My special guest today is Emily Murdoch. She’s chatting with me about her historical romance novel Conquests: Hearts Rule Kingdoms.
Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. Throughout her career so far she has examined a codex and transcribed medieval sermons at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, designed part of an exhibition for the Yorkshire Museum, worked as a researcher for a BBC documentary presented by Ian Hislop, and worked at Polesden Lacey with the National Trust.
She has a degree in history and English, and a master’s in medieval studies, both from the University of York. Emily has a medieval series and a Regency novella series published, and is currently working on several new projects.
Welcome, Emily. Please tell us about your current release.
Conquests: Hearts Rule Kingdoms is a historical romance set in 1069 that is centred on two people: Avis, an Anglo-Saxon woman and Melville, a Norman man. Two people trapped in a situation not of their making.
What inspired you to write this book?
While I was studying my MA in Medieval Studies I became fascinated by the horrendous social situations that political situations place them in, usually never due to their choices. This was a fun way to explore that.
Excerpt from Conquests: Hearts Rule Kingdoms:
The village burned in the darkness. Anglo-Saxon women crawled in the ashes and blood, crying, but quietly. They did not want to be found. They knew what would happen to them if they were discovered. In the light of the flames only one building could be seen left standing; the great manor house. None dared approach it. They knew that if the men returned, that would be exactly where they would go to. In the courtyard of this house, a shadow wept.
A young girl was crouched in a corner, sobbing. The stone wall behind hid her in its silhouette, and she tried to muffle the sounds of her cries. She did not want to be discovered.
A noise startled her; the sound of hooves on wood. They were coming.
Picking herself up and wrapping her long skirts around her, the girl ran – but she was not fast enough.
A whining man’s voice rang out into the darkness and broke through the silence. It was the rider of the horse that she had heard, but now many more horses had joined him. It was a whole host of men. The girl gasped and tried to run faster, but there was nowhere to run to. Nowhere was safe now. Before she could reach the other side of the courtyard, strong rough hands had grabbed her.
“Bring her here!”
The same gruff voice spoke, and the girl struggled. The man holding her had to drag her over to the horse of the speaker. The man had dismounted, and the girl caught sight of his broadsword. She gasped, and pushed backwards trying to stay as far away as possible from the blade. She had seen swords similar to that one. She had seen what they could do.
“Hold her up.”
The man was older than her, probably as old as her father. He stank of sweat, and his mean eyes bore down into her. When he gazed down upon his captive, he was surprised. The lonely figure that he had taken to be a child was much older. The girl must be verging onto womanhood.
He leered at her.
“Do you have a name, my sweet?”
The girl stared back at him. Fear danced in her eyes, but also resentment. She knew why he had come to her home. She knew what he wanted.
“My lord Richard asked you a question!” said the man holding her back, twisting one of her arms so she let out a yelp of pain.
“Avis,” she breathed, her arms searing and tears brimming in her eyes. “My name is Avis.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve gone slightly further back by about a decade, and I’m currently researching a historical character that definitely existed but almost no one knows much about – no more details available right now I’m afraid!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think when I first heard from a reader that wasn’t related to me! The idea that there was something else out there that had read my words, something that I had written just from the sheer love of it, was so exhilarating.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t work full time – I love being able to work in an office and be full of drama, gossip, intrigue, and relationships! I write whenever I have time around that and my family.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I always want to listen to music from the historical period that I’m working on, but when I’m editing I have to listen to Christmas music!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An author. I just wanted to write as a career, to be able to use words in the most beautiful and powerful way to make people think. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to do that both as an author and as a writer at my job.
How can readers connect with you through social media?
Thanks for being here today, Emily! Happy writing.