Thursday, August 16, 2012

50th party blog guest - Carol Townend

Carol Townend is one of the M&B Historical authors and I’ve known her for ages and age. We go for cups of tea after award dos and the like, and talk about history and churches and ruins and – well, you get the picture :o) And I might also mention a particular hero of hers I really fell for – Benedict Silvester in ‘An Honourable Rogue’; how can you resist a man who plays the lute?

Over to Carol:

Congratulations, Kate, on your 50th book! That is some achievement! Sadly, I am some way behind, having only got up to thirteen. I can see I shall have to speed up.

This thirteenth novel (I am telling myself thirteen is not unlucky) is out this month, and it’s called Betrothed to the Barbarian. It’s the final novel in the Palace Brides trilogy, set in medieval Byzantium. One of the best things about writing medieval romances is having an excuse to do lots of research. And since much of the action in the Palace Brides takes place in Constantinople, a trip to Istanbul was top of the list.

It’s always worth visiting a place and exploring, even though, as in the case of Istanbul, many of the buildings that would have been there in the eleventh century have long gone. There’s more to it than simply discovering where the sun rises and sets and what it feel like to stand on the spot where the Empress would have stood to watch the services in Hagia Sophia. Of course it is wonderful to see these things…

But actually visiting a place has a different sort of magic, a magic that is often stronger when you haven’t visited it before, or if you haven’t been there for ages. The unexpected comes into play. Story ideas can spring out from the most usual places.

In the case of our visit to Istanbul, this happened in the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica Cistern is an underground water supply that lies several feet below the city, near Hagia Sophia. It was built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian, so the Basilica Cistern was already old at the time in which the Palace Brides are set. The cistern is a cavern of a place, the roof is held up by row after row of great columns. Some of them have faces at the base, like the Medusa. It is very evocative down there, cool and quiet with water dripping and the occasional glimmer of fish in the water. On our visit, a scene sprang into mind for the second book in the trilogy, Chained to the Barbarian.

(Originally, there were only going to be two novels in the Palace Brides series, but the hero of Chained to the Barbarian insisted his story was written.)
This is the cover:

And this is the blurb:


Bound in chains, enslaved barbarian Sir William Bradfer stands proud in the Constantinople slave market. As a warrior, he’s trained in the art of survival. Lady-in-waiting Anna of Heraklea is betrothed to be married—against her will. Catching sight of the magnificent William, she finds a rebellious half-plan forming in her mind. Anna can offer this captured knight freedom in return for his hand in marriage!

Palace Brides
Beauties of Byzantium—claimed by warriors!

Which place do you recommend as being likely to inspire a medieval romance? Would it be an ancient city like Istanbul or Paris? Or a castle such as Carcassonne? A medieval village? Or how about the rolling Yorkshire landscape…?

Everyone who posts an answer will be entered into a draw for a giveaway. A copy of Chained to the Barbarian (US Edition) will go to a randomly selected winner.

Carol’s thirteenth novel, Betrothed to the Barbarian, is out this month.

Here’s the blurb for Betrothed to the Barbarian:


Princess Theodora of Constantinople is to marry Duke Nikolaos, the general-in-chief of the army, a man chosen for her by the Emperor. An imperial princess must always do her duty - be beautiful, obedient and pure.

But Theodora spent ten years in exile in a barbarian land. There, once, she might have forgotten protocol. Forgotten enough to have given birth to a baby in secret. As her wedding night approaches, Theodora finds she wants to share her bed with the Duke, except she knows she's on the verge of revealing her biggest sin...

Palace Brides
Beauties of Byzantium - claimed by warriors!

You can find out more about Carol at her website or on her blog at
Or talk to her on Facebook at
Or follow her on Twitter @CarolTownend


Carol Warham said...

Hi Carol and Kate
For me it is our lovely Yorkshire countryside, but particularly Middleham Castle.

Carol Townend said...

Hi Carol
Yorkshire is hard to beat, but then as a Yorkshire lass, I would say that!!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Another Yorkshire lass (albeit only by adoption) commenting here! Yes, Yorkshire is full of inspiration, and castle ruins are especially evocative. We visited Arundel Castle last weekend - very much a Victorian Gothic reconstruction , but you can still pick out some of the oldest parts, and imagine looking out over the River Arun, watching for invaders.....

Celia Anderson said...

Hello Both

I would definitely choose Ludlow Castle for its spooky, atmospheric feel, especially after dark when the bats are flying!


Eli Yanti said...

30 books is really great, Carol :)

Barbarian.. sounds interesting ;D

Caroline said...

Hi Kate and Carol. As I live in Wales with all its fabulous history (especially castles) so I have to plug my homeland for atmospheric settings. Congratulations on your 13th Carol. BTW I *loved* "Bound To The Barbarian" (Katerina and Ashfirth's story), so I'm looking forward to reading your new book. Caroline x

bn100 said...

Any of those places would make for a good book.

Carol Townend said...

Hi Melinda and Celia,
Castles are wonderfully inspiring, and there are so many different styles and eras to choose from. I've just found out there are at least 100 in Brittany. (Guess where we are going soon?! - Not that we will visit all of them... ;) )

Carol Townend said...

Hi Eli, thanks for stopping to say hello!
Caroline, I don't know Wales well, but what I have seen of it is gorgeous, and makes me want to visit again. Beautiful landscapes, Celtic myths AND castles...bliss!

Kate Hardy said...

First name drawn from the hat for a copy of 'Cained to the Barbarian' - Celia Anderson, Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your snailmail addy, Celia, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!