The Queen’s Pawn

The Queen’s Pawn Makes Kate Quinn’s Best of the Year List

Monday, December 16th, 2013 | The Queen's Pawn | No Comments

Yes, I know, THE QUEEN’S PAWN came out in 2010. But my sweet friend and colleague Kate Quinn just read it this year. And she loved it, which brought tears to my eyes. Take a look at Eleanor and Alais on her best books of the year list. I am honored and thrilled.

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Kate Quinn’s Top Ten Books of the Year

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English Historical Fiction Authors: Alais, Forgotten Princess

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 | English Historical Fiction Authors, Princess Alais, The Queen's Pawn | No Comments

I have been fortunate enough to join a fabulous group, the English Historical Fiction Authors. This week, THE QUEEN’S PAWN is featured on our site both as a give away and in today’s blog post. Once more, I write these things for Alais.

The dead live on when we remember them, no matter how imperfectly.

My post about Princess Alais:

http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/2011/11/alais-of-france-forgotten-princess-by.html

This week’s give away of THE QUEEN’S PAWN

http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/p/giveaways.html

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Our Characters: The Path into the Void

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 | Finding Your Characters, First Drafts, The Queen's Pawn, The Writing Life | 4 Comments

Where would we be without our characters? I for one would be nowhere. While I have a lively imagination, I tend to live a quiet life. I have fought in no wars.  I have run from no crazed killers (thank goodness). I have never worked in law enforcement. If I were to turn to my real life for stories to put in my novels, I would have very little to say. So I am lucky that my characters come to me.

I am one of those writers who does not pick up her pen, or turn on her computer, until a character has shown up. They come to me first, and ask, “Would you like to hear my story?” Princess Alais, a quiet girl, emerged from the Void one evening, and asked that simple question. It turned out that there was a great deal more to that character than the quiet voice I first heard or than the history books would suggest. Alais led me, slowly, one step at a time, down the path that was her life. Looking at the wilds of the Plantagenet court from a devout, convent raised girl’s point of view was fascinating, but it was even more fascinating when that quiet girl stepped out of the role that had been proscribed for her to take a chance on building a new life for herself. Whether she failed or not doesn’t matter. The fact that she tried made her 100 times more interesting to me. The Queen’s Pawn would never have been born without Alais’ constant presence and contribution, and for that, I will always be grateful to her.

I know that I sound mad. To any person who is not an artist, the sort of thing I am describing would call for medication and a long rest. :) But as Henry James once wrote, this devotion to people who exist only in the pages of our books is not insanity.  It is the “madness of art.” Other artists will understand what I mean, and our friends, families and readers will smile indulgently.  They have watched this madness take shape in us as we devote ourselves to our work over and over again. Our family and friends wait until we return from the Void with the story we went searching for. Our readers buy the next book, wondering where the Void has taken us this time, and where it might take them.

Without my characters, I would be alone in that Void, and I would bring nothing back. I feel as if I am in partnership with these phantoms of my imagination, with these specters of the past, these people from the land of dreams who have been kind enough to share their stories with me. It is a sacred trust, one that I do not take lightly, whether I am writing a novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine or a Regency romance about people who never existed. The trust is the same. These characters trust me to honor them, and I trust them to show up when I step into the unknown.  I am grateful for every book I have been privileged to write. I am always aware that though it is I who step into the Void, I do not step in alone. I have partners in the dark, helping me to bring their stories to light.

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The Traveling Novel

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 | Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Queen's Pawn, The Writing Life | 4 Comments

What a blessing, to come home from a fabulous conference and to find the German copies of THE QUEEN’S PAWN waiting for me. To see my own words written in a foreign tongue is a huge thrill. I can’t quite believe it, though I hold a copy of the novel in my hand. THE STORY OF THE QUEEN is the translated title…indeed, THE QUEEN’S PAWN is part of Eleanor’s story. And there is so much more to tell.

Location and Inspiration: Writing at the Cloisters

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 | The Queen's Pawn, The Writing Life | 6 Comments

This post was originally written for the lovely blog Peeking Between the Pages http://www.peekingbetweenthepages.com/. Tune in May 31 for a second guest post from me on that site reflecting on the joy of writing TO BE QUEEN and the inspiration I find in the places where I sit and write.

The Cloisters is an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a separate branch that holds much of the museum’s medieval collection. It is a place of beautiful art, flowering trees, and square colonnades, or cloisters, where water runs in fountains all through the spring and summer, giving the visitor an oasis of peace in the midst of Manhattan’s constant motion.

The Cloisters is where I first wrote the outline for THE QUEEN’S PAWN. In one of the museum’s three outdoor cloisters, Alais and I settled down to work out the details of the novel. Writing a synopsis can be as much work for me as writing the novel itself, but the soothing, tranquil atmosphere of the museum relaxed me and gave me a feeling for the kind of religious devotion that sustained Alais throughout her childhood and for much of her life.

This statue of the Holy Mother and the Christ child, while from a later period, gives you a good idea of the kind of art Alais loved. The character as she developed on the pages of my novel has a deep devotion to the Church. She is especially drawn to the Virgin Mary, who serves as an aid and comfort to her during the dark, lonely days of her childhood, and later, after the events of THE QUEEN’S PAWN have drawn to a close.

 The Cloisters is full of such beauty, objects of devotion and shaded colonnades of tranquility. As I wrote, I felt as if I was given a window into Alais’ time in her own cloister, when she was able to escape the political tumult of her life, and spend her time in contemplation and prayer. I would have written the book without the Cloisters to shelter me, but the experience would not have been nearly as rewarding. I am grateful to the museum for creating such a place of serenity where, as with THE QUEEN’S PAWN, we can seek a window into the past.

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