Now for my interview with Helen Hollick:
1. How did you get your start in writing?
I have always loved reading and it seemed natural to write as well. I desperately wanted a pony of my own when I was thirteen, but my parents could not afford one – so I made one up and wrote myself a pony instead.
2. What inspired you to write about King Arthur?
While working in the library I re-discovered Rosemary Sutcliff’s wonderful novels set in Roman Britain – Eagle of the Ninth, Frontier Wolf, Mark of the Horse Lord etc, and then Mary Stewart’s Hollow Hills Trilogy, and thus I discovered Arthur.
3. How long did it take you to do the research for The Kingmaking? To write the book?
About ten years!
5. What is one of your favourite books/authors?
I have mentioned a few above, but if I could only have one book I would choose Rosemary Sutcliff. Her novels were written for teenagers but she writes so beautifully, I find them inspiring. I would select Mark of the Horse Lord. I cry at the end of every reading. I never tire of the story, which is about an ex-Roman gladiator’s utter desolation and extreme courage.
Inside my copy I have a special treasure – a handwritten letter from Rosemary.
6. Where do you do most of your writing and what is your routine?
I write in my ‘office’ – well the spare bedroom really, but office sounds grander. We moved into this house just over three years ago (after the fire made a bit of a mess of our previous place). Although this new home was supposed to be only temporary we decided to stay here as it is lighter, airier and in a quieter area.
My desk is beside a window which looks out onto a small patio and our fish pond. There are lots of trees which screen the neighbouring houses, and at night it almost seems if we are in the middle of the countryside – although actually we live on the outskirts of a sprawling London Borough.
I do not have a routine, although I tend to do my “office” work – answering e-mails and maintaining my several Myspace sites, when I first get up – usually I sit here in my nightwear and dressing gown. Then I shower, have breakfast at about 10.30, do the household chores, the laundry, shopping, vacuuming etc, have lunch and then turn my attention to my writing.
If I can’t think of a word to write I tend to sit and fiddle (Scrabble on the computer is most distracting!) but if I am in full swing, I will often write into the early hours of the morning – which means I am not an early riser.
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write what is in your heart. Spelling, punctuation, grammar can all be put right in the re-write stage. Get your ideas down, do not let those characters who have been talking to you for months moulder to nothing in your mind!
I have a useful article on my website entitled “Discovering the Diamond” your readers are more than welcome to make use of anything they find interesting. Go to: http://www.helenhollick.net/culpa41.html
Please note however, I mention “cowboy” self publishers. In the UK this means a shady company up to no good, but someone has pointed out that in the USA ‘cowboy’ means the opposite. I find the differences of expressions between the UK and USA so fascinating!
8. Is there a question that you would have liked to have had on this book tour that was not asked?
I was doing a talk at a local school once to children aged about seven years old. I was asked some really good questions, but one little lad was obviously a bit bored. He stuck his hand up and said, “I’ve got a dog. Have you got any pets?”
(For the record, I have two cats, Scrabble and Kitty and a dog, Rum. My daughter, who still lives at home even though she is now 27, has a hamster, a pony and two horses. The last three, I hasten to add are at livery at a local stable yard – they are not in my back garden! My husband keeps racing pigeons – oh and there is a variety of beautiful fish in the pond.) I have not been asked about the book covers, which surprises me. (To date that is – I have a few more stops to make on my blog tour).
The original cover for the first edition of The Kingmaking published by William Heinemann was superb. Painted by UK historical artist Chris Collingwood, it had detail that was breathtaking. Sadly, the publishers decided it was not suitable for the smaller paperback edition or for the Book Clubs. I was told that the Clubs preferred a woman on the cover (what nonsense!) so they commissioned a different artist. This new design was dreadful. It had a purplish-blue background and everything that could be historically inaccurate was there. The woman (Gwenhwyfar) looked as if her legs were deformed and she was holding a bunch of flowers.
Now my Gwenhwyfar is a feisty lass, the sort of girl who owns a sword – and knows how to use it. I called that cover “the purple puke.”
The mock-up cover for the second in the series was just as awful. It was supposed to be a view of Somerset. The last time I went to Somerset I found it to be distinctly flat. The name Somerset literally means “Summer Land”. In the Dark Ages in winter the entire area would be flooded. The only high ground being the famous Glastonbury Tor.
I returned the idea for that cover to the publishers with a note stating words to the effect of: “A very nice picture but I was unaware they had mountains in Somerset. This cover would be ideal for a book about the Highlands of Scotland, but not one supposedly depicting the Somerset flood plain.”
The cover for this Sourcebooks edition is wonderful!
I would like to thank Helen for this, my first author interview!
Would you like to win a copy of The Kingmaking? Thanks to Sourcebooks , here’s your chance!
Here are the rules:
1. For one entry, leave a comment, other than “pick me” or “enter me.” Please be sure to include email address so that I can contact you if you win. You will be disquilified if there is no way to contact you.
2. For a second entry, post about this giveaway on your blog and leave link to your blog post in the comments. You will also get an entry for each person who tells me that they learned about this giveaway from you.
3. For 5 more entries: Become a Follower of my blog or subscribe to my blog through Google Reader or other subscription service. If you are already a subsriber or follower you still get the five extra entries! Please do not comment that you are a follower five times! I will give you the extra entries myself. I will delete any extra entries that you make as it will just confuse me when I go to pick the winners.
You must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
Open to U.S and Canadian Residents.
Only one entry per household/IP address.
This giveaway will end on Friday March 13th Midnight E.S.T.
The winners will be notified by email, so remember to include your email address in the comments! Winners must respond within three days or will be disquilified.
Other blogs on the tour:
http://lazyhabits.wordpress.com/ 2/21 and interview 2/27
http://lilly-readingextravaganza.blogspot.com/ 2/23 and guest blog 2/25
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/ 2/26 and guest blog 2/27
http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/ 3/2 and interview 3/3
http://readersrespite.blogspot.com/ 3/3 and interview on 3/5