What Writers have influenced my work?
Thank you very much for inviting me onto your blog to talk about the authors who have been my influences as a writer of historical fiction.
My very early influences were actually visual in the form of films and TV programmes. My first attempt at written fiction (I had been telling myself stories verbally since I could talk) was inspired by a TV series titled The Six Wives of Henry VIII and starred Keith Michelle as volatile monarch. I gave that one up as the school holidays ended but the following year, was stirred to write my second novel when I fell in love with a tall, dark handsome knight in a series about a crusader knight. So the inspiration to begin writing, came from visual media.
But once on the path, I began to explore historical fiction in detail. My first influence would have to be Mary Stewart and the first two novels in her Arthurian series. The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills. I was enchanted by her use of language, her fey feel for the past, which made it both other-worldly and immediate, and the whole exciting story of Merlin’s boyhood. I felt as if it could really have happened. If you were to ask me to name authors I wanted to emulate, Mary Stewart would be near the top of the list.
My next influence was Roberta Gellis. I read several of her novels from the library and went on to buy my own copies. Knight’s Honour. The Sword and the Swan. Bond of Blood. But it was her stunning Roselynde Chronicles that became one of my early guiding lights, especially the first two – Roselynde and Alinor. Her characters were of their time, but they had immediacy and the story telling, set against a believable historical backdrop was superb. Her hero Ian de Vipont became one of my all time favourite romantic historical heroes. He was so beautiful in appearance that in the hands of a less skilled author he could have been a cardboard cutout, but Roberta Gellis made him so real, that he stepped out of the book and into my room. As a reader I loved her work and from a writer’s perspective she showed me that it was possible to write intelligent historical romance with characters who were of their time and place.
Another of my influences was the late, great Dorothy Dunnett, who received an award from the Queen for services to literature. Whenever I felt I needed to raise my game or my enthusiasm was flagging, I would turn to Dunnett to fire me up. Her style is that of a broad canvas worked in detail and steeped in period knowledge. Dunnett’s use of language is second to none, and she is in a league of her own. Delving into her work, I always felt lifted up and refreshed. Her six book Scottish Renaissance epic about Francis Crawford of Lymond, beginning with The Game of Kings is firmly welded to my keeper shelf. Dorothy Dunnett taught me to play with language and also gave a master class in how to cut facets into characters so that they had depth from all angles.
Sharon Kay Penman is another author who has taught me a great deal, especially from her second novel Here Be Dragons. I had already read The Sunne in Splendor, and as a result had become fascinated as a reader by Richard III. After reading Sharon’s novel, I must have devoured every novel about him I could find. However, as a writer, Here Be Dragons was the important one to me. If Roberta Gellis had shown me the way to write intelligent historical romance, Here Be Dragons was a master class in how to write historical fiction about real people and make it riveting while maintaining the historical accuracy. I was blown away by this tale of King John’s daughter and her marriage to a Welsh prince.
Other authors whom I count among my influences because of their ability to tell a story and at the same time immerse the reader in the period include Ellis Peters with her Brother Cadfael series of medieval mysteries. I never read them for the whodunit element, but always for the characters and the glimpses of daily life in a medieval town. From Ellis Peters, I learned all about utilising the small details of daily life. From authors Judith Merkle Riley and Grace Ingram, I learned about injecting humour into stories, both with joyous directness and in more subtle ways.
With all of these authors, I never deliberately set out to analyse and learn. It was more by a process of readerly osmosis that I absorbed the lessons as I enjoyed their books. All of them remain some of my favourite authors today and I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping to illuminate the path to my own particular road. Thank you all!
A bittersweet tale of love, loss, and the power of royalty…
A captivating story of a mother’s love stretched to breaking and a knight determined to rebuild his life with the royal mistress, For the King’s Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best. Based on a true story never before told and impeccably researched, this is a testament to the power of sacrifice and the strength of love. When Roger Bigod, heir to the powerful earldom of Norfolk, arrives at court to settle an inheritance, he meets Ida de Tosney, young mistress to King Henry II. In Roger, Ida sees a chance for lasting love, but their decision to marry carries an agonizing price. It’s a breathtaking novel of making choices, not giving up, and coping with the terrible shifting whims of the king.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Chadwick lives near Nottingham with her husband and two sons. She is the author of 18 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, the Winter Mantle, and the Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards. Much of her research is carried out as a member of Regia Anglorum, an early medieval re-enactment society with the emphasis on accurately re-creating the past. She won a Betty Trask Award for The Wild Hunt, her first novel. For more information, please visit http://www.elizabethchadwick.com/.
My sincere gratitude to Elizabeth Chadwick for taking time out of her busy schedule to post and to Sourcebooks for making this guest author post a reality.