Welcome to another Medieval Monday! My guest today is bestselling author, Ruth A. Casie. She’s here to tell us why she writes historicals. Take it away, Ruth!
Years ago when I worked for a large bank I did a lot of international business travel. I can remember my first overseas assignment very clearly. It was a two week trip to five European cities. I brought six paperbacks thinking I would catch up on my reading—there was never enough time to read at home. We had three small children. Settled in my seat, I finished a book and a half by the time I landed in Brussels.
Client calls with local bank directors filled my days, but after business hours and over the weekend I was on my own. I filled the time with walking tours, sometimes in groups other times using the track provided by the hotel. Each time I came face to face with history; the Grand Place in Brussels, the Place de la Concorde in Paris, and Hampton Court in England.
As I went on to the different cities I tried to hear the sounds, smell the aromas, and see the sights from a different perspective, a different time. Stories by Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey and Lynn Kurland had me enthralled along with Clive Cussler. I know he’s not exactly romance but his Dirk Pit stories always start with some historical fact or thread that’s crucial to solving the mystery. I read my books at night and visited places where I imagined the stories unfolding.
Historical facts mixed with chivalry and magic are the most compelling stories to me. The romance of the middle ages with knights and princesses and their myths of druids, fairies, and fae tossed in for good measure all drew me in. Time travel stories and the ability to visit the past, protect the future, or simply experience a different time were the most compelling stories. Personally, I want my fiction based on fact but I don’t necessarily want the cold truth of reality. I know that history doesn’t always end with a happily ever after but taking a little poetic license to alter history just a bit to make it all work out is what I enjoy reading—and writing.
More about Ruth
Ruth A. Casie, a USA Today Bestselling Author, writes historical fantasy and contemporary romances for Harlequin, Carina Press, and Timeless Scribes. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and international bank product and marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, NJ, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch.
You can reach her at http://www.RuthACasie.com and join her newsletter, on Twitter @RuthACasie, at her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie or at Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ruthacasie/
The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin, Book One) is now available for print pre-orders from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. Yay!
Welcome back to Medieval Monday! My guest today is Ashley York, who crafts stories “where history takes a passionate turn.” Let’s see why she loves writing medieval.
Where History takes a passionate turn says it all! My medieval stories take place in the 11th and 12th century, the High Middle Ages. I love the fact that survival was not guaranteed and life was not easy. Babies died, food was fought over, and enemies were everywhere. This lends itself to creating complex characters that live life to the fullest, seeking satisfaction in all their pursuits whether it be in warfare or love, while knowing how brief there time may be. That equals passion! The fact that they live in a Christian society adds restraint to their decisions while they struggle with the many things, seen and unseen, and their pagan past hovers over them like a storm cloud.
This is an amazing time period where universities were just coming into prominence, empires were being established, and human ingenuity was on the upswing. I write my characters without an eye toward the outcome of history. Just because we know William of Normandy will conquer the Kingdoms of England in 1066 doesn’t mean we have to act like the Saxons were ripe for an invasion. Just the opposite! Let’s extol their strength and unity and their proud, though diverse, heritage. Let’s not give the ending away!
More about Ashley
Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author’s imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.
You can find Ashley’s books at https://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com/books
Welcome to another Medieval Monday. Today, I’m thrilled to have Mary Morgan as my guest! Let’s discover why she loves writing medieval.
I’ve often been asked this question, “Why Medieval romance? Why not Regency, Victorian, or Western?” In truth, I love them all, but my heart belongs to one. It started when my fingers opened a book about the great Irish King, Brian Boru (941-1014A.D.). His story is legendary, especially with the people of Ireland. King Brian led the Irish to the peak of their Golden Age—from poetry, arts, saints, and scholars. A spark ignited within my soul for more.
I sought out tales of knights in shining armor and folk heroes, delving into a life teeming with richness, though at times harsh and violent. Yet, it wasn’t until I devoured the history of Brian Boru that I became immersed in medieval life. From there, I treasured tales of life in castles, traveling on horseback, studying foods and herbs. My list is endless and always growing on medieval ways. Yes, there are even days when I long to travel back in time and explore the history, lore, and beliefs.
Therefore, when it came time to pen my own stories, it only made sense for me to place them all in a medieval setting. One might say I live vicariously through my characters. It’s a love affair with all things medieval.
More about Mary
California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling–writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
To learn more about Mary’s stories, visit her book page: http://www.marymorganauthor.com/books
Welcome back for another Medieval Monday! My guest today is Barbara Bettis, and it’s her turn to tell us why she loves writing medieval.
I’m not sure what calls to me so strongly from the Middle Ages, but whatever it is, has done so my entire life. I think it may be rooted in the stories I devoured when I first started reading. Myths, folk stories from different cultures, tales of Knights of the Round Table, they all captured my imagination. It was a different, fascinating world where anything was possible—in theory. Throughout school, history was a favorite subject, and I loved to delve into the events—and lives of the people—of the past.
As I did so, I recognized that the knightly tales of derring do from my childhood were set amidst times of turmoil, deprivation of the many and reward of the few. I usually root for the underdog, so when my studies introduced me to mercenaries and the bad reputation many of them enjoyed (and they probably did enjoy them), I immediately thought, “But they all must not have been bad. What of the ones who fought to better themselves and didn’t practice cruelty?”
Life was not easy for most people. In the eyes of society at that time, bettering oneself usually meant acquiring land. Few folks had the means or opportunity to do so. Later in the Medieval period, landed-society’s restrictions didn’t allow for commoners to aspire to knighthood, except for very limited exceptions. But in the earlier days, it wasn’t all that unusual for a commoner to rise by reason of bravery, strength, and audacity. All but one of my stories have featured such mercenaries who strive to better themselves by acquiring power and land.
All my stories feature strong women, not at all the norm of the period. Yet discoveries tell us there were more strong women than we realize, although most of them were wed or in the church. I imbue my heroines with strength of character given the times in which they lived.
I love creating the stories of strong heroines we women would like to be and of heroes we’d love to live for.
More about Barbara
Barbara Bettis grew up in the rural Midwest, where reading was a reward for chores well done. So you can bet she did her chores well—and fast. She loved history and English. She’d intended to major in English, but when she arrived at her small, Liberal Arts college, one of the European history professors was on a Rhodes Scholarship. Once she met the English professors, she defected.
Thus, she received her BA in English with a strong minor in history and her Master’s in English. After working as a newspaper reporter and editor, Barb returned to college and taught English and journalism, later earning a doctorate in Higher Education with an emphasis in journalism.
After her husband died, some former students lured her into their critique group, where she began writing fiction. A trip to Scotland and England solidified her love of the Isles (the small tour group set up a ‘Barb’s Castle Alert’ on their train journeys). Her earlier fascination with the Middle Ages led her into her medieval stories, where she’s been roaming around ever since.
Now that she’s retired from teaching, her ambition is to write an angst-ridden, tortured hero set in the High Middle Ages, but somehow her guys end up with inappropriate senses of humor. Perhaps in the future…
Visit Barbara at http://www.barbarabettis.blogspot.com
As I said in my last post, everything is connected. After my twins’ birth, my breasts were definitely in the loop. Overnight, I went from a bra size of 38C to 38J. We’re talking cantaloupes here! Up till then, I never imagined I’d wear an undergarment of that magnitude. Or that I’d develop such an intimate relationship with a breast pump. And who knew cold, wet cabbage leaves could bring down the swelling of said melons, allowing milk to flow?
Despite the discomfort—and the suspicion I’d morphed into a glorified cow—I pumped away. It was the only way to add breast milk to the formula the boys received through tubes.
I feared I wasn’t producing enough, but a male nurse put my mind at ease. “Anything you can do is great,” he said. “Every drop is like liquid gold.”
It must’ve been, for the boys did well. They moved quickly from the CPAP (a method of continuous respiratory ventilation) to the nasal cannula, then from incubators to a double crib. They still had a few nighttime “spells”—when, like most premies, they forgot to breathe—but overall, things looked good.
In the beginning, the NICU allowed us one short visit per day, and the only way we could touch the boys was by cupping a hand over the tops of their heads. But soon after Dan returned to the island, the NICU filled my days.
I moved into the attic apartment of my host family’s Victorian home in Brookline. They apologized repeatedly for the triple threat of staircases I tackled twice a day, but the stairs paled in comparison to bumpy taxi rides to and from the hospital. Dan’s absence was hardest to endure, but he came every ten days for a long weekend. In addition, his parents and my mom flew in for a brief, joint visit.
Being near the boys was my greatest comfort. I sang to them and held them as often as possible to reassure them of our love. But I questioned my ability to care for them outside the hospital, and my constant observation of their vital signs (via monitors) didn’t help.
The data was intriguing, though. More often than not, their oxygen saturation levels ran in tandem. If Connor’s levels dipped, Geoffrey’s followed suit. When Geoffrey’s rose, so did Connor’s. Their whole physiology seemed a joint affair.
Such behavior wasn’t unique to my premies. Whenever the nurses noticed it, they just smiled and said, “They’re doing the twin thing again.”
The staff was less encouraging when I asked if the boys could leave the hospital on the same day. They all had the same response. “That almost never happens.”
During the boys’ sixth week in the NICU, the nurses appeared to be right. Geoffrey progressed faster than his brother, and it looked like he’d be ready to leave in a day or two.
My stomach churned. I’d seen and felt the intense bond the boys shared. When one of them was taken from the crib, the other immediately reached out to the empty space. Once when Connor’s oxygen level dipped, Geoffrey touched his arm, and the readings shot up again. With such an attachment, I wondered how Connor would cope with being left behind. Worse yet, I was afraid he’d think I abandoned him.
I was alone. I didn’t drive. The bassinets, car seats, and other essentials were all on the island. How could I visit Connor if I was busy—and possibly botching the job—with Geoffrey? For that matter, how could I carry Geoffrey up and down three flights of stairs?
My body ached. My hormones were wacky. I was exhausted from pumping out milk every four hours. Let’s face it: I was the definition of overwhelmed.
In the end, Geoffrey orchestrated a solution on his own. The day before his proposed discharge, Dan arrived and together we visited the NICU. Because the boys had to master drinking from a bottle before their release, Dan took a stab at feeding Geoffrey. The NICU staff wasn’t always in the room during visits, but this time a nurse stood by and asked Dan about his work.
Free from all monitors, Geoffrey drained the bottle. Then Dan began to burp him, all the while chatting with the nurse.
For some reason, I glanced at Geoffrey. Then I got the strangest impression.
He’s not in his body. He’s floated off somewhere.
I interrupted the conversation. “Dan, Geoffrey’s not there.”
He and the nurse turned to me.
“Something’s wrong,” I said. “He’s not there.”
They looked at Geoffrey, who by then was turning blue. The nurse scooped him up, laid him on the crib, and worked on him until he started breathing again.
With a sigh of relief, she regarded us. “He’s going back on the monitors, and after a stunt like that, he’s not going anywhere for at least five days.”
Five days more, by which time Connor was ready to leave. My prayers were answered. The boys could leave the hospital together.
Even though both of them passed the NICU’s “car seat test” the same morning, I squeezed between them in the back seat of the rental car and kept a constant watch. I glanced from right to left, from Connor to Geoffrey, for the entire length of our drive to the Cape. I had to make sure they were breathing.
I continued my vigil during the 2½-hour ferry ride to Nantucket, after which our landlady picked us up and took us home. The boys were asleep, so Dan hauled them in their carrier car seats up the steps to our apartment. He placed them on the floor, and we shared a long hug. Then our gazes locked.
“What do we do now?” he asked.
I shrugged. “It beats me.”
As it turned out, the twins dictated our every move. They got the tiny bedroom, while we slept on the couch/double bed in the living room/kitchen of our shoebox apartment. We bottle-fed and burped them. We changed hundreds of diapers. We did load after load of laundry and barely slept.
Until one blessed night, five months in, when both boys slumbered from 6:00 p.m. until dawn. From that point on, they slept through the night.
Today is their thirteenth birthday. What a ride it’s been! Dan and I still don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re giving it our best. Those boys have taught us so much about unconditional love. Is it any wonder I added identical-twin boys to my cast of characters in the Guardians of Erin series? The first book, The Cauldron Stirred, will be released July 21, 2017. If you read it, you’ll see that Kian and Conall Donoghue have a little bit of my boys tucked inside them.