Monday, June 03, 2013


Tomorrow I'll be starting a series of short blog posts themed around the background research to The Summer Queen.  Look out nearer the 20th June for news of a giveaway.

Today here's an introduction:

Behind the scenes Day 1.

It was that time again when contracts come round for renewal and myself, agent and editor went to lunch to discuss what might be in the offing following Lady of the English. 

I had one or two ideas, which readers may well see coming to fruition further along the line, but what stood out for me was that I had been wanting to write about Eleanor of Aquitaine for a while. It wasn’t something that burst over me like a firework. It was born more from an enduring curiosity in her, fed by the fact that she kept cropping up as a peripheral character in my novels. I had read information about her in the standard biographies, although the detail I required didn’t go deep at that stage. I had heard all about The Lion In Winter from the various groups to which I belong online, but I had never seen it – thankfully I think because it has not coloured my view of Eleanor. I HAD watched the BBC’s The Devil’s Crown as a teenager and been blown away by the performance of Jane Lapotaire as Eleanor. If anything, it was Lapotaire’s image I carried at the back of my mind.

I was aware when I sat down with my editor that there were several novels already out there about Eleanor, but the concern proved not to be an issue. After all, everyone’s take is different, and we both felt there were many facets of her story that hadn’t been explored, or that bore looking at with a fresh eye. For example, the current opinion by historians that she was only thirteen when she married. Or the matter of the incident at Antioch where the tabloid press of her day intimated that she committed adultery with her uncle. What really happened there? And what happened in Paris when the young future Henry II and his father came calling? Who brokered that match? How much was passion and how much cold political necessity? And that was only the first novel. Eleanor of Aquitaine crammed so much into her long life that it was going to take a trilogy to work through the various dramas and scandals.

My editor was confident enough to offer me a three book contract to write Eleanor’s story and I returned form London with a brief to get to work. It seems to have been a long time coming, and paradoxically no time at all since that moment. My version of Eleanor has become Alienor, which was the name by which she was known in her own time, and already what a journey it has been.
You can read the first chapter here:
And listen to the soundtrack here and the modern music that inspired my writing.

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