I’m pleased to welcome Tracey Warr as my guest author today. Her novel, Conquest: Daughter of the Last King, was published in paperback last week by Impress Books and you can buy a copy here: Conquest. Thanks for taking part Tracey. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
For the first part of my career I worked in contemporary art – first as an international art curator organising exhibitions around the world, and then as a university lecturer in Oxford, Dartington and Weimar in Germany. I published my first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver, in 2011, and my second, The Viking Hostage, in 2014 – both with Impress Books. Earlier this year I self-published a scifi novella, Meanda, in English and French as an ebook and Twitter fiction.
What inspired you to start writing?
The landscapes, people and histories of places I lived – southern France, south-west Wales, Oxford and London. At first, researching medieval histories was like taking a holiday from my ‘real’ work in contemporary art, a holiday in time.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I previously published non-fiction – books, essays, articles on contemporary art. When my daughter grew up and left home, I spent time living in France where I came across the subject of my first novel, Almodis de La Marche. I decided to work on the draft of a novel by doing an MA in Creative Writing in Carmarthen. I entered the first three chapters of my draft for the Impress Prize and was shortlisted and encouraged to submit a full manuscript. I’ve been working with the team at Impress Books ever since.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Conquest: Daughter of the Last King is set in England and Wales at the turn of the 11th century. It focusses on the tumultuous experiences of a young Welsh noblewoman, Nest ferch Rhys, who is caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans at the end of the 11th century. She is symbolically significant to both sides and the book aims to evoke her torn affections and loyalties and her efforts to regain control of her own destiny. The book is the first in a trilogy about Nest.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Conquest refers to the Norman Conquest of Wales which took over two hundred years, but it also refers to Nest’s role in the sexual politics of Welsh and Norman contention. She was the mistress of the Norman King of England, Henry I, then kidnapped by the Welsh Prince, Owain ap Cadwgan, and married one after the other, to two other Norman lords and a Flemish sheriff during her eventful life. Daughter of the Last King comes from the Welsh chroniclers description of Nest’s father as the last independent Welsh king. Her father and her brothers were killed by the Normans.
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
Daughter of the Last King was published on 1 October 2016. I plan to launch the book with reading events at castles, libraries and bookshops in Wales and England, and with a blogtour.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes I’m working on The Drowned Court, the second in the Conquest series, which will follow Nest’s colourful life into the early decades of the 12th century. I’m also working on a biography of three medieval sisters.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
Winston Graham, Grove of Eagles. Graham is most famous for the Poldark series, but this is another historical novel set in Cornwall and concerned with the foiled Spanish Armada invasions during the reign of Elizabeth I. Graham is a fabulous historical fiction writer.
What are you reading just now?
Emmi Itaranta, City of Woven Streets (August 2016) – a novel set in the future.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Mostly book, but I recently bought a waterproof kindle for the watery launch of my future fiction novella, Meanda, which is set on an exoplanet that is 90% water. I love swimming. Water is a kind of protagonist in the novella. Now I can read on kindle, whilst sitting by the river or travelling, and then back to books in the evenings at home. And I do a lot of book research in the British Library which I really enjoy. It’s like detective work, following the trail of a character or a theme through many books and articles.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
@TraceyWarr1 on Twitter
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice because I admire her verve and humour, and like her, I probably need to be taken down a peg or two from time to time.