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:
HER WARRIOR SLAVE
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!
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...
Beauties of Byzantium - claimed by warriors!
You can find out more about Carol at her website http://www.caroltownend.co.uk or on her blog at http://www.caroltownend.blogspot.co.uk
Or talk to her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/caroltownend
Or follow her on Twitter @CarolTownend