Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Or in this context, the research or the story?
OK, I have a confession to make. I kind of fell into the medieval time period. I didn’t intentionally set out to write a historical story set in the year 1070. So, how was it that I ended up towards the end of the Norman invasion of England?
Simple. I blame England! I lived there for sixteen years. And if you have ever been to England it’s pretty hard to avoid anything historical. Even the university I worked at has some impressive history. In 1829, the Duke of Wellington dueled with the Earl of Winchilsea in defence of his role in the foundation of King's College, which then led to King George IV signing the royal charter of King's College London. As I said, it’s pretty hard to escape history in England.
It was while I was on a weekend trip to York, in the North of England, escaping the hustle and bustle of London, I came across this (I should point out, I am a writer, NOT a photographer!):
It’s the ruins of a medieval Monastery, destroyed by Henry VIII when he destroyed Catholicism in Britain.
It’s pretty impressive in its own right. After hundreds of years it is still standing. It has stood the test of time – even the effects of modern Britain! But, this is what started it for me.
I must have wondered around this ruin for many hours. I walked along side it. I touched the cold stones and marveled at the fact that I was touching stone that someone had touched hundreds and hundreds of years ago. I started to think of the battle that must have taken place between Henry VIII men and those who defended the Monastery. What were their lives like? What were the lives like of those who lived in York and the nearby villages?
After three hours, I had to drag myself away. But those questions, and many more, still bounced around in my head. I tried to quiet the ‘what if’ questions by siting in the park for more than an hour. I focused my attention on this little cutie - a 21st Century Squirrel (I thought he had gone on the attack as he was running straight for me!):
Yet, would you believe, that only made things worse because I started to think – would have they eaten such a squirrel in medieval times?
I was getting hungry and I needed food. It was while I was heading out of the park the following piece of dialogue entered my head… “Will you at least wait until Carac arrives before you betray me to Diggory?”
What? Where did that come from? Who was Carac and Diggory and what had ‘he’ done? Who were these people and why were they talking to me?
Well, as a writer it’s not my place to question when imaginary people start talking to me! It’s my job to get their story down on paper. And that is exactly what I started to do as soon as I got back to the B&B I was staying at.
But the characters that had invaded my head weren’t from Henry VIII time period. No, they went way back to the Norman invasion. Which was perfect because what does every story need? Conflict. And that period was rife with conflict.
Because I had accidently stumbled into this period I really didn’t know much about it. I didn’t fancy the idea of spending endless hours doing research, all I wanted to do was write. And that’s what I did. When I got to a point in the story say, how did they amputate a limb in medieval times? I went and researched medieval surgeons.
Yet, while doing research, it can actually trigger some ideas for a story. For example, it was while I was reading about King William’s father, Robert I, Duke of Normandy, that I got the backstory for Aymon – the hero in my latest release, Of Love and Vengeance.
So, to answer the question, which comes first, the research or the story? Well, it depends…
Happy writing! Happy reading!
OF Love and Vengeance by Louise Lyndon
Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her young nephew’s survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves. But can Laila let Aymon die at the hands of the king once she learns the truth?
A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret?
Laila heard them long before she saw them. Their angry, frenzied shouts and thunderous roars filled her ears. With her hands tied securely behind her, she was dragged up the lane toward Tyburn Gallows, where she was to be hanged for a crime she did not commit. The mob sounded blood thirsty. Large. Frightening.
There was no sign of Aymon. Or Hugh. Had they left her alone to die?
Her chin trembled and her nails dug into her palms.
She suddenly fell to her knees and screamed until she tasted blood at the back of her throat. She kicked out and tried to crawl free as her hair was almost torn from the roots as she was pulled up and shoved along the lane.
Her eyes burned with her tears.
“I am innocent!” Laila screamed.
They came around a corner, and that’s when she saw them. There must have been a least two thousand men, women, and children, hungry for her blood. And when they saw her, they erupted into a wild fever of roars and cries for a slow and painful death. Their thirst had been piqued, and now it must be sated.
Laila was shoved into the center of the clearing.
She glanced wildly around in a desperate search for Aymon’s towering, bulky frame. She could not see him.
But what she could see was the Tyburn Tree. The gallows she was to be hanged from. The executioner, hooded, stood beside the tree as he waited patiently for her. Laila’s mouth suddenly went dry.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Louise grew up in country Victoria, Australia, before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia and now lives in Melbourne.
She has been writing the moment she picked up a copy of Diana Gabaldon's first Outlander novel twenty something years ago. She thought to herself, 'this is what I want to do' - not travel back in time, but become a novelist! She has always had snippets of dialogue and scenes floating around in her head with characters screaming at her to bring them to life.
In 2013, Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest – Historical category for her story, The Promise, which is now called, Of Love and Vengeance.
When not writing, she can be found covered in mud, crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls - under the guise of competing in Spartan races all over Australia.
Louise will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn host.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:
My Latest News
I’m currently working on Fire Storm, Book 2 in the Gathering Storm Series