Herodotus Award Winner ("Neither Pity, Love, Nor Fear")
Edgar Award-nominee (The Servant's Tale)
Edgar Award-nominee (The Prioress' Tale)
Minnesota Book Award nominee (The Bishop's Tale)
Minnesota Book Award nominee (The Reeve's Tale)
To begin with, ‘Margaret Frazer’ was two people, both interested in writing and in medieval England, one of them with modern murder mysteries already published, the other with file drawers, shelves, and notebooks full of research on England in the 1400s. They met in a historical recreationist group called the Society for Creative Anachronism and joined forces to write The Novice's Tale, the first in a history mystery series centered on a Benedictine nun, Dame Frevisse, of a small priory in Oxfordshire. Both character and setting were chosen for the challenge they presented – a cloistered nun in a rural nunnery: how does one go about being involved in murders in that situation? -- and the chance to explore medieval life from a different perspective.
During their collaboration, the authors worked together by first laying out the general idea of a story. Then the ‘Frazer’ half of the team developed the plot and characters in detail and wrote the first draft. The ‘Margaret’ half then re-worked that into a second draft, the ‘Frazer’ half re-worked that (and it helped they lived five miles apart and couldn’t hear what each said about the other during these stages!), and then they did the final draft together, never able to argue over it too long because by then there would be a deadline closing in. The collaboration worked well through six books and two award nominations – an Edgar for The Servant's Tale and a Minnesota Book Award for The Bishop's Tale – before the ‘Margaret’ half grew tired of the series and amicably returned to the 20th century, leaving the ‘Frazer’ half to continue the series, with an Edgar nomination for The Prioress' Tale.
I write stories set in medieval England because I greatly enjoy looking at the world from other perspectives than the 20th century. My brief college career was as an archaeology major with writing intended as a hobby, but with one thing and another, my interest came down to medieval England with writing as my primary activity, only rivaled by my love of research. But why medieval England, especially for someone who grew up without any interest in knights in shining armor and ladies fair? That’s a tangled tale but the final steps were seeing a production of Shakespeare’s Richard II and soon thereafter reading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. The complexities of honor and duty and betrayal, mixed with a curiosity as to how the high tragedies of the 1400s came about intrigued me and to understand more I needed to understand how people then saw their world and why they saw it that way. That set me into learning about medieval English politics, religion, philosophy, sociology, economics -- all the multi-layered elements that go into making the lives of people in any time period. I wanted to know the landscape of the time not only outwardly – by way of many trips around Britain – but inwardly – how the world looked and felt to the people who lived then, rather than how it looks to us now. And when the chance came to write a mystery series set in medieval England, I wanted to do it from as far inside medieval perceptions as possible, to look at medieval England more from their point of view than from ours, because the pleasure of going thoroughly into otherwhen as well as otherwhere -- the chance to move right away from the familiar into a whole other way of seeing and behaving -- has always been one of my own great pleasures in reading. As a writer I deeply want to give that same pleasure to others.
So – in everyday life, I’m Gail Frazer, living in the countryside north of Elk River, Minnesota, with four cats and not enough bookshelves. Over the years I’ve had a rag-tag of various jobs, including librarian, secretary, reseacher for a television station, gift shop manager, and assistant matron at an English girls’ school. Married once upon a time but not anymore, I have two well-grown sons who become uneasy if I read books about poisons at the supper table and refuse to turn their backs on me when I say I want to try something I might use in a story. I write more days than not, and when once I moaned that "I have to get a life," my loving family informed me, "You have one. It’s in the 1400s." That seems to sum up things rather nicely.
Where to find Margaret Frazer online
The Maiden's Tale
A WEB OF LIES, INTRIGUE... AND ROMANCE
In an hour of desperate need, Dame Frevisse is forced to journey to London to find aid for her beleaguered nunnery. She seeks her wealthy cousin Alice, wife of the earl of Suffolk. But with a new Parliament warming to its arguments, she finds Alice caught between the powerful Gloucester, the sinister Bishop Beaufort, and the darkly handsome Duke of Orleans.
Circle of Witches
A GOTHIC ROMANCE. MISTY MOORS. ANCIENT SECRETS. FORBIDDEN PASSIONS.
Her mother had always been afraid. That's what Damaris remembered. From the time she was a little girl until the day her mother died, she had seen the fear in her eyes.
But now she understood. Now she was afraid, too.
The Prioress' Tale
Under the harsh hand of its newly elected prioress, St. Frideswide's has become a place of deadly sin. The corruption has found fertile soil in the rage and greed of Domina Alys, who has turned the priory into a boarding house for her relatives, the Godfreys. If Frevisse cannot save the nunnery from itself, then St. Frideswide's may be no more...
NOMINATED FOR THE 1998 EDGAR AWARD
The Murderer's Tale
The wealthy Lionel Knyvet has been possessed by a foul demon. Seeking relief from the horrific terrors visited upon his body each fortnight, Lionel has dragged his entire household on an endless pilgrimage across the breadth and length of England. Dame Frevisse wants merely to enjoy the peace of the road, but instead finds herself draawn into the vilest depths of the human soul.
One man has been kidnapped. Another has been murdered.
In the bleakest depths of winter, Frevisse finds her soul chilled with the heavy burdens of duty and responsibility. Even the warmth of charity is in short supply as the villagers of Prior Byfield turn against each in bloody feuds of greed and rage, weaving knots of treachery which even the clever Frevisse may find hard to unwind.
The Stone-Worker's Tale
Simon the sculptor had been truly touched by God's gift. He saw beauty that others could not and brought it to life through his craft.
But Simon also saw the beauty of Elyn. Clandestine meetings have given way to sinful lust, and now the two lovers have vanished. But Frevisse alone suspects there may be some darker truth behind the midnight vanishing...
The Midwife's Tale
Cisily Fisher has died in childbirth and now the village of Priors Byfield is held in a grip of fear. Can Dame Frevisse find the root of misery behind a murderer's sin before the next lethal blow falls? Or will be the village be lost in a hue and cry of terror? The gentling touch of the midwife may calm the tortured soul... or give birth to a bitter death.
The Witch's Tale
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live...
Witchcraft has come to the peaceful village near St. Frideswide, and its foul touch is striking down those closest to the church. Can Dame Frevisse thwart the servants of the devil before the hellfire of hysteria sears the souls of the faithful? Or is there more to this magic than meets the eye? The truth can only be found in the Witch's Tale.
The Bishop's Tale
"MAY GOD STRIKE ME DOWN WITHIN THE HOUR!"
To the guests at the mourning feast for Thomas Chaucer, the last words of the detested Sir Clement Sharpe had been enough to damn him in the eyes of God. But the crafty Dame Frevisse and cunning Bishop Beaufort suspect that there may be an all-too-mortal hand at work in Sir Clement's death...
The Boy's Tale
"Sanctuary! In God's name you must give it!"
A dark lady rides back into the life of Dame Frevisse, bearing with her two small boys haunted by the touch of death and scandal. Nine men lie dead on the road behind them, victims of the grim fate which relentlessly pursues them. Some seek to turn them away, but when they request sanctuary Frevisse is bound by her holy oaths to grant it.
The Outlaw's Tale
Leaving the safety of her nunnery walls behind, Dame Frevisse is waylaid on the King's Highway by a band of outlaws and drawn into an unholy web of treachery and deceit.
The Outlaw's Tale is the third installment of award-winning author Margaret Frazer's twice Edgar-nominated Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery series.
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