INTERVIEW WITH PRISCILLA ROYAL

I am very pleased to welcome Priscilla Royal back to my blog for a discussion of her latest novel, Land of Shadows, the twelfth book in her mystery series set in thirteenth century England.    This is good news for any readers who’ve not yet discovered her books; finding a new author who has an extensive backlist is always a blessing for book lovers.   In the interest of full disclosure, Priscilla is a long-time friend.   She is also a very gifted writer who shares our deep-rooted love of history, understanding that our past was someone else’s present; credit where due to the historian David McCullough for that apt turn of phrase.    Priscilla has also generously agreed to offer a signed copy of Land of Shadows for a book drawing; anyone who posts a comment on this blog is automatically entered and eligible to win.

Land of Shadows

Land of Shadows by Priscilla Royal

Tell us about your latest book.

Land of Shadows is a mystery, but it is also a tale of generational change, the complications that brings, and the tragedy of condemning the innocent along with the guilty. In March 1279, the queen has just given birth at Woodstock Manor, while Prioress Eleanor’s father is dying. Richard, her nephew, anticipates the arrival of his own father, a man he hardly knows, and dreads divulging a secret that will set them further apart. Brother Thomas is horrified to discover that Father Eliduc, his nemesis, has a troubling hold over young Richard. Elsewhere in England, hundreds of Jewish families also mourn, their loved ones accused of money clipping and hanged with little concern for truth. With their property looted and confiscated to enrich King Edward, poverty sharpens the agony of their loss. Violence always begets violence. When one of the queen’s ladies is found hanged, Prioress Eleanor and her monk are dragged away from their own sorrows to right a wrong and find a killer before another innocent is hanged for a crime not committed. Sons struggle with sons. Power shifts from one generation to another. What is the meaning of justice in a world turned upside down?

Why did you choose this particular point in history?

History is full of periods when prejudice is used for political gain. In the late 1270s, the mood of Christian Europe turned ugly as the crusades went badly, and the Jewish community became a scapegoat. Jews were hated as avaricious money lenders, foreign, and stubborn in refusing to convert from their faith. Politics joined hands with bigotry as kings sought to gain favor with popes and barons by persecuting the Jews, and Edward I wasn’t about to be left behind. In Sanctity of Hate, I dealt with one of his first anti-Semitic laws, but the sweeping night arrests for the treasonous act of coin clipping was lethal in 1278 and 1279. There was no doubt that some Jews did clip coins, but 13th century English Christians, who also committed the crime, suffered only token punishment. Hundreds of English Jews, men and women, were hanged with little regard for the truth of their circumstances. When the king discovered that many had been condemned based on planted evidence, he did stop the executions although he still made sure he benefited financially for such mercy.

You have said in the past that you would never write a real historical character. Yet Edward’s wife, Queen Eleanor, has a cameo appearance in this book. What made you change your mind?

Well, you have been hinting subtly! I also wrote my way into a corner and was unable to escape giving the queen a brief appearance. The murders in Woodstock occur when Eleanor of Castile is recovering from childbirth. Would she really not bother to thank Prioress Eleanor, a woman who left her own father’s death bed to catch a dangerous murderer? Maybe this meeting could have been done off-stage, but somehow that seemed like a cheap trick. So the two Eleanors meet, an event that gives my prioress pause even when she knows she has been honored. Although Eleanor of Castile was a charming woman, she also knew how best to use others to her advantage. Iron hand in velvet glove and all that. So my Eleanor has reason to worry about the future, now that the queen has met and evaluated her for future use.

Brother Thomas’ evolution in the series has been interesting. Would you talk a bit about the changes your auburn-haired monk has gone through?

In the beginning, Brother Thomas presented a problem. He was an excellent co-sleuth for Prioress Eleanor, but I was beginning to fear they were too perfect a couple. I did not want my two religious to discover a less than chaste joy in the monastic hayloft. Dear Thomas solved this for me by whispering in my ear as I fell asleep one night: “Don’t worry. I’m gay!” Fully awake, I turned to my fictional character, who was very chuffed with himself, and replied: “Do you have any idea how much research this forces me to do?” But the reading and pondering has been fascinating because medieval sexuality was primarily centered on who was supposed to do what to whom and when. The term “sodomy” covered a multitude of unacceptable sexual acts, and the concept of homosexuality simply didn’t exist. Gay men and women often did contract the obligatory marriages while doing what heterosexuals did to ease unsatisfying unions: they found sexual and emotional outlets elsewhere. After several books, Brother Thomas has finally recovered from the emotional trauma described early on and may have finally found a man who loves him. But Thomas is still a monk and honors his vows. Durant allows himself to “sin” with men anonymously, but “seducing” a monk is a “sin” he cannot countenance. It is a complex situation I’ll find challenging to resolve without resorting to pat answers. In the end, the realities of the era must be honored, but I promised my auburn-haired monk I would not provide a resolution that that did not respect the ways gay men and women have always found to “hide in plain sight”.

Why did you choose clerical sleuths and the Order you did?

First, I love to share surprises I discover while reading about the Middle Ages. I picked the Order of Fontevraud because it was a double house of men and woman, run by a woman. In the medieval era, women were not the equal of men. They were there to serve. So why was such an Order, and a very successful one at that, allowed to exist and how would a woman rule men effectively? Prioress Eleanor illustrates. I also chose religious sleuths over secular ones because the liege lord of a secular sleuth is a noble or a king. Religious sleuths speak to a higher authority. The Church and State were in constant war over power and wealth, but each usually respected the other’s traditional authority. Prioress Eleanor has the power of justice over those in her fiefdom, the priory. Outside, the monastic walls, she has moral authority. In the world of Edward I’s England, the rule of law was just beginning to be codified. Some leeway was possible for individual punishment. Like Brother Cadfael, the inspiration for my sleuths, Eleanor and Thomas seek a more perfect justice because their God is perfect.

What are you working on next?

With each new book in a long series comes the worry that it will not be fresh enough or very good. But I try to avoid that by posing myself a plot or character problem in each mystery. With the current work-in-progress, now called The Proud Sinner, I was inspired by Agatha Christie’s book, And Then There Were None, in which all the suspects die. Of course, there is no way I could match the mastery of a plot genius, but I loved her misdirections and wanted to try some of my own. My new story is a winter tale of seven abbots, all of whom dislike each other, who are stranded at Tyndal Priory after one falls ill and dies. Much to Prioress Eleanor’s horror, others begin to die as well, and even Sister Anne is perplexed. Of course, there are other problems in the book besides the murders. Crowner Ralf must deal with his hated brother, Abbot Odo, who is in the abbatial party and may be a suspect. Gracia, Eleanor’s maid, must decide whether to leave the priory or take vows. Brother Thomas has been dealt yet another emotional blow. But I have shown some mercy to characters in the book. All is well with Prioress Eleanor’s cat…

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 your blog. Your books have been an inspiration and a pleasure for so long. I am honored to be one of your interviewees!

Thank you, Priscilla, for agreeing to do this interview.   By now, reading one of your novels is like visiting with old friends, with the added suspense of knowing there is a murderer in our midst.   I had to read Land of Shadows in one sitting, and I will wager that most of you will do the same.

February 8, 2016

92 Responses to “INTERVIEW WITH PRISCILLA ROYAL”

  1. Cynthia Fuller Says:

    I have seen your recommendations of Priscilla Royal’s books before, but have not had a chance to start reading them yet. As you say, it’s great to discover an author with lots of books already written. I look forward to getting into this series.

  2. Yvonne Connelly Says:

    So looking forward to the new book! It sounds wonderful.

  3. Lori Mitchell Says:

    I am already a fan and have not gone out to purchase your books but will start looking! I am always interested in the Jewish side of history and although it often saddens me I look for it. I am not Jewish but my son who is strong in his own religious world of messianic Judaism, will also want to read this! And as always being a big fan of Miss Sharon’s, I look forward to getting to know a new talented author!
    Lori Mitchell

  4. Angela Bliss Says:

    Really looking forward to this

  5. Cindy Says:

    Really appreciate knowing of Priscilla’s latest book release and your interview with her is icing on the cake! Love getting the background on how characters reveal themselves to authors, especially in series where the characters have time to develop and evolve.

  6. Wanda Paluch Says:

    I haven’t read any of Ms. Royal’s books but will try them out as soon as possible; they sound fascinating. I am always entranced by how much research is put into these books; what a great way to learn more about one of my favorite time periods!

  7. Lynette Michel Says:

    First Sharon, thank you for resuming the website, it’s been missed.

    Second, what a thought a character whispers to you before bed! I’m certainly looking forward to reading this book. I know I’ll enjoy the story.

  8. María Elisa Nalegach Says:

    How wonderful to read you both! I just love your books, which make my favorite age come alive. I finished landa of shadows and it’s really great.
    Great wishes from Chile.

  9. Grace DeBoer Says:

    Great interview! I recently bought Wine of Violence and can’t wait to start reading it. Her latest book sounds intriguing. I believe I have a new author to add to my TBR list!

  10. Nansi Jarvis Says:

    Have read all the books. Love them ! So glad to hear that Arthur is still with us. Along with Gareth, Adso and Rollo, one of my favourite fictional animals !

  11. Judy O'Neill Says:

    I took up Priscilla’s books on a previous recommendation from you - and they are wonderful. How super of you both to provide these insights to our favorite characters. I’ll be eagerly awaiting my next “fix”.

  12. Nancy Tyrrel Theodore Says:

    I love discovering good authors with a series and have definitely put Priscilla Royal’s books on my TBR list.

  13. Jeanne Behnke Says:

    I love discovering new authors - especially in my favorite genre. I ordered the first book in the series. I can’t wait to get started!

  14. Ril Werstler Says:

    I have read many of the authors Sharon has recommended and have not been disappointed. This series will definitely be added to my reading list!

  15. Ernestina Says:

    I love mystery series. They are mystery and they are series, a deadly combination! I recently started Margaret Frazer series (another of your suggestions), I will certainly take my chance with this one too.

  16. Jennie Says:

    I’ve never been disappointed with a Priscilla Royal book. Her characters have become friends over the past 11 nobels, and I’m excited to read, and promote as a librarian, book 12 too. I’ve never read Ms. Penman’s work before but will check it out tomorrow.

  17. Rosemary Says:

    This series sounds intriguing. As soon as I finish the 6 books I’m currently reading I’ll have to start on these!
    Congrats Sharon on getting your blog back on track.

  18. Gail Malane Says:

    This was a fascinating interview for me to read because I have read books by both authors. I enjoyed the questions by Sharon and especially the answers by Priscilla on the development of the (familiar)characters and the difficulty of thinking of plots to sustain interest in them. It has worked ! The plight of the Jews during medieval times has always interested me as well. I’m looking forward to reading Land of Shadows !!

  19. skpenman Says:

    I am still dealing with back pain, so my Facebook time continues to be limited, to my dismay. It is also obscenely cold here right now, so I am –like many of you—counting down the days till spring. I will probably be suffering withdrawal pangs, too, now that the football season is over. I can’t say the Super Bowl game itself was enthralling, but I was happy to see Peyton get his Hollywood ending, and I am sure the Panthers will be back. I thought the commercials were generally lackluster, though. Am I the only one who thought the monkey-puppy-baby was sort of creepy? And what was up with those singing sheep???
    On the good news front, the new laptop, Uhtred, has been on his good behavior lately and so has Spock, his back-up QB, as I like to think of him. And the deadline dragon doesn’t like the cold any more than I do, so he has been hibernating lately instead of giving me grief. Now on to history!
    February 11th, 1466 was the birthday of the first child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, known to history as Elizabeth of York. We know her story and it is a sad one. At least from the outside, her marriage to Henry Tudor seems to have turned out better than she probably expected, given the circumstances and the fact that she had the Mother-in-law from Hell. (And I do not say that with Tudor bias, for I think Eleanor of Aquitaine was a Mother-in-law from Hell, too.) What little evidence there is indicates that Bess’s beauty and charm helped thaw Tudor’s hard heart. I like to think so, anyway. She was devoted to her children and I hope they gave her comfort for the loss of her Yorkist family. She had seven, and the sorrow of losing four of them. Even in an age in which childhood was a precarious time, that is more than her share of tragedy. It is interesting to speculate whether her son Henry’s life might have taken a better turn had she lived, for he was said to be devoted to her and cherished her memory. A kind-hearted woman, she would have been an influence for good. But she died on February 11th, 1503, nine days after giving birth to her seventh child, a little girl who died the day before she did. It was her thirty-eighth birthday.

  20. Weekly Roundup of History, Archaeology and Writing Wisdom Feb 6-12 | Judith Starkston Says:

    [...] On Sharon Kay Penman’s website, an interview with Priscilla Royal about her latest medieval mystery, Land of Shadows. I can’t wait to read this one. Priscilla is one of my favorites. Click here for Sharon Kay Penman’s website “Interview with Priscilla Royal” [...]

  21. Joan Says:

    Thank you Sharon & Ms Royal for another interesting interview. Below is the comment I posted on this blog after hearing that an interview was upcoming.

    …….After I read the first of this incredible series, I noticed that first in Priscilla Royal’s biblio list was “The Lais of Marie of France”. So I read about Marie, where her inspiration came from, how her works were hugely entertaining, highly instructive, & had as major themes the different types of love. Since then I’ve seen the adventures of Prioress Eleanor & Brother Thomas as “The Lais of Priscilla Royal”……

    But I see now that you are going beyond Marie’s 12 works, Ms Royal. Fortunate for us who find each one a treasure.

  22. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Greetings from the frozen tundra of the Jersey Pinelands. This may seem like “normal” to my friends and readers in the Midwest or Canada, but we are not accustomed to temperatures that might a polar bear pause. I hope everyone in the path of this polar vortex kept safe and warm this weekend. Looking ahead to April, although it seems light-years away today, here is some speculation about the coming season of Game of Thrones. We readers of the series are going to be at a disadvantage this season, for we will no longer know what is coming. And that is not a good thing for those of us with delicate sensibilities—Red Wedding, anyone? Now we are all in the same leaky boat, having no idea what Master Martin and the HBO scriptwriters will inflict upon their long-suffering characters next. http://www.ew.com/article/2016/02/12/game-thrones-season-6-spoilers?xid=email-gameofthrones-20160212-readstory

  23. skpenman Says:

    Still catching up with historical posts….and cursing the snow.
    On February 13, 1177, Henry and Eleanor’s youngest daughter, Joanna, was wed in Palermo to William, the King of Sicily and then crowned as his consort. She was all of eleven years old. It is hard for us to imagine sending children off to foreign lands to marry strangers at such young ages, but this was the way of life for the highborn in the MA. Surely some parents must have felt some qualms, though, for the safety or wellbeing of their daughters. Some of these marriages were happy ones; Joanna’s older sister Leonora came to love her husband, the King of Castile. Some were not as successful and some brought only misery to the young brides; surely the worst case was that of Agnes, daughter of Louis VII of France, sent off to wed the son of the Byzantine emperor at age eight; her young husband would be murdered and she would be forced to wed his killer, a man whose reign was so brutal that the citizens of Constantinople rose up against him and he fled the city with his favorite concubine and his little French bride. He was later captured and died rather gruesomely, but Agnes was spared.
    Joanna encountered no such horrors in Sicily and was well treated by her husband, although he did keep a harem of Saracen slave girls. She would be widowed young, imprisoned by the man who usurped her husband’s throne, and then rescued by her brother Richard and accompanied him on crusade. Here is the account by Roger de Hoveden of Joanna’s introduction to her new life in Sicily. It had been a rough trip for her; she’d been escorted into Poitou by her eldest brother Hal, and then Richard escorted her all the way to St Gilles, where she was turned over to the Sicilian envoys. On the voyage, she’d suffered so severely from seasickness that the fleet had to hand at Naples and continue on land. But she was given a magnificent welcome into Palermo.
    “The whole city welcomed them, and lamps, so many and so large, were lighted up, that the city almost seemed to be on fire…for it was by night that they entered the city of Palermo. The said daughter of the King of England was then escorted, mounted on one of the king’s horses, and resplendent with regal garments, to a certain palace, that there she might in becoming state await the day of her marriage and coronation.
    After the expiration of a few days, the before-named daughter of the King of England was married to William, King of Sicily, and solemnly crowned at Palermo, in the royal chapel there, in the presence of Gilles, Bishop of Evreux and the envoys of the King of England.”
    That same day William issued a charter in Joanna’s favor, providing generously for her dowry, describing her as “the maiden Joanna, of royal blood, and the most illustrious daughter of Henry, the mighty king of the English, to the end that her fidelity and chaste affection may produce the blessings of the married state.”

    And on February 13, 1542, silly little Catherine Howard became yet another victim of her husband’s monstrous ego. When Henry VIII discovered that she’d had a colorful past prior to their marriage, he was so outraged that he pushed a bill of attainder through Parliament making it treason for an “unchaste” woman to marry the king, then sent Catherine to the Tower, where she was beheaded on this date. In the past, we’ve talked of Jane Grey, who paid with her life for her family’s all-consuming ambition. So did Catherine Howard, although she had none of Jane’s intelligence or education, which makes her pathetic story all the sadder. Marriage to the aging, ailing, hot-tempered Henry was more than punishment enough for any sins of her feckless youth. Despite the legend, though, she did not say that she died the Queen of England but would rather have died the wife of Thomas Culpepper. Those about to be executed in Tudor England did not make defiant gallows speeches, wanting to spare their family from royal retribution. But Catherine really did ask for the block to be brought to her the night before her execution; she wanted to practice kneeling and putting her head upon it so she would be sure to do it correctly come the morning. How pitiful is that?

  24. Theresa Says:

    Sharon I think all of Henry VIII’s wives deserve our pity, but I always thought poor Catherine Howard especially unfortunate- considering her extreme youth. I will pass over her portrayal in ‘The Tudors’, but Lynne Fredericks interpretation of Henry’s fifth queen in the 1973 film The Six Wives of Henry VIII was probably the most accurate historical representation to my mind. I still get shivers when watching her execution scene.

  25. Brenda Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for all the hard work you have put into your books. You have made my life more bearable (and more entertaining) than it otherwise would have been. I am not gifted with words, but I think you should know how much you are appreciated. I have read and reread your books many times…and will continue to do so. Thank you!

  26. skpenman Says:

    I totally agree, Theresa. And The Six Wives of Henry VIII was excellent; it has definitely stood the test of time.

    Two of the brightest literary lights were extinguished this week—America’s Harper Lee and the acclaimed Italian novelist, Umberto Eco. I imagine most of my readers have read To Kill a Mockingbird or have seen the film of the same name. I almost always prefer the book to the film, but this was one of the rare cases when the book and film were equally compelling. I tried to read the controversial prequel, Go set a Watchman, but although I could detect her voice, it did not really work for me, and I have yet to finish it. Am I alone in this reaction? But I can always find something new in a rereading of Mockingbird. Here is an interesting article about the impact that this novel has had on its readers over the years. http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/19/opinions/harper-lee-to-kill-a-mockingbird-seymour/index.html I definitely do not agree with Flannery O’Conner’s acerbic assessment, despite being a fan of her own writing.

  27. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, I have no interest in reading Watchman. I think it was simply the unscrupulous people controlling her affairs seeing a way to make a buck. As several of your Facebook followers said, if she had actually wanted to publish that book, she would have done it years ago. As older sister Alice (when past 100!) said, “Poor Nelle Harper. She can’t see or hear, and she will sign anything someone she trusts puts in front of her.” Book and movie are both splendid. It is very unusual for a cinematic dramatization to so fairly represent the book.

  28. Joan Says:

    I am also loyal to Harper Lee’s iconic novel & the film which followed. Not the least bit interested in the new book & not willing to corrupt what we have respected & valued all these decades.

    It was a shock to hear of Umberto Eco’s passing. A number of years ago I had the privilege to hear him speak at the University of Ottawa where I was taking courses in the language before my Italian adventure.

  29. Theresa Says:

    You were very fortunate to hear Umberto Eco speak, I remember studying The Name of the Rose for English Literature and would have loved to have heard the author talk about his work.

    Go Set a Watchman was reviewed in the book club TV program in my country. Quite an interesting discussion- if I recall. Although I prefer not to “tarnish” my appreciation of To Kill a Mockingbird.
    One of my pet hates, is the way people sometimes write prequels or sequels to classics. (Still traumatised by reading Heathcliff the Missing Years)
    The only book for me that had any value in this sense was Wide Sargosso Sea by Jean Rhys

  30. Joan Says:

    Here’s a quote by Umberto Eco that appears on the Medievalists site today. He speaks about why the era held such personal appeal…….

    ………”If I had to explain it, I would say that it’s because the period is exactly the opposite of the way people imagine it. To me, they were not the Dark Ages. They were a luminous time, the fertile soil out of which would spring the Renaissance. A period of chaotic and effervescent transition—the birth of the modern city, of the banking system, of the university, of our modern idea of Europe, with its languages, nations, and cultures.”

    Lucky you, Theresa, for having studied him. My good luck was just before the turn of the millennium & at the time my only interest in the MA was all about the Etruscans. I hadn’t yet “met” Sharon Penman through her novels, which sparked an explosion of interest that has also branched off to other exciting directions. Mr Eco’s talk wasn’t about the MA, unfortunately, but a rather complex lecture on the technicalities of language. Still, an experience I’ve never forgotten.

  31. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    An apology about apologizing is a bit odd, but I am sorry about having to keep explaining my long absence from Facebook. I see an orthopedist this week, so I am hoping I’ll soon be able to resume my regular posts. Assuming that Uhred will cooperate, of course. Despite a visit yesterday from the Geek Squad, he continues to give me grief, infuriating in a brand-new computer. He’s been so obnoxious that I am going to rename him again; Uhtred even on his worst days was not this infuriating. At the moment, one name I am considering is Diablo.; the others are unprintable.
    Here is an interesting article about GRRM’s plans for his last two books. Apparently we who watch the HBO series and read the books too are in for whiplash. It will certainly be weird to read about characters that have already been killed off on HBO.
    http://www.ew.com/article/2016/02/25/george-rr-martins-game-thrones-twist?xid=email-gameofthrones-20160225-readstory

  32. Deborah Irvin Says:

    Love her books.

  33. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I wanted to remind you all that there is still one more day in which to enter the drawing for a free signed copy of Priscilla Royal’s newest medieval mystery, Land of Shadows. You just have to go to my blog and post a comment—as simple as that. Here is the link. http://sharonkaypenman.com/blog/?p=647
    And I have good news to share with my British readers. Head of Zeus, the British publisher of my mysteries, is bringing out The Queen’s Man in a new paperback edition in two weeks. That means that all four of the mysteries will be available to my British readers in both the e-book and the paperback format.

  34. Anne Says:

    Sounds interesting. I look forward to reading it.

  35. Beverly Wickson Says:

    please enter me for Priscilla Royal. I am so glad to know there is a new book as I have read and enjoyed her books

  36. Jan Malvern Says:

    I love Priscilla Royal’s books. Please enter me! I would love to have a signed copy!!

  37. Dayna Thomas Says:

    Please choose me to receive this book! I have ALL of them so far, and enjoy re-reading them as well as recommending them to other readers. This would be a Jewel in my library along with my complete collection of 1st edition Sharon Kay Penman’s :-)

  38. Wayne R Kaufman Says:

    Happy St David’s Day Eve!

  39. Lisa Kimbrough Says:

    Prioress Eleanor is one of my favorite fictional characters. She’s feisty and clever. I’m looking forward to the new adventure.

  40. maggie pugh Says:

    This looks so interesting-will put it on m TBR list!!!!

  41. James Says:

    Sounds interesting

  42. John Steffy Says:

    Sharon, I read all your books and look for your recommendations. Like them all. So I am sure I will enjoy Priscilla Royal’s new book. Still waiting for Justin de Quincy’s return.

  43. Pat McGuffin Says:

    I enjoyed the interview with Ms. Royal, and not only must I read “Land of Shadows,” but I am already looking forward to “The Proud Sinner.” Thank you!

  44. Jane eppinga Says:

    So glad to be introduced to your books.

  45. Libby Millard Says:

    Great interview Sharon, Priscilla is a great author, more books to be added to the wish list :)

  46. Roberta Lamaere Says:

    Thank you!

  47. Suzanne Says:

    I’ll enter! I don’t think I’ve read any of Priscilla’s books — do I need to start w/ the first one?

  48. Anita Hart Says:

    I enjoyed reading this , as I am a reader of both authors!! Thank you for such wonderful reads!! Thank you

  49. Carol S Says:

    I’ve never read any of Priscilla’s books so I’d love to try one by an unread medieval author. Thanks for the opportunity to win one Priscilla.

  50. Beth Torres Says:

    I have enjoyed Priscilla Royal’s books for years. Thanks for recommending!

  51. Mary Buss Says:

    I have been reading Ms Royal’s books since she began the series. I love the series!

  52. Sheryl E. Says:

    What a thrill. A new, to me, series about one of my favorite periods in English history.

  53. Lynette Smith Says:

    Have seen recommendations for Priscilla Royal’s books by a number of people. After reading Sharon’s interview with Priscilla Royal I have now started on the first book in the series and I am determined to get through the whole series !!!
    It will fill in the time until the next book by Sharon hits the bookshop !!

  54. BobbeJ Says:

    Anything Ms. Penman recommends interests me….especially since her name is alphabetically next to Cathie Pelletier!! Ms. Penman will understand!
    Are these novels stand alones?

  55. Pat Says:

    Always interested in a new (to me) author, especially when recommended by one of my favorites. ;)

  56. Joan Says:

    Suzanne, yes please start with the first novel, you’ll be happy you did. It lays the groundwork for everything these novels are about.

  57. Glenn Deering Says:

    So looking forward to reading your book, Lady of the Shadows. My love of medieval history and English lit that surfaced in college continues!

  58. Charolette Gould Brown Says:

    I have been reading Medieval historical fiction going on about two years. I have already read all of GREGORY, PAIDLEY, CHADWICK plus a number of others such as WEIR and so forth. I am currently working my way through PENSMANS, but I have not read any of the mysteries.

  59. Melanie Says:

    The book sounds fascinating. Love finding authors I don’t know.

  60. Pat Says:

    I have the first book on my Kindle & am getting ready to read it for a group on goodreads. Have heard good things about this series, so looking forward to getting started.

  61. Sophie Says:

    Ms Royal’s books are brilliant and give a great insight into life of non royals. They are so good that my 16 yr old has actually put down her smartphone and read all of the series. Quite an achievememt

  62. Marcy Daniels Says:

    Would love to read Priscilla’s new book! Sounds great.

  63. Helen Says:

    I’ve not read Priscilla’s books at all and would very much like to …… I enjoy medieval mysteries - Thank you for the chance to possibly do so :)

  64. Mary Says:

    I have been wanting to read these books, Sharon speaks so highly of them!

  65. Rona Says:

    I haven’t read any of these books, but I will be adding them to my list! Thanks for bringing them to my notice.

  66. Emily Says:

    Hello, my mom is a devoted fan of Ms. Royal’s books, and I would love to win a copy of Land of Shadows for her!

  67. Sienna Says:

    Sounds great, I’d love a copy!

  68. Michelle Says:

    Thank you both for a terrific interview. They sound like wonderful reads

  69. Anita Says:

    I’m not familiar with Priscilla’s books, but I plan to remedy that as soon as possible. Thanks for this interview!

  70. Katherine Says:

    I love finding new authors. I’ll need to pick up her first book and get started.

  71. Barbara Manley Says:

    Wonderful interview! Her books sound intriguing and a great addition to my growing library of “Medieval History - fact and fiction.” Would love a signed copy to begin, but will certainly investigate her works. Thanks, Sharon.

  72. Dayle Jacob Says:

    I don’t know how I have managed to miss the books of Priscilla Royal (great name!) but I have added her to my “Books to Buy” list and look forward to reading hers. Thank you for the reminder!

  73. Louise Vanni Says:

    Have read 3 mysteries in the last 3 weeks- they r addictive. Especially like Thomas and his story. Nice to get social history not often touched on in a sympathetic manner. The lustings of Eleanor - alas and alack.

  74. Mary N Says:

    The book sounds quite fascinating! I love reading about medieval times and it sounds like Priscilla Royal has done good research on the era.

  75. CeeJay Says:

    I’m always looking for good mysteries set in the Middle Ages. Somehow, I have managed to miss Priscilla Royal’s books–would be happy to begin to remedy that omission with a signed copy!

  76. SueLin Says:

    This book sounds wonderful!

  77. Pat L Says:

    I will seek out Ms. Royal’s books ASAP as I too haven’t read them. I love finding new authors to pursue especially where I get a chance to binge read!

  78. Angela b Says:

    This is on my (ever expanding) list of books to read! Sounds wonderful :)

  79. Leslie Molinaro Says:

    This interview turned me on to Priscilla’s books..thank you that. I’ve already read the first three and can’t wait to start number 4! But I have a question…is the belief about red headed children true???

  80. Sonja Koch Says:

    It seems there are a lot of lovely authors on Facebook (some of them I haven’t even got around to reading yet).
    The book sounds interesting and the cover is wonderful too.

  81. F. Haywood Glenn Says:

    I had not heard of Priscilla Royal before your introduction and interview. The book sounds like a novel I would relish. Thank for bring this author and her books to my attention.

  82. Linda Hill Says:

    Looking forward to this — I’ve gotten way behind on her books. Thank you.

  83. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Yes,, her research is impeccable, Mary….and sadly, we cannot say that about all historical novelists. Readers have told me they’ve encountered books in which medieval characters were drinking coffee and eating chocolate, potatoes, and tomatoes…..sigh.

    I saw an orthopedist this week and am getting an MRI next week, so I am hopeful that life will soon be getting back to normal, or as normal as life ever is for a writer, especially one who labors under a curse by the computer gods. Yes, the brand-new computer went rogue, too, crashing repeatedly and calling up the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Back it went to Best Buy and the geek Squad techs pinpointed Windows 10 as the culprit, then proceeded to “refresh” it. Now it is home again, this time rechristened Diablo and the wait begins to see if all its demons were exorcised or not. Meanwhile, I would like to remind you that there are still two days to enter the drawing to win a free, personalized copy of Priscilla Royal’s new medieval mystery, Land of Shadows. Just go to my blog and post a comment.
    Now I’d like to begin catching up on my Today in History posts, this one dealing with February 28th, 1155, when Henry and Eleanor’s second son, was born.
    On August 27, 1172, Henry II’s eldest surviving son, known to his contemporaries and history as the Young King and to my readers as Hal, was crowned again, as his wife, Marguerite, the daughter of the French king Louis VII, had not been crowned with him the first time, much to her father’s vexation. The second ceremony was performed at Winchester, presided over by the Archbishop of Rouen and Hal’s cousin, Roger Fitz Robert, the Bishop of Worcester, a favorite of mine, as he was one of the few brave enough not to wilt in the full force of Henry’s Angevin temper tantrums. Hal’s life, which had begun in such bright promise, ended sadly, with his death at age twenty-eight in the midst of another rebellion against his father. His young widow, Marguerite, would later be wed to the King of Hungary; she died in 1197 on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was buried at Acre, far from home and Hal’s grave in Rouen.
    Henry and Eleanor have such larger-than-life personalities that they don’t need defenders. Their son Richard doesn’t really need them, either; after all, he has Robin Hood on his side. But their other sons have not done as well in the court of public opinion and could probably use a champion or two. John has my friend Owen on his side. Geoffrey has Malcolm and me to speak up for him. And Hal is lucky enough to have my Polish friend Kasia to make sure he is not forgotten. Kasia maintains a very interesting website that is Hal-centric. Here is the link; anyone interested in the Angevins ought to stop by.
    http://henrytheyoungking.blogspot.com/

  84. Jenny Morgan Says:

    I’ve had Priscilla’s books on my list of desired books that I’ve gleaned from your fan club page and reading the responses to your questions has pushed me to ordering the first book in the series. A delightful read here. Thank you.

  85. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Glad you joined me on the “Geoffrey Team” back in 2003, Sharon. Of course, Judith Everard did wonders for his academic reputation - at least for those scholars who pay attention. Which writing project(s) are you working on right now? Allys and two of our sons are now flying to London for ten days, with projected arrival at Heathrow tomorrow morning. It will be nice to be back there again one day (not to mention France!).

  86. b stephan Says:

    I’ve heard great things about Pricilla Royal’s books. I love mystery books, and British History. Her new book is on my TBR list.

  87. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I am, too, Mac; we really owe Geoffrey for forging our friendship! I am working now on a novel set in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century, The Land Beyond the Sea, but it has been derailed lately by my back problems.

    My favorite English king was born on this date—March 5th, 1133, in the beautiful city of Le Mans, christened in its magnificent cathedral, named Henry after his grandfather. He would prove to be a great king, but a flawed husband and father, and as he lay dying at Chinon Castle, forced to make a humiliating peace by Richard and the French king, shattered by the betrayal of the one son who had most reason to be loyal, his favorite child, John, he must have wondered how it had ever have come to that, wondered how so much bright promise could have ended so bitterly. But on his birthday, I prefer to focus on that beginning. Here are two scenes from When Christ and His Saints Slept. The first one takes place in the stables of the castle at Le Mans, where Maude had gone to demand that her unfaithful husband, the young Count of Anjou, not humiliate her while her brothers were visiting. On her way back to the hall, she became dizzy and was assisted by her cousin Stephen; hey, where would a story be without a seasoning of irony? Page 49
    * * *
    “I want no daughters,” she said, “not ever.”
    Stephen was puzzled by her vehemence. “Matilda recently confided that she might be with child again, and if so, we both hope for a lass this time. Why would you want to deny your-self the pleasure a daughter would bring?”
    “Because,” Maude said, “daughters are but pawns, utterly powerless—“
    She broke off so abruptly that Stephen knew she’d had another pang. “Is it common to have these pains?”
    “The midwife assured me that they come and go in the days before the birthing begins. But the ones I’ve had today have been different, in my back, and I—“ Maude’s mouth contorted, and then an alarmed expression crossed her face. “Jesu!” she cried. “My water has broken!”
    Stephen jumped to his feet. “We’d best get you inside straightaway.”
    “No…you go in and tell them.” Maude was looking everywhere but at Stephen’s face. “I….I will follow in a moment or so.:
    “Maude, that makes no sense!” He stared at her in utter bafflement and had his answer, then, in her crimson cheeks, averted eyes, and sodden skirts. God save the lass, she was em-barrassed! “Sweet cousin, listen. You must come with me. You cannot have your baby in a stable. This is Le Mans, not Bethlehem.”
    As he hoped, that won him a flicker of a smile, and she held out her hands, let him help her to her feet. “Take me in, Stephen,” she said. “I doubt you’d make a good midwife…”
    * * *
    The next scene is on page 52. Maude has given birth to her son, and she and Geoffrey are enjoying a rare moment of marital peace.
    * * *
    Maude was finding it harder and harder to stay awake, but she was not yet ready to relinquish her son, even for a few hours. “I suppose you still want to name him Fulk, after your father,” she said drowsily.
    Geoffrey looked at her, then at the baby. “Well…no,” he said, and Maude’s lashes fluttered upward in surprise. “I know we’ve been quarreling over names, but I’ve changed my mind. You can name him, Maude. I think you’ve earned the right.”
    Maude did, too. “Thank you,” she said, and smiled sleepily at her husband and son. The baby chose that moment to open his eyes, and startled them both by letting out a loud, piercing wail. They looked so nonplussed that the midwife and wet nurse started to laugh. And it was then that Minna opened the door and ushered Robert, Ranulf, Stephen, and Matilda into the bedchamber.
    Maude was not a woman to find humor in chaos. But for once she did not care about decorum or dignity. Cradling her screaming little son, she said happily, “Come closer so you can hear over his shrieks. I want to present Henry, England’s future king.”
    * * *.

  88. Priscilla Says:

    Thank you all for such heart-warming comments! I just wish I had enough copies to give one to you all! The drawing will be today. As for red-haired children, there was, and sometimes still is, some prejudice and many old-wives tales about them. Even my mother suffered from that. Although I used to have auburn hair, she always insisted it was brown. As if poor Brother Thomas doesn’t have enough angst, I had to add to it…

  89. skpenman Says:

    Priscilla, I once read that in the MA, they believed Judas had red hair and thus the legend arose that it was an unlucky color.

    I have good news for two of my readers. The book drawing for Land of Shadows is over and Priscilla Royal has generously agreed to donate two books. The lucky winners are Emily, who posted on March 1st and John Steffy, who posted on February 29th. Congratulations to you both; I am pleased for you and for your mother, Emily, and John, thanks for the kind words about Justin de Quincy. I hope to do another one of his mysteries after I finish Land Beyond the Sea. You can contact Priscilla by sending a message to her via her Facebook page or you can use the Contact Sharon feature on my website and I will then forward your e-mails to Priscilla.
    Sad news today for those who enjoy good writing. Pat Conroy died yesterday, much too soon. His Prince of Tides is a truly remarkable creation. I was never lucky enough to meet him, but I do have a wonderful Pat Conroy story to share. Some years ago on a book tour, I was sent to an independent bookstore in St Paul, MN. After my reading, the book staff asked me to sign their wall, which was covered from top to bottom with signatures of other writers. They explained that they used to ask writers to sign a book, but when they asked Pat Conroy to do so, he said that was too boring, so he picked up a pen and with a flourish, wrote his name on one of the walls, thus starting what became a hallowed tradition. He will be greatly missed, but it is comforting to know that a writer will be remembered as long as people read his or her books.

  90. skpenman Says:

    Now that Priscilla Royal has held her drawing for a free signed copy of Land of Shadows, I hope to have a new blog up very soon, this one about my second white shepherd, Tristan, as Part II of My White Wolves.
    Meanwhile, I am curious what Downton Abbey fans thought of the season finale on Sunday. If we discuss it, do you guys think we’d be spoiling it for those who haven’t yet seen it?

  91. Julia Says:

    Thank you for naming authors to read ! I will! Buried my Black Dog under my old oak tree with my new silver necklace and a love letter for him in heaven. He loved running with me across the fields of my farm.

  92. jessy james Says:

    I enjoy the efforts you have put in this, thank you for all the great blog posts.

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