Sunday, 4 September 2016

1066 Turned Upside Down - Sunday chat with Carol McGrath

Continuing my series of interviews with the 1066 Turned Upside Down authors, I'm delighted to welcome to the blog Carol McGrath:~

I began by asking her: You've studied history, and you write historical novels based on fact, and non-fictional characters. How difficult did you find it to 'twist' history for the 1066 project?
I did find it difficult to twist history but then history is not necessarily accurately reported. Histories written a long time ago by such medieval historians as Geoffrey of Monmouth were often fantastical histories. This covers the early kings of Britain including King Arthur and Welsh Legends. There is a lot of tosh in there and entertaining story-telling too. However, I like reading considered thoroughly researched Historical Fiction that is, importantly, beautifully written. The stories in 1066 Turned Upside Down are, indeed, well-written and I enjoyed the twists. I would read and write more alternative history now. Possibly!!!

Without giving too much away, can you set the scene for your story?
My short story concerns Harold’s daughter and how she might have felt about her mother, who was Harold’s hand-fasted wife, having been replaced by another wife for political reasons. Harold wanted to unite with The Northern Earls to protect England from invasion. What better way than to marry their sister whose husband’s death he had been responsible for? She was commoditised and Edith Swan-Neck, Thea’s mother who had his six surviving children, all recorded for History, was essentially, to our modern mind, betrayed. The story takes place in April at St Albans Abbey as Harold stops on his way from York to London to show off his new wife Aldgyth. By coincidence Thea and Grandmother Gytha stopped there too on their way to Harold’s Easter Court. Scary stuff happens as it does, and perhaps by the end of the story Thea changes because she views Aldgyth differently.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Daughters of Hastings series?
The Daughters of Hastings series tells the story of regime change from the point of view of Edith Swan-Neck and her two daughters by Harold.

Each lady has her own survival story. Other strong and interesting noble women enter the novels. They show life for women post Conquest- abbey, marriage and exile. They are historical love and adventure novels.

In the Swan-Daughter, the younger daughter’s story, I write about elopement from the abbey and a possibly true love triangle. In The Betrothed Sister, Thea, their elder daughter is exiled and makes a spectacular Rus marriage. In it we enter the late Viking world.
The Handfasted Wife tells Edith Swan-Neck’s story.

It was written on a PhD Creative Writing programme at Royal Holloway. The books are thoroughly researched, though, in truth, these women only get a mention in History’s pages. At least they got this!

You've written the third in the trilogy, so what's next? Do you have anything in the pipeline?
The Woman in the Shadows is next. This is Elizabeth Cromwell’s story, another shadowy woman married to an important man, and it is due to be published on 17th May 2016. This is my first revelation, by the way, concerning this book’s publication. After my venture into early Tudor London life, I return to the Middle Ages with a new trilogy, The Rose Trilogy and three novels about medieval Queenship.

Is there another event in history that you wish had had a different outcome, another "what if"?
Oh dear, another What If? Actually, I am a great fan of The Wars of the Roses. What if Edward V had survived to become king? I fancy writing that Uncle Richard III was assassinated and the boy King brought out of the Tower. He takes on the Tudors and wins!

Thank you Annie for interviewing me. Thank you, Carol, for stopping by to chat about your writing.
Find Carol and all information about her books:

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