Friday, 19 April 2013

The Fifth Knight - an interview with E.M. Powell

As part of the Historical Fiction Blog Tour, author E.M. Powell discusses writing her historical thriller, "The Fifth Knight" and is offering a copy of the book to followers of Sir Read-A-Lot!  Follow the link HERE to enter the giveaway.

So, please bow and curtsey to E.M. Powell as she takes centre stage at Sir Read-A-Lot's Court of Historical Fiction!

1 - What gave you the inspiration to write "The Fifth Knight"?

I have a long-standing interest in medieval literature and history. At University I studied Old and Middle English, reading such wonderful stories such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in their original forms. My second completed novel was a medieval suspense called Lollard’s Daughter. It was based on the heretical group, the Lollards, who were active from the mid-14th Century to the Reformation. That novel came very close to getting me representation. While it was disappointing at the time, I knew medieval was definitely what I wanted to write. So I started to look around at famous medieval historical events. I of course came across the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. So I thought to myself, ‘Could I really?’ Turns out, I could- and did.

2 - Is the Angevin period your favourite era and why?  If not which is your favourite and why?

The Angevins and the Plantagenets are neck and neck. For the Angevins, you have Henry II, his extraordinary Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their raft of sons- all of whom are a book in themselves. But within the Plantagenet reign, you have The Black Death. I would love to take on a saga about those 1,000 days of death from 1347 – 1351. I suppose that means a photo finish, so I guess I’ll just have to write them all!

3 - You initially released the book as an eBook serial, what made you repackage the book into one tome?

When The Fifth Knight was out on submission (by my agent, the tireless and wonderful Josh Getzler at HSG), there was some interest. Then an offer came from Thomas & Mercer, who are the crime and mystery imprint at Amazon Publishing. Amazon launched Kindle serials in September 2012. Kindle Serials are novel-length stories, published in a number of episodes. A customer pays a one-off price, and then each episode is delivered automatically to their Kindle. Thomas & Mercer really liked The Fifth Knight and suggested that it would work well divided up into six episodes. They would then release it as a complete novel.  And that’s exactly what happened. On the day it was launched, The Fifth Knight was alongside Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers on the Serials promotion page. Surreal? Yes. Thrilling? Double yes!

4 - Do you have a writing regime?  How do you fit it into your day job (if you have one)?

My regime is that I don’t really have one. I try and write where and when I can. I have a part-time day job so the days not in there are where I have the most potential hours. But as every writer knows, life is no respecter of time set aside. It’s also quite difficult to convince your Nearest & Dearest that staring into space while you’re sat over an idle computer is actually writing. It’s just in my head, and any minute now will come out. I also think that writing sort of percolates. You think you’re finished for the day. Then out of nowhere, in the most unlikely of circumstances (like mopping the floor/having a meal/cleaning gunk out of the shower trap) an idea just strikes and you have to rush to capture it on paper. My N &D don’t even look up now when they hear the cry of ‘Oh!’ and I leg it to go and grab a paper and pen.

5 - What advice would you give to any aspiring writers?

Never, ever give up! It took me eleven years and three fully completed manuscripts to get to where I am now. I have a pile of rejections that weighs (almost) as much as I do. But if you give up, you’ll never do it.

6 - Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently working on the sequel, which is called The Blood of The Fifth Knight. That title may change. I also have a side project, which is a Steampunk series set in the Coroner’s Office of Victorian Manchester. Think Ripper Street as alternate history. Many people think the idea is crazed. I like it a lot.

7 - Which three historical persons would you invite for dinner?

Emmeline Pankhurst. I think I would spend most of the evening just gaping at her in awe. Then I’d probably drink too much and cry into her face for what she’s done for women everywhere. She would then probably slap me.  Pliny the Elder. What did he do when he saw Vesuvius blowing up in 79 AD? He recorded everything he saw because he thought it fascinating and exciting, then tried to rescue a female friend. He was an old man in poor health but was unstoppable till the end. I like that. A lot. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Because I would ask him what it was like that dark December evening in 1170, when murderers came for him in his own cathedral. I’d ask him how he had the courage to stand and face them, when most of us would plead/run/hide/fight.

8 - At which event in history would you have liked to have been present at?

I have been. The birth of our daughter in 1998. Take the sun, moon and stars, roll them up in a slice of Heaven and put them in my arms. That was the moment she came into the world. I’m afraid nothing in history could ever match that.

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