Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

Guest Author–Margaret Mallory

book jacket photo 5/7Happy Friday to you all!

Now that you’re here, pull up a chair and welcome Margaret Mallory today, author of Knight of Desire, which is hitting bookstores this very week!

Jackie: So, tell me a little about your debut novel, A KNIGHT OF DESIRE. What gave you the idea for the story and why did you choose to set it in the medieval period?

Hi Jackie,

Thanks for inviting me today.

knight_of_desire_revised_coverEarly on in KNIGHT OF DESIRE, I have a scene in which my heroine, Lady Catherine Rayburn, steps out alone onto the drawbridge of her castle to meet a group of men-at-arms. This drawbridge scene is what came to me first. The conflict between my hero and heroine grew out of this scene, and I built the rest of the story from there.

At the start of the story, my heroine has been spying on her husband—a violent man who is involved in treachery against the crown–and passing secret messages to her friend, Prince Harry. It is while her husband is off meeting with Welsh rebels that these rough men-at-arms gallop up to her castle gates. Since they carry the king’s banner, she cannot refuse them entry. Still, she is suspicious. After warning the guards to drop the portcullis behind her if she signals, she ducks under the half-raised portcullis and steps out alone onto the drawbridge.

Our hero, William FitzAlan, is among the men waiting on the other side of the moat. The king has granted him the castle and lands belonging to the traitor he defeated today in battle. His second prize is the newly-made widow standing on the drawbridge. Although he has dreamed of the achingly beautiful Lady Catherine for years, he knows better than to trust her. What kind of woman could share her husband’s bed for years and still betray him to his enemies? In what other ways did she betray her first husband?

Once this scene came into my head, I knew my story was a medieval. I love themes of honor and loyalty, so this was perfect. But when? What I wanted was a period mired in rebellion and divided loyalties. I love history, so researching a few centuries was the fun part. What luck for me that Henry Bollingbroke wreaked havoc by usurping the throne from his cousin. Shortly after he took the crown, he faced rebellions on both borders and conspiracies left and right. I’d found the year for my story: 1405.

Jackie: Wow, what a fascinating setup and opening for a story. And I love the way you “found” the time period for your story. One of the things I love most about writing historicals is getting an idea and then being able to find a time period and place when it actually could have happened. Those synergies between reality and imagination are just so much fun.
 
I have to admit, though, that I’d be terrified to write anything set in the medieval period. Can you tell me about the challenges that come with writing a story set in this period? Or was it all just much easier to research than I imagine?

I’d say one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the issue of young teenage girls being married off, often to much older men.  It just doesn’t sit well with the modern reader to see a thirteen-year-old married to an adult man of thirty or fifty.  I worked in the state children’s services agency for several years, so this sure looks like child abuse to me!  How I’ve dealt with it in this series is to have my heroine and hero get together AFTER the heroine’s first marriage.  Multiple marriages were quite common, which isn’t surprising with so many women dying in childbirth, men dying in battle,  and the big age difference you often see between spouses in noble marriages.  If you look at the family trees of historical figures from the time, you often see men and women widowed and remarried several times.  Henry VII’s mother, for example, outlived four or five husbands.   She was married at twelve the first time and was already a widow when she gave birth at thirteen. 

Jackie: Oh, good point! You know, now that you mention it, I remember reading quite a few medievals and or late Renaissance-set stories in which the heroines were in their mid-teens at the beginning of the story in the 80s, but you rarely see any books with very young heroines like that any more. I suppose since I WAS in my mid to late teens when I was reading those stories, it didn’t bother me, but now it almost certainly would. But at the same time, I do think those stories were more historically accurate in some ways.
 
So, tell me, what for you is the best part of writing a book? And what’s the worst?

The worst part is all the sitting!  And then there is not eating all day while I’m sitting, since I’m home alone with no one watching.  The best part is harder to say.  I spent many years at jobs where my days were filled with non-stop meetings.  As an introvert, I do like having a lot of time alone, living in the stories in my head.  Another thing I really enjoy is following characters through a series.  I’m finding that I become so attached to a younger character in my book that I want to give him a story of his own–and a happy ever after.  🙂 

Jackie: Hey, what’s wrong with sitting? Okay, well, aside from the secretarial spread, lol.
 
So, can you tell us a little bit about the next book in the series (like title, release date, etc.)? And maybe give us a preview of what you’re working on now?

I am very fortunate to have my second book in the series, KNIGHT OF PLEASURE, coming out just 5 months after the first.  The hero is Sir Stephen Carleton, who is the younger half-brother of William, the hero of KNIGHT OF DESIRE.  You’ll love Stephen.  He was such a charmer and so prone to trouble at twelve that I knew he’d make a great hero.  Much of this second book takes place in Normandy, where Henry V (Prince Harry in book 1) is busy reclaiming lands that once belonged to England.  Check out the cover on the book page of my website, because it is GORGEOUS.  www.MargaretMallory.com   Really, I cried when I saw it.

I’m busy working on the 3rd book in the series, KNIGHT OF PASSION, which is scheduled for release next July.  The hero of this one is Jamie Rayburn, who is a toddler in the first book and a teenager in the second  It’s been so fun to watch him grow up.  The heroine, Linnet, proves quite a challenge to him.  Oh, oh.  I’d better run soon, or I’ll never meet my deadline!

Jackie, thank you so much for having me as a guest.  It was fun!


Thanks to Margaret for guesting on the blog today and also for her generous offer to give a copy of KNIGHT OF DESIRE to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment between now and Monday morning to be entered for a chance to win! I’ll draw a random name from the hat around nine am PST on Monday and notify the winner.

21 Comments

  • Kris Eton June 26, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I am SO glad to see a new MEDIEVAL romance. I thought we were going to be stuck in the Regency period forever

    Medievals were my go-to historical romances when I was in high school. Something about the barbarity of the period that I liked.

    What a great guest, Jackie!

    Reply
  • Laurie Ryan June 26, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I know what Margaret means about secondary characters. I think I fall in love with at least one in each story I write. I’m looking forward to reading Knight of Desire.
    Thanks to both Margaret and Jackie for an interesting blog. 🙂

    Reply
  • Tess June 26, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Just a beautiful cover and the story sounds delightful…Here’s to many sales!!!

    Reply
  • Adrianna Dane June 26, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I love this period in history and these sound like awesome stories. I’m looking forward to reading them.

    Reply
  • Anna Kathryn Lanier June 26, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Great interview. I know how hard it is for us to understand marrying at 12, 13 or 14, but when you remember the life expectancy was around 30..well, that’s middle age! Of course, marrying young and having so many children probably contributated to the short life span.

    I love how the scene came to you and then you choose the time period. I have several books on the back burning…set in Regency. Well, I’m writing cowboy westerns now, but there’s no way I can take the story and move it to the American West. I just have to have those titles and historical lands passed down through the generations. So I understand needing the right time period for the plot.

    I’ll have to purchase the book! It’s sounds wonderful.

    Reply
  • Anthea Lawson June 26, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    KNIGHT OF DESIRE is a great read! I’m lucky enough to have gotten an early copy of it, so no need to put me in the drawing. 🙂 Nice interview, Margaret~

    Reply
  • Margaret Mallory June 26, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    You know it warms my heart every time someone says they love medievals!

    By the way, I notice I left out a word when I talked about the worsst part about writing. My difficulty is in TRYING not to eat all day. I have never in my life actually not eaten all day. 😉

    Reply
  • Pat Detweiler w/a Gwynlyn MacKenzie June 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I love a good medieval story. And, although we find it hard to swallow, with average life expectency so low at that time, marrying off a young girl as soon as she showed signs of womanhood made sense in that age.

    Fabulous interview. Seems my TBR pile just grew–again.

    Reply
  • Margaret Mallory June 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for all the positive remarks about my book and cover!
    On the topic of life-span in the middle ages, I read somewhere that the “30 year average,” or whatever it is that you often hear, is misleading. Once you discount the high child mortality rate, the average life-span was much longer. For those who made it past early childhood, I don’t think it was that exceptional for a person to live to their fifties or sixties. Of course, that’s not counting the plague years….

    Reply
  • Lisa Marie Wilkinson June 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Margaret!
    Congratulations on your first release and the ones that will follow it. The Knight’s series sounds terrific, I love historicals with medieval settings, so these will be a treat. Great interview, too!

    Reply
  • Janette Simon June 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Margaret!
    What a wonderful article about this “must read” book! I love medievals and am quite intrigued by by the interweavings you have done with your series. This great article was also very educational on the time.

    Reply
  • Bridget Jameson June 26, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    It is very refreshing to have an author with such a grasp of the time period in which she writes. It brings that period to life for the reader along with the characters so lovingly described. Thanks, Margaret

    Reply
  • Lavada Dee June 26, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Margaret, love your interview and can’t wait to get a copy. I’ll see you at your books signing.

    Wishing you mega sales.

    Reply
  • Booklover1335 June 26, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Hi Margaret,
    I just got done reading a medieval by Karin Tabke, and really enjoyed it so have been on the look out for another….lucky me I found Knight of Desire here on Jackie’s blog. I love it when that happens:)

    I am also glad that you choose to have the heroine married instead of being a young teen. It’s not that I have a problem with the age per se, it’s that writers often give adult maturity to their characters in their actions and words, when they are supposedly a teenager. Have you met a person in their teens lately, they don’t act anything like they are written. Granted I know that the young women were raised differently…to run a household and become mothers at a young age, but I still have to believe that all of that would be overwhelming when they are not an adult. To go from being a sheltered daughter, to a married bride for a teenager is a HUGE leap no matter what era.

    I can’t wait to read Knight of Desire and am also glad that it will be a series! Best of luck with the new release!!!

    Reply
  • Jane June 26, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Margaret,
    Congrats on your debut release. I love medievals. Julie Garwood has written some great ones.

    Reply
  • Margaret Mallory June 26, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I love the old Julie Garwood’s, too. I just listened to Fire and Ice, which was great, but I miss her historicals.

    As for teenagers–I find they make compelling secondary characters. If they want a love story from me, they’ll have to wait. 🙂

    Reply
  • Kimberly Fisk June 26, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Congratulations on your debut release, Margaret. I can’t wait to read it!!

    Reply
  • tatt3r June 27, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Margaret, Your medieval series sounds fascinating! Years ago I devoured the Roslynde series by R. Gellis, and have never found anything else to compare to it. Your series entices me to give medieval romance another try.
    I’m glad I spotted your interview, and I have added your name to my TBR list!

    Reply
  • Margaret Mallory June 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Oooh, Roberta Gellis! I’m embarrassed to even repeat it here because it is way, way too hard to live up to, but a couple of the authors who gave cover quotes for my book say it is in the tradition of, or reminiscent of Roberta Gellis. 🙂

    Reply
  • Pam P June 29, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Congrats on your debut release, Margaret. I love medievals, and so glad to see more of them this year. Just happened to come across your book somewhere and joined your newsletter, and now caught your interview here. Good to see a second will follow not long after.

    Reply
  • Margaret Mallory June 29, 2009 at 11:05 am

    This was my first time blogging, so thanks everyone for joining in the comments! If you don’t win the free book here, there are more chances on my blogging tour that starts today. (See my website events page.)
    Jackie, thanks so much for having me! It was way more fun than I expected. You just may have converted me to blogging…
    Margaret M

    Reply

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