shadows and strongholds

Many thanks for inviting me to be interviewed on your blog.

Thank you for spending with us and our readers today!

MBA&M: Please tell our readers who may not know you a little about yourself?

EC: I was born in an industrial mill town in the North of England where my family had lived for generations.  My father moved us with his job to Scotland, where I spent most of my childhood, and then we came south back to England and Nottingham.  I still live near Nottingham in a 200 year old beamed cottage on the outskirts of a small village.
I had always told myself stories right from being a little girl, but I didn’t begin writing them down until I was 15.  I fell in love with a tall, dark, handsome knight on a TV programme and that was it.  Through him I became hooked on the Middle Ages.  The more I researched, the more I became interested in telling stories set in that historical period.  I knew from being a teenager that I wanted to write historical fiction for a living, and that’s exactly what I set out to achieve.  In the meantime, while learning my craft and waiting for the call, I worked in supermarkets filling shelves to earn money, and eventually after serving an apprenticeship of more than a decade, I got the call, and had my novel The Wild Hunt accepted by a leading London literary agent and a major UK publishing house. I gave up my job stacking cans on shelves and became a full time author.

MBA&M: What do you feel the allure of historical fiction, Knights and England is to readers?

EC: There are many reasons; one size doesn’t fit all. I think there’s the whole chivalry thing and the ‘knight in shining armour’ sweeping a girl off her feet. I think it’s the romance of that time.  For many readers they might feel that it is part of their cultural roots too.  For others it’s that very potent feeling encapsulated by fairy tales and romances. Just imagine Carey Elwas saying ‘As you wish’ at the opening of the Princess Bride.  That’s the feeling. There is the nostalgia for a simpler time when an honourable man could swash-buckle his way out of danger, the bad guys get their come uppance and the lady be swept into the arms of a strong man who would keep her safe.
I think on the more serious side there is also a strong curiosity about the period.  People are genuinely interested in knowing more about it, told through the medium of a good story.  I try to stay as true to the life and times as I can.  With me a reader won’t get the Disney version; they will get the reality, but even so there is adventure, romance, and plenty to cheer about.  I write about real people and their dilemmas and conflicts. 

MBA&M: What is your biggest challenge in writing historical fiction?

EC: I guess it’s being a bridge between the mindset and expectations of readers now and the mindset and expectations of the people I write about.  For example, marriages where the aristocracy were concerned were often arranged and might involve girls as young as 12 and boys of 14.  This seems distasteful to us now, but back then it was a cultural norm. The bride or groom was viewed as being capable of making adult decisions and entering the adult world at that stage.  It’s sometimes a challenge to walk the line of being true to the period and keeping modern readers on board. 


shadows and strongholdsMBA&M: In “Shadows and Strongholds” Brunin  Fitzawarin is a young man finding his way, what was the inspiration behind writing this story?

I had already written about what happened to Brunin’s son, Fulke, in another novel which Sourcebooks will be publishing in the autumn and titled THE OUTLAW KNIGHT. I became very interested while writing that (originally for the UK) in the story of Fulke’s parents.  The tale of the FitzWarin family adventures was written down in a 13th century chronicle called Fouke Fitzwaryn, which can be described as a true family history with embellishments. I was intrigued by a passage that spoke about Hawise (heroine of the novel) accusing Brunin of cowardice because her father was being battered to a pulp in battle outside the castle walls and Brunin had not gone out to do anything about it (he was 18 at the time). Goaded by her taunts, Brunin grabbed a rusty axe, mounted an old nag and galloped out to single-handedly save the day.  I thought this was a fantastic incident and begin thinking about how I could craft a story round it based on the known facts and my own imagination. Hawise was obviously a strong and confident young lady.  With Brunin there was plainly more than met the eye. What were the conflicts? What had happened before this incident? What happened after when Brunin and Hawise met up again?  SHADOWS AND STRONGHOLDS was the result of those pondering and much more.

MBA&M: Who was you favorite secondary character to write about and why?We talk of heroes and heroines,but forget the secondary characters who carry the story alone.

EC: That’s a difficult one; I have at least three for the role.  I think Hawise’s father Joscelin, and his wife Sybilla would be favourites in terms of I would love to go back and meet them and talk to them.  But probably the most important person in terms of carrying the story along  even though she is a difficult personality, is Marion de la Brewere. She is an orphaned heiress who is brought up as a companion to Hawise and her sister. Marion is pretty and dainty with exquisite manners and a head filled with chivalric ideals.  But life isn’t always like that and as she and Hawise grow up, companionship becomes rivalry and problems arise, not  least when Marion casts her eyes over Brunin.

MBA&M: What is next for you, if you can tell us this?

EC: Most certainly!  Sourcebooks will be publishing the sequel to SHADOWS AND STRONGHOLDS, titled THE OUTLAW KNIGHT in the Autumn.  Meanwhile in the UK in June, the first novel of my Alienor of Aquitaine trilogy will be coming out – THE SUMMER QUEEN. I expect it will be coming to the USA at some point in the near future, so check the website for forthcoming details.  I’m currently writing book 2 of the trilogy THE WINTER CROWN.


MBA&M: Please tell our readers how to connect to you and where to find “Shadows and Strongholds”?

EC: Readers can drop by my website at www.elizabethchadwick.com  There is plenty of extra information there about my books and the history of the period, and also ways of contacting me including Facebook and Twitter.



shadows and strongholdsSHADOWS AND STRONGHOLDS


  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402274599
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402274596

Synopsis(From the author’s website)

A Mediaeval tale of pride and strife, of coming of age in a world where chivalry is a luxury seldom afforded, especially by men of power. An awkward misfit, loathed by his powerful and autocratic grandmother, nine-year-old Fulke FitzWarin leaves his family to be fostered in the household of Joscelin de Dinan, Lord of Ludlow. Here Fulke will learn knightly arts, but before he can succeed, he must overcome the deep-seated doubts that hold him back. Hawise FitzWarin is Joscelin’s youngest daughter and she befriends Fulke. As they grow up, an implacable enemy threatens Ludlow and as the pressure mounts, their friendship changes until one fateful day they find themselves staring at each other across a divide. Not only does Fulke have to overcome the shadows of his childhood, he faces a Welsh threat to his family’s lands, and the way he feels about Hawise endangers all his hard won confidence. As the menace to Ludlow intensifies, he must either confront the future head on, or fail on all counts, not knowing if Hawise stands with or against him.

This novel is the prequel to Lords of the White Castle.



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