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Friday, June 1, 2012

The King Must Die

Welcome to my blog. If you came for Fashionista Friday, please come back next Friday. I had to schedule this post today in order to make things work for the guest author. My guest today is Gemini Sasson, author of The King Must Die, a historical novel about Isabella of France. Gemini is giving away a $25 Amazon girt certificate to one lucky commenter.  Follow her and comment often.  You can find her schedule at
Gemini, thanks for coming. 

1.Could you tell the readers a little bit about you and your work?

I’m an author of historical fiction set in 13th- 15th century England, Scotland and Wales. So far, my stories have been focused on real historical figures, like Robert the Bruce, James Douglas, Edward II and Queen Isabella – although I plan to branch out into time travel/metaphysical romances and mainstream literary novels in the future. In my tween years, my imagination was captured by Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. Enthralled by tales of sword-wielding knights riding to a maiden’s rescue, I immersed myself in the Middle Ages by reading everything I could find on the time period in my encyclopedia set. In those historical accounts, I saw not a listing of events, places and dates, but people who faced challenges. Some overcame them to survive; some didn’t. I wanted to tell their stories for them.

When I was writing my trilogy on Robert the Bruce, I kept coming across the name of Isabella of France, who was the wife of King Edward II of England. It was hard to believe her life had escaped being told by previous novelists. Trapped in an unhappy marriage to an ineffectual king, she took matters into her own hands by helping plot the escape of the rebel Roger Mortimer, later falling in love with him and then leading an invasion army to oust her husband from the throne. Her life has all the scandal and intrigue of a great story. My original intent was to write one novel abut her, but it ended up being two: Isabeau and The King Must Die.

2.That all sounds fascinating.  I'm a history teacher so I would think so!  What are you working on now?

I have the rough draft of an untitled book dismembered and scattered on my living room floor right now. It’s the story of Owain Glyndwr, the last Welsh Prince of Wales. Squire to King Richard II, he and his wife Margaret are living a peaceful life with their eleven children in North Wales when  Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, defies exile and usurps the throne of England. Owain goes to great lengths to avoid being drawn into the conflict, but an ill-intended English neighbor named Lord Grey forces him to go on the defensive. Soon, Owain is heading raids against his enemies and is hailed as prince of the Welsh. But accepting the crown means he must weigh the price of his people’s freedom against the safety of his family . . . and his wife’s love.

3.I love the sound of that book too.  What’s the hardest part of writing for you?  The easiest?

The hardest? Starting! Having an idea for a story is one thing. Sitting at the computer day after day and putting it down on paper is another. I’d love to be the type of writer who can pound out 5,000 words a day and have a book done in a few months, but the research for historical fiction is rather labor intensive and slows down output. Being human, I know I’m not going to get every fact 100% right, but I make a concerted effort to do so. Historical fiction readers know their stuff, so it’s always daunting to tackle factual events and real figures.

The easiest part for me is driving towards the end. I’m one of those people who has to have closure in life. If I have a question, I want an answer. Problem? I want a solution. Book to write? I want it done! The closer I get to the end, the more furiously I work. At that stage, sheer momentum and having my goal in my sights takes over.

4.Would you dare to tell us five things that no one would know about you?

Well, I can tell you five things about me that most people don’t know, but if I told you things no one knows, I’d have to quit the country. So here goes:

1.     I set and broke my own high school mile record in track several times. It stood for seventeen years before a state champ came along and smashed it.

2.     I have one leg ½” shorter than the other. No, I don’t have a perpetual shrug. I’m lopsided.

3.     If you dig around enough, you can find my name on scientific articles from the early 90’s about environmental bioassays using aquatic insects. If I read them now, I’m not sure I could explain them anymore. It’s true that you forget more than you remember.

4.     My favorite color is orange. It makes me happy. I base my vehicle purchases on whether or not a make of car comes in orange.

5.     Best of all, I am still married to my high school sweetheart, twenty-five wonderful years later.

This is a wonderful collection of facts!  And a coincidence too.  One of my legs is shorter than the other.  And now, readers, let's have an excerpt.

What is done cannot be undone.

England, 1326. Edward II has been dethroned. Queen Isabella and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, are at the pinnacle of their power.

Fated to rule, Isabella’s son becomes King Edward III at the callow age of fourteen. Young Edward, however, must bide his time as the loyal son until he can break the shackles of his minority and dissolve the regency council which dictates his every action.

When the former king is found mysteriously dead in his cell, the truth becomes obscured and Isabella can no longer trust her own memory . . . or confide in those closest to her. Meanwhile, she struggles to keep her beloved Mortimer at her side and gain yet another crown—France’s—for the son who no longer trusts her.

Amidst a maelstrom of shifting loyalties, accusations of murder propel England to the brink of civil war.

In the sequel to Isabeau, secrecy and treason, conspiracy and revenge once again overtake England. The future rests in the hands of a mother and son whose bonds have reached a breaking point.


Isabella – Westminster, February, 1327

The reminder that I was still married to Edward of Caernarvon stung like an open cut, fresh and deep down to the vein. Except for the sharp whistling of my indrawn breath, the room was silent. Bishop Orleton must have sensed the tension between Mortimer and me, for he excused himself, closing the door firmly behind him.

I turned away to face the row of windows, the world beyond dark with night. In moments, Mortimer’s arms encircled my waist from behind, tugging me gently against him. I kept my body stiff, tempering my resolve against his nearness, but already my knees were weakening beneath me.

“Isabeau ... sweet heaven of mine.” Light fingers traced over my hips, wandering slowly up toward my ribs. His breath stirred on my neck, a fiery breeze of longing. “Let me hold you tonight, hour upon hour, until the dawn.”

I shook my head, even as I felt myself wanting to yield, to abandon all. “I’m afraid, Roger.”
He turned me around, his lips brushing against the crown of my hair, over my ear, the slope of my shoulder. Not until my breathing slowed and I half-closed my eyes, waiting for more, did he lift his head to speak. A smirk, hinting of something sinister, flashed across his mouth. Or perhaps I merely imagined it? His thumb stroked tenderly at my cheek, soothing away my worries. “Afraid of what—that he’ll go free? You needn’t worry, my love. I’ll make sure he never has the chance.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

N. Gemini Sasson is also the author of The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy: Book I), Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy: Book II), The Honor Due a King (The Bruce Trilogy: Book III) and Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (2011 IPPY Silver Medalist for Historical Fiction). She holds a M.S. in Biology from Wright State University where she ran cross country on athletic scholarship. She has worked as an aquatic toxicologist, an environmental engineer, a teacher and a track and cross country coach. A longtime breeder and judge of Australian Shepherds, her articles on bobtail genetics have been translated into seven languages.


Readers, get your copy today.  This sounds like good reading to me. 


marybelle said...

I must look out for ISABEAU, as well as THE KING MUST DIE. Your next work sounds amazing too.

So much great reading ahead.


Kathryn Warner said...

I’m rather baffled to see the statement 'It was hard to believe her life had escaped being told by previous novelists' given that I have an entire bookshelf of novels about Isabella. Here are some narrated solely or mainly from her perspective:

Queen of Shadows: A Novel of Isabella, Queen of Edward II by Edith Felber (2006)
Isabel the Fair by Margaret Campbell Barnes (1977)
The She-Wolf by Pamela Bennetts (1978)
The She-Wolf of France by Maurice Druon (1960)
The Queen and Mortimer by Brenda Honeyman (1974)
Cashelmara by Susan Howatch (1975) (Edward and Isabella’s story updated to nineteenth-century Ireland)
Harlot Queen by Hilda Lewis (1970, reissued 2008)
The She-Wolf by Maureen Peters (1985)
Woman into Wolf by Terry Tucker (1968)

There are numerous other novels starring Edward II and Isabella as the main characters, such as The Follies of the King by Jean Plaidy; Brittle Glory by Jean Evans; Paul Doherty’s Mathilde of Westminster series; Michael Jecks’ West country series; The Lion of Mortimer by Juliet Dymoke; The Vows of the Peacock by Alice Walworth Graham; Virginia Henley’s two novels Infamous and Notorious; A Secret Chronicle by Jane Lane; King’s Wake by Eve Trevaskis; and I could go on. Susan Higginbotham has a longer list on her website:

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Many thanks for hosting this tour stop, Elaine!

P.S. I stand corrected on that, Kathryn. I do remember your posts about various books. Thanks for providing us with the information.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Rebecca Lochlann said...

Great interview, Elaine and N. Gemini!

Karen H in NC said...

OK, I don't believe I've ever seen an orange least not one right from the manufacturer! To each his (or her) own I guess.

If you have a ‘first novel’ tucked away in a drawer someplace and is considered to be ‘unpublishable’, what would need to be done to that novel to bring it back to life and make it publishable?

Hazel West said...

I love orange cars! ;) I agree with you whole-heartedly on the researching historical fiction. When I write "hard core" historical novels, I'm months in researching before I even really start writing. And by then, I'm usually working on something else.

Anonymous said...

Wow, lot of information'll be great to see how all the research gets worked into the book!


Catherine Lee said...

I love the "5 things." How interesting! With one leg being so much shorter than the other, you might not guess that you were a track star. Cool!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com