Review: The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose-Romonov, WWI, Mystical Stones

Today I have reviewed M.J. Rose’s The Secret Language of Stones. But first, isn’t this a gorgeous cover?? It’s even more lovely in the actual hardback version. However, I tend to love all her cover art, and her writing inside-just as artistic.

02_The Secret Language of Stones

Review

M.J. Rose always pens the most beautiful books. I know when I open the page, I’m going to be dazzled by her descriptive, harmonious prose. The last several books have been increasingly better, and The Secret Language of Stones, the second book in The Daughters of La Lune series, is one of the best yet. It’s predecessor, The  Witch of Painted Sorrows, began the series, but they can be read stand alone without issue; however, if you did have a few questions after the first book, this one gives you some answers.

The Secret Language of Stones has history tilt of World War 1 France, which I was enamored to learn. I have long been wanting her to put a bit more historical research into her magical tales though she’s known for the magical and alluring romance angles featuring historical figures. This novel shows she has researched well and knows her historical and political history, which for me adds so much more dimension to my read.

However, I love how it’s nestled into the story around her protagonist, Opaline (the daughter of Sandrine from the The Witch of Painted Sorrows), who works for a jeweler to help mothers create pieces to commemorate a loved one lost to war. However, she finds when she touches the stones, along with a piece of something from the lost one, she can connect to the person who is deceased. This is her La Lune (dark arts) heritage, to be able to feel the emotions of others, and soon she is making bridges to those from the past, including one ghost she sees in visions, so real to her he is almost with her. She does not want to utilize the mystic powers at first, being apprehensive of them, but as she sees how much she can help others in war time situations to have resolution, she becomes braver and more dedicated and insistent about her abilities.

As well Opal’s jewelry store owner’s family is of Russian descent. Pavel Orloff, trained by Faberge, owns La Fantasie Russe in the Palais Royal, of which the setting Rose describes with longing and intricate detail. Orloff had escaped Russia from the Bolsheviks, and brought with him certain jewels. When he hears that the Tsar has been assassinated, he decides to have Opal take a necklace to England to give to the Dowager Empress, who is exiled there, to reclaim the Romanov dynasty. Opal will use her mystical powers to take on this dangerous mission, which quickly moves the plot forward.

One buzz word for me when reading historical fiction is Romanov. Couple that with my love for gems and stones and their supernatural powers, I could be completely sold on this book. However, I also found a completely absorbing and captivating novel with fully fleshed out characters, dripping details and descriptions, and beautiful thoughts and emotions. My tears flowed and my heart was sore during many parts of this story, but not in an erroneous way, as I love books that make me think and feel deeply and possess so much emotion that I sometimes feel spent after reading them. This book was a welcome gift of that during some time of hit and miss with books that truly spoke to me. It offered themes of love lost, redemption, duty, sacrifice, and overall, a lesson in how we all are truly connected to the Earth, our possessions, each other, soul to soul.

This was a glorious read, enchanting in its magical realm and interesting in regards to historical and political conflicts and what they cause to people. It featured a woman of strength, of whom has an open call from the universe, which created a plot of suspense and surrealism.The novel showed the beauty of souls in its various use of gem stones, the power of loss, and the bond between families. The Secret Language of Stones is a mesmerizing tale of redemption, loss, and most of all, love and its binds that transcend space and time. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a read to absorb you for a day and take you on a journey well-traveled.

02_The Secret Language of Stones

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Atria Books

Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages

Series: The Daughters of La Lune, Book Two

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Goodreads

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose’s extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

03_M.J. Rose AuthorM.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park, and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.

Connect with M.J. Rose on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

Follow the Tour Schedule!

Hashtags: #TSLOSBlogTour #Historical #Fiction #Fantasy #BlogTour

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @AtriaBooks @MJRose

04_TSLOS_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with Gwendolyn Womack, author of The Memory Painter

Today, enjoy my interview with Gwendolyn Womack, author of The Memory Painter….we discuss creating characters, reincarnation, travel, and how the Pyramids came to feature in her novel…..

02_The Memory Painter PB Cover

 

Hi Gwendolyn, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of Book! Happy to have you here to talk about your debut novel, The Memory Painter, which came out last year, but has just released in paperback! Has the book and/or the process been successful for you?

Gwendolyn: Hello Erin! Thanks for having me. The process has been really wonderful. I’ve been so fortunate to team up with an amazing editor, Elizabeth Bruce, at Picador and my team there has been incredibly supportive.

Erin: That’s wonderful to hear! Come in and have a seat with me in my library and I’ll pull out the raspberry lemonade. I’ve made some fresh and it’s been chilling so I hope it suits you. I’ve also baked up some macaroons special for your visit. Shall I pour and bring in the tray?

Gwendolyn: Oh yes, please. I love lemonade and macaroons. And I can see those are chocolate-dipped with some serious dark chocolate. How did you know?

Erin: I’m like a bakery psychic.:) I enjoyed your book for numerous reasons, one because I love any form of time travel, but especially about intricacies of dreams and the mind; two, because I’m a Egyptology fanatic. I also like art, museums, history, etc. Congrats on debuting with such a fantastically well-written work.

Where and how did the different layers of the plot form in your head?

Gwendolyn: Thank you. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the story. The idea for The Memory Painter first came as a spark of an idea: what if neuroscientists created a wonder drug that would allow us to remember all our past lives? And with those memories we can speak every language we knew in the past, as well as possess abilities we had in previous lifetimes. Then the idea that immediately followed was what if this wonder drug had already been created 30 years ago, but something happened to the scientists and no one knows it was created? Then the image of Bryan painting in the middle of the night while speaking ancient Greek came to me and I knew he was the center of the story. I wrote that first scene with Bryan that day.

Erin: I loved your various characters too. Did they speak to you, formulate from people you knew, or in other words, how did you create them so fully dimensionally? You could truly connect to their personalities early on.

Gwendolyn: Thank you. I didn’t formulate anyone from people I knew. But I do people watch and infuse characters with various quirks or characteristics I have filed away in my mind. Then it’s just a process of getting to know the characters more intimately as I write them over time. Out of any character, Bryan came to me quite quickly and easily, as well as Michael.

Erin: You also present reincarnation as a theme within your novel. You sent your characters on a mission back in time to uncover past lives. Do you believe in this yourself or how did decide to create your plot around this possibility?

Gwendolyn: You know, it’s funny. I wrote a reincarnation book and yet I have the hardest time answering that question. I do believe life continues after death and I also believe there are so many things we have yet to understand about the mysteries of life, without getting too metaphysical. In my mind it’s just not a simple, yes I do believe in reincarnation. But I definitely wanted to explore the idea of reincarnation, because it has always fascinated me. And I thought it’d be interesting to come from the angle of science and get it out of the mystical realm, but then end up there again in the end. It was Einstein who said religion and science are branches on the same tree, and I really agree with that. It’s all connected.

Erin: Time travel and reincarnation both seems to be successful themes within historical romance, fantasy, thrillers, etc. Why do you think this is? What intrigues readers?

Gwendolyn: I think those themes are popular across so many genres because so many people are intrigued with the tantalizing“what if it was true?” and fiction explores the possibilities in a fun way. Time completely fascinates me and my next novel explores it even more and my third one will too, but also in a different way.

Erin: Why bring the Egyptian element into your story? I was thrilled, but do you also have an interest in ancient civilizations or did it just fit the narrative?

Gwendolyn: Really both. I knew the story needed a big answer and I just felt it had to be ancient Egypt and centered on the Great Pyramid. I’ve always been fascinated with it and knew that was where the story compass was going to point and we would end up there. Ultimately that lifetime formed out of a mixture of Egyptian mythology and research of alternate theories surrounding the Great Pyramid.

ErIn: I read you wrote plays in college and have a degree in directing cinema and video. Do you utilize these talents? Why or why not? Did it assist you in writing your book being able to use some of the skills you learned in directing for film (i.e. seeing scenes in your head)?

Gwendolyn: Yes, most definitely. My experience writing plays and also directing has helped so much in my novel writing. I do visualize everything in my mind and try to translate that to the page. I think I took a roundabout way in becoming a novelist but writing a novel has been the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done, as a writer and a director, because really when you’re writing a novel, you are doing both. 

Erin: Do you hope that The Memory Painter could be optioned for a movie? Why do you think it would be a great film and who would you cast in it?

Gwendolyn: I actually originally conceived The Memory Painter as a screenplay fifteen years go. At the time I only had written Bryan and Linz, the 1980s story, and the lifetime in ancient Rome. The screenplay almost sold to a studio but ultimately didn’t, and I had to put it away and work on something else. So I told myself one day when I was ready I would write it as a novel. When I did, years later, I discovered all the other missing pieces, all the lifetimes and ancient Egypt, and the story became more fully formed.

So now, if it were ever optioned, I think it may do better as a mini-series instead of a two-hour film. It would be challenging to fit the journey into a short timeframe. But whatever the format, I would be tickled to see it adapted and would gladly buy the popcorn. As far as casting, that’s a tough question! Here would be my suggestions though I’m sure I could come up with several more wonderful actors, there are so many talented people working today… For Bryan: Ryan Gosling or James McAvoy. Linz: Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence. Michael: Leonardo DiCaprio or Christian Bale. Diana: Reese Witherspoon or Amy Adams. Conrad: Anthony Hopkins or Jeremy Irons. Finn: Viggo Mortensen

Erin: This is only your debut novel and already you are widely successful, with up to four different covers between the hardback, paperback, and the foreign editions. So what is up your sleeve to write next and how long do we have to wait?

Gwendolyn:It really has been a dream working with Picador and having foreign publishers get behind the book. I’m going to be announcing my next novel very soon, hopefully before the end of this summer. It’s going to be published by Picador again and expected publication will be sometime next year. The story is also a thriller and love story that travels a lot of history but in an entirely different way. And it explores the far-reaching power of intuition. I’ll be announcing it on my website and Facebook and Twitter when it’s time. I am so excited for the next book. It’s been several years in the making.

Erin: What is on your bucket list as a writer? What is on your bucket list just in general in living life?

Gwendolyn: A lot of travel. I have so many places I want to go, and not just for a week or two, but several months and rent a house to seep in the culture.

Erin: Thanks so much for being here today Gwendolyn. I really appreciated learning more about your book and yourself. Feel free to come back again and I look forward to more of your work.

Gwendolyn: Erin, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure. The macaroons were delicious and you have an enchanting library. I would love to come back for my next book.

02_The Memory Painter PB CoverThe Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation

by Gwendolyn Womack

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Picador USA
Paperback; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250095770

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.

Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s WifeLife After Life and Winter’s Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

Praise for The Memory Painter

“Gwendolyn Womack’s tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)

“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ” ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning… ” ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman’s Tale and First Impressions

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Author Gwendolyn Womack, Biography

Copyright JennKL Photography

Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

For more information visit Gwendolyn’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card & Vegvisir decal and Eye of Horus Necklace, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Enter HERE

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada addresses only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

04_The Memory Painter_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Follow the Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thememorypainterblogtour/

Hasht ags: #TheMemoryPainterBlogTour #Historical #Fiction #Romance #Mystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @Gwen_Womack @PicadorUSA

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack

Hello! Today I’m featuring a review of The Memory Painter! At the bottom is also a giveaway for a $25 gift card and an Eye of Horus Necklace!! Stay tuned Monday for an interview with Gwendolyn Womack as well.

02_The Memory Painter PB Cover

 

Review

I don’t have much time to read lately with my work and home schedule, and when I do I have to read quickly, so I like books that can captivate me and take me away for a few hours when I take a summer break and spend an evening at the beach. I have to say that The Memory Painter was perfect for me to take along on our annual Fourth of July day out. I had been dying to read it and it immediately was swept into the story. Here’s the synopsis:

The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation

by Gwendolyn Womack

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Picador USA
Paperback; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250095770

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.

Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s WifeLife After Life and Winter’s Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

It’s not too far fetched to say I was intrigued by these words….time travel, art, egypt. But of course, there was so much more as I came to find out. I am not a fan of romance novels, but I AM a fan of original ones that tear at your heart strings, that seem soul ribbing real, and are underlying to the main thriller plot. You can just feel it as they feel it, no need to be overly descriptive with it type of thing. So yes, as it describes there is a love story, but it’s quite an interesting one!

The plot moves quickly a good amount of the time, from the beginning and then again by the middle. I was a tad bogged down by the scientific element, and didn’t quite connect as much to Linz, one of the main protagonists and a neuroscientist. I did love how intelligent she was, fierce, a chess player in more ways than one, but she also seemed more aloof than Brian, the other protagonist, who is an artist. Of course, being a writer and a lover of the arts myself, he seemed more open, creative, and sensitive to me. I find often it’s the other way around when authors form characters, especially a duo of man and woman, in books, right? So really, I don’t have to connect to each character only if they are the same gender as me, we all are different. That I connected to him was enough and though I didn’t connect to her, I still realized she was fully dimensional and just as complex as he. Then, of course, there are all the characters we meet as we slip and slide back through time. Just make sure you are paying attention so you know who is who and how the correlation goes along with the plot. However, though Womack is less with drippy descriptive atmospheric details, she is wonderful at showing and not telling the reader about a scene or a character’s personality, which is priceless. For a first time author, she writes cleanly and for the screen. Less is more in sentences, creating a scenic flow.

I loved discovering the mystery with Linz and Brian, uncovering layers of how they connected, the dreams, the past times and lives. It was intrigue to me the tie in of him as a painter who paints reoccurring dreams and she a research scientist on memory with similar dreams. I love art representing the soul, the universe within you. I loved traveling to ancient Egypt and the idea of an advanced civilization. It’s something I’ve always pondered about Egypt in my studies. As one of my degrees is in history, that’s when my eyes really started to perk and I immersed myself into the story, completely lead along the entire time by the desires of these characters. They wanted to tell me their story and understand the connections that reincarnation brings within the universe and how it affects our memories.

It’s an original idea, maybe a few too many changes in character and time that some readers might not like because it takes a lot of attention, but overall it was a superb start to a writing career and I can’t wait to read the next novel.

A thriller and mystery of the mind, heart, soul, and universe that outreaches the normal bounds of our fast-paced thinking and extends us into looking past our self-made boundaries of love, life, and humanity. Highly recommend reading if you connect to deep thinking books of love and life and the ties that bind science and history.

Praise for The Memory Painter

“Gwendolyn Womack’s tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)

“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ” ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning… ” ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman’s Tale and First Impressions

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Author Gwendolyn Womack, Biography

Copyright JennKL Photography

Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

For more information visit Gwendolyn’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card & Vegvisir decal and Eye of Horus Necklace, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Enter HERE

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada addresses only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

04_The Memory Painter_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Follow the Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thememorypainterblogtour/

Hasht ags: #TheMemoryPainterBlogTour #Historical #Fiction #Romance #Mystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @Gwen_Womack @PicadorUSA

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Interview with Medieval Thriller Author E.M. Powell

What can I say, I just love E.M. Powell. She’s a great writer and a wonderful person. A lot of research goes into her books! The third book in her medieval thriller series released recently so I caught up with her to talk about The Lord of Ireland. If you missed my review of this stellar book, you can read that HERE. Enjoy the interview! (P.S. Love this cover!!)

02_The-Lord-of-Ireland

Hi Elaine, welcome back to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I can’t believe it’s been a year since we visited, and invited Paddington Bear, but this year I think we will go a bit more Irish, since most of your third book, The Lord of Ireland, is placed there. Just like your roots! (And besides, my name is Erin…Ireland!) So welcome, come in and have a seat, I’ll put on the tea or coffee? Your choice today, just let me know your preference? And I’ve baked up some of my Irish soda bread as well so I’ll bring that in.

Elaine: Hi Erin—and yes, it feels like some very nice stars have aligned to have you talk to me about my book on Ireland. Coffee as always, please, though tea is the drink of choice in Ireland. And that bread smells so good!

Erin: Wonderful choice of course as I love coffee (but I also like tea hehe). I’ll pour and bring in a tray of soda bread fresh from the oven.

Let’s get started, as I have some interesting questions to ask you. How exciting is it to now have your third book in your series published?

Elaine: First, I must say, your soda bread is the best. You’ve passed the taste test with a genuine Irish person! As for exciting, having The Lord of Ireland out there in the world is hugely exciting but also deeply fulfilling. It’s been the book of my heart.

Erin: I really enjoy how you’ve switched the setting of this book to somewhere new, and to a place that doesn’t really seem to get as much historical fiction attention in the 12 century. Your details and descriptions were lovely. What gave you the idea to follow this track and how much research was involved?

Elaine: I had a launch of the first book in the series, The Fifth Knight, at the Irish world heritage Centre in Manchester in 2013. That book is set in 1170 England, featuring my fictional eponymous Sir Benedict Palmer, and it centers on the infamous murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. A member of the audience asked me if I would ever write a book about medieval Ireland. I said no, but even as the words came out of my mouth, I think that seed was planted.

In continuing the series, I wanted to stay with the theme of using a known historical event and providing my take on it. In the second book, The Blood of the Fifth Knight, Sir Benedict Palmer was charged with trying to figure out who was intent on murdering the Fair Rosamund, the young mistress of Henry II. This was set in 1176, again in England.

As I started to look for another hook (yes, the hook of a book!), I came across an account of Henry’s youngest son, John (he who would be Bad King John), going to Ireland at the age of eighteen and insulting the Irish chieftains who came to welcome him by pulling them by their beards and mocking them. This rang a bell. But further research told me John had an eight month campaign there. And that it was a disaster. And that he went there with his very first title: Lord of Ireland. I was in- and I was going back to Ireland, the land of my birth.

I have to confess, the research commitment to this book was huge. I had to research from the perspective of English/British history and of course Irish history. As you’ll appreciate, these don’t always agree on a consensus!

Erin: In deciding to feature Lackland in this novel, and his adventure to lead Ireland, you seem to have moved somewhat more away from a mystery element to more of an historical thriller. Would you say this is correct? Why did you decided to do so or did your muse and characters dictate the plot?

Elaine: In a way, it was a return to a thriller. The Fifth Knight was a thriller, The Blood of the Fifth Knight was more mystery and then I came back to thriller again. And both have elements of both! The mystery/crime/thriller genre(s) often has huge overlap between all three. I think ultimately The Lord of Ireland was more thriller because of the historical events that took place.

Fifth Knight Series Twitter

Erin: Yes, that’s true I can see that, reading all three. Speaking of Lackland, youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, you seemed to prove all the previous writings and rumors of him in history to be true and presented him as such in your novel—cruel and spiteful, and yet, modern historians have tried to paint him more as hard working and more able bodied as a leader. What are your thoughts and why/how did you prove enough to stand behind how you presented him as a character?

Elaine: I read many, many books and articles about John. While there are a few voices that paint him in a more positive light, most are still very much agreed that he was dreadful. One of the most recent biographies of King John is English historian Marc Morris’s 2015 King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta. As one might guess from the title, Morris is not a fan. It’s a wonderful read. As for John’s first trip to Ireland, the eminent Irish historian Seán Duffy sums it up thus: ‘If, as few would dispute, John’s 1185 expedition was a military failure, it was disastrous too in a political sense. ‘

Erin: I always enjoy your characters and you have superb character development that gets deeper with  each novel, both your main characters becoming more complex and your newly introduced sub-characters being created with more depth. I’m always glad to see Palmer again, but I’m very glad you endeavor to give his wife more of a role now. Did you plan that or is her character speaking to you? Why is she becoming such an important asset to Palmer and to the books?

Elaine: I’m so pleased you should say that! Characterization was my Achilles Heel pre-publication and I’m always aware of that. Theodosia, Palmer’s wife, had a more active role in this book because I planned it. In the second book, she was the mother of very small children and I couldn’t allow her to step away from that role as I truly believe most women wouldn’t. And (no spoilers!), she actually had the final say in that book too. A shrinking violet, she ain’t!

Erin: Your series, The Fifth Knight, is in its third book now with The Lord of Ireland. Where will the series go from here? Do you have more planned?

Elaine: I have a Book #4 in the works, which will be the last in the series. I also have a very exciting project linked to Book #2, The Blood of the Fifth Knight, that I can’t discuss yet. Stay tuned!

Erin: What authors influence/influenced you in writing medieval thrillers and who do you enjoy reading?

Elaine: I love Robert Harris’s Pompeii above all else when it comes to historical thrillers. To me, it’s the gold standard. It’s got a wonderful hero- a water engineer (yes, you read that right!) and no one knows that the big old mountain is about to blow. Except the reader. It’s compelling and exciting and above all, you’re THERE. 

Erin: What types of places have you visited in doing your research, either in person or by Internet, that you’ve loved? And why? And did they end up in your book(s)?

Elaine: Part of my research for the Lord of Ireland involved a research trip to Ireland. I know—a tough job, but someone had to do it. I had a clear itinerary as I had the good fortune that Henry II had sent his royal clerk, Gerald of Wales, with John. Gerald wrote an account of John’s campaign and mentioned many of the events that took place as well as the locations John visited. So I started at Waterford, scene of the beard pulling, where John landed. Much of what was present in 1185 still exists—even some of the buildings. Where buildings such as wooden fortresses had long gone, in parts of Co. Tipperary and Co. Kilkenny, I still had the lie of the land to go at. And then there were places that were ancient even when John arrived, like a Durrow in Co. Offaly. There’s a High Cross there that dates from 850 AD. Seeing things like that helped me to put the history into its correct perspective. It might have been a new land to John—but not to the Irish.

Erin: If not writing mysteries or thrillers, what other types of historical fiction, time periods, or genres would you attempt?

Elaine: I wouldn’t! The first version of The Fifth Knight was very heavily weighted on the romance side and it won several times in RWA contests. It still has romantic elements, as do the other two books. But I’m a thriller writer at heart.

Erin: If you could meet one woman from history, and then write a book about her, who would it be?

Elaine: It would have to be Emmeline Pankhurst, the leading British women’s rights activist, who led the movement to win the right for women to vote— the suffragettes. She fought tooth and nail and refused to give up. And she won.

Erin: Yes! Good choice. More coffee to go? I’ll wrap up some bread for you to take home. It’s been a pleasure to interview you again and you’re welcome anytime. Thanks for coming by, my friend, and for continually writing excellent books! Best wishes for a great year.

Elaine: Any chance you could make that two loaves? And it’s been an absolute privilege, as always—slánleatagus go raibhmaithagat!

02_The-Lord-of-IrelandTHE LORD OF IRELAND (THE FIFTH KNIGHT, #3)

by E.M. Powell

Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Thomas & Mercer
Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook; 370 Pages

Series: The Fifth Knight
Genre: Historical Thriller

England, 1185. John is a prince without prospect of a crown. As the youngest son of Henry II, he has long borne the hated nickname ‘Lackland’. When warring tribes and an ambitious Anglo-Norman lord threaten Henry’s reign in Ireland, John believes his time has finally come. Henry is dispatching him there with a mighty force to impose order.

Yet it is a thwarted young man who arrives on the troubled isle. John has not been granted its kingship—he is merely the Lord of Ireland, destined never to escape his father’s shadow. Unknown to John, Henry has also sent his right-hand man, Sir Benedict Palmer, to root out the traitors he fears are working to steal the land from him.

But Palmer is horrified when John disregards Henry’s orders and embarks on a campaign of bloodshed that could destroy the kingdom. Now Palmer has to battle the increasingly powerful Lord of Ireland. Power, in John’s hands, is a murderous force—and he is only just beginning to wield it.

Praise for The Fifth Knight Series

“With her fast-paced mysteries set in the tumultuous reign of Henry II, E.M. Powell takes readers on enthralling, and unforgettable, journeys.” -Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown

“Both Fifth Novels are terrific. Benedict and Theodosia are not merely attractive characters: they are intensely real people.” -Historical Novels Review

“From the get-go you know you are in an adventure when you enter the world of E.M. Powell’s 12th century. Peril pins you down like a knight’s lance to the chest”-Edward Ruadh Butler, author of Swordland

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY |CHAPTERS

Author E. M. Powell, Biography

03_E.M.-Powell-197x300E.M. Powell’s medieval thrillers The Fifth Knight and The Blood of the Fifth Knight have been number-one Amazon bestsellers and on the Bild bestseller list in Germany.

Born into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State) and raised in the Republic of Ireland, she lives in north-west England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

She reviews fiction and non-fiction for the Historical Novel Society, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine.

Find more information at E.M. Powell’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

04_The-Lord-of-Ireland_Blog-Tour-Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Q and A with Authors

Book News: The Memory Painter Releases in Paperback

Yesterday was the release day for the paperback of The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack. I loved this book! Watch for my review on Friday and an interview next week with the author. In the meantime, check it out!

02_The Memory Painter PB Cover

The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation
by Gwendolyn Womack

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Picador USA
Paperback; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250095770

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.

Add to GR Button

Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Life After Life and Winter’s Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception, is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

“Gwendolyn Womack’s tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)

“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning… ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman’s Tale and First Impressions

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

03_Gwendolyn Womack.jpgOriginally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

For more information visit Gwendolyn’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

04_The Memory Painter_Release Day Banner_FINAL.png

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized