Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saxons, Princesses and Castles: Hosting 'The Lost Princess of Meigen' by Rachel A. James



Book Spotlight


The Last Princess of Meigen

by Rachel A. James

Inspirational Medieval Romance

Release Date: May 22, 2015


Summary

A captivating tale of love and duty as the last princess of Meigen searches for her true purpose amidst conflict and betrayal. 

It is 626AD, and the ancient Kingdom of Meigen is left vulnerable to neighboring Saxons. To unite the kingdoms and bring peace, Princess Alena must enter into a royal marital
alliance. But when the handsome physician, Sherwin, befalls her, matters become
complicated. Torn between obligations to her young son and country, she faces a
difficult decision. Will Alena obey the king’s orders, or choose to follow her
heart?
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About the Author

Born and raised in England, Rachel writes inspirational historical romance, she is also married to a pastor, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others through her writing. Rachel absolutely loves romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten!

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 Author Interview

Hello Rachel and let me take the opportunity to give a virtual handshake to a fellow Brit- we’re a rare breed in the Christian Fiction genre don’t you know….
So, first of all, can you tell me a little bit about your books? I have the first one The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia but I have not read it yet.
Rachel's First Book- Published last year
RJ: The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia, and The Last Princess of Meigen are novels that were loosely inspired by historical events, the fall of the Celtic Kingdoms in the 7th century due to Anglo-Saxon invasion. 
Elmetia (later known as Elmet) and Meigen (also possibly known as Meicen) were small kingdoms located in what we know of as parts of Yorkshire today.  The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia takes place around 624AD, and The Last Princess of Meigen follows on from that, around two years later. Both stories centre around a fictional princess of each kingdom, and how they overcome the tragedy of losing their homeland.
Now, I’m going to warn you in advance, that I am a real Medieval History buff, and I am fascinated with the Early Medieval period in Britain, especially the seventh and eighth centuries. It is the era that gave us Bede, the first English Historian, and King Oswald of Northumbria, the inspiration for Tolkien’s Aragorn. Enough from me though- what would you say drew you to this period, as I note your books are set in the early seventh century?
RJ: I’ve always loved medieval history stories, King Arthur, Tristan & Isolde, Robin Hood…  However, ever since I was a child, I was fascinated with our early medieval history, when Britain was divided into many kingdoms.  After all, isn’t this where most of our fairytales began, with faraway kingdoms, and forgotten royalty? Except, the history from the 5th-10th centuries, are not fairytales! I really wanted to write a book about something that ‘could’ have actually happened.
I have heard, that, until very recently, Christian novels set in the medieval period were not popular with publishers. Did you encounter any problems along the way with your books?
RJ: Yes, and the fact that my books are early medieval as well, some publishers didn’t even think it could be classified as ‘medieval’ at all. One well known publisher said they didn’t contract anything too ‘dark and edgy’. I tried to explain that although my books were set in the ‘dark ages’, they were anything but dark. Alas, they didn’t seem convinced. I was very fortunate that my editor from Prism Book Group is a massive Tolkien fan, and she signed me straight away after reading my first manuscript. The rest, they say, is history!
This year, I have the number of Christian Medievals is well into the teens. I’ve so far read Dauntless by Dina Slieman, and I’ve just finished The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson. Both are adventure type Romances, which feature strong young women in positions of leadership or care of others. On the other hand, I’m also reading Oswald: Return of the King by Edoardo Albert- which I would describe as a historical epic chronicling the rise and reign of the Saxon King who established the Great Monastery at Lindisfarne, and helped to bring Christianity to his Kingdom.
Yet every book is in some way unique, so what do you think makes your books or writing stand out from the crowd?
RJ: Ummm… I would describe my books as romantic adventures, in an historical setting. They are by no means history books, you won’t find pages and pages of historical detail and description in any of my novels. My emphasis, is transporting readers into another world, where they can escape for a time, and perhaps think of themselves as a Celtic princess or a Saxon warrior.  My writing is inspirational, and the characters certainly go on a spiritual journey.
In Forgotten Princess, the theme is about forgiveness, and the Last Princess focuses more on acceptance and value. Having said that, the historical element is important to me. The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia was inspired by an historical event, the collapse of the Kingdom of Elmet in 617AD. Some of the characters in the book are actual historical figures, like King Edwin and Queen Ethelburga, but the rest are purely fictional. My books are more accurately classed as historical fantasy, blending elements of fiction with history.
What kind of advice would you give to any wannabe historical fiction author- as I know I that I would agonise over research (far too much of a stickler for accuracy me)?
RJ: As I writer, I think you need to decide what kind of historical fiction you like, and what kind you want to write. In my experience, there are two different types of historical fiction fans. There are readers who love reading historical fiction, because they are passionate about history. They want minute historical details, and vast descriptions, and they are very adamant on historical accuracy. The history part is possibly more important than the storyline. 
And then you have the other types of readers, who read for escapism, and enjoy the historical setting, but don’t get too hung-up on the historical details. In fact, these types of readers, find too much detail laboured and boring. I guess the trick is finding the right kind of balance for yourself. Research though, is very important, something I have learned the hard way. I certainly conduct a lot more research now than I did in the beginning of my writing journey.
Now, just for fun can you tell us something surprising, unusual or unexpected about yourself? We Brits have something of a reputation for eccentricity to live up to after all…
RJ: Well now you’ve got me stumped. It’s hard to know what is surprising about yourself isn’t it? I mean, I am definitely an exceedingly ‘British’ person, and am reserved in nature.  I love my tea, but then that’s no secret.  Before I turned to writing, I once had a brief stint as a children’s entertainer. I organised ‘princess’ parties for little girls, and even dressed up as one on a few occasions. It didn’t last long though… I’m far to introverted to be able to pull something like that if off in real life! Hence, I turned my creativity into writing, and have not looked back since!
So for the final question,  I for one am of the opinion that the medieval period is much misunderstood and sometimes misrepresented. Can you…..come up with one fascinating fact or little known detail about the Middle Ages? Or something that might challenge traditional perceptions of this age?
RJ: In terms of my writing, I really had to challenge the whole misconceptions of castles, throughout the publishing process.  As you know, castles were not part of the British landscape until much later, and were certainly not around in the 7th century. I think people here the words ‘kingdom’ and ‘princess’, and suddenly picture a fairytale castle.
In fact, I had to specifically request not to have a fairytale castle on my cover pictures. Sure, it makes it more romantic and ‘princessy’, but it’s just not accurate. The reality is, royal palaces in those days were likely made of wood. I managed to get around this detail in my books, by creating a fictional island not far from Lindisfarne. On this island, were the remains of an old Roman fortress, which the people renovated and enhanced (therefore making it similar a stone castle) and used as a royal palace.
Thank-you Rachel for Dropping by, and I hope to read and review your books soon.
Here's to many more literary adventures!

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