Tag Archives: writing

The Lady Novelist pays her respects to King Richard III (part 1)

My relationship with Richard III is a bit rambling and has a few strange turns.

Like most people, what I knew of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester, boiled down to one simple story: he was a wicked, hunchbacked man who stole the throne and murdered his innocent nephews, before being cut down in battle while calling out for a horse.

Shakespeare’s play – a fiction written for a Tudor audience and heavily influenced by histories written by Tudor accounts – obviously in turn influenced centuries of popular opinion on this game loser of the Wars of the Roses.

These days, I’m a much keener advocate of King Richard III as a misunderstood monarch. Books like The Maligned King have sown enough doubt about his complicity in the boys’ disappearance and made me a Ricardian!

My road to becoming one actually began with Shakespeare, though, and Martin Freeman’s brilliant 2014 turn as the cruel and broken man.  (More recently, Kate Mulvany’s portrayal was breathtaking too).

Hot on the heels of my second viewing of theTrafalgar Theatre production, my friend, fellow writer and co-conspirator, Wendy Fries, dared me to write a Richard III/Star Trek’s Khan fanfiction. After 30 seconds of denying such a thing was possible, I wrote the first of what turned out to be 14 stories of time travel, reincarnation, epic love and redemption.

I turned Shakespeare’s (and Freeman’s) mad, bad Richard into a whole new character – and my curiosity about the real Richard was revived. Not long after I’d written the stories, Richard’s recently rediscovered bones were reinterred at Leicester Cathedral. The pathos of the moment, combined my unexpected emotional investment in both the fictional and the real King, spurred me onto further reading.  I read Jospehine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and then, hungry for facts, Annette Carson’s The Maligned King.

All of which brings me to Leicester, and on the trail of the history of King Richard III, who was surely no saint, but who wasn’t a black-hearted villain either.

The Bosworth Battlefield

My first day in Leicester took us to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. Between intermittent bursts of rain and sunshine, we were guided through the exhibition in the old farmhouse by the centre’s curator, Richard Knox.

The actual location of the battlefield wasn’t certain until relatively recently, when investigation located both the marsh in which Richard III’s horse got bogged and a wealth of medieval cannon balls. The Centre is located on what was the King’s encampment. From the nearby hill, a frame surmounted by Richard’s and Henry Tudor’s standards looks down on the valley where Richard met his end.

There’s a trick of imagination I indulge when visiting historical sites. I close my eyes and try to place myself across time, in the shoes of whoever once stood here. I have rested on the stones at the base of the Egyptian pyramids where workers once rested. I have placed my hands on Roman walls that were built by hands long gone to dust.

This day I stood on the earth that those long-gone medieval once stood on; suffered on; died on.

Here a man with a twisted spine – recently bereaved of both son and wife, an administrator with a concern for justice who was overhung with an appalling mistrust over the fate of his disinherited and vanished nephews – decided to live or die as a king of England.

Had he killed Henry instead of Henry’s standard bearer, the fate of English history may have been different.

The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre takes no sides in the debate about Richard’s character. As Knox says during our tour, the job of the centre is to present the facts of the battle as far as they can be known. This includes presentations of the events leading to the battle, the kinds of weapons and armour used, the key events during the battle as understood from contemporaenous reports, and the aftermath.

The centre also presents material from the various archaelogical researches that went into locating the actual battlefield. Among the items on display is a boar pin, which would have been worn by one of Richard’s household, who rallied to him in the fatal final moments of the battle. Where it was found, the historians surmise, is where he fell, fighting

These final hours of Richard’s short life and two-year reign are covered at the centre with objective thoroughness. If you’re interested in medieval history, whether or not you’re a Ricardian, it’s worth the considerabal trek out to see this thoughtful and intelligently presented battlefield site.

Next I’ll be writing about the discovery of Richard’s body under a Leicester car park and his reinterment at the cathedral.

Tim and I were guests of the Belmont Hotel and the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre in Leicester.

Release day: Ravenfall

 

It’s 1st September, and a happy release day to my latest (and eighth) book, Ravenfall, published by Clan Destine Press.

If you have pre-ordered the paperback, today’s the day your retailer will send it to you on black feathery wings!

Set in contemporary London, Ravenfall is the story of James Sharpe, a vampire who wonders if it’s possible to fallin love, since he doesn’t even know if he has a soul, and Gabriel Dare, an artist who’s wondered all his life if he was mad but he’s pretty sure about one thing – James Sharpe is the best thing in his life. Can he convince James of the same?

They’ll find those answers together, provided they survive all the other monsters who have schemes of their own. People are dying, nobody is safe, and even the undead can die. James and Gabriel will have to risk it all in order to be together for as much of forever as they can manage.

An extract from Ravenfall:

Curious, Gabriel stabbed the tip of the silver knife into the jar of garlic, and placed it in the dish of vampire blood. The blood fizzed, coagulated and gave off a terrible stink.

‘Better toss the silverware out too, then,’ he said.

James, who had pushed well back from the table, shook his head. ‘Keep it in your room.’

Gabriel was inclined to argue the point, but James was staring at the dish of blackened vampire blood in fascinated horror.

‘We don’t have to do this now,’ Gabriel offered gently.

‘We have to find out, don’t we? Apart from anything else, you need protection. You may one day need it from me.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous.’

‘I’m not being ridiculous. You don’t… you don’t know what I… You don’t know.’

Gabriel reached for James’s shoulder, echoing James’s earlier solace.

‘I’m an excellent judge of character, remember? If you can’t trust yourself, trust me. I lived with a father who did his best to grind me into the dirt to get back at my mother; a man who medicated me from the ages of eight to twelve and packed me off to psychiatrists and institutions rather than try to listen, let alone understand. I lived on the streets, and I’ve fought for my independence my whole life. I know what people who want to hurt me look and sound like. You’re not like them. You don’t want to hurt me.’

‘No. I don’t.’

Gabriel’s leaned across the table to kiss James’s mouth. Their lips met, soft and chaste and sweet. James’s skin warmed under Gabriel’s tender touch. He didn’t kiss back, exactly, but with his head tilted up, his whole stance softened, relaxed, held still, and he received the kiss like a benediction. When Gabriel drew away, James’s eyes were closed.

‘James.’

James’s blue eyes opened, and they were full of longing and sorrow and fear. ‘I don’t want to hurt you. That doesn’t mean I won’t without meaning to. It’s happened before. When I first woke like this. A vampire. I didnae know what I was yet. But I was so thirsty and… I did monstrous things, Gabriel.’

‘But you’re not a monster. Trust me on this.’

‘Eight hours ago, you didn’t know that vampires could exist. Now you’re telling the one you live with that you trust him.’

‘Yes.’

‘With your life.’

‘Yes.’

‘You’re daft. But please. Even if you can trust my intent, you can’t trust the thirst. Promise me you’ll defend yourself if I… if I forget myself again.’

Mark Ravenfall To Read on Goodreads now!

Buy Ravenfall in paperback!

The ebook is coming in a month.