It's always really nice to welcome a guest to my blog and today I'm delighted to host Charlene Newcomb. Char is the author of Men of the Cross, a historical adventure set during the Third Crusade.
It was designated a B.R.A.G. medallion honoree in November 2014. To celebrate Char's marvellous recent recognition, we thought we'd indulge our mutual love of all things medieval with a suitable medley!
Medieval Mate- who’s your hero/heroine?
Men of the Cross features two heroes. Henry de Grey is the son of a minor baron in 12th century Lincolnshire. Stephan l’Aigle has been fighting at King Richard’s side for five years. The two young knights have taken the Cross: Henry because he is passionate about the Pope’s call to retake Jerusalem from Saladin; and Stephan because of his sense of duty and loyalty to Richard. Henry is young, naive, inexperienced in battle. He has a disdain for politics. Oh, the things he will learn as he travels from Southampton to the Holy Land and back.
Medieval Métier- what would your job be?
|A busy (quite fierce)|
Medieval Manor - where do you live?
However, I wanted to experience the real thing and have travelled to the UK numerous times. Thank goodness that was not via a medieval galley. (I was the Navy seaman accompanying four Army privates on a tour boat in Monterey Bay - guess who got seasick? Yours truly.) Oddly enough, I didn’t have to draw heavily on castle life for Men of the Cross. Many scenes take place in the army’s camps if not on a battlefield. The sequel, For King and Country, will feature Norman-style baronial homes and castles, including Nottingham where the climax occurs.
Medieval Meal- what’s on your table?
It is the Thanksgiving holiday as I’m working on this and I just had leftovers from Thursday’s feast. Our medieval friends would not know the turkey, that American bird. Potatoes? Ditto - brought to Europe by the Spaniards in the 1600s. I wonder if there was something akin to bread stuffing? Stews (or pottage) were often thickened with grain. Pottage might have peas or beans, garlic, onions, and herbs. Turnips, parsnips or carrots might have been used. Fish was plentiful, but meats weren’t consumed too often. Bread and cheese: now that I could live on!
|Cooking depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry|
When compared to a soldier’s fare on an extended march, a meal of pottage, bread and cheese might have been downright lavish. Contemporary chroniclers of the Third Crusade don’t mention food too often, except for near riots over horse meat or spoilage to meat and bread caused by harsh winter weather. The typical soldier’s diet included cheese, bread, dried or salted pork or bacon. The men often packed a 10-day supply. Knights’ provisions were carted by their squires or on wagons accompanying the army.
Medieval Madness- what behaviour could you never accept today?
|The marriage of (the adult)|
Marie de Brabant
A behaviour of the past that I find most heartbreaking was the criminalization of homosexuality, or sodomy as it was called in medieval times. By 1300, secular laws against sodomy existed throughout England and Europe, and of course the Church had penitentials in place for hundreds of years prior to that. However, as I posted on my blog recently (http://charlenenewcomb.com/2014/11/17/medieval-man-sex-and-mortal-sin-in-men-of-the-cross/), attitudes about and punishment of homosexual behaviour varied tremendously in the 12th century. Main character Stephan l’Aigle in Men of the Cross is gay; my protagonist Henry struggles with his feelings as his friendship with Stephan deepens. Don’t worry - no erotica contained herein - the novel is about the relationship, not the sex.
Medieval Military- what’s your weapon of choice?
|Archer hunting deer|
Men of the Cross includes a secondary character, a knight named Robin who is extraordinarily skilled with bow. Readers will learn of his humble origins and the girl he left behind - Marian. Teenaged camp-followers-turned-squires Allan and Little John were so much fun to write. They are wise beyond their years, and also provide a bit of comic relief. In my book blurb, I’ve referred to this as the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend. I’ll be expanding the origins story in Book II, For King and Country, and introducing other familiar figures from the legend.
Medieval Matters- why do you love it so much?
|Blondel's Richard the|
The wars were horrific, the politics insane - you cannot make up this stuff! - and not all knights were chivalric, but still, a story about knights going off to battle gave me an opportunity to indulge in my love for adventure in storytelling. If I might return to my Star Wars roots, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away...”: historical fiction takes you to another time and place, albeit not one with X-Wings and star destroyers - a place I hope I can bring to life for readers.
As I'm sure you do, Char! Thanks so much for stopping by to obsess with me a little more about the fascinating medieval world.
Thank you for the opportunity to chat, E.M.!
Men of the Cross, a tale of war’s impact on a young knight serving Richard the Lionheart and of forbidden love. Book 2, For King and Country, will be published in spring 2015.
For more information about Charlene, please visit her website, http://charlenenewcomb.com, find her on Facebook at CharleneNewcombAuthor, and on Twitter @charnewcomb.
Be sure to check out her special holiday offers and grab a bargain copy- ends December 25 2014!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Blood of The Fifth Knight is published by Thomas & Mercer on 01.01.2015. You can pre-order it here on Amazon.com or here on Amazon.co.uk. Available to UK customers through Kindle First 1-31st December 2014!