janna-chronicles-2So pleased to see my interview with Elisabeth Storrs of the Historical Novels Society of Australia in the latest issue of the Historical Novels Review, in which I talk about the ‘tyranny of distance’ when it came to living in Australia while researching and writing this medieval crime series (originally published as the Janna Mysteries.) Being able to walk in your characters’ footsteps is an absolute must as it helps you to visualise what the landscape might have looked like almost a thousand years ago. More important, you get a glimpse of buildings, or the ruins of buildings, that might have existed way back then – and often there’ll be an ‘artist’s impression’ of the glory days even if they are in ruins now. Plus you get to visit museums, collect books and pamphlets not available in Australia and – serendipitously – you often find exactly the right experts to talk to on the sites you visit – like the wonderful gardener who showed me around ‘Aethelgifu’s Anglo-Saxon herb garden’ in the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey (which also had an excellent audio guide of what life was like before Henry VIII when the abbey was one of the wealthiest in the land.)  All of this is a bonus, while even the landscape can inspire new ideas and even a whole book – as happened while I was planning Book 4 of the Janna Chronicles during which Janna moves from Wilton Abbey to Amesbury Abbey in search of information about her mother and her unknown father. A drive to Amesbury took me close to Stonehenge, and I decided to act the tourist and pay it a visit although I’d had no intention of taking Janna anywhere near Stonehenge. But while there, I ‘saw’ a vision of a bleeding body stretched out along one of the fallen monoliths. I’ve learned to pay attention to the voices and visions that sometimes inform my writing, and in fact Stonehenge became crucial to Pilgrim of Death.  PLEASE NOTE: there are currently some special book offers on the Janna Chronicles and also on my novel I, Morgana, that you might like to check out on the links below. 

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