Monday, October 27

The Blood of The Fifth Knight: Cover Reveal & Giveaways

I tried to write so many sensible crafted introductions to this blog post. I tried the differences between the written and visual medium. I tried the emotions pictures evoke in a reader. I tried a build up from The Fifth Knight to The Blood of The Fifth Knight.

In the end, this seemed to work best: ta-dah!

The Blood of The Fifth Knight is released on 01.01.2015. To celebrate this cover reveal of Sir Benedict Palmer's second adventure, I'm running a number of giveaways for a signed paperback copy of his first, The Fifth Knight. 

There's one on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. It's open to worldwide entries until November 2nd 2014:

There's another open on Goodreads. Entries are accepted on this giveaway from the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada and Australia. It's open until November 14th 2014:

Last (but by no means least!), I'm running a third giveaway on this very page. Please leave a comment with your contact details to enter. Worldwide entries are accepted and it is also open until November 14th 2014.

Please enter any or all of these. There'll also be giveaways in the next few weeks for The Blood of The Fifth Knight. Why not sign up for e-mail alerts on my website to make sure you don't miss out?

Good luck!

Find E.M. Powell's books at:

Thursday, October 23

Guest Post: Interview with Ginger Myrick, Historical Fiction Author

Ginger Myrick

It's always nice when other writers stop by my blog!

Today, I'm delighted to host Ginger Myrick, winner of the Rosetta Literary Contest 2012 and author of five historical novels. She is also one of the most supportive writers I've met through the Historical Fiction community, dropping everything to bail confused bloggers (that would be me) out where necessary.

Ginger writes in a number of different time periods, so I thought I'd kick off by asking her about that:

Welcome, Ginger! You've written five novels so far, which is very impressive. Out of those, which is your favourite?

I am currently working on number six! Each book is like a child and has something special about it that I love. The Welsh Healer has a twist of magic and incorporates British myth and folklore.
Work of Art is an updated Cinderella story with a dark twist. But for the Grace of God is my take on Christian values and an argument for human equality, two things about which I am passionate. Insatiable, the Marie Antoinette book, is a dark rollercoaster ride through 18th century France on the verge of revolution, with all the drama that setting entails.

But I would have to say that El Rey is closest to my heart. It was my first book, the first time I experienced that strange gift of inspiration. I didn’t know how long it would last, and so I threw everything I had into that story. It’s nearly 600 pages and the biggest reflection of me as a person. Basically, it’s my life story fictionalized, and that lends itself to favoritism, or at least it’s more personal than the others. There is also a sense of freedom in that book—with a sea journey and horseback rides on rolling green hills—that I find utterly intoxicating.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Hahahahaha! I still don’t consider myself a writer and avoid using that title as much as I can, although my husband bandies it about with alacrity. I suppose my attitude stems from the fact that I never aspired to any of this. One day out of the blue, I had a sudden inspiration for a story, so I sat down and began to type. El Rey was the result, and here I am a couple of years later working on book number six. Although the term writer is debatable, there is no denying that I have produced five novels, so novelist is a term I tolerate a bit better.

 Have places inspired your stories?

In order to write convincingly, I need a good visual in front of me, but I’ve only been to the places I’ve written about via the internet. When I began scouting a location for El Rey, I fell in love with Terceira.
It’s an island in the Azorean archipelago, a Portuguese territory. The island chain is volcanic and sits in the Atlantic Ocean, so the scenery is dramatic with steep coned peaks sloping all the way down to the shore along with the rolling green hills mentioned above. It’s also covered with hydrangea, always a plus for someone who loves flowers.

As you can tell, I get swept away simply by the idea. I have a standing invitation to visit, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to take advantage of it. I have a Labradoodle who would pine away for me if I left him for more than a few hours! I would also love to see the Seven Wonders of Wales, which also held me quite enchanted as I wrote about them.

Which historical person would you want to meet and why?

I have always been fascinated with John of Gaunt, probably because Katherine by Anya Seton was the book that lit my fire for historical fiction. I have even made several subtle homages to that work in El Rey. I have always been intrigued by John’s complex character, his strong ambitious side juxtaposed with the tenderness he held for two of his wives, Blanche of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford. He did everything right, but could never quite succeed in the things he held most important. He acted honorably enough, but he still could not win the love of the English people.
John Wycliffe reading his translation of the Bible to John of Gaunt.
Ford Madox Brown
Yes, he hungered for a crown and married a foreign princess—a Castilian one—in hopes of sitting a throne, but how is that different than any other prince of the time? I guess I am sort of carrying a torch for him, but don’t tell my husband. Even if John of Gaunt has been in the grave for over 600 years, hubby would still be jealous!

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your writing?

That would have to be a sentiment expressed in a personal email that my writing helped a friend through a major loss. She said that El Rey allowed her to finally cry where she hadn’t felt free to do so while holding her family together during their crisis. To know that I have touched someone in such a profoundly personal way is priceless. It’s what I hoped to achieve from the start.
Another cool thing is that I’ve had readers ask me if I am Portuguese, Welsh, or Irish, insinuating that I must have some connection with the cultures I have written about. This gave me untold satisfaction in regard to The Welsh Healer, because the folklore and traditions run so deep. I figured I must have done a good job if people thought I had grown up with the beliefs of such an isolated people.

On a bit of a side note, The Welsh Healer was catalogued into the library at the Madog Center for Welsh Studies where I had some translation done for the book. I’m not going to lie, that definitely made me feel legitimate! People have even treated me like an authority on Marie Antoinette, but I am only learned on a given subject for as long as I am writing about it. When the research for a project is finished, I go back to being a Jack(ess?) of all trades, master of none.

What’s next for Ginger Myrick?

I have just begun writing another book in the Insatiable series.

This will actually be the first volume—Marie Antoinette’s story being number four—in what looks like a six part rewrite of French history. My WIP centers around Catherine de’ Medici and will explain the genesis of the mysterious plague turning ordinary French citizens into the mort-vivant. I had originally intended to write the books in chronological order but thought I might garner more interest with such a flamboyant figure as Marie Antoinette. It didn’t quite work out the way I anticipated, but everything in its time.

In closing, I would like to thank the lovely E.M. Powell for hosting me and all of you who took the time to listen to me ramble on. I am grateful for your time and interest. You are what makes this journey worthwhile.

As do you, Ginger! Thanks so much for providing such interesting insight into your writing world.

 Winner of the Rosetta Literary Contest 2012, Ginger Myrick is the author of five novels: But for the Grace of God, Work of Art, The Welsh Healer, El Rey, and Insatiable: A Macabre History of France ~ L’Amour: Marie Antoinette. A Christian who writes meticulously researched historical fiction with a ‘clean’ love story at the core, she hopes to show the reading community that a romance need not include graphic details to convey deep love and passion.

Visit her website at
You can find all her books on: and

Thursday, October 16

Fair Rosamund, Mistress of Henry II

In The Blood of the Fifth Knight, my second medieval thriller with Sir Benedict Palmer, somebody is trying to murder the Fair Rosamund, the beautiful young mistress of King Henry II. Henry summons Palmer to find out who is responsible. Events do not, of course, go to plan. But I really enjoyed writing the character of Rosamund, although little is known about the real woman. Here are some of the facts and the myths about her. 

Fair Rosamund
John William Waterhouse, 1916
Public Domain
King Henry II has a deserved infamous reputation for extra-marital affairs. Documented evidence exists of several liaisons, some of which produced illegitimate offspring, with women rewarded financially for their services to the King. By far the most well-known of Henry's mistresses is Rosamund Clifford, the young woman who is often referred to as Fair Rosamund. A less flattering contemporary description comes from Gerald of Wales, Henry's acerbic chronicler, who refers to her as 'that rose of unchastity.'

Her story has been embellished by layers of myths and legends over the last eight centuries. Born to Sir Walter de Clifford, a knight who had served Henry faithfully, Rosamund may have begun her affair with Henry at a very young age. The affair became open and public in 1174 when Henry had imprisoned his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, for her part in a rebellion against him. Later chroniclers mistakenly claimed that Rosamund bore Henry children, but there is no evidence that she did so.

Fair Rosamund in her Bower
William Bell Scott, after 1854
Public Domain
The bearing of children is one of the tamer stories that grew up around Rosamund. Ranulf Higdon, monk of Chester, born almost a century after her death, claimed that Henry had built pleasure gardens and a labyrinth or a maze for her at Woodstock in Oxfordshire. There is no evidence of such structures at the site which is located near Blenheim Palace. The spring and pond known as Rosamund's Well were not part of the buildings at Woodstock when Rosamund lived there.

Rosamund's Well today. The well is beside the lake in Blenheim's Great Park.
  © Copyright Philip Halling Creative Commons Licence

But that didn't stop the rumour factory of popular imagination. A further embellishment was that Rosmund had been murdered by Eleanor, who had found her in the maze.

Thomas Deloney, a renowned writer of  popular ballads who died about 1600, wrote 'The Ballad of Fair Rosamond'. An edition in circulation between 1658 and 1664 is titled: 'A mournful ditty of the lady Rosamond, king Henry the seconds concubine, who was poysoned to death by Queen Elenor in Woodstocst [sic] bower near Oxford.'

Poet Samuel Daniel wrote 'The Complaint of Rosamond' in 1592 and dedicated it to his wealthy patron, Mary, Countess of Pembroke. Again, the myth of Eleanor poisoning Rosamund endures, with Rosamund uttering such lines in the poem as;

‘And after all her vile reproches used,
She forc'd me take the poyson she had brought...
The poysoon soone disperc'd through all my vaines,
Had dispossess'd my living sences quite.’

Fair Rosamund & Queen Eleanor
Edward Burne-Jones, 1861
Public Domain

There continued to be numerous references to Eleanor carrying out the ghastly murder of Rosamund. As well as poisoning, there was stabbing, burning, bleeding and doing something unmentionable with toads. In Alfred, Lord Tennyson's play, Becket, Rosamund becomes the reason for Archbishop Thomas Becket's murder in Canterbury Cathedral. 

La Normandie, Jules Janin
Public Domain
Rosamund's life certainly was cut short. She died at Godstow Nunnery in Oxford in 1176 to where she had retired. The cause of her death is not known. Henry paid for a highly decorated tomb to be erected before the altar at Godstow. The records also show Sir Walter de Clifford making grants of 'several mills and a meadow' to Godstow in memory of his wife and daughter.

Godstow Nunnery today
© Copyright Pierre Terre and licensed for reuse under  Creative Commons Licence
Henry's generosity continued after his death in 1189. Bishop Hugh of Lincoln visited in 1191 and found the tomb still adorned with silk cloths and looked after by the nuns in accordance with Henry's wishes. Bishop Hugh, however, took a rather dim view of what he found. He ordered the removal of Rosamund's tomb to the nearby cemetery for 'she was a harlot.'

Fair Rosamund
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1861
Public domain
It was finally destroyed during Henry VIII's Dissolution. But even Henry VIII couldn't succeed in wiping out the memory of Fair Rosamund. Her myths endure to this day.

References and sources:

Archer, T.A., rev Hallam, Elizabeth, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press 2004-2014)
British History Online:
Broadside Ballads Online- from the Bodleian Library:
Daniel, Samuel: 'Delia. Contayning certayne Sonnets: vvith the complaint of Rosamond.' 
Guy, John: Thomas Becket, Penguin Books (2012)
The Poetry Foundation:
Warren, W.L., Henry II, Yale University Press (2000)
Weir, Alison: Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England, Vintage Books (2007)

I first published this post, or an edited version of it, on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog in October 2014. English Historical Fiction Authors: Fair Rosamund, Mistress of Henry II:


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