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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Fact and Fiction - using real history in historical romance

My historical romance isn't exactly main-stream... 

What do I mean by that? Yes, there's a couple that fall in love and triumph despite adversity - but my books have a strong focus on real historical figures and events, not just the central love story. The story is strongly rooted in the period, and couldn't exist outside it.

I didn't start off writing them that way - it's just that when I was researching the period - Anglo-Saxon England - I realized that fact is not only stranger than fiction. It's often stronger. As such, I base my stories around actual people and events, and I think my stories are stronger for it.

So, if you love early British history - mixed in with a bit of romance - my books might be what you're looking for!

Historical figures I used in the Kingdom of the East Angles series

  • Raedwald of the East Angles, the king thought to have been buried in the Sutton Hoo longship.
  • Eni of the East Angles - father of Annan, who later becomes King of the East Angles.
  • Eorpwald, Raedwald's son, who succeeded his father.
  • Ricberht, the usurper who kills Eorpwald and takes the throne.
  • Sigeberht, Raedwald's exiled stepson who returns to Britannia, overthrows Ricberht, and takes back the throne for the Wuffinga family
  • Botulf, the missionary who founds the monastery at Iken.
  • Ecgric, the man who co-rules with Sigeberht after the King of East Angles dedicates his life to Christianity.
  • Anna (who I call Annan), Raedwald's nephew, who takes the throne after Sigeberht's death
  • Penda - the warlord king of Mercia, and our villain. Penda is the last pagan ruler of Anglo-Saxon England.

Historical events I used in the Kingdom of the East Angles series

  • King Raedwald's burial in a longship at Sutton Hoo.
  • The death of Raedwald's son Raegenhere, slain in the Battle of the River Idle against Aethelfrith of Northumbria.
  • Sigeberht's return from exile in Gaul to take back the East Anglian throne for his family.
  • Sigeberht's abdication of the throne, in favor of a monastic life.
  • Sigeberht's refusal to bear arms in battle against the Mercians. He goes into battle with only a staff for protection and dies.
  • Annan's supervision of the building of Devil's Dyke the southern and western borders of the Kingdom of the East Angles

Work in progress...

I've now left the Kingdom of the East Angles behind, and traveled to Mercia. I'm currently hard at work on the first novel in this series, THE BREAKING DAWN.

Once again, I am using history to form the story's backbone. Our bad guy, King Penda of Mercia is back (and more ruthless than ever), while our novel's hero is Cynddylan ap Cyndrwyn, the Prince of Powys, who forms an alliance with the Mercians.

The story begins at the Battle of Maes Cogwy (Maserfield), where the Mercians (with the help of the Welsh) defeat the Northumbrian army.

King Oswald of Northumbria dies at this battle and is famously dismembered, his head and arms stuck on poles at the edge of the battlefield. Oswald (who was later sainted) became revered as a Christian martyr and his dismembered limbs ended up in various relic collections in monasteries around Britannia.

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