Hilary Rhodes

Biography

Hilary Rhodes is a scholar, author, blogger, and all-around geek who fell in love with British history while spending a year abroad at Oxford University. She holds a B.A. in English and history and an M.A. in religion and history while planning to go on for doctoral study, is a member of the Medieval Academy of America, and can recite all the kings of England, in order, with dates (one of the more useless party tricks in the world, but we all have our special talents). On the rare occasions she is not writing, she can be found reading, watching or blogging about her favorite movies and TV shows, talking to her friends, walking, or hanging out in a coffee shop somewhere. Probably writing.

Smashwords Interview

How did you start writing historical fiction?
Quite honestly, I was ambushed into it! I had the great privilege and joy of going abroad to Oxford University during my junior year of college, and rather naively, thought I was going to study English and psychology. Then I joined my home college’s tutoring program for London schoolchildren, where myself and two other students developed a workshop about the Norman Conquest. This was something I had been interested in before and took a class on in my freshman year, but had never pursued in depth. Still, it sounded like fun, so I scuffed up a few relevant facts and sallied forth. My job was to get the children to do an imaginative exercise related to the material, and I’d come up with a few basic story prompts. (1: “Harold, before his death, gave you a secret never to tell the Normans. What was it?” or 2: “William, on his way to be crowned, gave you a gift. What was it?”) Aside from one gratifyingly industrious little girl, this wasn’t taken too seriously; William would no doubt be extremely surprised to find that he bequeathed plasma televisions, one trillion pounds, fancy sports cars, gated mansions, and other such largesse to a bunch of twenty-first-century schoolchildren. The hour went off relatively well, and they all had fun, although I’m not sure how much they learned. But that was only the beginning.

I was in London Victoria station, in the process of finding the bus back to Oxford, when the plot bunny first sidled into my head. It insisted very much that I wanted to tell a Norman Conquest story of my own, which took me greatly by surprise, and I tried to deny it. The bus departed, promptly running into heinous traffic. I sat chewing this over. We drove. I thought. We drove. I thought harder. We got back to Oxford. I disembarked in a muddle, headed into my flat, opened up a document, and wrote about five pages. I put it aside for a few days. Then I went back to it. It was like touching a match to gunpowder, and I was completely done for. I changed my psychology course to medieval history, studying it, writing it, researching it, living it, and finally finishing the manuscript for The Aetheling's Bride (one of my forthcoming books). The Lion and the Rose was completed during my senior year in college, after I had taken a summer trip to Normandy with my mother and found myself utterly compelled to write William the Conqueror's fascinating, complex, dramatic story in full.
How do you research your books?
In nearly every way I can. In the course of writing my first book, I had the unparalleled resources of Oxford available to me, whether it was catching a lecture at the Exam Schools or checking materials out from the History Library. But there are plenty of ways to do good research in everyday setting. While the first step to writing about any period is, of course, to read like crazy, not all history books are created equal, and part of the secret to solid research is learning which sources to rely on, and which claims pass the smell test. I read regular scholarly books, essays, articles, primary sources, websites, and just about anything I can get my hands on (having two degrees in the subject does help) and pride myself on my novels' extremely high degree of accuracy in details large and small; I've had to regretfully rule out using words such as "kowtow" and "quixotic," even when I very much wanted to, because they wouldn't have been invented yet in a medieval setting! I also can't tell you how many times I've written a detail in as a placeholder, intending to go back and look it up later, only to find when I do that it was exactly correct (it's mildly spooky when that happens). Wikipedia can be a good place to start if you want to comb the footnotes for links to articles and books, and I do use it for broad, overview-type information.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Hilary Rhodes online


Books

The Lion and the Rose, Book One: William Rising
By
Series: The Lion and the Rose, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 114,840. Language: English. Published: June 19, 2014. Category: Fiction » Historical » Medieval
William of Normandy: visionary, ambitious, indomitable, cunning. . . the man who would change the destinies of England and France forever. William Rising tells his story as never before, from crippling childhood loss, political treachery, and adolescent betrayal, to the making of a conqueror.

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