Historical Virtual Book Tour Presents....
By E.M. Powell
When Mary Anne so generously offered this guest post as part of my blog tour for THE KING’S JUSTICE, the first in my new medieval mystery series, I was a) excited by the topic and b) went to double check the definition of ‘inspiration’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The reasons for my reaction are not complex. Authors are solitary beasts and are always excited when anybody at all in the wider world asks them about their books. This is largely in response to authors’ nearest and dearest running for the hills whenever the topic of writing is mentioned. It is a sad fact, dear reader, that loved ones’ eyes glaze over when an author is relating a screamingly funny anecdote over dinner about a misplaced modifier in the last paragraph of the now deleted draft of chapter 4.
Aside from the rush of another real live human being interested in the writing process, I’m a historical fiction author and our knee jerk reaction to any project is to go check the facts. Usually at least three times, and with as many reliable sources as we can get our hands on. So off I went to the OED. And I found this: ‘Inspiration: A breathing in or infusion of some idea, purpose, etc. into the mind; the suggestion, awakening, or creation of some feeling or impulse, esp. of an exalted kind.’
Exalted? Oh, my. What of course happened next is what always happens in research. I needed to check the Thing I’d found out when I went to check the original Thing. Here’s the OED again: ‘Exalted: Of feelings, powers, sentiments, states of the mind. Carried to a high degree; intense. Of persons: Impassioned, rapturously excited.’
Crikey. Not only did that sound exhausting, I worried that I might frighten the doggo, who is my usual writing companion when the nearest and dearest are out at work/have escaped. Before I could take the next fatal step (‘Rapturously? Hmmm…’), I shut the OED.
Then I did what authors also do, which is commonly misinterpreted as Staring out of The Window but what I like to call Having a Think. Mock us not: it really, really is something that is necessary. And just as it was something that I needed to do in order to decide what to write for this post, it’s something that I have to do when writing a novel.
I can best explain it this way. You know that feeling you get when you’re reading a novel and have become totally engrossed in it? It’s like you have gone to another world. The real world around you seems to have totally receded. You may not even hear people speaking to you or asking for your attention. You can be in an airport lounge and almost miss your flight. You can be on a train that’s jam-packed with commuters and you have no idea that anybody else is anywhere near you. The story has hold of you and that’s where your mind has gone.
Well, it’s the same when writing that story. And not only is the author immersed in that other mindset, the author is having to keep a multitude of plates spinning at once: Characters. Plot. Secret Plot, if it’s a mystery. Dialogue. Narrative. Historical details. Timeline. Drop one, and the whole story can collapse.
Having a Think also works in a proactive way. (I’d love to be able to extend the plate-spinning metaphor but nope, it wouldn’t co-operate.) It works like this. If I’m truly immersed in the world of my novel, then different avenues can open up as if by themselves. Characters. Hey, what if I make a Jane a John? Plot: if John then falls off that horse, then he could see something vital. But where’s the horse gone? Okay, a female peasant has stopped it. Hey, she’s quite interesting. Dialogue: Oh, listen to how that peasant is talking to John. She’s pretty sassy. Okay, she’s in. And if she’s in this scene, she could be in six others. Which would solve a plot problem. And so on, and so on.
It’s important to bear in mind as well that there’s a lot of prep work that goes into the Having a Think, on the parts that don’t necessarily show in the final version. Was Jane a name used in the 12th Century? Was John? If John decides to become a monk, will he change his name? Why would John even think about becoming a monk if he has the delectable Jane? His character bio, which is John’s life before he ever hits page 1, will tell me that. I just have to write it first. Then, if John abandons monastic life for love of Jane and leaps back onto his horse, what kind of horse? Lovely that he and Jane spot the bad guy as he’s slipping away through the deep shadows of the castle bailey. Would it have a bailey? Need to check. But when John came galloping out of the monastery, it was dawn and the birds were singing. Birds? Which type of birds? Need to go and check that they’re native. And so on, again.
What I’m trying to say is that so much of my inspiration comes from putting the hours in. Developing my craft. Devoting hours and hours of time and mental energy to get every moving part of the novel in as good working order as I can.
And when it comes together, when all the fictional everyones and all the fictional everythings are doing what they should, that, dear reader, is the point at which I’m excited. I’d even say rapturously* excited. (*Of a person: feeling or exhibiting rapture; ecstatic, extremely enthusiastic. Sorry: I just had to.)
The King’s Justice
By E.M. Powell
A murder that defies logic—and a killer on the loose.
England, 1176. Aelred Barling, esteemed clerk to the justices of King Henry II, is dispatched from the royal court with his young assistant, Hugo Stanton, to investigate a brutal murder in a village outside York.
The case appears straightforward. A suspect is under lock and key in the local prison, and the angry villagers are demanding swift justice. But when more bodies are discovered, certainty turns to doubt—and amid the chaos it becomes clear that nobody is above suspicion.
Facing growing unrest in the village and the fury of the lord of the manor, Stanton and Barling find themselves drawn into a mystery that defies logic, pursuing a killer who evades capture at every turn.
Can they solve the riddle of who is preying upon the villagers? And can they do it without becoming prey themselves?
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 6 paperback copies of The King’s Justice! To enter, please enter here.
• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
• Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
•Only one entry per household.
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• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Links for Purchase
E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.
Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.
Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.