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Interview with Mary Anne Yarde – Saints, Standing Stones and an Ancient Curse

Dulac1I’m delighted to welcome Mary Anne Yarde to my blog today. Mary Anne is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles.

Did you envisage writing a long series when you started the first book, or did the idea grow? What made you want to carry on writing them?

The Du Lac Chronicles was meant to be an Arthurian romance, and it was meant to be a trilogy. It still has an Arthurian theme, but it is no longer a trilogy! I have in one of my many folders on my computer the first-drafts of the first three manuscripts of The Du Lac Chronicles that I had written over ten years ago — I never realised that two of them would never see the light of day. The joy of being an indie author is that you are allowed to change your mind, and I can remember reading over what was meant to be Book 2 of The Du Lac Chronicles and screwing up my nose with the realisation that this wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. So, I rewrote it, and I concluded that there was no way I was going to be able to tell this story in three books, and with that recognition, I felt free to indulge in my imagination and write the story that was begging to be written. 

What made me carrying on writing about those Du Lac boys is simply because I adore them, I adore the era, and I have had such positive feedback from my readers. I am always being asked when the next book is coming out, which certainly motivates me to keep writing.

Who is yDulac2our favourite minor character in the book, and why?

My favourite minor character is Saint Sampson of Dol, although he is not a saint in my books because he isn’t dead — yet! Saint Sampson was a character that I stumbled upon when I was still in the research stage for The Du Lac Devil: Book 2 of The Du Lac Chronicles. I had never heard of this Saint of Brittany before. I became compelled to find out more about him, and I discovered his life’s work overlapped events that happen in my book, so it seemed as if finding him was somehow predestined. Saint Sampson, even though he is a secondary character, has influenced the narrative of the story from the moments he makes his first appearance in Book 2. Through him, I have explored the influence of the Christian Church in Britain during this time.

Tell me about an object or place that is important in the novel and what it signifies.

A place that is really important to several characters in my series is the Standing Stones “The Hurlers” on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. It is where Merton du Lac first encounters Tegan. Tegan is a seer and former knight of Arthur’s, and it is also the place where history and myths collide. During my research for The Du Lac Princess, Book 3 of The Du Lac Chronicles, I visited The Hurlers, and I knew I had to include them. They scream myths and legends.

Dulac3Your books are described as a mixture of historical fiction and myth. Do you think this reflects what you are trying to achieve in your novels?

The Early Medieval era or The Dark Ages as it is more commonly known, is a challenging period to research as it is the age of the lost manuscripts. The manuscripts were lost due to various reasons. Firstly, the Viking raiders destroyed many written primary sources. Henry VIII did not help matters when he ordered The Dissolution of the Monasteries. More were lost due to the English Civil War and indeed, The French Revolution, and of course not forgetting the tragic Cotton Library Fire in 1731. So, researching this era can undoubtedly be challenging, although of course, not impossible. The one thing we do have is Geoffrey of Monmouth’s, The History of The Kings of Briton, (first published in c.1136).   

Monmouth’s book was for many, many years considered factually correct, and I think sometimes we forget that. Of course, there is very little fact in it. Monmouth borrowed heavily from folklore. The history of oral storytelling in Britain fascinates me. Folklore is its own particular brand of history, and it is often overlooked by historians, which I think is a shame. You can tell a lot about an era by the stories that were told.

The Du Lac Chronicles is an Arthurian tale, and it is based upon the life of Budic II of Brittany. I discovered Budic, purely by accident many years ago when I was researching the origins of the legend of Arthur’s most infamous knight, Lancelot du Lac. Budic’s story fascinated me. There is not a great deal of detail to it, but I found out all I could about him, and there were tiny gems of information which I thought, hang on, I could weave this into a story, and that is what I did. Along the way, I encountered other historical figures, such as Cerdic of Wessex.Dulac4

When you are dealing with myths and legends such as the story of King Arthur, or Robin Hood, for example, there has to be a historical element to the story. It has to be as historically accurate as you can get it even though you are dealing with people who may never have lived. Hopefully, what I write reflects a world where historical fact and legends collide.

How important is the story of Lancelot, who the series is named after, to this new book and what you are writing now?

Lancelot’s story is incredibly important, although it is Budic II’s life that the series is following. In The Du Lac Chronicles series it is with Lancelot where the idea of a “curse” begins. It is also Lancelot’s actions in the past that trigger the events that his sons are left to deal with after his death. 

The actual origins of the story of Lancelot are not mythical. He was the invention of a 12th century French poet, Chrétien de Troyes, who depicted him in his great work Le Chevalier de la Charette, replacing Gawain as First Knight. Lancelot’s story, however, captivated a nation. There is this unspoken understanding that if Lancelot did not exist, then he should have done. Talk about the power of fiction. Lancelot has inspired many writers, myself included. Without his story, I would never have found Budic’s.

And finally, I asked Mary Anne, what are you currently writing?

I am currently writing a second edition of The Pitchfork Rebellion, which is an interim novella between Book 1 and Book 2. I am also just beginning the research for Book 6 of The Du Lac Chronicles.

Dulac6God against Gods. King against King. Brother against Brother.

Mordred Pendragon had once said that the sons of Lancelot would eventually destroy each other, it seemed he was right all along.

Garren du Lac knew what the burning pyres meant in his brother’s kingdom — invasion. But who would dare to challenge King Alden of Cerniw for his throne? Only one man was daring enough, arrogant enough, to attempt such a feat — Budic du Lac, their eldest half-brother.

While Merton du Lac struggles to come to terms with the magnitude of Budic’s crime, there is another threat, one that is as ancient as it is powerful. But with the death toll rising and his men deserting who will take up the banner and fight in his name?

BUY THE BOOK : Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with Mary Anne: WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebookGoodreads. 

I am currently reading Book One of this series, and was immediately hooked. It’s on offer at the moment, and its so good I bought the second in the series before even finishing the first. My review will be on this blog soon. If you like the myths and legends of Arthurian Britain you’ll love these.  Do go and check them out.

Dulac7

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Stolen by Sheila Dalton

Stolen1

Stolen came about after two trips: one to Devon, England, and one to Morocco. The book is dedicated to my husband, who traveled with me. He died suddenly in 2012, before the book was published, but I wanted to include him somehow, because he loved the story and, without him, I would not have visited the places I did.

In Morocco, we saw the underground dungeons where Christian slaves were once kept chained to the walls, until they were brought outdoors into the blazing heat to work on the palaces and temples of Meknes. In Devon, a friend showed us the caves and coves where British pirates operated  in the 17th century.

When I discovered that the white slave trade and the Golden Age of Piracy were of the same era, I was intrigued; even more so when I read that the Barbary Corsairs made their raids along the British coast, including Devon, during that age. Soon a character – Lizbet Warren – came into my head — a young woman who loses her parents to the corsairs, who carry them off to the Moroccan slave markets.

I began to wonder what it would be like to be a sheltered young person coming face to face with cruelty both at home and at sea. Britain in the 17th century had incredibly stringent vagrancy laws that meant a homeless person or beggar could be arrested and sent overseas as an indentured servant – in effect, a slave. An indentured servant received no wages, was not free to leave, and often died because of ill treatment. As soon as Lizbet is left on her own, she is in danger of ending up disenfranchised in ‘the colonies’.

Lizbet is a complex young woman, but I suspect no more so than many of us today. She is faced with hard choices, and is troubled by them. She encounters dominant men  in her quest to help her parents, and is simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by them. She herself is kept under lock and key for a time, at the mercy of a French privateer and her own emotions.

As I was writing her story, I thought how I wanted readers to enjoy the narrative, despite its darker aspects.  To that end, I tried to concoct a plot full of suspense and adventure and triumph over adversity, as well as hard truths. I hope I have succeeded.

Stolen eBook: Sheila Dalton: Amazon.co.uk: Books

Sheila Dalton (@Sheladee) | Twitter

Want to contribute to Royalty Fee Fiction? mail me at authordeborahswift at gmail dot com  (Remember, historical fiction with no Kings and Queens!)