Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guest Post: Deborah Valentine + The Knightmare


I'm excited today to have author Deborah Valentine stop by the blog to talk to us a little bit about love and her new historical time travel fantasy, The Knightmare. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Deborah!


LOVE BY MANY NAMES

“The name of wife may seem more sacred or more binding, but sweeter for me will always be the word mistress, or, if you will permit me, that of concubine...”

Now there’s the way to decline a marriage proposal! Incredibly, this is a quote from the 12th century from the brilliant scholar and eventual Abbess of the Paraclete Convent, Heloise. Could 20th century bra-burners have done it more eloquently – or elegantly? Heloise was a master (or rather, mistress) of words. Her affair with her tutor, the great philosopher Peter Abelard, was the stuff of legend, though it was indeed a true story. How far ahead of her time was this charmingly independent Heloise? Or perhaps it isn’t that she was ahead of her time, but that across millenniums many women have thought as she did and some are just better advertised.

So why do I bring this up? Because, as a writer, we all have read stories that have touched us, inspired us, made us look at the world differently and have served as a jumping off point for our own imaginations. For me, Abelard and Heloise is one such story, lurking round the corners of my mind for many years. I read their collected letters as a teenager and they stuck with me becoming an – I hate to use to the word ‘obsessive’ – let’s just say an intense and much loved area of research. Finally, it became a pivotal point for my book, The Knightmare.

As the saying goes, it is love that makes the world go round; and love is nothing if it doesn’t encounter an obstacle or two, or more. And what is great about writing is that you don’t have to be literal, one story breeds another. The Knightmare came about because I imagined what might have happened to their son, because they did indeed have one who has disappeared from history. What would he be like? What choices would he make in life when his parents’ love affair had such tragic consequences? For they were tragic. To cut a convoluted story short, Heloise’s guardian had Abelard hideously mutilated and he became an abbot while Heloise was forced into a convent (where she excelled, by the way, as a brilliant administrator).

And so a character was born, my Knight Templar, trying to avoid love, a medieval workaholic falling headlong into his own series of unfortunate decisions while trying desperately not to repeat what he saw as his parents’ mistakes. Many of us have done the same, ergo no matter how fantastical the story what the writer hits on is a universal truth about the way human beings behave. The idea of using a genuine historical figure and naming them as such – putting words in a real person’s mouth or purporting to know what they thought as if I’d witnessed events personally – gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I’ve changed many things – the names, played with the time frame, juggled things round, lied as writers do. I’m sure the real son of Abelard and Heloise didn’t become a Knight Templar, fall in love with a ‘witch’ (although I do hope he found someone equally unsuitable), participate in sword fights or the Albigensian Crusade, or assisted an alchemist in pagan rituals, or has been reincarnated as an career-focused Formula One driver. But I still hope I’ve done the lad justice and given him an adventure, even if it is fiction. In its own way, it is a homage to real people I admire greatly. As I said before, this is a great joy of writing, you don’t have to be literal. In fact, it’s better if you’re not.

As a postscript to Abelard and Heloise, after ten years of separation they started working together as abbot and abbess. A different kind of relationship, a different kind of love. Perhaps not so tragic after all, just not the conventional happy ending. Perhaps even, one day, a whole other story.

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DEBORAH VALENTINE

Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent romance amid murder and mayhem. They are soon to be available as eBooks on the Orion imprint The Murder Room. With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge.


• • • • • • • • • • 

THE KNIGHTMARE


France, 1209: A Knight Templar riding through an eerie forest is suddenly attacked by an assassin as a man and woman watch from a distant hillside. When his death seems certain, the woman takes up a sword...

Present, Formula 1 race, Magny Cours: Observed by the very same couple, Conor Westfield, a career-obsessed Scottish driver, is in a horrible racing accident. Miraculously, he survives what seemed to be certain death.

As he is recovering from his injuries Conor’s childhood nightmare recurs, a strange jumble of terrifying images that feel more like memories than dreams. Can it be mere coincidence that the very next morning he is informed a mysterious woman with whom he had very brief affair has died and left him as her heir? But this was no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair. Dogged by a niggling feeling of déjà vu, Conor travels to Amsterdam to identify the body. At her home he finds an illuminated book that transports him back in time, to a woman he left behind and a life lived in the shadow of a tragedy that cries out across 800 years for resolution.

Weaving history with the present, fact with fantasy, The Knightmare is an unforgettable story of angels and alchemy, betrayal and sacrifice, and a truly extraordinary love.

30 comments:

  1. That sounds great -thank you so much for sharing!This one sounds like an epic love story and overall an epic story :)

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    1. Doesn't it? I'm such a huge fan of time travel:)

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  2. Woah this seems so interesting and really good! Deborah is so well-written, and I can tell by reading her guest post that she knows what she's talking about. It's awesome how her character, Knight Templar is kind of alive, and has a mind of his own- that's brilliant! Thanks for sharing, Jenni! This seems so good. <3

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Riya!!!

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  3. Now this sounds cool to me as I love the medieval times

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  4. This sounds thrilling with being thrown into/dreaming different time periods. Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. I'm such a sucker for a time-travel story Rachel, I just love them:)

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  5. I have read one book that switches between past and the present and it wasn't a nice experience but I'm not into historical fiction so there goes that. Anyhow I really like the blog post :) Thanks for sharing Jenny :)

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    1. Awww hopefully you give time travel books another try, maybe you'll be surprised:)

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  6. I don't read too much about different (past) time periods, so that element definitely intrigues me. Plus, the love story AND the plot sound awesome. I'm definitely interested now! Thanks for the feature, Jenny and Deborah :)

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    1. Yay! Hope you give it a try Melissa:)

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  7. I've always been intrigued by the Knights Templar and that whole time period. I love how the past is connected with the present (and a Scottish guy!!). Sounds like a really interesting story.

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    1. Right? His being Scottish alone is enough to make me love him. Think of the accent:)

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  8. I am not a huge fan of anything historical but I love the quote at the beginning of her guest post, way to just lay it all out there, hey? Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

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    1. Hahaha gotta love her a little for that!

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  9. OK. How have I never heard of this before, Jenny? This just sounds absolutely fantastic. I love love historical fiction and I love the ideas behind the plot.
    Definitely checking this out soon!
    Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

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    1. YAY NICK! So glad I could put it on your radar:)

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  10. I'm not like overly excited about historical (romance) books, but I do enjoy time travel. One of my favorite books of all time is Time Traveler's Wife which I absolutely adored. I like some historicals and the way this story came to be sounds interesting and I think the character sounds complex which suits me perfectly. Thanks for introducing it to me:) I wouldn't have stumbled upon this one if you hadn't ;-)

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  11. I love the sad story of Alebard and Heloise! I read it about two years I ago and it stuck with me.
    This sounds like it is a great read that I need to check out for sure!
    Great guest post!

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  12. Sounds like a fun book. I like the description of a medieval workaholic. Not someone you meet too often.

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  13. Wow this book sounds so cool! I love time travel stories, and if you can add romance in, I'm all over it. What a fascinating guest post too! Heloise and Abelard's story is so sweet but tragic, with such a bittersweet ending. I can't believe I hadn't heard of them before. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Great guest post! And I love the concept for the story. Time travel, romance, medieval period - it sounds like it'll be fantastic!

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  15. Hmm, I'm intrigued. I love historical books and things of the past. I'm adding this to my pile.

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  16. Oh I know I've heard you say that you love time travel and I do think this sounds like it is up my alley as well! Plus it's about the Knights Templar which I think could be ripe with possibilities. I do think you have me curious!

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  17. A knight trying to avoid love, you know that is nothing but trouble. This sounds like a terrific read. Thanks for introducing me to it!

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  18. I love the pun of this title and this book sounds fantastic! I'm really interested now after this guest post, so thanks for sharing, Jenny! :)

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  19. I haven't read a lot of historical fiction but if it delivers "a truly extraordinary love", I can atleast give it a try. The premises was a little confusing but it made me very curious to find out more about Connor and his previous life. Thanks for sharing it, Jenny :)

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  20. I haven't come across the story of Abelard and Heloise before, and I love being introduced to new ideas. This sounds fantastic! Deborah's post is very well-written too, so I think I'll definitely have to check this book out.

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  21. I just want to thank everyone for the lovely comments about the blog. I so enjoyed writing it and sharing my thoughts with you. Happy reading to you all!

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