Here’s how it all started. Doing my research on the Middle Ages, I found this statue and the short story behind it.
Translation of caption: Return of the Crusader – Hugues de Vaudémont, who left in the year 1147, reunites with his wife. She waited for him faithfully for 14 or 16 years… That’s the Second Crusade (1145–1149), and I’m following the third (1189–1192), but you get the point!
So I started with a crusader – although at the time they didn’t call themselves “crusaders”, but they spoke of “taking the cross”. At first I thought to put Robin Hood in the story, except Robin Hood is a legendary figure invented much later and there’s no evidence of an historical person who could become the legendary outlaw in the 12th century.
Thus I went back to the idea of knights, tournaments, chivalry and courtly love. I’ve seen what is left of Brocéliande forest back in 1999, so my knight comes from Little Brittany, his best friend from Normandy, his wife is Anglo-Norman living near Lincoln. Historical characters they meet are William Marshall, Richard Lionheart and Philippe Auguste, John Lackland, Saladin and a few “minor” names found in chronicles of the time (too many to list them all).
I look forward to check my notes and add more specific research in some areas I might have overlooked when writing the screenplay. I read that when pitching historical novels you should point out what in the novel would appeal to readers in the 21st century, as good historical fiction shows us what binds us together as human beings from different historical periods. So here are the reasons for this novel:
- 12th century crusades are the equivalent of 21st century struggle between Christianity and Islam
- 12th century chivalry is totally lacking in the 21st century, but maybe reminding us that it existed might help us to believe again in honor and faith
- hatred for “other” and ignorance of “other” were present then and are still quite present today, as is the clash of civilizations.
Hence I believe contemporary readers can learn something from those men and women and events of the past.
I pitched it on an agent’s blog as “conflict between Christianity and Islam” and she looks forward to reading it! So stay tuned for more. As soon as I finish the Books of the Immortals, I’ll dive into this brilliant new adventure!