I’m often asked why I write medievals. It’s because I’m fascinated by the historical events and lifestyles in general and of late medieval England in particular. My interest sparked when I was in a production of Richard III in college and wondered how much of what Shakespeare wrote was true. And for some reason, I’ve always preferred European history with kings and queens to American with presidents and first ladies.
Getting to visit castles, and museums with fabulous stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries and more in England and Wales, was a dream come true. Climbing steep spiral staircases to reach the top of a tower or walking on narrow castle and town walls (some without railings) yielding amazing views of the surrounding area helped me imagine what it might be like to live there hundreds of years ago. I even had the opportunity to visit Castle Rising, the home of the heroine in my first book, AT HIS COMMAND. And, I was able to stay in two castles, Thornbury and Amberley. Thornbury’s interior decorating was closer to Victorian to my eye, but Amberley’s was more medieval.
Deciding what “really” happened when there are gaps in actual history is a lot of fun. In a reliable source or sources, when I see something like, “No one knows what happened in this meeting,” or “Scholars disagree on this or that,” I get to play, “What if?” and make up events that enhance my plot and conflict.
I actually enjoy the research. I’ve written a couple of contemporaries set in my hometown of Chicago. While it was definitely easier to, say, have the characters go for dinner at a Chinese restaurant similar to one in my neighborhood, walk downtown streets or visit sites I already know well, I had a great time planning medieval meals, learning about who might eat what when, and figuring out how long it would take to travel from one place to another in 15th century England. It took me awhile to learn that research wasn’t writing, and that only new pages counted. On the other hand, I’m working on a novella that needed to be set in 1203-4 France. Exploring a new time period and country is slowing me down a bit.
I also like the opportunity to share with readers what life was really like. Many people aren’t aware of how long the medieval period actually was or what was invented when, or how much life changed over the course of several hundred years. Yet we know that in the 19th and 20th centuries, each decade brought many changes in everything from fashion to technology.
Speaking of fashion, I love the gowns, jewelry and armor. The headdresses popular in mid-15th century England don’t look very comfortable, but are interesting and so different from the stunning chapeaus on Downton Abbey. I can’t help but wonder what it was like to wear them. I also have a couple of pieces of chain mail jewelry, but can’t imagine wearing an entire shirt of it.
And who doesn’t love a knight in shining armor (or Jude Devereaux’s time travel with that title)? I even have my very own: Sir Victor the Valiant, photo attached. Toss in a manly sword, and you’ve got a swoon-worthy hero.
Often authors are advised to “write what you love to read,” as opposed to trying to write to market trends. My favorite romance novels include Kathleen Woodiwiss’s THE WOLF AND THE DOVE, Roberta Gellis’s Roselynde series and Julie Garwood’s and Madeline Hunter’s medievals. So when I decided to write, I started a medieval. I chose England for my setting, though it seems those set in Scotland are more popular…do you prefer men in kilts?
>Do you love medievals? If so, why?
My Once & Future Love (Unsung Knights of the Round Table Book 1)
Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she’s not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her and her lands.
Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father, Merlin, from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers.
He stumbles upon Annora’s cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, undeniable desire and respect spark. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who refuses to discuss his past. When he finally tells her he’s a Knight of the Round Table, she fears he’s the lunatic as danger, secrets and destiny thwart the power of love
Ruth Kaufman is an Amazon bestselling Chicago author of the Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy. She’s also an on-camera and voiceover talent, freelance editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV who enjoys peanut butter and chocolate milkshakes and singing in a symphony chorus.
MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE is the first book in her Unsung Knights of the Round Table series. Writing accolades include 2016 Booksellers’ Best Award finalist in Best Historical and Best First Book and Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner.
Excerpt of My Once & Future Love (Unsung Knights of the Round Table Book 1)
Flames of agony seared Morgan ap Myrddin. Blood, crimson as the dragon on his long-lost banner, streamed down his side, soaking remnants of the shirt pressed against his arrow wound to staunch the flow. He sped through the forest, cracking branches in his haste.
Heart pounding hard as a hammer on an anvil, he caught his breath behind a wide oak and leaned heavily on the rough bark. Amidst a shower of autumn leaves, he closed his eyes to focus his dwindling strength and energy on listening. What he sought lay beyond the wind swishing through the trees.
He sought the footsteps of his enemies.
Morgan’s ears, keener than those of any mortal man’s, strained to capture the distant sounds of an army on the move. The faint rumble, the subtle shaking of the ground beneath his feet told him what he needed to know. His enemies approached.
Never before, in thirty-two mortal years fraught with danger, had he come so close to being trapped.
Closing his eyes, he raised his arms to summon aid, to call upon his vast powers.
Nothing happened. Nothing changed.
Icy needles of unfamiliar fear pierced him. “Taliesin preserve me,” he breathed.
No answer. His Mysteries had faded so, he couldn’t even hear the wisdom of his ancestors.
Morgan ran. He stumbled into a tree, dizzy from loss of blood. He had to move faster or they would capture him.
And his father would remain imprisoned for all eternity.
Connect with Ruth online:
Website www.ruthkaufman.com * Blog: Gainfully Unemployed www.rjkaufman.blogspot.com * Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ruthtalks or Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress * Twitter @RuthKaufman https://twitter.com/RuthKaufman * Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/ruth_kaufman * Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Ruth-Kaufman/e/B00JH7Z40S