I’m thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Chadwick to my blog today. I absolutely loved her newest book, The Scarlet Lion. You can read my review here. I’m also excited to have two copies of the book to give away to readers of my blog (details at the end of this post)
I would like to thank Martina so much for inviting me to write a guest post about my favourite character in The Scarlet Lion.
I have to say that it was a fascinating request because I view all of the characters in my novels as my extended family and how can you choose one over the other? They all have endearing and not so endearing qualities. In The Scarlet Lion, it’s a given that William Marshal and his wife Isabelle are the most important characters and carry the story, and I love them both dearly and always will. If I were to choose a secondary character who has left a lasting impression on me, however, it would be William’s eldest daughter, Mahelt. I enjoyed meeting her and writing about her very much. Indeed, she created so much of a lasting impression that she now has a novel entirely to herself. Her story arrives in the UK in May with To Defy A King, which Sourcebooks will later be publishing in the USA.
Mahelt Marshal was the third child of ten, but until she was seven years old, she was the only girl and we know from primary source historical records that her father loved her dearly and that they were fond of singing songs together. When I began researching Mahelt Marshal, I discovered a smart, funny, rather bossy and sometimes naughty little girl who was very aware of her own position, but had a good heart, great courage, and a strict sense of duty to her family.
In The Scarlet Lion, I have given her a pet three-legged dog called ‘Tripes’(Latin for three-legged) as I felt showing her care for her pet, her defense and protection of him, and her pride were all ways of revealing her character. She also has a collection of little wooden dolls, dressed to represent members of her family and I enjoyed writing some amusing and touching little vignettes involving her interaction with them.
One rather unusual strand of my research is using a friend’s psychic ability (she’s a professional consultant), to read the past to access my characters. There were several occasions when I was writing The Scarlet Lion and To Defy a King, when I asked her to go to scenes from Mahelt Marshal’s childhood. I thought blog readers might find this excerpt interesting and amusing. It’s exclusive to this article, because I didn’t use it in the novel, but it did inform my understanding of Mahelt’s personality, and it is part of why I’m so fond of her.
“I can sense a lot of open space, glorious open space. It’s golden, it’s honey, it has a lovely taste, feeling, openness and colour. It’s just glorious. And she’s looking over the wall at this scenery. She’s on the crenellations at the top of the walkway. She has a toy in her hand (a doll) in bright colours of red and blue – the cloak is blue. This looks a bit dangerous to me, but she’s holding the doll over the edge and she’s dropped it – just to see what will happen. And now she’s running down the stairs, down, down, down, down, all the way down the stairs. Her hair’s flying back. She’s quite happy and she’s breathless now too. She’s going through a door, a little arch into…I’m seeing it from above now… into the mud at the bottom. She’s not really supposed to go into this mud. I think she’s got a good excuse now because she’s dropped her toy in it. It’s not just mud, there’s all sorts of bits and pieces in there and there are pigs snorting around in it as well. So she’s looking all over for her toy and she’s having to turn over all sorts of different things looking for it, so she’s getting in a horrendous mess. She’s having a little bit of a tussle with one of the pigs as well which is in the way. She’s put her arms round it and she’s trying to push it away with her shoulder, but it’s much bigger than her. At first she seemed to think the pig was a bit of a toy in itself. She quite likes it. I think all this looking for the toy is a bit of an excuse to do these naughty, dirty, things. She’s just getting worse and worse now! It’s like in for a penny, in for a pound. She’s just really got involved with it and she’s digging down with her hands in the really soft mud, so it’s all over the top part of her as well.”
A page-turning novel of honor, intrigue, treachery, and love, continuing the story of England’s greatest knight of the Middle Ages, William Marshal. Bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick, “an author who makes historical fiction come gloriously alive” (The Times of London), is known as a writer of uncommon historical integrity and accuracy.
By 1197 William Marshal’s prowess with a sword and loyalty with his heart have been rewarded by the hand in marriage of Isabelle de Clare—heiress to great estates— and their brood is growing. But their contentment and security is shattered when King Richard dies. Forced down a precarious path by the royal injustices of the vindictive King John, the Marshals teeter on a razor-thin line of honor that threatens to tear apart the very heart of their family.
Elizabeth Chadwick (UK) is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, A Place Beyond Courage, the Winter Mantle, and the Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards. She won a Betty Trask Award for The Wild Hunt, her first novel. For more information please visit http://www.elizabethchadwick.com/, http://livingthehistoryelizabethchadwick.blogspot.com/ and follower her on Twitter http://twitter.com/Chadwickauthor!
Details of the giveaway are simple. I have one copy for US readers and one for Canadian readers. Leave a comment with your email address for one entry and tweet about the giveaway for a second entry. Contest ends on March 18, 2010. Many thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me the book and HUGE thanks to Elizabeth Chadwick for stopping by today. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your research on Mahelt with us!