to Portsmouth, and there he waited for favorable weather, doubtless because Eleanor played the mother card and refused to let him try it again.
    Also on December 8th, 1174, the captive Scots King William the Lion was compelled to sign the treaty of Falaise, which was highly favorable to the English. William had no leverage for he was languishing at the time as a captive in one of Henry’s castles. It is always easier to strike a deal with a prisoner, after all.
    And Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and bad decisions, was born on this date in 1542.
    Also on December 8th in 1941 FDR made his famous “Day of Infamy” speech and declared war upon Japan, the day after the Japanese had launched a stealth attack on Pearl Harbor.
    Lastly, Holly is still sick, but she continues to eat, and I am taking heart from that. Stay safe and warm, all of you in the path of this nasty winter weather.

  20. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, a big hug for Holly! I keep my fingers crossed for her quick recovery.

    Koby, we ‘re so happy to have you back! I’ve been wondering whether you’re OK! I missed you! Good luck with your training! And keep safe!

    P.S. I really really must point out that at the time of the afore-mentioned crossing Eleanor was seventh month pregnant with her second child by Henry, meaning that the future Henry the Young was there too, albeit incognito :-)

  21. Gabriele Says:

    Those Viking genes must have come through in Henry and Richard. :)

  22. skpenman Says:

    Good point, Kasia!

    I hope everyone in the path of that relentless winter storm stayed safe and warm. It had an interesting impact upon yesterday’s football games. (American football to my British and Aussie readers.) My Eagles looked as if they were playing in a blizzard at times, the white uniforms of the Lions looked like camouflage, and we actually heard a ref calling for a halt because “We cannot see the end zone.” (It was probably my imagination that conjured up a polar bear stalking the sidelines just before halftime.) It is a lovely day in Eagles Nation, and also a good day for fans of the Ravens, Saints, San Francisco, Chiefs, Packers, and Broncos, though you Ravens fans are likely still hyperventilating. My sympathies to Vikings fans in general and Stephanie in particular, for your guys lost a heartbreaker.
    I am happy to report that Holly is doing much better, and I’ll take her in for more blood work tomorrow, which I hope will show the lipase enzymes levels have gone down. Thank you all for your good wishes and sympathy. A friend of mine lost her beautiful shepherd this weekend when she got out through a gate and was struck by a car, the driver not even bothering to stop, so hug your pets tonight. Hug your kids, too. Hey, hug all the people who matter in your lives, for we never know what horrors lurk down the road, and thank God for that.
    More snow on the way, so drive safe. (My friends and readers Down Under can ignore this caution.)

  23. Joan Says:

    I’m so glad Holly is getting better! Saw some clips of those games!

    Yes, hugs…..when my granddaughters & I skype, we hug the computer & they give me a big smackeroo with their mouths right at the camera, funny girls. Then Leila always says, Noni, you’re hot! (computer heat, but sounds good to me!)

  24. skpenman Says:

    Today’s Facebook Note.
    I have very good news for my British friends and readers. Head of Zeus, my e-book publisher in the UK is bringing out the first five books of Colleen McCullough’s magnificent Masters of Rome series. The pub date is December 17th. I thought these books about the twilight of the Roman Republic were brilliant and I highly recommend them.

  25. skpenman Says:

    I am sure other events of historical significance occurred on December 11th, but for me, everything else is overshadowed by what happened at twilight on that frigid December day in 1282, the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the great Welsh prince whom the Welsh would remember as “Ein Llyw Olaf,” translated as “Our Last Leader.”

    The Reckoning, page 534. Llywelyn has been found by English soldiers who are jubilant upon recognizing him, knowing how richly they’d be rewarded if they could deliver him alive into the English king’s hands.
    * * *
    Another of the soldiers was coming back. “Here, Martin, put this about him.”
    Martin took the blanket. “He’s in a bad way, Fulk,” he murmured, as if Llywelyn ought not to hear. Fulk picked up the lantern, and swore under his breath at the sight of the blood-soaked snow.
    “Christ,” he said, and then, to Llywelyn, almost fiercely, “You hold on, hear? We’re going to get you to a doctor, for the king wants you alive!”
    Llywelyn gazed up at him, marveling. “Indeed,” he said, “God forbid that I should disoblige the English king by dying.” It was only when he saw that Fulk and Martin were uncomprehending that he realized he’d lapsed into Welsh. But he made no effort to summon back his store of Norman-French. A man ought to die with his own language echoing in his ears.
    The English soldiers were discussing his wound in troubled tones. But their voices seemed to be coming now from a distance, growing fainter and fainter until they no longer reached Llywelyn. He heard only the slowing sound of his heartbeat, and he opened his eyes, looked up at the darkening sky.
    * * *
    I believe I’ve told this story before, for the memory remains very vivid to me even after so many years. I was driving along a mountain road in Wales, thinking about how I would write Llywelyn’s death scene. Such scenes are always challenging, as you’d imagine. Various ideas had come to me, only to be discarded. Suddenly I could hear a voice saying: A man ought to die with his own language echoing in his ears. I don’t really believe Llywelyn whispered his wishes in my ear. I know the voice was in my head. But it seemed so clear, so real, that for just a moment, I wondered….I will give the last word, though, to the Welsh bard, Gruffydd ab yr Ynad Goch, whose haunting lament for his slain prince has the power to tear away time’s veil and share with us the despair, the shock, and the raw pain of Llywelyn’s countrymen: “Ah, God, that the sea would cover the land! What is left us that we should linger?”

  26. Joan Says:

    Once again, we lament the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, & for me this, along with the heart-wrenching words of the bard, is one of the most sorrowful scenes I’ve ever read. And I’m not so sure you were alone with your thoughts on that mountain road, Sharon.

  27. Gabriele Says:

    Colleen McCullough’s books are a fun read if you want a good dose of Roman sex, crime, and politics. :)

    And a bit of advertising for that rather long blog post I wrote about the Scottish kings: Malcolm III to David I. Looks like I’ve grown a new series besides the Roman and German Mediaeval history I blog about (when I’m _not_ lazy and just slap a few lines of text to a bunch of photos ;) ).

  28. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Rest In Peace, dear Prince!I do agree, the scene and the words of the bard are heart-wrenching.

    Gabriele, all your posts, even the “lazy” ones, are fun to read and I immensely enjoy them.

  29. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Gabriele, your “bit of advertising” drew me in, and of course I have an affinity to Malcolm Canmore. Yours is a very interesting post on early Scots history.

  30. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Indeed, Malcolm. Gabriele’s blog in general is a trasure chest full of information. Everything, from research to photos, is impressive there. Recently, looking for our Tilda, I’ve been reading the posts about Henry the Lion of Saxony and Bavaria, and she’s there, every inch her mother’s daughter :-)

    As for today’s anniversaries, on 12 December 1212, Henry the Young King’s half-brother, Geoffrey, Archbishop of York died at Notre-Dame-du-Parc near Rouen. Little is known of Young Henry and Geoffrey’s relations save the fact that they stood on the opposite sides in the Great Revolt of 1173-74. Geoffrey played a prominent part in the suppression of his younger brothers’ rebellion in the north and midlands of England. Later, after the Young King’s untimely passing, Geoffrey, already Archbishop of York, made a grant for his late brother’s soul.

  31. skpenman Says:

    Fascinating posts, everyone. Kasia, I don’t think it is proven that Geoffrey died on December 12th; I’ve seen the date also given as December 18th. December 12th would be cool, though, for then he’d have died on 12/12/12.
    Since we know Geoffrey never forgave his brothers for rebelling against Henry, I think we cans safely assume that he did not have warm and fuzzy feelings toward the Young King!

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    I’ve noticed this year that when the prices of Lionheart and The Queen’s Man were lowered on Amazon.UK for promotional purposes, it worked, gaining me some new readers. It makes sense; we’re more like to try a new author if we are not asked to pay a lot for that initial gamble. So it occurred to me that this would be a good way to introduce new readers to Priscilla Royal’s books. Priscilla is a friend (and fellow animal lover) who writes very authentic medieval mysteries; she takes her research very seriously and she creates credible characters who reflect the times in which they live. So I suggested to her that we do a book giveaway for her latest, Covenant with Hell. The rules are the same as for my past book giveaways. Anyone who posts a comment (any comment!) on my current blog interview with her is eligible for the drawing and the winner will get a free signed copy from Priscilla. Covenant is selling quite well on Amazon, #43 on its e-book historical mysteries best-seller list the last time I checked. So here’s a chance to find out for yourself why so many of us are Priscilla Royal fans.

  32. Carol Sinclair Says:

    I’ve never tried Priscilla but with a promote from Sharon I will give her a try :)

    Waiting eagerly fro Ransom Sharon!

  33. Hazel Ryland-Cole Says:

    I’m convinced! Any author who gets the thumbs up from Sharon Penman for research and historical accuracy has to be worth reading. Looking forward to discovering Priscilla Royal’s work.

  34. Pat Yarbrough Says:

    I would like to learn more about Priscilla’s books — this interview has hooked me!

  35. Jamie Crain Says:

    Any author recommended by Sharon Kay Pennman has to be a good one. With a possible free book included, what could be better? Looking forward to reading some of her books. Thank you for the interview.

  36. David Campbell Preece Says:

    Good Interview!

  37. David Campbell Preece Says:

    Don’t think all my comment got through! So to continue - As I said on Facebook I have just started reading ‘ The Wine of Violence ‘ the 1st in the Medieval Mystery series so I have a long way to go!

  38. David Campbell Preece Says:

    But I am looking forward to the journey! :)

  39. Christine Cornhill Says:

    Looking forward to tying Priscilla’s books, if they as good as yours Sharon I’ll be well and truly hooked! :0)

  40. Simon Forder Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation Sharon, will definitely be adding Priscillas works to the wishlist :-)

  41. Jason Raia Says:

    Sharon, thanks for the recommendation. I am looking forward to reading Covenant with Hell and exploring Priscilla’s back catalog. I’m sure you get asked all the time, but will there ever be another Justin de Quincy mystery? My introduction to your writing was through Cruel as the Grave, and I have devoured everything since then. I would love for Justin to have at least one more adventure.

  42. Christina Villa Says:

    I am always looking for a new series. Lately I have been having a hard time finding a good one to start. I will definitely be putting these books on my list. It will be agreat start to a new year!

  43. Angela Says:

    great interview. I think I remember Priscilla attending the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo several years ago. It would be great to see her back.

  44. Lisa Adair Says:

    Great interview, Sharon! I really must give her books a read. And thanks for posting the books in order! I always like to start at the beginning.

  45. Yvonne Says:

    Wonderful interview, Sharon. I am already a Priscilla Royal fan but have only read one or two so the addition of the newest book would be wonderful (especially knowing that Paula also loved it!). So glad to hear Holly is on the mend!

  46. Priscilla Says:

    I am so happy Holly is better! As for my books, I would never suggest they could even touch the quality of Sharon’s who is one of the classic historical fiction writers. But I do love my chosen era and discovering things I think would delight or amuse others. Angela, I am delighted you remember my visit to Kalamazoo, a trip I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to those who have read my books and offered such kind comments!

  47. Bean Says:

    I love herring, red or otherwise! :P Looking forward to checking out Priscilla’s mysteries over the holidays! :)

  48. Mary G Says:

    I’ll have to give Priscilla’s books a try. Quite frankly, I’m too ignorant of most of history to be bothered by inaccuracies, but all too often the quality of the writing is terrible in historical novels. Nice to have recommendations from my favorite author!

  49. Valerie L. Says:

    For all those in the US who have an ereader, I just got a notice in my email that Poisoned Pen Press is offering Wine of Violence for just 99 cents. Check your ereader and see if it’s available to you for that price. Even though I read it in paper version, I couldn’t resist buying it for my Kindle too.

  50. Steve Powell Says:

    I’m a big fan of Medieval Mysteries, but haven’t tried Priscilla’s, yet. Looking forward to it! Have a Happy and Not-too-Hectic Holiday Season!

  51. Gabriele Says:

    Thank you, Malcolm and Kasia.

    Malcolm, I have another post about your namesake a bit further down the page where I have a look at his role in Northumbria.

  52. Sarah Says:

    Yay for new books! I’m reading dangerous women now, but I will check into these after that.

  53. Suzanne Says:

    I also haven’t read any of Priscilla’s books yet, so I’m game to enter!

    Gabriele, I’m about to go check out your blog, as I can trace my ancestry to David I, etc.

  54. Mary McKinley Says:

    I’ve just ordered the first one, Wine of Violence, because I also like to begin at the beginning. Looks like 2014 is going to be echoing with Medieval mysteries, always a good thing.

  55. Tricia Mescall Says:

    Seems like I’ll be starting a new series. Can’t wait to read it!

  56. Lianne Fitzpatrick Says:

    After seeing the recommendation I tried Wine of Violence and now can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Great to find a new author!

  57. Judith Says:

    I’ve never before read Priscilla Royal but her blog post has peaked my interest. I hate formula books and I dislike being able to figure out the murder in the first chapter. Ms Royal’s like they are anything but formula, and they are historal mysteries as well. What could be better? I will be adding some to my to-read list and looking forward to the knots in the plots.

  58. Amber Says:

    I cannot wait to read this!!!

  59. Jax Saunders Says:

    Any recommendation from Sharon is likely well worth the read. I’m game! On a serious level, my sister loves medieval mysteries so I’ll see if she has read them. If not, it sounds like the perfect gift for her.

  60. nicole diamond Says:

    Sharon’s books are so fantastic - I look forward to trying out one of her recommendations - always love to find new authors :)

  61. Marsha Says:

    Love Priscilla’s books. Great interview. Thank you for the chance to win your book, Priscilla. It sounds wonderful.

  62. Carolyn Mc. Says:

    Love hearing of authors in medieval fiction - they’re not so easy to find in Oz bookshops!

  63. Dayna Says:

    Accuracy makes a book worth reading, anachronisms or incorrect facts ruin the book. do I applaud writers who go to the effort of getting it right.

  64. Chuck Says:

    Definitely like good, accurate Medieval historical fiction, and will search for these books.

  65. Christine Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, will check it out.

  66. skpenman Says:

    On December 13, 1470, fourteen year old Anne Neville was wed to the seventeen year old Lancastrian prince, Edward, a marital alliance that was cynical even by medieval standards.
    The Northeast is getting another nasty storm this weekend, so all in its path stay warm and safe.
    I just discovered that Poisoned Pen Press is currently offering Priscilla Royal’s first mystery, Wine of Violence, for a bargain promotional price of 99 cents. Since we are currently offering a free signed copy of Priscilla’s newest, Covenant with Hell, in a drawing on my blog, I wanted to mention this, too.
    Lastly, Holly seems back to normal after the health scare of last week, so I feel as if I’ve received an early Christmas present.

  67. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Warm hug for Holly, Sharon! I’m happy for you :-) A wonderful Christmas present, indeed.

  68. skpenman Says:

    On December 14, 1553, my favorite French king, Henri of Navarre, was born. If only I’d had nine lives like a cat, I’d have loved to write about him…sigh.
    Good news from George RR Martin yesterday; the anthology Dangerous Women has debuted at #18 on the New York Times bestseller list. And the British edition of A King’s Ransom is finally up on Amazon.uk, ready for pre-ordering; the pub date is March 13th.
    I posted this link last year, but I have many new Facebook friends since then who may not have seen it. It is, quite simply, the best Flash-mob ever. Take a few minutes to watch as these young Moscow dancers assemble to put on a dazzling performance of Putting on the Ritz, one that even involves a new bride. The sheer delight on the faces of the audience is in itself delightful; I cannot imagine anyone watching this without smiling. Consider it an early Christmas present to my Facebook faithful.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNXd3wX_USc

  69. Harriette Harra Says:

    Sharon, I’ve learned more about history reading your books - its embarrassing. Your fictional developments as mysteries are alluring,too. I hesitate to start one of your books , because I know I’ll get pulled into that world and won’t come back for days! This new one sounds irresistible.

  70. skpenman Says:

    I feel as if a shining light has been extinguished. Peter O’Toole was a brilliant actor, a man of great personal charm, and he will be missed by so many. He was perfection in Lion in Winter, doing a better Henry than Henry himself could have done. His Lawrence of Arabia is a film for the ages. My Favorite Year is one of my own favorite films. R.I.P., Peter.

  71. Joan Says:

    Sharon, Kasia & family, & everyone, I would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas & holiday season. I’m sure Holly will find some special treats in her stocking this year. And it’s Baby Helenka’s 1st Christmas!

    I’m flying out to be with family for the holidays. It may be just the time to rewatch some of Peter O’Toole’s great films, in memory of him.

    Merry Christmas & all good things in the New Year!

  72. Theresa Says:

    On 15 December the Emperor Nero was born. Apparently they cast his horoscope at birth and his mother Agrippina was given good and bad news about her newborn son. The good news being that he would one day be emperor. The bad was that one day Nero would murder his mother.
    Agrippina’s only reaction was this
    “Let him kill me, but let him rule”.

  73. skpenman Says:

    Merry Christmas, Joan.
    I was about to do a belated post about Nero, Theresa; thanks for putting up this one. He really was a piece of work, wasn’t he?

    I am catching up from yesterday, although I’m sure Rania has filled in the gap admirably. December 15th was the birthday of two utterly disparate historical figures, truly the Odd Couple to be mentioned in the same sentence. In 37 AD, the future Roman emperor Nero was born and on December 15, (or possibly the 16th) 1485, Catherine of Aragon was born. If only someone could have gone back in time to warn her of the misery that lay ahead of her, maybe this very pious princess might have taken vows. But while Henry VIII’s marital follies have fascinated historians and novelists for centuries, his family life seems as wholesome as the Waltons when compared to what Nero got up to in his thirty-one years. Margaret George is working on a novel that will showcase Nero and one of history’s more intriguing figures, Boudica, and I am very eager to read it—no pressure, of course, Margaret!

  74. skpenman Says:

    I did this last year and the responses were so interesting that I thought it would be fun to do it again. What are your favorite Christmas songs? And are there any that you loathe? I love What Child is This because it is set to the music for Greensleeves, my all-time favorite song; I have stoutly refused to believe that it was written by Henry VIII and am happy to report that there is now evidence that it dates from the Elizabethan era. I also love Silent Night, The Little Drummer Boy, which was a favorite of my father’s, and I’ll be Home for Christmas, although I find it unbearably sad, for I always envision the singer as yearning for loved ones now dead or possibly a soldier in wartime far from family. Others I like are Christmas Eve—Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian orchestra, Silver Bells, and the cheery Dominick the Christmas Donkey. I never cared much for A Partridge in a Pear Tree, but because my mother enjoyed it, I now listen to it with a smile. As a rule I do not like gimmick-style Christmas songs like I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus (ugh) or Santa, Baby, or All I Want for Christmas Are my Two Front Teeth. But with fine inconsistency, I confess to being amused by Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. And who doesn’t like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, which teaches us a valuable life lesson. So….what do my Facebook friends like to listen to while trimming the tree or wrapping presents?
    PS For anyone interested in medieval Christmas music, you can find A Feast of Songs, Holiday Music from the Middle Ages, on Amazon.

  75. tina galli Says:

    Thank you Sharon! I will look forward to reading a new author!

  76. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, you have mentioned many songs that I like, and Allys already loved “Greensleeves” when I met her in 1964. In Shira Kammen’s “The Castle of the Holly King,” one of Wendy’s several splendid Yuletide recommendations, “The Counting Song” is a very spirited performance of an early version of “Partridge in a Pear Tree.” I especially remember listening to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” with Allys and our 3 boys between Brooksville and Crystal River, driving back to Tallahassee before Christmas. Allys’s grandmother (who lived to 102) was born in December 1900, and there was always a family gathering in Bradenton for her birthday. My favorite version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is the one by Bruce Springsteen, which I hardly ever hear anymore. Gabriele, I have now bookmarked your blog, as I did Kasia’s some time ago. Merry Christmas, and late Happy Hanukkah, to all the regular readers of Sharon’s blog.

  77. Teka Lynn Says:

    When I was growing up, our family Christmas music was always classical, usually Baroque. To this day, I have to listen to the Corelli Christmas Concerto on December 25, or it isn’t a real Christmas for me. I was part of a group of young string players, and that piece was one we all performed together for many years and knew by heart.

  78. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Merry Christmas, Sharon, Joan, Malcolm, Gabriele, Teka, and all Sharon’s readers! And belated Happy Hanukkah to our dear Koby (I hope you are safe and sound?).

    My favourite Polish carol is “Bóg się rodzi” (Eng. “God is born”), but I would like to write a few words about the oldest Polish Christmas carol, “Zdrow bądź, krolu anjelski”, which dates back to the early 15th century. The text was written down in a sermon by Jan Sczekna, the magister from Prague, later Cistercian monk and professor of theology at the University of Cracow (Uniwersytet Krakowski) who happened to be the personal confessor of Queen Jadwiga. The Polish version was probably the translation of the Czech “Zdráv bud’ králi andělský”.

    Sharon, could you free the link?

  79. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Here’s the oldest Polish Christmas carol, “Zdrow bądź, krolu anjelski”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LcMlVbfBSc

  80. Valerie L. Says:

    My favorite Polish carol is Dzisiaj w Betlejem. My father used to sing it to us every Christmas morning. And as we grew up and moved away from home, he would call us on Christmas morning and sing it to us. Now that he is gone I miss that morning phone call in his off key voice. I’d give anything to hear it from him again.

  81. skpenman Says:

    I certainly will, Kasia, and you won’t even have to pay any ransom to be set free. Very interesting comments, as always. Thanks to your posts, Kasia, I now know who Queen Jadwiga was!
    I know what you mean, Valerie. If only we could time-travel back to spend a few moments with lost loved ones.

    Today’s Facebook post

    Here is another remarkable story of the bond between man and dog, in this case a guide dog and his blind owner who fainted and fell onto the subway tracks in NYC. People were so moved by the story that they are trying to find a way to make sure the two get to stay together.
    http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/17/21944182-blind-man-struck-by-subway-says-dog-saved-my-life#comments

  82. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon!

    Dear Valerie, during the oncoming festive season I will be thinking about my grandpa, who passed away three years ago, shortly before Christmas . He played the violin and it was lovely to listen to him playing Christmas carols (Dzisiaj w Betlejem, among them).

    Your father must have been an extraordinary and sensitive man. What a lovely Christmas custom he introduced. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts (I have given up FB, hope my farewell message reached your inbox???)

  83. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    As for today’s anniversaries, on Sunday, 19 December 1154, Henry the Young King’s parents were crowned king and queen of England at Westminster. And their second son was there too (Eleanor was seven months pregnant at the time), which makes me ponder: “Was Henry [the Young King] actually crowned thrice not twice? :-)

  84. skpenman Says:

    A very good point, Kasia! He is surely the only English king to attend his parents’ coronation.

    A happy ending for the blind owner and his elderly guide dog, Orlando. Enough donations have come in to cover Orlando’s care once he is retired next year; his owner’s insurance will only cover the expenses for an active guide dog. Guide Dogs for the Blind is handling the donations pouring in and the family who originally raised Orlando said they’d be delighted to take him in if his owner could not cope with two large dogs. http://www.today.com/news/social-media-mobilizes-help-blind-man-keep-hero-dog-2D11767015

  85. Sharon kay Penman Says:

    Kasia, I hope you don’t mind, but I made you the centerpiece of today’s Facebook post!

    I didn’t get to post this yesterday, but December 19th, 1154 was a very important day for the Angevins and future historical novelists. On this date the Plantagenet dynasty began with the coronation of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. My friend Kasia made the interesting observation, that their son Hal, the future Young King, was present, too, since Eleanor was seven months pregnant at the time, giving birth to Hal on February 28, 1155. She wonders if that would qualify as a third coronation for him?

  86. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, thank you for improving my mood with the above post. The day has started not very promisingly for me, with Helenka ill again (when is this going to end???). And if my memory serves me 21 December was not a good day for Richard either :-(

  87. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I am so sorry that Helenka has been ill. I hope she is better by now?
    No, December 21st was not a good day for Richard, the day he was taken prisoner outside Vienna. I’d been going to write about it today since I was too busy to post on Saturday but then I remembered who died today and had to give her priority.

    Richard I’s queen, Berengaria, died on December 23rd, 1230, at about age 60. She was buried at L’Epau, the abbey she founded during her long widowhood. As I’ve said at other times, I do not think history has been fair to Berengaria, faulting her for not being another Eleanor of Aquitaine and not giving her enough credit for the quiet courage she displayed on crusade and during her long struggle with her brother-in-law, John, who treated her rather shabbily after Richard’s death. A good example of how dismissive historians can be is a comment by Elizabeth Hallam, who has written her current entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ms. Hallam reports that chroniclers described her as beautiful and prudent, but then adds that Richard of Devizes’s snide comment that she was more prudent than pretty is more convincing. Yet Richard of Devizes never laid eyes upon Berengaria, whereas Ambroise, who was far more complementary, did. So why does she give greater credence to Richard of Devizes? Because he was snarkier? I’ve said this before, too, that I see her as a young woman who was dealt a bad hand and played it as best she could. But she remains an elusive figure, an elegant ghost who did not share her secrets and left few footprints in the sands of history.

  88. Gabriele Says:

    Sharon, I wish you a merry Christmas.

    Kasia, I hope, Helenka is better, poor little thing.

    A propos future novelists: I leave the Plantagenets well in your capable hands and stick to my Romans. :) And a German dysfunctional family I keep finding out more about and which may end up as novel material some day - the descendants of Henry the Fowler, aka the Ottonians. Brothers and half-brothers fighting each other, two strong women who kicked behinds and took names when some duke tried to ursurp the throne of underage Otto III. You don’t mess with a Greek princess. :P There’s a connection with England, too, since Otto I (the Great) was in first marriage married to Eadgyth of Wessex, one of the merry bunch of half-sisters King AEthelstan distributed through half of Europe. Unfortunately, their son Liudolf got the short shrift when Otto married Adelheid of Burgundy and made the eldest son from that marriage, Otto II, his heir. So Liudolf rebelled and things got nasty.

  89. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Gabriele, I suspect you have run into Gerbert a/k/a Pope Sylvester II.

  90. skpenman Says:

    Sounds like you have material there for quite a dramatic book, Gabriele!

    I want to wish a wonderful Christmas to my Facebook friends who celebrate it. And for all of you, a special holiday gift. Click here to listen to a stunning rendition of Silent Night in Welsh and English. Hauntingly beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHOJSPq18TE

  91. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Joyeux Noël to you and your canine friend, Sharon. It was good to see you again in England in September - a class act, as always. I enjoyed reading “A Queen in Exile” a few nights ago. This short story is up to your usual high standards. Constance’s final proof of her motherhood is splendid.

  92. Gabriele Says:

    Sharon, I suspect the Ottonians will pull a Richard on me and turn into more than one book. *sigh* Arminius is busy developing into a duology as well, and this Roman battlefield they’re excavating in the Harz foothills yields more information than anyone had hoped for and of course, gave me a family of plotbunnies. :) I should stop sheltering those; they always sneak their friends in and give me trilogies. ;)

  93. skpenman Says:

    Thank you, Mac. It was lovely seeing you again, too.
    LOL, Gabriele. It is tricky, isn’t it, when our characters try to stage a coup or mutiny? They never seem to realize that we are supposed to be in control.

    I hope the lovely after-Christmas glow lasts for the rest of the year; people seem kinder and friendlier during this time, don’t they? My sympathies to all those unfortunate people still without heat or power due to the recent ice-storms.
    I have a post-Christmas gift for you all. I am a devoted fan of Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mysteries, set in Alaska. The first one I encountered was Breakup when I was attending a Bouchercon and I practically walked around all day with my nose in the book, unable to put it down. I immediately read all of the earlier ones and a new Kate Shugak mystery is a cause for great celebration in the Penman household. They are well written, suspenseful, have original, three-dimensional characters, deliciously dark humor, a wonderful wolf-hybrid named Mutt, a mesmerizing ambiance, bringing Alaska to vivid, vibrant life, and every now and then, Dana lets one of the bad guys get eaten by a grizzly bear—very satisfying! You probably can tell by now that I really like this series. Well, I just learned that the first book in the series, A Cold Day for Murder, is currently being offered for free on Amazon.com, Amazon.UK, Amazon.AU, and Kobo. Here is one of the links. http://www.amazon.com/Cold-Murder-Kate-Shugak-ebook/dp/B004S87M92/theofficialda-20 What better way to venture into Kate Shugak’s world and see if you want to hang around? The books just get keeping better, too, and there are 19 of them, plus two other series and several excellent stand-alone books. The first books in the other two series are temporarily being offered for free, too. And Dana is now trying her hand at historical fiction, with a novel coming out about Marco Polo’s granddaughter, Silk and Song. And the woman also has a website that is sure to inspire awe and envy in her fellow writers.
    http://www.stabenow.com/ Be warned, though; if you go to take a quick look, you’re likely to be there for days.
    Now…when did Amazon open an Australian branch? How come my Aussie friends didn’t tell me? How cool and long overdue.

  94. Gabriele Says:

    Sharon, indeed, and Arminius is the worst of the lot. No wonder he defeated the Romans; he certainly defeats me. :D

    Plotbunnies (aka ideas for new stories) are pretty bad, too, esp. if you already have more than one book to write. And they breed. ;)

  95. skpenman Says:

    I love that phrase, Gabriele–plotbunnies!

    You will still find histories, even biographies, of King John that declare he was born on December 24, 1167. They are wrong. John was born in 1166. Had he been born in 1167, he could not have been Henry’s, for he and Eleanor were apart when she’d have needed to conceive for a December 1167 birth. Interestingly, while some of John’s biographers get this wrong, none of Eleanor’s do, all correctly placing John’s birth in 1166. How did this confusion develop? A misreading of an entry in the chronicle of Robert de Torigny, abbot of Mont St Michel, erroneously placing it in 1167. So how about John’s Christmas Eve birth? Again, there is no evidence to support this traditional date. Since he was christened John, an entirely new name not found in the family trees of either of his parents, it seems reasonable to assume he was named after the saint whose day it was, St John the Evangelist, which means that he was born on December 27, 1166.
    John was Eleanor’s tenth child, her eighth with Henry; one chronicler mentioned a ninth child who was either stillborn or died young, but that has not been verified. Surviving at least ten trips to the birthing chamber is a remarkable accomplishment for any woman, especially one in the Middle Ages. Eleanor was forty-two at the time of John’s birth, and a strong case can be made that she’d just learned of Henry’s liaison with Fair Rosamund Clifford, one that was serious enough for him to have ensconced the girl at Woodstock palace. So how welcome was this fourth son, needed neither as an heir nor a spare, a son who might well have been a living reminder of an unhappy time in her life and her marriage?
    No historian can truthfully answer that, of course, although some have tried. Fortunately, historical novelists have greater latitude in such matters and I can say for a certainty that my fictional Eleanor did indeed have ambivalent feelings toward her last child. Is she, then, to blame for John’s problem personality? Well, both Henry and Eleanor made their share of parental mistakes; they failed to instill any sense of brotherly solidarity in their sons, and not only did they have favorites, they compounded that sin by making it abundantly clear. But I think Henry has to shoulder most of the blame for the man that John became, for he was the primary influence during John’s formative years, Eleanor being held prisoner from the time that John was six until he was nigh on twenty-three. The last of the Angevin eaglets was undoubtedly clever, capable, undeserving of the mocking sobriquet given by his enemies, “John Softsword.” But for whatever reasons, he seems to have been the most emotionally damaged of the Devil’s Brood, and his kingship would be a failure. He is, however, great fun to write about! .

  96. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Dear Sharon, belated Merry Christmas to you and all the readers of your blog. I couldn’t write earlier due to a very strong wind called “halny” that ravaged the south of Poland during Christmas. We had electricity problems and no access to the Internet. Can you imagine? No electricity at such a time. My husband couldn’t “chat” via Skype with his younger brothers who live in the UK and I couldn’t be here to wish you all the best, which I’m doing now :-)

    P.S. I’ve e-mailed you, but I’m not sure whether my letter will ever reach your e-mail box.

  97. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Happy Birthday to John!

  98. Gabriele Says:

    Kasia, that was probably the one that swept over the UK as well. It mostly missed Germany for a change, but since we already got three really nasty storms this winter, I’m glad to have escaped that one. :)

  99. skpenman Says:

    I have not gotten your e-mail yet, Kasia, but will keep an eye out for it. Thousands of people in our Midwest and New England states also had no power for Christmas. Never fun, but especially during a holiday. I am glad you were spared, Gabriele. My friends in Wales said Gwynedd was hammered.

    December 29th was the date of one of the most shocking events of the Middle Ages, the murder of Thomas Becket in his own cathedral. Henry’s angry, heedless words had set it in motion and he would pay a high price for his careless rage, Becket’s death casting a shadow across his reputation, stirring up all sorts of trouble with the Church, and probably causing Henry some personal grief himself, for it was said of him that once he loved, he never entirely turned his affections away from that person. I think he likely mourned the Becket he remembered, the friend who’d been as close as a brother. I was originally planning to post a scene from Becket’s death in Time and Chance, but instead I think I’ll go with Henry’s penance scene the following year at Canterbury Cathedral. Humbled and shaken by the rebellion of his own queen and sons, he made a spectacular act of contrition, submitting to a flogging by the monks and then holding an all-night vigil by the slain archbishop’s tomb. (Marsha, this one is for you!)
    Devil’s Brood, pages 246-247
    * * *
    He’d not been able to invoke the saint’s presence, but it was easier to imagine Thomas’s earthly spirit lurking in the shadows, watching his abasement with sardonic amusement. (omission) Had the man he’d known and trusted and loved ever truly existed? Or had he been a fiction from the very first? Henry desperately wanted to know the answer, an answer only Thomas Becket could give him.
    “It is just the two of us now, Thomas. No one else can hear our secrets, so why not talk to pass the time? We have hours to go till dawn, time enough for honesty if nothing else.”
    (omission)
    He waited, heaving a sigh that echoed in the stillness. “Come, Thomas, hold up your part of the conversation. You need not do anything dramatic, like loosing a thunderbolt or performing one of your miracles. But at the least, you could extinguish a few candles to show you are paying attention. Surely that is not too much to ask?
    (omission)
    Henry leaned forward, rested his head upon his drawn-up knees. He was either burning up with fever or losing his mind. “Sancte Thoma,” he mumbled, “requiescat in pace.” But there was as much pain as mockery in his voice, and when he looked up, he saw the crypt through a haze of hot tears. “Do you know why I did not grieve for you when you died, Thomas? Because I’d already done my grieving. I trusted you, I had faith in you, I loved you more than my own brother. And then you turned on me. But it need not have been that way. You could have served both me and the Almighty, and what a partnership we could have forged, what we could not have done together!”
    (omission)
    His tears were falling faster now, but there was no one to see them. “I am truly and grievously sorry that our paths led us to this place, this night. I do mourn you, Thomas. But do I think you are a saint? God’s truth, I do not know. You are the only one who can answer that question, my lord archbishop. We both know you could never resist a challenge. So take it up. Prove my doubts are unfounded. Prove me wrong.”
    Dropping to his knees, he winced at the pain that action caused his fevered, battered body. “St Thomas,” he said in a low, husky voice, “guard my realm.”
    * * *
    And Becket did, at least in the eyes of his medieval contemporaries, for at the same time that Henry was praying before his tomb, the Scots king was being captured at the siege of Alnwick, thus effectively ending the rebellion against him.
    In our time, December 29th is significant because tonight my green birds are going to win their division title and advance to the playoffs in their rookie coach’s first season. Fly, Eagles, fly.

  100. skpenman Says:

    December 30th was a dreadful day for the House of York, for on this date in 1460, the Duke of York rashly ventured out from Sandal Castle to confront a Lancastrian force that lured him into a trap. The result was a devastating defeat for the Yorkists. The duke died on the field, the Earl of Salisbury was executed after the battle, and the most controversial killing occurred on Wakefield Bridge when the duke’s seventeen year old son, Edmund, was slain by Lord Clifford. Their heads were placed on York’s Micklegate Bar, but the Lancastrians did not have long to savor their triumph. Edward of York soon won a great victory against them at Towton, said to be the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil, a victory that secured the crown for the young commander, who was still a month shy of his nineteenth birthday on that snowy March day. Think about that; what an amazing accomplishment for someone so young. Military historians are constantly praising battle commanders like the Lionheart, Edward I, and Henry V. But Edward of York was a brilliant general, too, and does not always get enough credit for that.

  101. Martin Says:

    Thank you for opening another door on the medieval universe.

  102. Pat McGuffin Says:

    I am late to this party, but so happy I popped in. Reading this makes me want to start reading Ms. Royal’s books from the very beginning because, like Ken, I am not familiar with Priscilla’s work but that will change very soon!

  103. skpenman Says:

    It is hard to find a mystery writer who gets the time and place right, and Priscilla does, Pat; her books never read like The Plantagenets in Pasadena!

    Martin, what a nice turn of phrase!

    Here is my Facebook note for today.

    I want to remind everyone that there is only a little time left to enter the drawing for a free, signed copy of Priscilla Royal’s latest mystery, Covenant with Hell. Anyone who posts a comment on my current blog, an interview with Priscilla, is eligible. Since I love history in general, medieval history in particular, and good writing in any guise, I really enjoy Priscilla’s series, one that is firmly rooted in thirteenth century England. I expect to have a new blog up by week’s end, so time is running out!
    I want to wish you all a safe New Year’s Eve and a good start to the new year. Some wonderful things happened for me in 2013, but I am still glad to see it go, for I lost two dear friends, Margaret Frazer and Lowell LaMont. I hope that 2014 will be a better year for us all.

  104. Sara Nell Bible Says:

    I so enjoyed this interview. Priscilla Royal’s books will go on my TBR list and I cannot wait to get started.

  105. nicola b Says:

    So glad to find a new author

  106. Gill Says:

    Always good to find another author. Nobody writes books fast enough for me :)

  107. Cristina Says:

    Sounds like an interesting story! Are all her books about Prioress Eleanor solving mysteries? Intriguing… And the name… Any relation to my favourite historical Eleanor? ;)
    Damn! More books to add to the reading list?! *sigh* It’s so wonderful to discover new authors with interesting tales to tell, but I do wish the days had more hours in them! (and my apartment room for more shelves) :p

  108. Jean Ann Fausser Says:

    Can’t wait to read her mysteries. They sound intriguing and I don’t know how I’ve missed her books until now.

  109. Peggy Coppersmith Tabar Says:

    Definitely on my wish list! Thanks for bringing this author to my attention!

  110. Karla Says:

    O dear, another one to add to the mountain of books I really, really want to read!

  111. Jacquie Scherr Says:

    This sounds wonderful. I have fallen in love with historical mysteries. Would love to have this in my collection

  112. Denise Mogge Says:

    I just read my first two novels by Priscilla Royal and really enjoyed them ~ I love that time period so it’s great fun to have a new author in which to indulge. I was curious, there was a passage in one of the novels regarding a crusader turned herbalist monk on his way to Shrewsbury (years and years ago) that left some poppy at the convent… was this a nod to Cadfael, perhaps?

  113. Peggy Seery Says:

    After reading your blog, I downloaded the first four books in Priscilla Royal’s mystery series and it’s a good think i’m retired. I can’t wait to pick up the next tale. Thank you for the referral–you know I trust your judgment.
    Peggy

  114. Katocat Says:

    Well, if I dont win the book, clearly I will have to buy it. Thanks for the referrals!

  115. Priscilla Royal Says:

    That was a nod to Cadfael, Denise. Good catch!

  116. Stephanie Fagan Says:

    Thanks very much, Sharon! This is a new author for me, but we can all trust your judgement if you recommend her work. Happy New Year!

  117. Jessica Says:

    Thanks for the interview! I’m always looking for new books and new authors to read!

  118. Cynthia Fuller Says:

    I have added Priscilla Royal’s books to my TBR list! I love recommendations from my favourite authors, and have found many new favourites this way.

  119. Margaret Skea Says:

    Thank you Sharon and Priscilla, sounds a fascinating series - female Cadfaelish?

  120. Lois Says:

    This sounds like something I would be very interested in.thanks Sharon

  121. Rebecca Herbertson Says:

    Hooray a new series of books to read in 2014. Thank you Sharon and Priscilla for recommending and writing such interesting novels. I will be ordering on Kindle post-haste. I wish all readers and authors a very prosperous, healthy and happy new year.

  122. Ann Russell Says:

    I really enjoyed the ‘Sanctity of Hate,’ since I am interested in medieval English Jews. As to ‘Covenant with Hell,’ some people would have thought the assassination of Edward I would have been a ‘good thing.’ (Thanks to ‘1066 and All That’) Gabrielle, are you writing about the Teutoburger Wald? I would love to read about that. I recently found a recording on YouTube of ‘Als die Roemer frech geworden,’ and have enjoyed listening to it. If it is in German, that is ok. I am fluent in German.

  123. Sue Coleman Says:

    I would love to win a copy of Covenant. It sounds like a really interesting read.

  124. Kerry Says:

    I just went and reserved nine of Ms. Royal’s books. I had never heard of this series. I can’t wait to start reading this series. What a great way to start 2o14!

  125. libby Says:

    I will look forward to adding Priscilla to my new Authors to be read pile, and with a recommendation from the wise sharon Kay Penman we can’t go wrong, I’d love to win a copy of the covenant :)
    I am now officially retired so will haveplenty of time to read Priscilla’s books

  126. Pauline Says:

    Fabulous. ‘Wine of Violence’ is now on my TBR list. I suspect I may meet another Justin De Quincy.

  127. Ken John Says:

    Just got back from Australia and found a copy of Priscilla’s ‘Wine of Violence’ and ‘Tyranny of Mind’ waiting for me.I had just mentioned here that I was unfamiliar with Priscilla’s work and whiz, bang, shazam, two of her books arrive in the post. Sharon has some very special fans and one of them ……

    I was just wondering if I were to just post here that I was unfamiliar with some other things, they might also arrive in the post…??

    Seasons greetings to Sharon and all her friends and fans from a cold and wet Cornwall.

  128. Janet Chamberlain Says:

    I cannot wait to read some of Priscilla’s work. I have yet to be dissappointed by any of the recommendations by Sharon and her followers.

  129. Barbara Lively Says:

    Thanks for the interview/conversation, Ladies!!!

  130. Debbie Says:

    I bought the first two books of her series for Christmas. I can’t wait to read them!

  131. Hermine Gervais Says:

    Thanks for a new author.My favorites are historical mystery.Love your books

  132. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Dear Sharon, let me wish you a wonderful and eventful 2014. Let it be a good year for you and all your readers (I’m sure it will be, with Ransom coming soon).

    P.S. Any news from Koby? Perhaps he has written to you? I hope he’s safe and sound.

  133. skpenman Says:

    No, I have not heard from Koby in a while, either, Kasia. I hope this means he is just busy. The army can be very demanding!

    I am sorry I did not get to post yesterday, but 2014 got off to a bumpy start with no phone, cable, or internet service. Naturally I snatched up my cell phone, only to discover that it was not working, too. My neighbors weren’t home, so it was out into the cold in search of a public phone, which is only slightly less elusive than the unicorn. Fortunately, the kind souls at my local WaWa store allowed me to use their phone to call my server. It was a local outage and eventually my contact with the real world was resumed, but for hours, I felt as if I were living like a medieval recluse.
    Many of you are, like me, in the path of that nasty snowstorm plowing east, along with a blast of bitterly cold air. So stay safe and warm, and may none of my fellow football fans lose power during the playoff games.
    Now, to get the new year off to a warm and cozy start, here is a story about random acts of kindness; we can never have too much of those, right? http://www.care2.com/causes/10-random-acts-of-kindness-that-will-make-you-smile.html
    PS Still time to post a comment on my current blog to be eligible for the free, signed copy of Priscilla Royal’s newest medieval mystery, Covenant with Hell.

  134. Brenda Says:

    Oh goodness this must be added to my to be read pile! A new medieval mystery series, recommended by my favorite fiction and mystery writer? Count me in!

  135. Lucy Gameson Says:

    Dear Sharon,

    I always look forward to your blog posts and the snippets you are so good to share with us all in your club on facebook - do keep up the fantastic work! Thank you for the interview and recommendation with Priscilla Royal, I’ll be sure to check her work out :)

  136. Colleen MacDonald Says:

    thanks for posting this, it’s always great to find a new (to me) author….already started reading a couple of these books and am enjoying them. Thanks for the recommendation!

  137. Malcolm Craig Says:

    10 degrees (F) and snowing in Boston right now. -2 in Portland, ME, up from -4 an hour ago. 30/47 in Tallahassee tomorrow - a heat wave in the Northeast.

  138. Jayna Monroe Says:

    Thanks so much for introducing me to Priscilla Royal. I now have all the books on my Nook and have read the first four so far.

  139. Koby Says:

    Indeed. I have returned. I was extraordinarily busy these past two weeks, the first being one we spent in the field, shooting and going through maneuvers, all in low temperatures, so much that several people almost succumbed to hypothermia during the nights. But it’s over, and I’ve completed it successfully. Then, this week, I was practicing commander and had absolutely no time whatsoever. But that too is done, and I’ve handled it well. I am doing excellently, I feel, and will be done, Lord Willing, in four weeks.
    Today, Catherine of Valois died. She was Henry V’s [VI] wife, the mother of Henry VI [VII], and through her marriage to Owen Tudor, the grandmother of Henry VII [VIII].

  140. Denise Mogge Says:

    Thanks for replying Priscilla! I thought so - it was cleverly done - and I love things like that. Thanks for writing - I don’t know what I’d do with myself if there was nothing around to read :)

  141. May Says:

    Koby, I’m glad you are safe! Happy New Year!

  142. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I don’t usually watch the news and I had no idea about the snowstorm. I hope you are safe and sound?

    It’s so good to have you back, dear Koby :-) I missed you! We all did.

    Malcolm and May, Happy New Year! I’ll contact you via e-mail.

  143. Theresa Says:

    4th January. On this day in 1642 King Charles I of England tried to arrest five members of the House of Commons. Unfortunately for him, they had been forewarned and had already left before he arrived.
    On the matter of Charles I. Was Parliament right to bring him to trial and execute him? I know his son Charles II certainly didn’t think so- judging from the harsh punishments meted out to the regicides on his restoration.

  144. Loretta Livingstone Says:

    I shall be hopping on over to take a look. A new (to me) historical fiction writer, especially one who os recommended by one of my favourite authors, is definitely worth investigating. Thank you.

  145. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I do hope you are safe! I heard the news on the radio. Sounds really serious. Here, in Poland, we have spring rather than winter, but it may change of course. Last year we suffered a snowstorm on Easter Sunday (which was late April, if my memory serves me).

    I just want to mention that on Epiphany Day 1169 Henry II and Louis held a conference at Montmirail, the occasion you have described in detail in Time and Chance (p. 355). All Henry’s sons were there, as well as Louis’s beloved Philppe. And Louis bestowed upon Hal the title of Seneschal of France, previously held by Theobald of Blois.

  146. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    January 6th is a busy day in history. Harold Godwinson was crowned on this date in 1066, but his reign was to be short-lived; in October, he was slain at the battle of Hastings. On this date in 1169, the French king and the papal legate coaxed Henry and Thomas Becket to meet. Here is a paragraph from that scene on p. 390-391 of Time and Chance.
    * * *
    The Bishop of Sens had just come into view, and as the crowd parted, Henry saw Thomas Becket. This was their first meeting in more than four years and his immediate, unbidden thought was that those years had not been kind to Thomas. Becket had always been of slender build; now he was gaunt. Fair-skinned by nature, his was now the sickly pallor of the ailing. Henry suddenly believed those stories he’d heard of Becket’s deprivations and denials, no longer dismissed them as self-promotion. The archbishop’s eyes were hollowed, his dark hair well salted with silver, and his black beard had gone white. Only his height was as Henry had remembered. His throat tightened unexpectedly; could this be the man who’d once playfully tussled with him over a crimson cloak?
    * * *
    But their reconciliation ended in acrimony when Becket again insisted upon doing homage to the English king “saving the honor of God.” Even the French king sided with Henry at Montmirail, asking him reproachfully if he wished to be more than a saint. No, but I do think he had yearnings, conscious or not, for martyrdom.
    On January 6, 1367, the future King Richard II was born. And in 1540, Henry VIII wed Anne of Cleves; their marriage would end in six months, probably to their mutual relief. We know that Henry was displeased with Anne and it is likely that she did not find him attractive, either, for the days when he’d been the handsomest prince in Europe were decades past; given Henry’s sordid matrimonial history, Anne must have been thankful that he was resorting to an annulment and not the axe.

  147. Teka Lynn Says:

    I love Time and Chance. I have to admit, whenever I read the line where Becket says “…saving the honour of God,” I imagine everyone else in the scene (except Henry, obviously) simultaneously striking their foreheads with a Homer Simpson “D’oh!”

  148. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Hahaha, Teka! Now you suggested it, I too can picture the scene :-) Hilarious!

    But Becket was the pain in the neck, wasn’t he?

  149. Joan Says:

    Happy New Year Sharon, Kasia, & everyone!! I hope you are all well & eager for the new year ahead. May 2014 be a year of blessings & fulfillment. We have Ransom to look forward to, not to mention witnessing the creation of a new Penman novel, which is such a privilege for all of us.

    I’m now thawing out from 3 weeks of frigid weather in Prairie Central. And can empathize with those south of us who’ve experienced the same. I was tempted to catapult myself out to Mars one day, where, we were told, the daytime temp was milder than Winnipeg! Can’t believe I survived temps of -51C with wind chill!! Spring Kasia? Lucky you!

    Koby, the enigma that is you (pronounced by Sharon several times) has added dimensions with your Officer’s training. I didn’t realize it would be so extensive. Congrats & good luck!

  150. Barrett Says:

    Dear Sharon,

    Happy New Year!!!

    Wonderful interview….and blog! I have spent some time with it today!

    I have sent a mail through the contact page. You know my Mom, A. I was a little girl when we met. I will bookmark this blog for Mom and tell her she can read about all your books. Many blessings to you!

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