Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Place Beyond Courage The Trailer!

I've been experimenting with Windows Movie Maker - totally addictive, I tell you. I have made a trailer for A PLACE BEYOND COURAGE, my novel about John Marshal, due out on October 4th.
It still needs some cosmetic additions and tweaks, but it's decent enough to go out in public I feel.
Ideally the trailer should have Placebo's Broken Promise on the soundtrack, but EMI wanted £2,500 for that privilege, and while I'm all for paying the going rate, that did seem a little too expensive for this author's piggy bank. The track I've put in its stead, 'Under the Bard's Tree' is a Royalty Free music track, which means it's only cost me £14.00, it suits the soundtrack and I can do what I want with it. Re the photographs, I knew being a re-enactor would come in handy! Some are my own photos, although most are from the archives of members of Regia Anglorum. The Marlborough Downs and the River Test at Wherwell are from my research camera, and the second one of the fire is my son Simon superimposed against my dining room hearth!
Many PC's running Windows XP will have Movie Maker among their programmes. Give it a go; it's great fun! Hope you enjoy the efforts of my first outing with it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Double Take!

While browsing the Internet the other day I came across an interesting book cover. The title is The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison and a fine cover it is too. I did a double take though because I've seen an incarnation of this cover before. It was one of the prototypes - sans dog - for The Scarlet Lion. I rejected it because the heroine of The Scarlet Lion begins the novel as a 27 year old mother of four and is a powerful, confident woman, whereas the cover they had given me was of a much younger, less assured person in a dress that looks too big for her round the lower half.
Further investigation of The Princess and the Hound, shows a background 'wallpaper' of little 'balled crosses'. This was the original background for my novel The Champion, but I said it looked exactly like the wallpaper in my study. I even took a digicam photo of the latter and sent it to my publishers to prove the point. The 'wallpaper' was duly airbrushed out. The diamond-pane window is also featured in various incarnations in both The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. All the images are by renowned cover artist Larry Rostant and what a publisher doesn't buy is open for recycling. I think it's very interesting the way the components have been remodeled. Waste not, want not!

For The Scarlet Lion as it is now, see the sidebar.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

More Research

I've been buying research materials again. These are three recent purchases for my reference shelves, plus another item to add to my re-enactment equipment.
I've only just started dipping into these books, but they are already proving fascinating and very useful. For example re the fashion book. I have always thought that hose and chausses were interchangeable terms for men's trousers. Wrong. Hose are scruffier and don't fit so well. Chausses are the ones that fit snugly to the leg - and the tighter the better. The context is early 13thC, so just right for my period of interest.
The book is a fairly specialist tome and do not expect illustrations 'cos there aren't any. What it does discuss, with much recourse to the literature of the time, is the development of fashion, of shopping for clothes and consumerism, of hierarchies of garments such as the above mention difference between hose and chausses. All in all an interesting and useful book, if not a desert island one.

This one I have yet to begin reading but it's a translation from the French by professor David Crouch for whom I have great respect, and promises to give insights into the reigns of Henry, Richard and John from a French and European perspective.
I have to thank my writer friend Sharon Kay Penman for the heads up on this title.

Keep scrolling down.

The next title is one I bought because I needed to have some working knowledge of the twelfth century legal system. My new hero, Roger Bigod, served on the bench at Westminster and was also a judge on the itinerant circuit. It has been interesting to learn about coming of age for example.
Heirs of a military fee were kept in wardship until they were 21 - although I know from other researches that sometimes this was waived. The son or heir of a sokeman was deemed to be of full age at 15, and the son of a burgage tenant 'when he can count money carefully, measure cloth and generally do his father's business.'
There is also some fascinating material on women's legal rights - not good as far as property was concerned. Basically husbands got the lot.

And finally, my new shoes have arrived - yay!
They're replicas of a 12th century ankle shoe. The vamp strip is hand-woven, hand-dyed silk (woad). These are the kind of shoes that William and John Marshal, would have worn for every day. Their wives too.
They were made for me by Ana Deissler of Ana Period shoes - url to her site here.

The vamp strips were woven and dyed by expert spinster and dyer Rosemary Watson from my own Regia group the Conroi de Vey.

I don't expect to be wearing them all that much, but I do hope to bring them to author talks as part of my 'show and tell' sessions.