Knights of England Series
Mary Ellen Johnson
"Life though pleasant is transitory, even as is the Cherry Fair. "
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The Death of Thomas Lancaster. This scene is one of my favorites because of the contrast between
the sentencing of a lord to death with the surrounding mundanity of "life goes on." Plus it reinforces the internal doubts and insecurities of one of my heroes with his outward stoicism.
Each time I revisit my stories, I think, This is my favorite character. I'm way more attached to my males than my females. My Knights of England series pretty much encompasses the arc of Matthew Hart's life from cocksure young knight to world-weary veteran. This is my version of the Battle of Poitiers which captures the early mood of Edward III's reign. England's golden age, at least Matthew thinks so Enjoy it, Matthew, for the wheel of fortune continues its turning for all of us...
When I was younger, I wondered how the German people had committed such atrocities. Why hadn't they rebelled? What were they thinking? Which is why this scene, the Siege of Limoges, remains one of my all-time favorites My knight, Matthew Hart, is a typical soldier, skillfully performing his knightly duties by the standards of the day. The concept of duty and honor have been inculcated in Matthew since childhood. So whatÂ happens when those concepts, along with his love for his liege, Edward of Woodstock, conflict with Matthew's conscience? Can he disobey a lawful order from Prince Edward, knowing that if he refuses, he will be hanged and the slaughter of innocents proceed? I enjoyed wrestling with the dilemma of a good man caught in an untenable situation.
And I am no longer so contemptuous of a nation in the thrall of a madman--whether in Nazi Germany or in my version of Limoges.. Would we as Americans react any differently? Would I
A final note: recent research disputes the extent of the carnage at Limoges, which is an undeserved stain on the Black Prince's legacy. For the purposes of my story, I chose the older version.
A different take on the beginnings of the Peasant's Rebellion of 1381. I liked the idea of creating a heroine who straddled two worlds, that of the peasant and that of the nobility. And loved two men who embodied each class, as we see in this excerpt.
I loved, loved, loved researching Henry Bolingbroke's, the future Henry IV's, pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The backdrop of various countries and cultures allowed me to explore cultural attitudes and contrast the personalities of two of my important characters, Serill Hart, and Lancelot of Glastonbury. (Lancelot is another of my very favorite protagonists.) As always, it's hard for me to balance the history with the story, but I think I succeeded here.
When trying to decide where to end my six book Knights of England series, which spans the fourteenth century, I read about the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403), Shrewsbury was fought between Henry IV and Harry Hotspur, who considered Henry IV the usurper king. Upon reading about the eclipse that took place during the battle I knew I had to share it. Also, how to conclude my journey with my main character, Matthew Hart. Faithful knight and loyal subject, Matthew is now an old man, but he continues to live by the family motto "All is lost save honor." Matthew deserves a knight's death, which is what I gave him.
I like to think of Before I Wake as my memoir--if I'd been married five times and been transported back to the thirteenth century. And lived a far more adventurous life. The one completely true part of Before I Wake is Magdalena Moore's past life regression and its aftermath. I describe it almost precisely the way I experienced it. Whether simply wishful thinking, an overactive imagination or delusion, the remnants of that experience have followed me over a lifetime