INTERVIEW WITH PRISCILLA ROYAL

I am delighted to be able to interview my friend and fellow historical novelist, Priscilla Royal, whose newest mystery, Satan’s Lullaby, is now available for sale on-line and in brick and mortar bookstores, assuming you can find one; you can buy it in hardcover or paperback and it will be out as an e-book, too, very soon.    This is the eleventh novel in Priscilla’s series set in 13th century England, so for any of you who have not yet read one of her books, you have a book-lover’s blessing awaiting you; what is more fun than finding a new, wonderful author and then discovering that they have an extensive backlist waiting patiently for you?   I have been reading Priscilla’s books since the first one, Wine of Violence, but I remember how excited I was when I read the fifth book in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series, Death of Kings, and then realized I could read the first four books without having to endure those interminable delays between books.

One of the joys of a historical series is that we get to escape into a fictional world that is both familiar and foreign.  We have come to care about Prioress Eleanor, highborn and high principled, Brother Thomas, the kind-hearted, conflicted monk, Sister Anne the healer, the prickly crowner, Ralf, and his new wife, Gytha, the cocky Arthur, the feline king of the convent.    But there is much about the thirteenth century that is alien to us; we never forget for a moment that these are men and women of another age, and better than any other author I know, Priscilla is able to demonstrate how important religion was to medieval people, how closely their faith was integrated into their daily lives—even the sinners, and every mystery has sinners.

I am also pleased to announce that Priscilla has generously agreed to donate a signed copy of Satan’s Lullaby to one fortunate reader.  As with past book drawings, anyone who posts a comment on this blog is eligible to win.  Good luck!

But it is always better to let authors speak for themselves.   And so here is Priscilla Royal, a kindred spirit who shares our fascination with the past.

Tell us about your newest book.

Satan’s Lullaby was born of a discussion I had with another reader at an author’s tea at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale AZ. She asked if I had ever read the 13th century Archbishop Eudes Rigaud of Rouen. He recorded his tours of monastic houses in Normandy where he examined the state of their infrastructure as well as their obedience to vows and rules. I knew I had to put Prioress Eleanor through this wonderfully annoying investigative review. She has won great repute, not only as a solver of crimes, but also as a successful priory business manager. This was bound to make someone jealous enough to want to damage her reputation. In addition, she always traveled with Brother Thomas. The question might be asked: was she sleeping with him? Oh, joy, I thought, she will be so miserable and have to solve murders too! There was a difference between most Orders and the Order of Fontevraud, however. Fontevraud was under the authority of Rome so no local archbishop would do this investigation. The Abbess was allowed to arrange them herself, which meant, if the few surviving records are correct, not many were done. This fact made it even more troubling when Abbess Isabeau sends her own brother, soon to be a bishop, to do the review. I also threw in that Crowner Ralf and his wife, Gytha, are expecting the imminent birth of their first child; Gracia is settling into her role as maid to the prioress; and Eleanor’s nemesis, Sub-Prioress Ruth, is suffering from gout. If anyone wants to kill in this book, it should be the latter, but I promise she doesn’t.

You have written eleven books in your series. Some authors begin to get bored with their characters. I hope you aren’t.

None of my characters, major or minor, have begun to bore me. But authors are always concerned that the characters are starting to bore readers. Long series can remain fresh. I don’t think anyone ever found Brother Cadfael boring, and Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks is as exciting today as he was 23 books ago. But I have read series books where the main character has become a talking shell. Successfully or not, I try to make sure my characters change with their experiences and as they get older. That may bother some readers, for example, who liked Prioress Eleanor as a 20 year old, falling passionately in love with Brother Thomas, but don’t like how she is learning to deal with this love. Others enjoy the evolution. But no one stays exactly the same, and, if the person is a dear friend, we love them just as much (if not more) at 60 than we did at 20. So I have chosen to replicate real life in the series and hope there are others who find the evolution just as much fun as I do.

Have you considered where you might end the series?

I am trying to come up with a contract arrangement with some attorney, specializing in afterlife rights, so I can continue these books after my death. If I am successful, I would like to take Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas into, perhaps just through, the reign of Edward II. They would be in their late 70s at that time, but monastics often lived longer than seculars and in pretty good health. But I suspect both would want to retire from murder and mayhem after that! In the meantime, I have many more ideas on what to put my two beloved sleuths through.

You often include medical issues in your books. In Forsaken Soul you have an older woman with osteoporosis. In The Killing Season, it was leprosy. Sanctity of Hate has a description of a difficult childbirth. Now you talk about gout. Is there a reason?

I love medicine. At one point in my naïve youth, I considered becoming a doctor or a medical researcher, then realized in high school that I would never pass the classes required for any of that. So now I devour books by such authors as Professor Carole Rawcliffe. It is fun debunking some of the assumptions about medieval medicine, although I do show how people suffered without the treatments available today to those who can afford care. Medieval medicine was often barbaric and they knew nothing about sterilizing or bacteria, but careful observation produced some surprising results. The accurate diagnosis rate by physicians for leprosy surprised me. There was a remedy for gout, although it was dangerous to use. Battlefield physicians learned a lot about wound treatment, and Christian doctors gained much from the Muslims during the crusades. Were it not for curious medieval men and, yes, women who bucked entrenched ignorance and rampant prohibitions to seek facts, we would not be benefiting now from our greater knowledge of illness.

What are you working on next?

This new book, Land of Shadows, takes place in early 1279 and involves a generational change. Until now, Eleanor and her eldest brother, Hugh, have been defined as the children of Baron Adam, who was a close friend and advisor to Henry III. But Edward I has been king for seven years. It is time for Hugh to take on his own hereditary responsibility, a change that will also increase Eleanor’s influence as a baron’s sister, not his child. My other sub-plot is the coin-clipping pogrom against the Jewish community. For a king called “the lawyer king” or “the English Justinian”, this episode points out the flaws of such marketing. When it came to hanging members of the Jewish community, Edward showed little interest in fair trials or the likelihood of false accusations. Needless to say, other murders happen in this story and at the worst possible time for my prioress. She is beginning to hate me…

How can readers contact you?

Should anyone have questions about my books, they can reach me through my website at www.priscillaroyal.com. It has just been redone, and I am delighted with it. I am also one of several mystery writers blogging on The Lady Killers at www.theladykillers.typepad.com.

Thank you so much, Sharon, for so generously inviting me to post on your blog. Had it not been for your beautifully written and well-researched books, I would not have been inspired to try historical fiction.

Thank you, Priscilla, for agreeing to this interview and for giving so many of us so many hours of reading pleasure.   The Book Giveaway is now officially open.    And for those who want to read Satan’s Lullaby straightaway, here is a link to Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Satans-Lullaby-Medieval-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/1464203563/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423250285&sr=1-1&keywords=priscilla+royal+medieval+mysteries

February 6, 2015

92 Responses to “INTERVIEW WITH PRISCILLA ROYAL”

  1. Jan Weyhenmeyer Says:

    I love your books. I have read all of them and just received the newest yesterday in the mail.

  2. Vance Says:

    This sounds wonderful. Having just finished “King’s Ransom”, this sounds like a perfect follow-up.

    BTW, SKP, we were disappointed to learn that you decided to cut the Angevin series short of the Magna Carta. Not enough drama for you in the overturning of the English monarchy? :-)

  3. Bob Siefker Says:

    I am not familiar with Priscilla Royal’s work but based on your say-so, I think I’m going to become more familiar! I’ve read all of your books and need another outlet!
    Love the blog!

  4. Angela Bliss Says:

    Great interview–the book sounds like a great read awaits us.

  5. Denise Mogge Says:

    I cannot wait to read this! I have read several of your novels but not in order; it seems like a good time to begin at the beginning.

    I like the attention made to the character’s evolution - which like you said is important for many authors. There are a few, like Rex Stout, who were successful with their characters not evolving all that much, but the whole joy of Nero & Archie is their relationship and how one of them refuses to change - however, their world outside of the brownstone changes with the decades, but there was something comforting in knowing that Nero did the same thing day after day like clockwork.

    Sorry - I like tangents. But I do love characters that reveal a little bit about themselves in each novel (which Nero does to some extent) - and you are right - I was never tired of Cadfael - when writing is good; it’s good.

    Look forward to more reading about the 13th century.

  6. Libby (Elisabeth Millard) Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Covenant With Hell it was a fabulous book. Satan’s Lullaby sounds as though it will be another great book. thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book

  7. Stephanie Says:

    Just wanted to say congratulations to you again, Priscilla! I think it’s amazing that you’ve reached an almost perfect dozen in books! Well done! (I’m taking myself out of the drawing, but I still wanted to comment.) :-)

  8. Sara Nell Bible Says:

    I have never read Priscilla Royal’s books but am anxious to start as a result of your recommendation and also of her words via this blog.

  9. Margaret Skea Says:

    I’d not read Priscilla’s books either - my tar pile is going to become even more tottering…

  10. Margaret Skea Says:

    Oh and where is the book giveaway please? And is it open to UK readers?

  11. Emer McCarthy Says:

    Great title, would love to read it, such an interesting interview

  12. Jane Eppinga Says:

    Liked the intetview and alwaya interested in .new reafs

  13. Richard Willis Says:

    Definitely something I’ll have to check out!

  14. Cathie Lawler Says:

    Love the interview and the book sounds very intriguing.

  15. Emily Says:

    This sounds delightful. I can’t wait to read it!

  16. Beth Says:

    Oh goodness, I didn’t know Priscilla had a new entry into the series coming out. Yes, I would certainly love to read it.

  17. Stephanie Says:

    Margaret, you’ve entered already just by commenting here. And yes, I believe the contest is open to anyone, anywhere.

  18. JennyMcFie Says:

    sorry to say haven’t read any of your books but after reading your interview with Sharon I most certainly will be seeking them out I love it when an author
    Recommends another one Than you your books sounds very exciting!

  19. Pat Says:

    Would love to read this novel. Congratulations.

  20. Diana Says:

    Terrific interview. I particularly enjoyed your comments regarding “Afterlife Rights”. I’ve read all of your books and I always look for your books in libraries (even those on board ship!). Please take me out of the drawing for “Satan’s Lullaby” as it is already on my bookshelf!

  21. Priscilla Says:

    Yes, the drawing is open to the UK. Thanks for all the kind words about the interview. Sharon has introduced me to some great reads. I think that is wonderful, but my credit card sometimes barks at me for all the hard work I put it through as a result!

  22. Pat McGuffin Says:

    Very nice interview, and “Satan’s Lullaby” sounds like a great read!

  23. Veronica Meenan Says:

    Only discovered Pricilla Royal’s books about two years ago and read all 10 straight through. Loved them all and I’m looking forward very much to reading ‘Satan’s Lullaby’ as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!

  24. Carol S Says:

    Thanks so much Sharon and Priscilla. Hopefully this will be my lucky drawing :)

  25. Yvonne Connelly Says:

    Thank you, Sharon, for this great interview with one of my other favorite authors. Very much look forward to the new book!

  26. Lisa Adair Says:

    A very dear friend gave me Priscilla’s first book and I can’t wait to jump into her world! Terrific interview, Sharon!

  27. Ann Russell Says:

    Looking forward to this book. I have a special interest in medieval English Jewry and haven’t heard about the ‘coin clipping pogrom.’ Loved ‘Sanctity of Death.’

  28. savina pernisco Says:

    I am so looking forward to reading your books! I love medieval fiction.

  29. Marsha Says:

    Wonderful interview, ladies. Your new book sounds like a great read. Loved Wine of Violence and look forward to reading more of your books.

  30. Paula Says:

    Priscilla, I love the idea that you will continue to write the books for many years to come. Maybe we can meet Arthur the kitties grandchildren and great grandchildren?

    I heartily recommend this series. They will get you hooked and not let go!

    Vance, in answer to your post about where the Angevin series finishes, it overlaps time wise with the Welsh series. Although John and Richard (and especially Richard) were portrayed from research before Sharon became more obsessive about research, Here be Dragons does carry on their story.

  31. Priscilla Says:

    Arthur is very busy producing progeny, much to Prioress Eleanor and Sister Anne’s amusement, Paula!

  32. Paula Says:

    I am sure that every baby Arthur is a perfect mouser!

  33. Mary B Says:

    I have read all of your books and have recommended them to my friends. Love that you and Sharon are friends!!

  34. Bev Fontaine Says:

    Yay! Another new author to put on my ever lengthening list. Sharon, I adore (not hyperbole) your books and have a terrible time waiting for each new one to come out. Priscilla’s backlist should help to keep me busy while waiting. I may also do some re-reading. Here Be Dragons would be a good place to start. I love Llewelyn and his family.

  35. Linda Brower Says:

    I always read series in order and I’ve read the first three of this series, have 2 or 3 more (but not in order) so I keep a wish list of missing titles, would love to win this one. I love the characters. Thanks for giveaway.

  36. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    February 7th, 1102 was the birthdate of the Empress Maude, AKA Matilda, the almost-queen of England. She failed, of course, to claim her father’s crown, but her son Henry succeeded where she had not, becoming king at 21 and forging the dynasty so much more interesting than those upstart Tudors.:-)
    Also, on February 7th, this time in 1478, George, Duke of Clarence, was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death after a trial presided over by his brother, Edward. Legend has it he was drowned in a butt of malmsey, but that is rather unlikely. George is probably the worst brother ever inflicted upon a medieval king. Yes, worse than John. True, John did his best to see that Big Brother Richard rotted in a German or French dungeon, but he did have some redeeming qualities. He was intelligent, for one, and seems to have been genuinely interested in governing; he also shared the Angevin sardonic sense of humor. I honestly can’t think of any virtues that George possessed. He was shallow, selfish, showed no aptitude for anything other than causing trouble, and had no more understanding of loyalty than a hungry shark. I need to get inside the heads of my characters in order to bring them to life on the printed page and I can tell you all that being inside George’s head was not something I’d ever recommend.

  37. Weekly Roundup of History, Archaeology and Writing Wisdom January 29-Feb 6 | Judith Starkston Says:

    [...] What could be better? Sharon Kay Penman interviewing Priscilla Royal about Satan’s Lullaby. Sharon’s deep understanding of writing medieval fiction and what to ask, along with Priscilla’s intelligence and humor in the answers make this a gem. I can’t wait to read Satan’s Lullaby, and if you live in AZ, Priscilla will be speaking to the AZ Historical Novel Society on Feb 21, so come along and listen! Check my website for details. Click here for Sharon Kay Penman Blog Interview with Priscilla Royal  [...]

  38. Kristen Says:

    Thanks for another awesome blog post, Sharon, and hearty thanks to Priscilla for the interview. I love her series and can’t wait for the next installment!

  39. Anne Says:

    i love the poisoned pen. So fun to find another great author in my favorite genre while I wait for you and Diana gabaldon to come out with more books

  40. Yvonne Says:

    I didn’t know of Priscilla Royal until reading your post, Sharon. A very interesting interview. Thank you for introducing me to another historical fiction writer. With eleven medieval mysteries to read, I’m in for a treat - “a book-lover’s blessing” indeed!

  41. Malcolm Craig Says:

    For anyone interested, the English translation of The Register of Eudes of Rouen was published by the Columbia University Press in 1964. The register covered the period from 1248, the year Eudes became Archbishop of Rouen, to 1269. Eudes was with Louis IX when he died on crusade in North Africa in August 1270. The archbishop lived on until 1276. I am not certain when or where I acquired this book, but it was certainly during my graduate student days in the 1970s. The book, which runs over 800 pages with the Introduction, is almost certainly out of print; but one could likely find used copies on one of the used booksellers’ sites.

  42. Donna Byrnes Says:

    I love all of your books, Priscilla — so glad you still enjoy writing this series, as it’s one of my favorites. Can’t wait for Satan’s Lullaby to be released!

  43. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Many of you may have heard this story about a man who has walked 21 miles to and from work every day for the past ten years after his car died and he couldn’t afford to repair it. It understandably got a lot of attention and a college student set up an on-line fund to raise money to buy him a car. As often happens on the Internet, the response was very generous. At last report, it was up to over $300,000, plus a new Ford Taurus donated by a local car company. Here is the video of him getting his new car and also the original one. It is a nice way for us all to start the day.
    http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/02/07/dnt-21-miles-detroit-commuter-gets-new-car.wdiv
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/man-walks-21-miles-work-james-robertson_n_6594246.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

  44. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    This was already posted on my Facebook fan club page, but I wanted to be sure you all saw it. Taylor Swift and Henry VIII–talk about the Odd Couple. http://www.buzzfeed.com/…/if-taylor-swift-lyrics-were-about…

  45. Kasia Says:

    Curiously enough, Polish TV also shared the story you shared, Sharon, I mean the one about the man who walked 21 miles to and from work :-) I wonder whether he himslef realizes how famous he is all around the world :-)

  46. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Nothing of personal historical interest to report today, so I am falling back upon Game of Thrones, which may be fantasy, but it also has a certain gritty medieval reality, and was purportedly inspired by the Wars of the Roses. Any one interested in reading GRRM’s initial proposal for his epic project? I don’t think there are any real spoilers for this was written years ago—at the time, he planned a trilogy! And the plot and the characters have changed as the writing progressed, as often happens. So I would seriously doubt that the eventual ending of the Ice and Fire series will resemble this in any fashion. But for those who don’t want to take even a small risk, pass it by. For the rest of us Gamers, enjoy this brief glimpse inside the head of a very gifted writer. I personally think some of his characters wanted a say in their own fates and did not always agree with the course GRRM had charted for them. I’ve had a few of mine who ended up getting a lot more time on center stage than expected; you never know who is going to be a born scene-stealer until it happens. So I would guess that Jamie probably did some whispering to GRRM’s subconscious, resulting in a more complex character than GRRM first planned, and we know how charming Tyrion can be when he puts his mind to it. Anyway, here is the link. http://www.vulture.com/2015/02/game-of-thrones-george-rr-martin-original-plan.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

  47. Suzanne Says:

    The series sounds intriguing — I will have to check them out!

  48. skpenman Says:

    I am happy to report that Ballantine Books is publishing the paperback edition of A King’s Ransom today, February 10th. Here is the link, she hints, for any who would like to buy it. http://www.amazon.com/Kings-Ransom-Sharon-Kay-Penman/dp/0345528336/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423531810&sr=1-2&keywords=a+king%27s+ransom+by+sharon+kay+penman The British paperback edition of Ransom won’t come out until later this spring; stay tuned.

  49. skpenman Says:

    More Ransom news. There was one typographical error that made it into Ransom; well, actually there were two, for Raimond’s sister Azalais is referred to once as Adelais. But the more significant one occurs in the Author’s Note, where I gave the link to the YouTube rendition of Richard’s prison lament by the wonderful singer, Owain Phyfe. It is a haunting song, offering us an interesting glimpse of Richard’s hidden side; the soldier tends to overshadow all other aspects of his personality. Unfortunately, the URL ended up with a misplaced period. This is how it should have read: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVRjmTdM4c8&feature=related
    I’d also included a link to a reconstruction of Richard’s beloved “daughter,” Chateau Gaillard. But that link is no longer operative. For any who’d like to see Richard’s castle as he would have seen it, click here. It is truly spectacular. http://vimeo.com/37701608

  50. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I know there are a lot of fans of the brilliant series, I, Claudius, so it is worth mentioning on February 11th, 55 AD, Claudius was murdered, most likely by his wife so her son, Nero, could become emperor; who are we to doubt Robert Graves?
    February 11th is a significant date, too, for the House of York, being the birthday in 1466 of Elizabeth of York, Edward IV’s daughter and Tudor’s queen, and also the date of her death in 1503 at the age of only thirty-seven.
    And on February 17th, last season’s Game of Thrones is available to tide its long-suffering fans over until the new season finally starts.

  51. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Correction–poor old Claudius didn’t die on February 11th after all. I usually double-check dates but this one I took on faith. Fortunately, Rania called it to my attention. I am lucky to have backup!

  52. Theresa Says:

    A Roman historical figure did die on February 11 55 AD. But it was Claudius’s son Britannicus. He was poisoned by his step-brother Nero. There was a line from a historical novel that stated that Death’s favourite food was princely heirs. Roman history certainly provided a great deal of these.

  53. skpenman Says:

    I’d like to mention a new book that I thought might be of interest to many of my readers. Patricia Bracewell’s second book in her trilogy about Emma of Normandy, The Price of Blood, has just been published. Here are links to Patricia’s website and Amazon to find out more.
    http://www.patriciabracewell.com/

    http://www.amazon.com/Price-Blood-Emma-Normandy-Book-ebook/dp/B00LFZ8GVY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423715129&sr=1-1&keywords=patricia+bracewell

    Emma has been lucky enough to attract several talented authors. Pat is telling her story now and a few years ago, so did Helen Hollick in Forever Queen. I believe it was published under another title in the UK?

    And while this is not medieval, I thought it fitting to take a moment to remember one of history’s more tragic pawns, Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, who went to her death at age 17 on February 12, 1554. Jane’s story has attracted her share of writers, too, one of the most recent being Susan Higginbotham’s Her Highness the Traitor.

  54. Joan Says:

    Wonderful interview, Sharon & Priscilla, & another great book to read, though it’s time I began at the beginning with this series. I enjoy that other side of clerical holiness as it left an impression on me as a young person volunteering at the rectory & convent, residing in a grand convent during nurse’s training, etc, in the days when things in a smallish community were not all that transparent & the blinding veneer of godliness kept people naive. It was good to peek inside those walls & see real people, nuns with formidable business acumen & others not so virtuous. (Also got to know who didn’t willingly don the cloth.) Looking forward to the series!

    My heart will be with Lady Jane Grey today….read the wonderful novel several months ago.

  55. Kasia Says:

    Happy Wedding Anniversary to Joanna (b.1165) and William II Sicily (b. 1155) who were married with the pomp and ceremony of a royal wedding on 13 February 1177 at Palermo :-)

  56. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I hope all of you in the path of this latest winter storm and horrific temperatures will stay safe and warm. We are not getting the snow where I live—sadly, that is heading yet again for Boston—but we will be getting the frigid cold, cold even by Midwest standards. Stay strong, Boston; you, too, Mainers.
    Two historical events to mention today. On February 13, 1177, Joanna, the daughter of Henry and Eleanor, sister to the Lionheart, was wed to William, King of Sicily, and then crowned in a splendid ceremony. She was eleven. She and William would have one child, a son, who died soon after birth, in 1181. There is a particularly annoying article in Wikipedia about her which accuses the source for the boy’s birth, Robert de Torigny, the abbot of Mont St Michel, of “invention or misconception,” and goes on to claim she’d not have been old enough in 1181 to bear a child. Even by Wikipedia standards, that is pitiful. Robert de Torigny was one of the most respected historians of the MA, not a man given to fabrication. Moreover, he had close ties to the Angevin royal family, which would explain his knowledge of this birth. He was not only a friend of Henry’s, Henry and Eleanor thought so highly of him that he was the godfather for Joanna’s older sister, Eleanor, the future Queen of Castile. And in 1181, Joanna would have been 16, for her birthdate was October, 1165.
    The second historical event is not medieval, just sad. On this date in 1542, Catherine Howard was beheaded at the Tower of London, the second of Henry Tudor’s wives to meet this fate. Contrary to legend, she did not say she died the Queen of England but would rather have died the wife of Thomas Culpepper. No one going to the block in Tudor England made defiant speeches, not if they had family or friends they wanted to shield from Henry’s wrath.

  57. Priscilla Says:

    Just to let e-reader fans know, the Kindle version of Satan’s Lullaby is now available on Amazon. Apologies for barging in but some had asked!

  58. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    This coming blizzard sounds truly scary. So for all of you in its path, please be careful, especially those of you trapped in poor, battered Boston. Stay home if you can.
    Here are a few tidbits of news about Game of Thrones to remind us that April—and spring—will eventually get here, even if it seems very far away on this frigid February morning.
    http://time.com/3689802/thrones-season-5-trailer-leaks/?xid=newsletter-brief The article is followed by a slideshow that claims to reveal the real-life people who inspired the Thrones characters. I don’t think this comes from GRRM, but it is still interesting. Some are obvious—Cersei and Marguerite d’Anjou. Others not so much. See for yourself. Above all, stay warm, everyone—unless you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast or Down Under.

  59. Theresa Says:

    I hope the blizzards do not bring harm to anyone. There was a doco/drama on the other night about the royal impostor Perkin Warbeck who apparently cost Tudor around thirteen thousand pounds to capture. It stayed fairly close to history until the final revelation by Margaret Beaufort. Why they felt the need to put this epilogue in was beyond me. However, after watching this, the Game of Thrones character closest to Margaret Beaufort is Maester Qyburn.

  60. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I hope all of you not lucky enough to be living someplace warm have emerged safely from this last battering by a very unfriendly Mother Nature. The wind-chill made it feel like minus 15 F here this morning, not normal temperatures in our corner of the Northeast; it does explain, though, why I found polar bear paw prints around the bird feeder. The fun continues this week, so hang on tight, guys. A NH police department has issued an arrest warrant for that wretched little rodent who cursed us to six more weeks of this hellish winter, but a ski resort has offered him refuge. I personally would be happy to join a mob to hunt him down, torches and pitchforks in hand. This truly is the winter of our discontent, which segues nicely into my next topic.
    Here is a link to a free on-line course about Richard III which was shared with me by the Richard III Foundation; one of its benefits is that students will be able to watch the reburial ceremony of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/england-of-richard-third
    And here is a link to a story about Richard’s last moments on the battlefield; be warned, though, that it makes grim reading, and the lead-in to the story shows an annoying ignorance, referring to Richard as “the crooked king.” In the hands of some journalists, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/13/richard-iii-death-blow-video_n_6677568.html?utm_hp_ref=science
    Lastly, here a follow-up on the petition to remove Richard’s remains from a laboratory to a church or chapel prior to his reburial, in case there are some of you who’d still like to sign. https://www.change.org/p/leicester-cathedral-richard-iii-should-be-coffined-in-a-holy-place-not-as-scientific-specimen?tk=fhh6gsyuArciu9Hp1g3rw3VsXezNgtqs81jLoY-ItVU&utm_source=petition_update&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=&utm_term=

  61. skpenman Says:

    The tourist board in Ithaca, NY has run up the white flag and their website simply tells people they ought to vacation in the Florida Keys, where it is not snowing. I like their style.
    Meanwhile, this is the anniversary of the second Battle of St Albans, fought on February 17, 1461. It was a victory for the Lancastrians, a defeat for the Earl of Warwick, and the captive king, the hapless Henry VI, was recovered. Two Yorkist lords had remained with him to see to his safety and he’d promised them that they’d not be harmed. His queen, Marguerite d’Anjou, had other ideas, and had them both executed, letting her seven year old son pass the death sentence. Here is a link to a discussion of the battle. It is an interesting website, devoted to military history. http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_stalbans1461.html

  62. joan Says:

    Docu on Northumbria presented by Sir Toni Robinson

    http://tvo.org/video/210804/northumbria

  63. joan Says:

    Sharon, I’ve posted a link that needs releasing, on a great docu from the series Walking Through History, presented by Sir Toni Robinson. I’ve followed him through the Time Team series & now this series is being aired on our TVOntario channel. In this beautifully filmed docu, Northumbria, with magnificent landscape vistas, he tells the story of St Cuthbert, following him to Lindisfarne. The entire series has been outstanding, & I found this one, aired last night, extremely interesting.

    Thanks! I’ll even pay the ransom if it grabs the attention of a few!

    Will now check out the website you included above. I didn’t get to St Albans (which was on my list), not far from Bovingdon where we visited our cousin, but hopefully next trip.

  64. skpenman Says:

    Today, many of us continue to freeze. Yesterday, there were two bleak events on the medieval calendar. On February 18, 1478, the worst medieval royal brother ever, George of Clarence, was privately put to death in the Tower after being convicted of treason in a trial presided over by his brother, Edward. Somewhere John’s ghost must have been thinking, “Wow, was I lucky!” John’s sins were worse than George’s, but George was probably put to death not for what he did, but for what he knew—a lethal secret that threatened the legitimacy of Edward’s children. I say “probably” not because I have doubts myself, but because not everyone agrees with me and I am trying to be fair. Of course if only these skeptics read Sunne, then they’d see how irrefutable my arguments are.  Also on February 18, 1516, Mary Tudor was born. It was a day of rejoicing for her parents, but in hindsight, it is hard to celebrate a life that was destined to be so unhappy. Of all the many sins to be lain at Henry Tudor’s door, surely the way he treated his daughter has to be one of the worst. Yes, she grew into a bitter, insecure, stubborn woman, but that was because Henry was such a miserable, mean-spirited, and abusive father.
    Back to our Winter that Will Never End, here is a striking time-lapse video of Boston being buried in yet another snowstorm. And credit to Boston’s mayor for putting their misery into terms we can understand; he said that enough snow had fallen to fill Gillette Stadium 90 times! http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nbc-news/time-lapse-captures-snow-covering-boston-399523907515
    PS Going to free your post, Joan. I don’t charge ransoms to my friends!

  65. joan Says:

    Thanks Sharon.

    Nothing says cold like frozen Niagara Falls!

  66. Theresa Says:

    Henry VIII sent a messenger to inform his six year old daughter Elizabeth (who was looking forward to meeting her new stepmother Anne of Cleves) that her own mother “had been of such vile character that Elizabeth should not dare to bring herself to court to meet his new wife”.
    While there is some doubt that Henry ever said this, the comment to a young child was very vindictive.

  67. skpenman Says:

    He was definitely not Father of the Year, Therese.

    Well, the wind-chill makes it feel like minus 11 here this morning. This winter has been quite mad. But it does have an austere beauty as long as we don’t have to be out in it. Here is a spectacular photo of a frozen Niagara Falls. http://time.com/3713115/niagara-falls-frozen/
    Meanwhile, here is more Game of Thrones news for my fellow fans. No word yet about the next book, although GRRM did warn we should not expect it this year….sigh. A collection of his short stories will be making it to the silver screen, though. Details here. http://time.com/3694875/milla-jovovich-george-rr-martin-short-stories-lost-lands/?xid=newsletter-brief
    And here is a link to some Game of Thrones fans building The Wall in Boston. They have so much snow there that with enough help, they could probably build it to scale. http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nbc-news/bostonians-build-snowy-wall-of-thrones-401620035517
    Stay warm and safe, folks. Our friends Down Under could use some cheer, too, as Australia is being hit by two powerful cyclones at the same time.

  68. skpenman Says:

    I think we can safely say that February 21, 1173 was not one of Henry II’s favorite days, for it was upon this date that Thomas Becket was proclaimed a saint by the Church. They’d obviously put him on the fast-track for canonization since it was barely two years since he’d been martyred in Canterbury Cathedral. It is unlikely that Henry then viewed his erstwhile friend and adversary as saintly; he knew Becket too well for that. But it is quite possible that he changed his mind after he’d been driven to his dramatic, desperate penance before Becket’s tomb, since the Scots king was captured at Alnwick at the very time that Henry was on his knees, entreating Becket’s aid to save his kingdom. It certainly convinced their contemporaries and the rebellion fell apart, leaving Eleanor to pay for the sins of their sons.

  69. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    For those of you fortunate enough to live in Arizona and to be within driving distance of my favorite bookstore, the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, you can get a signed copy of Priscilla Royal’s new mystery, Satan’s Lullaby, this afternoon. Here are the details. http://www.poisonedpenevents.com/?ai1ec_event=priscilla-royal-signs-satans-lullaby-2&instance_id=700 Of course you can also get a signed copy of her mystery if you win the book giveaway currently being conducted on my blog. It should run through the end of the week, so there is still time to enter. Merely post a comment under the interview and you’re in, as simple as that! http://sharonkaypenman.com/blog/?p=496
    Meanwhile, try to stay warm. I keep telling myself that spring is bound to put in an appearance eventually, but then I remember reading that there was once “a year without a summer” and I start to shiver again.

  70. Rhonda Lee Says:

    Love these books! Just discovered them recently and have read almost all of them.

  71. Cindy Hockaday Says:

    Priscilla, I can’t wait to read your book and series. If SKP likes it, I know it is good. Going to Amazon now to get started on the series.

  72. Sharon K Penman Says:

    The world remains ice-encased for many of us and so I thought you all might like a few videos sure to make you smile. Since I don’t have the power to speed spring up, this is the best I can do.
    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/cutest-nap-times-starring-babies-their-pets-video.html

    http://biggeekdad.com/2015/01/adorable-animal-thieves/#.VNIpIQ2Z1f0.mailto

  73. Priscilla Says:

    Thanks to all who have commented on the interview and my books! It meant much. Just FYI, there will be a UK Kindle version of Satan’s Lullaby but not sure when. It is in the works. Hope the bitter cold snaps for those of you suffering from it. And may rain come to sunny California!

  74. skpenman Says:

    Thanks to Jo, here is a follow-up to that story of the man caring so tenderly for his aged dog. Many of you have seen that photo of him for it went viral—his dog had loved the water but was too crippled by arthritis to swim, so his owner would stand in Lake Superior for hours, cradling his dog in his arms. The dog died over a year ago and I am happy to report that he has now adopted another dog, who hit the dog lottery for sure. http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2015/02/25/lake-superior-dog-owner-finds-new-love/23983157/

  75. skpenman Says:

    Sad news for all of us who grew up with Star Trek.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/leonard-nimoy-a-pop-culture-force-as-spock-of-star-trek/2015/02/27/20867702-bea4-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html?wpisrc=al_alert

  76. skpenman Says:

    This is a day late, but on February 26, 1461, Edward of York and the Earl of Warwick were given a tumultuous welcome into the city of London, the citizens having refused entry to Marguerite d’Anjou. This was one of my favorite scenes in Sunne, so here are a few passages:
    Sunne in Splendour, pages 83 & 84
    * * * * *
    It seemed as if every church bell in London was pealing. Seeing the smoke spiraling into the sky from a dozen different directions, knowing that meant the jubilant Londoners were burning bonfires in the streets as if this were the June Feast Day of St John the Baptist, Cecily breathed a brief prayer that God might mercifully spare the city from fire this noon, for there was no way the fire bells could ever be heard or heeded.
    The volume of noise was increasing; she’d not have thought it possible. The shouts were audible now, shouts of “York!” and “Warwick!” But, overriding all, one name again and again, a hoarse chant that sent shivers of emotion up Cecily’s spine…Edward! Edward! Until the entire city echoed with the sound, with the name of her son.
    (omission)
    As another outburst of cheering rocked the churchyard, eclipsing all that had gone before, she knew even as she straightened up that her son had ridden through the gateway.
    He was astride a magnificent white stallion with a silvery tail that trailed almost to the ground and he seemed to be enveloped in light, with the sun directly over his head, gilding his armour and tawny hair.
    “Oh, Ma Mere!” Margaret gasped, in a voice that was strangely uncertain, unexpectedly awed. “He does look like a king!”
    “Yes, he does,” Cecily said softly, forgetting that she had to shout to make herself heard. “He does, indeed.”
    (omission)
    Cecily clutched at her composure, smiled at her son. “Never have I seen such a welcome, Edward…never in my lifetime!”
    “Welcome, Ma Mere?” he echoed and kissed her lightly on both cheeks so that his voice reached her ear alone. “I rather thought it to be a coronation.”
    For a moment, their eyes held, smoke-grey met the most vivid of blues. And then Cecily nodded slowly and Edward turned back to face the crowds thronging the churchyard, raising his hand in careless salute of the continuing cheers. She watched, the faintest of smiles curving the corners of her mouth.
    * * * * *

  77. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I would not be surprised if Kasia has already posted about this, since she is the Young King’s most ardent and eloquent fan—and Poland has at least a six hour time advantage over the US East Coast. I am sure she’ll blog about him today and do him justice, as she always does. On February 28, 1155, Henry and Eleanor’s oldest surviving son was born, christened Henry after his father and known to history as the Young King since he was crowned during Henry’s lifetime, a move that caused Henry no end of trouble. I enjoyed writing about Hal, as I called him in my novels, but in all honesty, he would have been a disaster as a king. When a contemporary says he was “malleable as wax,” that is a clue right there. In many ways, he was rather like Stephen—both of them handsome and charming and courageous and in over their heads. His brothers, flawed as they all were, were better equipped to rule. Hal did get an honor that eluded the rest of his turbulent family, though; there was actually a small boomlet to proclaim him a saint, quite remarkable in that in his last weeks, he’d been little better than a bandit, raiding churches to fund his foolhardy rebellion. But Henry was devastated by his death and William Marshal clearly loved him, so we should keep that in mind when tallying up his mortal failings. He made a “good death,” which was very important to medievals, begging God and his father for forgiveness and pleading with Henry to forgive and release his mother. But on this date in 1155, there was only joy in the birth of this beautiful baby boy, heir to the Angevin empire, with no one imaging it would end as it did.

    The Devil’s Brood, page 528, Hal’s death scene.
    * * *
    Hal’s lashes swept down, shadowing his cheek like fans as tears seeped from the corners of his eyes. “Thank you,” he whispered, although the bishop was not sure if it was meant for him, for Henry, or the Almighty.
    “I bring more than words,” the bishop said and, taking a small leather pouch from around his neck, he shook out a sapphire ring set in beaten gold. He started to tell Hal that this was Henry’s ring, but saw there was no need, for Hal could not have shown more reverence if he’d produced a holy relic.
    “He does forgive me, then!” he cried and gave the bishop such a dazzling smile that for a moment the ravages of his illness were forgotten and they could almost believe this was the young king of cherished memory, the golden boy more beautiful than a fallen angel, able to ensnare hearts with such dangerous ease. Then the illusion passed and they were looking at a man gaunt, hollow-eyed, suffering, and all too mortal.
    * * *

  78. skpenman Says:

    For all who are lucky enough to have Welsh blood or who love Wales, today is St David’s day, the patron saint of that beautiful country. And ironically, it was also the day in 1244 when Gruffydd, the eldest son of Llywelyn Fawr, died trying to escape from English captivity in the Tower of London. He’d knotted sheets together and tried to climb down, a dizzying distance of ninety feet. Like most of Gruffydd’s plans, it did not go well.
    Falls the Shadow, page 206
    * * *
    When it happened, it was without warning. The ripping noise the rope made as it gave way was muffled by the wind. There was a sudden slackness, and then Gruffydd was falling, plunging backward into blackness. There was a moment or two of awareness, but mercifully no more than that. The last sound he heard was a man’s scream, but he never knew if the scream came from him or from Owain.
    * * *

  79. Joan Says:

    I thought of Gruffydd as I stood in front of the White Tower, imagining that awful fall to his death. It brought back vividly your great stories of the Welsh princes.

  80. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    March 3, 1284 is not a happy date to remember for those of us who would have loved to see Llywelyn ap Gruffydd prevail over Edward Longshanks, as on this day the Statute of Rhuddlan was enacted, which—among other things—compelled the Welsh to accept English common law. But for a bittersweet What If, here is a link to an alternate history of Wales.
    http://thisdayinalternatehistory.blogspot.com/2011/03/march-3-1284-statute-of-rhuddlan.html

  81. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Several important historical events occurred on March 4th. In 1152, Frederick Barbarossa was elected Holy Roman Emperor and cast a formidable shadow across Europe until his unexpected death as he led a German army toward the Holy Land in 1191. On March 4th in 1193, Saladin died of a lingering fever in Damascus at the age of fifty-five, and on March 4, 1215, John took the cross to placate the Pope and win papal support in his struggle with his barons; I don’t doubt that he did it with his fingers crossed, for John was as keen to go on crusade as his father, Henry, had been.
    Meanwhile, we are awaiting yet another winter storm. This one was not named even though it brought us sleet and freezing rain today, rain tomorrow, and “significant snow” on Thursday. The storm named Thor dumped a ton of hail on Huntington Beach, CA and is now barreling east, leaving misery in its wake. The odds are that there will be at least one more and it occurred to me that a great name for it would be Uhtred, after our favorite Bernard Cornwell character. Maybe we should lobby the Weather Channel?

  82. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    PS Typo above. Frederick’s death date should read 1190.

  83. skpenman Says:

    Reporting in the midst of yet another snowstorm. Today is the birthday of my favorite king, Henry II, who was born in Le Mans on March 5, 1133.
    When Christ and His Saints Slept, page 51
    * * *
    When Minna briefly opened the shutters, Maude caught a glimpse of the darkening sky. Night was coming on. The women did what they could to ease her suffering, gave her feverfew in wine, fed her more honey to keep her strength up, brought a chamber pot when she had need of it, blotted away her sweat, cleaned up her bloody discharge, prepared a yarrow poultice in case she began to bleed heavily, and prayed to St Margaret and the Blessed Virgin for mother and child.
    In the distance, a church bell was pealing. Was it a “passing be” tolling the death of a parishioner? A bell to welcome into the world a new Christian soul? Or was it the sound of Compline being rung? Maude had lost all track of time. And then the midwife gave a triumphant cry. “I see the head!”
    Hastily pouring thyme oil into the palms of her hands, she knelt in the floor rushes at Maude’s feet, gently massaging the baby’s crown. Maude braced herself upon the birthing stool, groaning. The contractions no longer came in waves; she was caught up in a flood tide, unable to catch her breath or reach the shore. A voice was warning her not to bear down anymore. Hands were gripping hers, and she clung tightly, scoring Minna’s flesh with her nails. Her eyes were squeezed shut. When she opened them again, she saw her child, wet head and shoulders already free, squirming between her thighs into the midwife’s waiting hands.
    “Almost there, my lady, almost….” Maude shuddered and jerked, then sagged back on the birthing stool. “Glory to God!” The jubilant midwife held up the baby, red and wrinkled and still bound to Maude’s body by a pulsing, blood-filled cord. “A son,” she laughed, “my lady, you have a son!”
    * * *
    The birthing chamber was as dangerous for a medieval woman as the battlefield was for a man. Ellen de Montfort and Joanna and two queens of Jerusalem were among those who died this way. Maude herself nearly died giving birth to Henry’s brother. And the mortality rate for the babies was often alarmingly high. I have seen it estimated that one of every five children did not live to the age of five. Eleanor was very unusual in that so many of her children survived to reach adulthood. Cecily of York lost a number of her children. So did Edward I’s queen, Eleanora. The roll call is a sad one.

  84. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, you may remember that When Christ and His Saints Slept was the first of your books I read, back in 2003. The friend who loaned it to me was a tax attorney (not reformed!), who enjoyed telling me your life story, with the escape from the law office. Of course, I was hooked once I realized how faithful to known history your writing was. Did the Empress have serious birthing problems with Geoffrey or William?

  85. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Of course I remember, Mac! I have always been grateful that your friend loaned Saints to you or else we’d never have become friends or had such great times on our tours. It was Geoffrey who nearly cost Maude her life; he was causing trouble from the very day of his birth. :-)

    Snow and ice here again. That says it all.
    On the historical front, March 6th 1340, the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, was born. He was a son of Edward III and thus a younger brother to the Black Prince, and is best known today for his love affair with Katherine Swinford and for not attempting to seize the throne of his young nephew, Richard II. I have often been urged to write about him and for a time I seriously considered it. But I reluctantly concluded that his life would not easily lend itself to a fictional treatment. He is better suited, IMHO, to play a supporting role, as he did in Anya Seton’s iconic Katherine. He will appear in my novel about Owain Glyn Dwr (assuming I live long enough to write that one) but that is the best I can do for him. March 6th is also the birthday of the great Italian artist, Michelangelo, who was born in 1475.

  86. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I’d expected to have a new blog up by now, but real life interfered with my plans, as usual. The delay will provide more time, however, for entering the book giveaway for Priscilla Royal’s newest mystery, Satan’s Lullaby. Priscilla asked me to let everyone know that she will do the drawing on this coming Monday, March 9th. She won’t be able to send the signed copy to the winner until she gets back from Left Coast Crime, but we will announce the winner next week.

    Back to history now. On March 7th, 1226, Henry II’s illegitimate son, William Longspee (Longsword), Earl of Salisbury died. He has appeared in Here de Dragons, A King’s Ransom, and in several of my mysteries, cast in a sympathetic light, although I was wrong about his age in all the books except Ransom. When I wrote Dragons and the mysteries, we did not know the identity of his mother, so historians could only speculate as to his age. But in the wonderful way that historical discoveries turn up like gold nuggets, we now know she was Ida de Tosney, subsequently the Countess of Norfolk. As a result of this new knowledge, we know William was much younger than originally believed. I mention his likely birth year in Ransom, 1177, but I will have to stick with the older William in any future mysteries since I can’t go back and rewrite the earlier ones. Thank heaven for Author’s Notes!

  87. Cheryl Perfit Says:

    Sharon, you have been one of my favorite authors for more than 20 years. I have loved every one of your books. Multiple times. I am always looking for a new author to read, especially with the brutal winter we have had here in MA! Seems like I have a new author to explore with Priscilla. Thanks for the many years of reading pleasure.

  88. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Thank you so much, Cheryl!

    Here is an interesting article about what Richard III is doing for tourism in Leicester, written by an Australian journalist. I know that many remain very unhappy that Richard was not buried in York, but if Leicester does become a medieval magnet for tourists because of Richard, that is a positive development that we all can get behind. There is also an article on this blog about those ubiquitous Tudors, in this case the star status of Henry’s wives, raising the question of why Anne Boleyn remains the queen bee in the Tudor hive when all of her sister wives have compelling stories, too. https://notinkansastravel.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/the-roar-of-the-roses-what-richard-iii-is-doing-for-tourism-2/

  89. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Cheryl, where are you in Mass.? I grew up on the South Shore before our exile to Florida, then back up to Cambridge for college. We still have family property on the Cape and and many relatives in New England.

  90. skpenman Says:

    The lucky winner of a signed copy of Priscilla Royal’s new mystery, Satan’s Lullaby, is Anne. If you contact either me or Priscilla, we can set things in motion to send you the book.
    Here is an interesting story about the reburial of Richard III, obviously written by someone who does not share our passion for the past; the tone sounds a bit bemused to me. But then the Daily Mail is not exactly a scholarly journal. There is going to be massive media coverage of this event. But Ricardians and also those with knowledge of history are likely going to hear uninformed commentators making truly ludicrous remarks, so be forewarned.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2982859/The-bizarre-royal-burial-Britain-s-seen-Troops-lining-streets-21-gun-salutes-king-died-500-years-ago.html

  91. Samara Says:

    I located what I had been looking for. excellent write-up, thank you

  92. Guy McClure Says:

    You’re without a doubt the most increadible writer I have read during my: life time. I know you say you find most of your imformation on the web but as a retir ed history teacher i have difficultyt findind ing what and where myy two uncles were
    Stationed during WW11. Your two books on the Lionhearted are truly masterpieces. I write this while I am staying in France and have beem to poitier and many of the places in your books.
    I love the way you put the macho males in their place. I’ve always said that men get all pleasure and women all the pain.

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