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Reader Questions for Sharon Penman

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Post by Ash » Fri October 31st, 2008, 1:43 am

Thanks for clarifying.

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Post by sharon » Sat November 1st, 2008, 5:47 pm

[quote=""Margaret""]Argh! I lost track of the time and got here late. I wanted to ask if Richard's troubadour, Blondel de Nesle, plays a major role in the novel she's working on next. Ever since I wrote about troubadours for History Magazine, I've been fascinated by the story of Blondel searching for Richard during his captivity and finally finding him by singing a verse of a song Richard had written under a castle tower and hearing Richard sing the next lines.

Bad luck about the computer troubles. I have never had that problem posting here. How awful that it would be Sharon in particular that this had to happen to.[/quote]

Hi, Margaret,
I am back, two weeks late, but back. I wasn't at all surprised I'd have computer trouble, as I have a love-hate relationship with them. I called my first one Lucy, for Lucifer's Hand Maiden. Then I had RB, for Rosemary's Baby, and two Dells from Hell. Then I tried reverse psychology and called my current Gateway Merlin; when Dell sent me a replacement for the one their tech burned up (long story) I called him Mordred, so of course I had to name my laptop Morgan le Fay. She went over to the dark side right away, but Merlin likes to play mind games with me. Some days he is good, even very good, and then when I let down my guard--like during our first forum chat--he pulls the rug out from under me.
You asked about Blondel, I think, right? I have no plans as yet to add him to the cast since my research indicates the Blondel story was one of the many legends that sprung up around Richard. When I begin to do serious in-depth research about Richard's capture on his way home from the Holy Land, I am open to changing my mind if I find credible information to the contrary, but truthfully I don't expect it.

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Post by EC2 » Sat November 1st, 2008, 5:58 pm

A wonderful companion guide to UK history - 1066 And All That by Sellers & Yeatman tells the reader all about Richard's reign and his troubadour. :D :p ;)
Sharon, I assume you have a copy of this erudite work!!!

Richard I: A Wild King

RICHARD I was a hairy King with a Lion's Heart; he went roaring about the Desert making ferocious attacks on the Saladins and the Paladins, and was thus a very romantic King. Whenever he returned to England he always set out again immediately for the Mediterranean and was therefore known as Richard Gare de Lyon. He had a sword of enormous dimensions with which he used to practise cutting iron bars and anvils in half, whereas the Saladins had very sharp swords which were only useful for cutting cushions in half. In spite of which the Crusaders under Richard never got Jerusalem back; this was undoubtedly due to the treacherous behaviour of the Saladins, who used to fire on the Red Cross which the Crusaders wore on their chests in battle.

The Story of Blondin

Richard is also famous for having a minstrel boy (or Touralour) called Blondin who searched for him under the walls of all the dungeons in Europe. This was when Richard had been caught by the blind King of Bohemia during a game of Blind King's Bluff and sold to the Holy Roman Terror. Blondin eventually found him by singing the memorable song (or 'touralay') called O Richard et man Droit ('Are you right, there, Richard ?') which Richard himself had composed. Richard roared the chorus so that Blondin knew which dungeon he was in, and thus the Ring easily escaped and returned to the Crusades, where he died soon after of a surfeit of Sala-dins, and was therefore known in the East as Richard Coeur de Laitue.
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


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Post by sharon » Sat November 1st, 2008, 10:10 pm

[QUOTE=ellenjane;8722]Who has been your favorite character to write? Does it change over time or depending on what book you're working on?[/QUOTE

Hi, Ellen,
I am not sure I have a favorite character, though Llewelyn Fawr in Here Be Dragons probably comes closest. But there are so many characters that I enjoyed writing about, often the ones who were up to the most mischief. I liked Edward IV's ironic take on the world; he took little seriously, least of all himself. I enjoyed the contrast in writing of his literal, humorless queen, Elizabeth Woodville. John was fun because of his manifest flaws. I became fond of Joanna, perhaps because of her vulnerabilities. I enjoyed Davydd's company, although I always felt I should start counting the silverware whenever he was around, though actually what he liked to steal was scenes. Simon de Montfort was challenging for he was a man of such contrasts, and his spirited wife Nell was his perfect match. Henry and Eleanor would be hard for any writer to resist. I didn't like Edward I as a king, but he was great fun to write about. Even the neurotic, dangerously warped George of Clarence was fun to write about. Writers have a tendency to enjoy those characters who were always up to no good--just for the sheer drama of it!

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Post by Misfit » Sun November 2nd, 2008, 12:23 am

Writers have a tendency to enjoy those characters who were always up to no good--just for the sheer drama of it!
Thanks for dropping back by Sharon. I know it's true for me, but probably for most readers that we enjoy the baddies just as much as the writers enjoy writing about them.

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Post by diamondlil » Sun November 2nd, 2008, 12:28 am

For sure, partially because there is room for them to maneuvre. They can do more bad stuff, or can go the occasional good deed and surprise us all!
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Post by LCW » Sun November 2nd, 2008, 3:46 am

[quote=""Misfit""]Thanks for dropping back by Sharon. I know it's true for me, but probably for most readers that we enjoy the baddies just as much as the writers enjoy writing about them.[/quote]

That is so true! I love the villians! Often I find them much more interesting than the hero or heroine.
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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Post by Margaret » Mon November 3rd, 2008, 10:03 pm

David Boyle wrote a really interesting book about Blondel called The Troubadour's song: The Capture and Ransom of Richard the Lionheart. Of course, the evidence for Blondel is scanty, except to show that he did exist, and it's unlikely he simply wandered around Europe singing under towers until someone answered him. But Boyle makes the case that a troubadour would be in an excellent position to travel inobtrusively from court to court gathering gossip and other information that might have ultimately revealed where Richard was being held.

Anyway, I think troubadours are cool!

I have a copy of When Christ and His Saints Slept in my physical TBR pile - well, it's not a pile, exactly, because they're scattered all over the house, on coffee tables, various piles on the floor, etc. But I'm looking forward to this as a treat when I have 100 reviews on my website and will allow myself to start reviewing more than one book per author. Only 39 more to go...

Thanks for coming back, Sharon. Perhaps you need to name your computer something a lot nicer! And maybe offer it little treats when you first turn it on in the morning. I wonder what sort of treats a computer would like. Maybe you could sacrifice alarm clocks to it.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Post by annis » Mon November 3rd, 2008, 11:02 pm

If you have a taste for humorous fantasy, Tom Holt's novel "Overtime" features Blondel in a hilarious time-warping tale. Blondel has been searching for the Lionheart for 900 years, and he's getting mighty sick of that song.

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Post by annis » Mon November 3rd, 2008, 11:39 pm

I heartily sympathise with Sharon's computer hassles (love "the Dells from hell"!) I have a relationship with computers which ranges from the merely wary to near computercide, and frequently involves lots of cursing from me and much bleeping from them :( And it doesn't matter if it's a Mac or a PC - they all hate me equally.
Well-meaning friends trying to untangle me from my latest computer contre-temps are often to be seen scratching their heads and muttering, "Wow, I've never seen that before"--
It seems, to quote U2, that I can't live with or without them!
Last edited by annis on Tue November 4th, 2008, 12:12 am, edited 3 times in total.

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