Please join me in welcoming author Mercedes Rochelle to Let Them Read books! Mercedes is touring the blogosphere with her first historical fiction novel, Heir to a Prophecy, a novel that addresses a burning question left hanging in Shakespeare's MacBeth. I recently had the chance to ask Mercedes a few questions about the inspiration for her novel and the challenges of researching and writing in this time period. Read on, and enter to win a paperback copy of Heir to a Prophecy!
Can you tell us about your inspiration for writing Heir to a Prophecy?
I had always loved Macbeth, but the question about Fleance bothered me for years. Banquo is killed and Fleance gets away. What happed to him? What Kings were the Witches talking about? Why did Shakespeare just drop the subplot? I can only assume the answers to my questions were common knowledge in Shakespeare’s day, but I think they are lost to most modern readers. I finally woke up and realized I could research the question myself. Luckily I stumbled across a rare book that had a long paragraph about Fleance’s fate and the life of his illegitimate son. I had a hard time knitting the pieces together (Fleance’s son moved around a lot), but I discovered that my story dropped me into the midst of momentous events.
What kind of research did you do while writing this novel? Did you come across anything that surprised you?
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I researched this novel before the internet came along, then put it aside when I started my own business. I spent most of my time in the bowels of the Princeton University Library blowing dust off of long-neglected books. It was the best adventure ever! Then I traveled to England on a book-buying tour and found a complete six-volume set of Edward A. Freeman’s “The Norman Conquest,” which is still very difficult to find. This was my most precious discovery, because Freeman covers everything in exhaustive detail. I think I got more interesting information out of these obscure sources than I now find on the internet. These days, you’ll find the same passage again and again. And easy access to the World Wide Web has made me a lazy researcher! There are still a lot of books that haven’t been “scanned,” and I need to retrace my researching roots.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? The most rewarding?
I had great fun linking up my hero with major characters of the period. It was amazing just how many people my Walter was related to: Gruffydd ap Llewelyn, Harold Godwineson’s Queen Ealdgyth, Aelfgar Earl of Mercia, Alain le Rouge Count of Brittany (future Earl of Richmond). Then I figured out how to throw him into the path of other famous characters: Harold Godwineson, Malcolm III of Scotland, and by extension Saint Margaret of Scotland and Eadgar Aetheling. Malcolm III knew Fleance, Walter’s father, so that was a fortunate introduction. The hard part was getting Walter to fight at the Battle of Hastings on the Norman side (alongside Alain le Rouge, his father-in-law) since he was clearly Welsh/Scottish. But that’s what my source said happened, so I went along!
What are you working on now?
At the moment I am writing a novel called THE SONS OF GODWINE, which is a sequel to GODWINE KINGMAKER, slotted for release early in 2015. I am telling the story of Harold Godwineson from the points of view of his brothers. I think the conflict between Harold and Tostig needs to be explored, since it led directly to Harold’s failure to stop Duke William from invading. Was Tostig the black-and-white villain he is usually portrayed as? I think not!
Heir to a Prophecy is on a blog tour!
About the Author
Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they built themselves.
For more information please visit Mercedes Rochelle’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.