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Reader Questions for Sharon Penman

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Wed October 22nd, 2008, 9:12 am

Thanks Ash - very interesting. I met Sharon when she came to Leicester some years ago and she's lovely - as you can tell from her posts!

Henry also had an ingrowing toe-nail to add to his woes!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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amyb
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Post by amyb » Wed October 22nd, 2008, 12:27 pm

Much thanks for posting! She is unbelievably talented!

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LCW
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Post by LCW » Thu October 30th, 2008, 6:15 am

I got a lovely response from Sharon to my email questions! She gave her permission to post her answers and also asked me to let you all know that she definitely plans to be back and hang out with us as a member. Good news!! Her responses are in bold below:

I had a question about the relationship between Henry and Eleanor while she was his prisoner. I was surprised the in Devil's Brood she never just came out and demanded or asked Henry to release her, esp. during those years where they were getting along fairly well and her stature had improved somewhat. Was that just way beneath Eleanor or did she know that Henry would never have agreed and so didn't bother to debase herself like that?

I think Eleanor was too proud to ask him, knowing that he was not going to agree. She wouldn't have wanted to give him the satisfaction! And Eleanor, superb politician that she was, was well aware why she continued to be held in the later years, even after her relationship with Henry was no longer so antagonistic. She in effect became a hostage for Richard's good behavior, in part because her continued captivity gave Henry leverage over Richard, so so Henry thought. And then, too, Henry knew that if she were free, she'd have made a powerful ally--for Richard, not for him.

I also had a question about Constance from Devil's Brood. The scene where she finds out Geoffrey has died was just heartbreaking! They were two of my favorite characters and I'm so looking forward to reading more about her. Will she play a major role in Lionheart? And what was it about her that attracted you to her initially?

I enjoyed writing about Geoffrey and Constance, for too often they have been shoved off center stage in favor of Geoffrey's better-known brothers. In some ways, Constance reminded me of Eleanor, a strong, ambitious woman struggling against the constraints imposed upon medieval women both by the Church and society. Yes, she will be a major character in Lionheart, as she fights to secure her son Arthur's inheritance, and--spoiler alert here--she finds herself imprisoned by her English husband, once again following in Eleanor's footsteps. I suppose I am not really ruining the suspense since Constance is a well known historical figure and her story can easily be found with a simple google search. She did find happiness in a brief, third marriage and while she died young, that was a blessing, for she was spared knowing the sad fates of her children, who fell into John's hands after her death. Arthur, of course, never emerged alive from a Rouen prison and it is generally believed that John had him killed. His sister Eleanor was held in comfortable confinement for more than forty years, first by John and then by his son, Henry III, guilty of nothing but a blood claim to the duchy of Brittany.


I just thought of one other question! I've loved the titles of all your novels. That's initially what attracted me to your work. I came across "Here Be Dragons" and thought it was such an unusual title and somewhere found out that it's what map makers put on areas of the map that were unknown and were thus shrouded in mystery and a bit of fear. Also most of your novels there is a quote or a reference to where you got the title from such as When Christ and His Saints Slept or Falls the Shadow. Where did the title Devil's Brood come from? If there ever was an appropriate title for a novel then surely that is it, lol! I'm just curious as to how you came up with it.

I'd always liked the title Here Be Dragons, and so it was a shock when my British publisher wanted me to change it when Dragons was going to be published in the UK. They explained that it was a "joke" title, and gave as an example a comedian appearing in a skit saying "my mum-in-law is coming for the weekend. Here Be Dragons." Well, none of my English friends had reacted to the title like that, so I held my ground, and did prevail--but at a price. They hadn't wanted to use my middle name when Sunne was published, saying that two names seemed "too American." We'd compromised by using the initial K, but to salvage the title for Dragons, I agreed to deepsix the initial, too, and I have been published in the UK ever since as Sharon Penman. And to this day, it still looks odd to me!
The term Devil's Brood was what Henry's contemporaries called his unruly sons. I cannot remember, though, where I first encountered it. But it seemed so apt that I never considered any other title for the book.
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

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Carine
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Post by Carine » Thu October 30th, 2008, 6:43 am

Thank you so much for posting LCW, very good questions and very interesting answers.
I never knew what "Here Be Dragons" meant !

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Thu October 30th, 2008, 11:29 am

Yes, they do refer to mothers-in-law as dragons in the UK! LOL. Luckily I have a lovely mil!! But I never thought of the title 'Here Be Dragons' in that way.

I always wondered about that middle initial and where it went! I always think of this author as Sharon K Penman. I don't see where the thinking came from either that using her whole name was too 'American'. That would never cross my mind.
Last edited by Vanessa on Thu October 30th, 2008, 11:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Ash » Thu October 30th, 2008, 1:36 pm

But I never thought of the title 'Here Be Dragons' in that way.


Wait a minute; I'm not questioning Sharon's story, but I am sure that in my copy of HBD, its mentioned that on the old maps, the phrase was written for the land of Wales. I seem to remember that was why it was chosen. Mother in laws just doesn't make sense for that book. Mmmmm

(edit) From Wikipedia: "Here be dragons" is a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the infrequent medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in blank areas of maps.
Last edited by Ash on Thu October 30th, 2008, 1:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Misfit » Thu October 30th, 2008, 2:57 pm

Wait a minute; I'm not questioning Sharon's story, but I am sure that in my copy of HBD, its mentioned that on the old maps, the phrase was written for the land of Wales. I seem to remember that was why it was chosen.
Nope, I remember reading that at the end of my copy as well.

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Post by boswellbaxter » Thu October 30th, 2008, 3:03 pm

[quote=""Ash""]But I never thought of the title 'Here Be Dragons' in that way.


Wait a minute; I'm not questioning Sharon's story, but I am sure that in my copy of HBD, its mentioned that on the old maps, the phrase was written for the land of Wales. I seem to remember that was why it was chosen. Mother in laws just doesn't make sense for that book. Mmmmm

(edit) From Wikipedia: "Here be dragons" is a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the infrequent medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in blank areas of maps.[/quote]

But she didn't say that the title was meant to refer to mothers-in-law--only that the publisher was worried that UK readers might take it as a reference to the mother-in-law joke.
Susan Higginbotham
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LCW
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Post by LCW » Thu October 30th, 2008, 3:52 pm

[quote=""Ash""]But I never thought of the title 'Here Be Dragons' in that way.


Wait a minute; I'm not questioning Sharon's story, but I am sure that in my copy of HBD, its mentioned that on the old maps, the phrase was written for the land of Wales. I seem to remember that was why it was chosen. Mother in laws just doesn't make sense for that book. Mmmmm

(edit) From Wikipedia: "Here be dragons" is a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the infrequent medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in blank areas of maps.[/quote]

In her answer to my question she just says that she's always liked the title. The "joke" part of it was the reason her British publishers gave her for wanting to change the title. There's nothing that contradicts what she says at the back of the book! If I'd checked there first I'd have probably answered my own question! ;)
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

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Vanessa
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Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Thu October 30th, 2008, 3:55 pm

Oooh, no, I know the title didn't refer to mothers in law. Sorry! :o What I meant was the fact that the publishers thought the UK would see a reference to it there, but I, being British, actually never thought of the 'joke' when seeing the title. A dragon is on the Welsh flag. Quite colourful it is, too! :D
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Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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