Today it is my pleasure to welcome Helen Hollick, the author of The Kingmaking to Peeking Between the Pages. The Kingmaking is a wonderful piece of historical fiction that keeps you captivated for hours. I really enjoyed this novel and you can see my review of it here. Now let’s join Helen as she talks about how she came about writing historical fiction and her interest in it…
I had no interest in history at school. The history teacher used to read out of a very dull book, in a very dull voice. I do not remember one thing she “taught” us. The only lesson I looked forward to was English. Mrs Llewellyn brought passion to the subject and suggested exciting novels to read. She encouraged my writing and spent time showing me how to make my essays better.
I was always writing. After leaving school I got a job as an assistant at my local library. While working there I re-discovered Rosemary Sutcliff’s wonderful novels set in Roman Britain – Eagle of the Ninth, Frontier Wolf, Mark of the Horse Lord etc, and then Mary Stewart’s Hollow Hills Trilogy, and I discovered Arthur.
I had never liked the traditional Arthurian stories. I could not accept that King Arthur of the Medieval tales was so poor at being a king. He became King, obtained a beautiful wife and then disappeared in search of the Holy Grail, thereby abandoning his Kingdom. Surely he would have foreseen the Lancelot/Guinevere affair? I also detested Lancelot and those goody-goody knights – none of it seemed real history – so the tales were not of interest to me.
Mary Stewart’s novels included an author’s note in which she stated if Arthur had existed he would have been a post-Roman war lord. I liked that idea and read as much about the ‘real’, more interesting Arthur as I could.
I searched for novels – but became so frustrated with most of them. They were not how I saw things. I was so annoyed at one portrayal of Gwenhwyfar that I threw the book across the room.
That is what made my mind up. I was going to write my ideas of what might have really happened.
There would be no knights in armour, turreted castles or Holy Grails, No myth, no magic. No Lancelot, no Merlin. Instead, I went back to the early Welsh legends of Arthur and his wife, Gwenhwyfar. The legends turned out to be far more emotionally exciting than the Medieval stories. This Arthur was more plausible. This Arthur was real.
It took me ten years to write – but the publication of the Sourcebooks edition of The Kingmaking proves I did it!
Thanks so much for joining us today at Peeking Between the Pages Helen. I look forward to the next novel in the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy.