I barely slept. I sat up high on the cot despite the good sheets and a finely woven blanket. My head rested against the walls and I curled my arms around my knees and stared into the dark.
I went to a book-launch tonight. Given that I live in an island region of Australia, in a little town, it was so rewarding to attend the launch of new historical fiction title by internationally acclaimed writer, Posie Graeme-Evans. And the book is The Dressmaker.
I hated our time in Rouen.
My mare cast a shoe a league before the town and I was forced to lead her and thus we arrived, both of us, footsore and tired. Guy offered me his gelding, but I would not ride. Khazia had carried me unstintingly, it was the least I could do to walk beside her as she suffered a bruised sole. Guy dismounted and led his horse, and we barely spoke, but each time his arm rubbed against mine butterflies danced in my belly.
When I began writing the fan-fiction The Sheriff’s Collector, it was all a bit of fun. It meant nothing, it was just a tale of a tale and had no plot, no real characters that I empathised with, no setting, nothing that means anything to a writer taking their craft seriously.
Guy was such a strange man. Secretive? Without doubt.
I could have talked on my mother for the whole journey. To talk would have been to honour her. But Guy would not talk of his own mother at all. At one point I had chatted so much to him about Moncrieff and my memories of the place, it was many leagues before I realized he had said nothing – just sat quietly allowing my words to surround him, possibly even drown him. When I thought on it, I was surprised he hadn’t ordered me to desist in that cool, authoritative way of his. Already during our travels I had seen flashes of his temper.
The idea of holding a blog event would have sounded quite odd to me twelve months ago. That long ago I was only just coming to terms with Facebook and LinkedIn, followed by the dreaded 140 characters of Twitter. But on the lookout for ways in which to reach a readership, I came across ‘how to make a book-trailer’ on Nathan Bransford’s blog. Of course I couldn’t on my own, because technology and I don’t speak in the same language and so my brother (who runs a production house) did it to my brief. After that I felt ‘challenge’ biting at my heels and on reading all my favourite historical fiction blogs, came across the amaaaaazzzing vvb32 who seems to run brilliant events on a weekly basis.
Before I add another chapter to The Masked Ball, this time from myself, I must tell you that my Niccolo de Fleury is a mere caricature, a light pencil sketch, even a cartoon. He was loosely inspired by the real Nicholas van der Poele, alias Niccolo de Fleury, who is one of the most extraordinary creations in the world of Historical Fiction. Nicholas van der Poele, (de Fleury) is a blonde Renaissance man from Bruges with a stupendous intellect that enables him to range across all the political, economic and cultural demesnes of Europe in his time. Dorothy Dunnett wrote 8 books about him and I love every single one of them and would like to say without fear of correction that I believe she is the greatest historical fiction writer the world has ever seen. Equally my Sir Percy is a caricature of the most excellent Sir Percy Blakeney of The Scarlet Pimpernel and if either of my characters prompt you as reader to dash off and read of the real characters in the afore-mentioned books then I will, quite simply, have done my job. Having said that, if ever there was a movie made of The House of Niccolo, I can actually imagine Richard Armitage in the role as he has proved himself time and again through North and South, Robin Hood, Spooks and no doubt with his upcoming and more contemporary TV dramas that he could pull off the convoluted and intricate character that is Nicholas van der Poele. I must also add, if anything has really inspired me in this whole Masked Ball story, it’s the perfect creations from Bo Press Miniature Books
If I wasn’t a fantasy writer, I should dearly love to write historical fiction. And as a reader, this year I have tried to read mostly hist.fict. which includes those I listed in my shopping spree last night as well as a re-visit of the unparalleled Dorothy Dunnett. To me, these top rated authors are paying an enormous compliment to time past, to our ancestors, to the breadth of experience that has brought us to this point in our existence. None more so than those who write of ancient Rome. I have read Marius’ Mules this year and below is my review of it for Amazon.com: