What books have most influenced your life?
When I was a little kid my Aunty Ivy used to come down from London on the train and she used to bring these comics with her for me – Classics Illustrated. They were the great literature classics like Les Miserables and MacBeth and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, only there were all done as comics, 52 pages with speak bubbles. I fell in love with stories, with adventure, with romance, with big canvas epic stories right then.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Ken Follett, I think his novels are closest to mine, he has never allowed himself to be boxed into a genre, and there is adventure and romance and great characterisations in all his books. I also like Bernard Cornwell.
Have you started another book yet?
I’m always writing another book! I feel like Keats (just not as good obviously): “I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.’ I remember our teacher reading that poem to us school and I thought: ‘He’s talking about me!’
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
Flannery O’Connor, Wiseblood. My daughter handed me her copy, she’s studying creative writing at Goldsmith University and suggested I read it. It’s sinister, funny, dark and wild. I’ve almost finished Carlos Ruiz Safon’s book about Barcelona Shadow of the Wind and just finished Light Between the Oceans by RL Stedman (it’s set in West Australia where I used to live.) I have several books on the go at once.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
When I was 18 I left school and got a job in London. One day I was late for the train and I had to take a shortcut through the local churchyard. I remember looking at all the gravestones and working out how long people had lived. Some weren’t very long at all and it made me think that I didn’t want to spend my life in a job I hated. I wanted to travel the world, know adventure, know what love was, touch and feel every aspect of what being alive was all about and – if I was lucky – even maybe get a book published. In the end it happened in reverse – writing was the dream that made all the other things come true – I travelled to research and I met some amazing people through writing or having written. And really you don’t write sitting in a room anyway – you get the material to write from having lived. I like to think I’ve lived a little.
She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.
12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England – only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair – does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?
Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight – but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage – and England apart.
Who is Piers Gaveston – and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?
The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny – but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life – and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.
This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.
In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, ISABELLA is thoroughly researched and fast paced, the little known story of the one invasion the English never talk about.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13