Tag Archives: Juliet Waldron

Light My Fire

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It was 1967 and you and I and everybody else heard this song by The Doors. I was a nice middle class girl attending college, but I’d already been married for two years, so the full import of Jim Morrison’s full frontal sonic assault was not lost on me. Up until that time, the sexiest record I possessed was one of Richard Burton reading John Donne’s love poems – which, by the way, was pretty sexy. The Doors’ lyrics were nowhere near that verbal elegance, and the whole bit, in retrospect, has something of that kid-who–thinks-he-just-invented-sex bombast, but Morrison was definitely the strutting cock of the walk that summer.

Now, gray-haired and arthritic, beset on every side by decay, I go several times a week to a “Granny” gym class, a.k.a., Silver Sneakers©.    It’s ordinarily helpful to listen to old pop music to get stiff, often painful joints moving. I can lift weights or work out with stretchy bands to “Money,” “Maybelline,” “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Downtown” without too bitter an experience of the heavy–handed irony of my current situation. However, the other day, toward the end of the workout, with a vocalist pumped up and screaming like a power-lifter on his final try, backed by a ghetto blaster beat, I was confronted with—for the first time in years—’Light My Fire’. 

I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop obediently working my triceps, drop the dinky weights, and go dancing around the room in my present old lame body. I wonder if I could have recreated, using muscle memory, just an instant of that long gone time.

 

~~Juliet Waldron

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ROAN ROSE

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A snippet of a review for my new novel, ROAN ROSE, one I’ve dreamed of writing since I was a teenager. An odd synchronicity for me that the year it was finally published was also the year when Richard III’s bones were rediscovered, more or less where tradition said he was buried. Once his three day summer time corpse was finally deposited in a hastily opened grave in the Franciscan Monastery of Leicester and covered–probably much to everyone’s relief who was standing nearby–that was the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, a line stretching back to the 11th Century. When the monastery was destroyed during the Reformation, the site was lost. First, the ruins became someone’s garden, and, much later, a parking lot.

“Waldron certainly knows her history…Yet despite accuracy for setting, Roan Rose is ultimeately a book about character. Rose and Richard and Anne are all fully formed people with their virtues and faults, their moments of kindness and integrity…Rose walks an uncomfortable line between friend and servant. Her heart belongs to the two people who always stand above her, will never view her as their equal, yet who can never bear to part with her completely for long…”
~~ Diane Salerni, “The Caged Graves” (HarperCollins, forthcoming)

—Juliet Waldron

***

Check out my books at: Second Wind Publishing

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Grocery Stores, Yesterday and Today

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What a difference a few years makes! (Well, more like fifty, but what’s a half a century between friends?)

Just after World War II, we moved to a little town in upstate New York from Ohio. I remember going with my parents to the Atlantic & Pacific (A&P) store in the business section in our new town. In those days, this was situated in a row of brick buildings which backed against the Finger Lake for which the place was named.  On Saturday, the store was crowded with people, who stood in a series of lines up to a counter. Behind the counter was a two story wall—at least, that’s how tall it seemed to me, filled with canned goods and boxes. There were a pair of ladders which could be moved back and forth against the wall, section to section, which were climbed by teenage helpers. When it was your turn at the counter, you presented a list to the shopkeeper, who, in turn, got a cardboard box from beneath the counter. He called the items to the boys, who fetched them, climbing up and down the ladders like monkeys, tossing cans of peas, corn, spinach, soup and beans into the shopkeeper’s hands. There were also a section devoted to boxed products, the few baking mixes that were available and a selection of cereals, ones like Quaker Oats, Post Toasties, Shredded Wheat and Wheaties.  (We ate Quaker Oats or Wheatena in the winter and switched to Wheaties in the brief upstate summers. Later, I remember the corrupting delight of summer bowls of Sugar Pops or Frosted Flakes.)

Along the back of the store there was a small refrigerated wall unit, but it didn’t hold much except iceberg lettuce and some milk, butter and margarine.  We went next door to the butcher shop for meat, and waited while a hunk of chuck was ground to burger. We didn’t “stock up” because the freezer compartment of our refrigerator—itself a modern miracle—wasn’t very large and often was frosted over. Mom wasn’t a devoted housekeeper, and she went shopping every couple of days, as needed, for perishable items like meat. (The only times we ate fish was if someone opened a sardine can, or if a someone caught a fish, or, once a year, when Mom went the through the ceremonial two day process of cooking a batch of salt cod. The milkman brought us glass bottles to our door in his truck. The milk, I remember, sometimes froze and popped the paper lids.  I also remember the revelation that came from eating fresh peaches, all juice and fuzz They were so very different from the taste of canned, which was almost everything we ate.

Last week, in the vegetable section of the supermarket, I noticed pre-chopped tubs of “mirepoix.”  I won’t even begin to ruminate on the culinary developments which have led American consumers to ask for that! To say the least, the “grocery store” has undergone some drastic changes during my life time.

~~Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com
http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/

Hand-me-Down Bride

Roan Rose

Historicals With a Time Travel Feel @ Amazon and Secondwind Publishing

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Nighttime Intruder

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The other night I’d left my elderly, portly cat Lizzie outside to fend for herself.  I shouldn’t, even though the neighborhood is mostly quiet. My experience of living here is that when you least expect it—expect it! I was relaxed during the summer a few years back when the folks across the street let their pit-bull escape. When he body-slammed our screen door, barking and snarling—we realized he wanted to get inside and eat our cats. Fortunately, back then, all the fuzzy butts were hale and fast on their feet. The second time this lethal weapon got loose, his owners spent over an hour attempting to catch him, apparently because they were more afraid of him than he was of them. Anyway—that’s another story—but it should explain why I couldn’t go to sleep, knowing Lizzie was waddling around the nighttime yard. After a couple of hours, I gave up the attempt to lose consciousness and went downstairs to collect her.

Another neighbor has one of those parking lot lights blazing away in his backyard, which actually makes it harder to see because of the high contrast it creates. Behind our tall fence, under the old silver maple, we remain in a small slice of darkness. Close to my feet, out tiger Bob muttered something like “Wowie Mrrrrrrp” deep down in his throat. I had an intuition he was cautioning me about something. My eyes were slow to adjust, and, as I stood on the patio in my nightgown I heard the distinct sound of something brushing through the flowerbed about ten feet away. My gaze pried into shadow. That was when I saw of a blaze of white and then the pacing movement, a distinct side to side motion, whisking away from me, across the porch. An oily smell, traveling more slowly, was the final clue to who this intruder was, visiting my nighttime yard.

The better part of valor was to retreat, so I did, back inside to turn on the porch light. By the time I did that, nothing was visible, just my cats. Bob sat by the door.  Lizzie was a little further out by a small spruce, lying there in the classic meatloaf posture, front paws neatly tucked under her chest. Clearly, neither of them was alarmed, simply keeping a respectful distance, while the skunk came to drink out of the water pots/bird baths that litter my yard. We’d moved into drought , so I wasn’t surprised some of the local outlaws were availing themselves of the detente of the nighttime suburban water hole.

Juliet Waldron

Hand-me-Down Bride & Roan Rose @ Second Wind Publishing  & Smashwords

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Top Ten Most Viewed Posts on the Second Wind Blog

The authors of Second Wind have contributed 1,340 posts to this blog. Since all of those posts are exceptional, each in their own way, it would be impossible to create a list of the ten best bloggeries. Thanks to WordPress statistics, however, it’s a simple matter of listing (in descending order) the ten that have garnered the most views:

Do Not Lean by Norm Brown gives simple and profound advice for navigating the curving roads of life.

Puppy Love by Claire Collins is a complete short story chosen to be included in the Second Wind anthology, Love is on the Wind.

Splish Splash, I was Taking a Bath by Sherrie Hansen rhapsodizes about water: too much water, not enough water, life revolving around water.

What is Your Character’s Favorite Color? — by Pat Bertram shows how to use color to help create colorful characters.

Writer Beware–POV Confusion/Character Overload by Juliet Waldron explains the dangers of too many point of view shifts.

One-eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater by Claire Collins is a humorous reminder about how important it is to have the correct wording and order of words while writing.

Writing Outside the Box by J J Dare taps into our quirky side.

The Importance of Imagery–by Deborah J Ledford talks about how carefully crafted images will be ones your reader will not soon forget.

The lure of the dark-side – anti-heroes and anti-heroines by Mairead Walpole tells us what makes for a wonderful and well-rounded anti-hero.

To the women . . . by Claire Collins is a joyous tribute to motherhood.

We hope you will enjoy visiting (or revisiting) these wonderful posts.

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Reconstructing Richard

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I’ve been thinking about Richard III for a long time. I was an only child who lived in a house well supplied with plenty of books, so  I read a lot.  When I read Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, I learned an important lesson that everyone interested in studying the past learns sooner or later: History is written by the victors, and therefore, the thumbnail version, which we get in school, rarely resembles the truth. I became an ardent Ricardian. Henry Tudor, the man who defeated Richard and founded the famous dynasty, was a sharp politician. It may have been 1486, but he employed talented spin doctors, men like Bishop John Morton who would be right at home in a modern political smear campaign.  Tudor propaganda strategy came to fruition many years later in Shakespeare’s engaging, rip-roaring historical melodrama. For centuries this stage creation has been the “Richard III” most people know.

In the ‘90’s, I had a Ricardian flashback, familiar to OCD types & writers.  I joined a now defunct ‘net group called “Later Medieval Britain” and began talking about the king and the Yorkist era  with interested people who lived all over the world—from Australia, to Britain, to the US. Most knew a great deal more about the period and the newly available ancient sources than I did.  I began to research again. At the same time I began to reconsider the knight- in-shining-armor Richard I’d constructed. After all, as a child I was more of a fan than an historian.

I’d become involved, while writing Mozart’s Wife and My Mozart, in an attempt to enter the mindset of my subjects by immersing myself in contemporary writing. For the later Middle Ages, I discovered newly available sources, listed in Roan Rose’s bibliography. The members of LMB, many members of The Richard III Society, were always willing to share and give me a push in the right direction. For me, anyway, there was a lot of new information to consider.

It’s a long, long way from 1780 to 1480.  The medieval POV I tried to enter when I wrote Roan Rose is not much like ours. There was a rigidly hierarchical social structure and a world view which wouldn’t have been unfamiliar five centuries years earlier.  The class into which a person was born was destiny, although this was not as impermeable in England as it was in the rest of Europe. Medieval people were hard-nosed and their lives were short. As well as the strictures of class, gender was another unrelenting form of destiny. Most women were married and “breeding” by the time they reached their teens.

Even for those living at the top, those with good food and physical comforts, life could be tough. Adulthood began early. For instance, by the time Richard was fourteen, he was making life-altering decisions. He chose loyalty to his brother the King over loyalty to his mentor Warwick, in whose grand household he’d received his knightly training. The bait Warwick dangled was not inconsiderable, either, for this was his lovely cousin Anne, who was one of the richest heiresses in England. Richard’s brother George, contrastingly, took Warwick’s offer and married Anne’s older sister, Isabel. When Warwick – not nicknamed “Kingmaker” for nothing – unseated Richard’s brother, King Edward, and replaced him with the rival Lancastrian claimant, George supported his father-in-law. Richard fled with the King into the lowlands where their sister Margaret, who had married Duke Charles of Burgundy, could protect them. During this time of exile, he and his siblings got busy setting a conspiracy afoot to entice their wayward brother George to return to their side.

Before he was nineteen, Richard led troops in two decisive battles, Barnet and Tewkesbury, which would restore his brother Edward to the throne. He displayed bravery and coolness beyond his years. In the aftermath of Tewkesbury, he and the family’s staunch Yorkist ally, John, Duke of Norfolk, were the judges who delivered death sentences upon captured Lancastrian nobles, lured from sanctuary with false promises of safe passage.  Sixteen noblemen—many of them personally familiar and most of them cousins–were beheaded that day, with the two Dukes as witnesses. After this blood bath, I’ve read, they all went in to dinner. This was a world in which nobles, peasants and commons alike went to see whippings, hangings and disemboweling for entertainment, a world in which life expectancy was a mere 30 years.

I don’t know if I was able to fully enter the mindset necessary for axing my relatives, but I do want to make clear that historical romance characters who can pass for “civilized,” cannot be anything like a real 15th Century specimen.  I’m not saying that we today are so much better, it’s just that we have more constraints, a tad more democracy and a great deal more comfort provided by the twin wonders of science and technology. The characters in Roan Rose are probably still tame when compared to the medieval equivalent, but I did try to avoid the restraints under which today’s well-socialized citizens typically act.

The Richard I’ve written is a contradictory character, though full of emotion and sensitivity. His much-handled and personally annotated prayer book* demonstrates that he “had religion.”  He conscientiously undertook good works to balance the inevitable ledger of sin.  He founded chanteries to pray for the living and the dead, as was expected of a prince, and he gave generously to Queen’s College and to the building of King’s College at Cambridge. He was a thoughtful and competent administrator in a time which was famously short of them. We know he was a brave soldier, and that he was a warrior who’d delivered death with his own hand. Whether he took the English throne for good reasons or bad, whether or not he personally gave the order to put his young nephews to death, we will probably never know.   I made an attempt in this, my first medieval novel, to create men and women whose experiences, emotions and choices might give the reader a taste of what it meant to be alive in those times.

*SUTTON, Anne F. & VISSER-FUCHS, Livia,  The Hours of  Richard III, 1990

http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Excerpt From “Roan Rose” by Juliet Waldron

More like a gangland war for turf and loot than chivalry, the War of Roses disrupted the life of the English common folk for hundreds of years. Roan Rose is the story of one of these commoners, Rose Whitby, born a peasant on the Yorkshire dales. When the Countess of Warwick, decides to take sturdy, gentle Rose to Middleham Castle to be companion and bed-time poppet for a frail daughter, her fate is changed forever.

Rose bonds strongly with Anne Neville, her young mistress. She also meets a royal boy enduring his knightly training — Richard of Gloucester, King Edward’s baby brother. The noble children have illness and accidents as they grow, but Rose remains a constant, always there to nurse and serve.

Rose bears intimate witness to the passions, betrayals, murders, battles and those abrupt reversals of fortune which will shape her mistress’ life — and her own. Anne Neville will briefly become a Queen, and Richard, Rose’s secret love, will become a King, one whose name has become synonymous with evil. Rose, alone of the three, will survive the next turn of Fortune’s Wheel and the invasion of England by Henry Tudor. Returning to her humble existence on the Dales, Rose has one last service to perform.

EXCERPT:

The King of England and I played chess, passing his sleepless hours. After years of struggling with the game, I can say, without exaggeration, that I’d become a formidable competitor, nearly his equal. I will stand firm upon this claim, even though I was a lowly servant—and a female, at that.

Nightly, our forces swayed back and forth across the board, until the birds began a summons to Dawn, calling her, as the harpers say, “from that silken couch where she dreams.”

We sat in a steady circle of candlelight in a small, high room at the palace of Nottingham. From our vantage point, the narrow river, spangled by summer stars, flowed below a single, open window. The distance, I might add, was sufficient to prevent the smell from blighting the view.

Of late, I had won a few these matches. This I credited in part to the King’s growing distraction and exhaustion. By June of 1485, he’d realized that his rule was unraveling around him, and, that he, in no small part, had been the architect of oncoming disaster.

What other choices, however, could my Lord have made? If he had let his nephew come to the throne, his own head would, sooner or later, have become his vengeful sister‑in‑law’s trophy. Either that or he would have been arrested and mewed up by his enemies somewhere, murdered in secret like so many members of his family. Richard Plantagenet knew history and he was not passive. All he’d done in deposing the boy was to strike his enemies before they could strike him.

Men now say otherwise.

There is mystery in the dark hours between two and four. The black and white squares of the board swam before my eyes. I, too, was tired to my very bones. The King’s wakefulness had become his servant’s. I was ready to make a move when his foot, under a long red robe, touched mine beneath the table. The contact seemed accidental, or was it?

He knows how greatly I love him, how I hunger for any touch. . . .

Concentration broken, I glanced up and met his brilliant hazel eyes, burning deep in hollows of chronic sleeplessness. For an instant, a slight smile curved those thin, mobile lips, but his gaze returned naturally to the board. Our relationship had always been singular. Only recently had it turned—let us say—customary. During the winter, his queen, the mistress I’d served and loved for nigh onto twenty years, had died. That is why his touch distracted me, made concentration falter.

Was the move I’d planned such a good one?

My hand wavered over the few remaining strong pieces. Traps lay on every side. Several, I saw clearly, for I’d been playing chess with Richard since our shared childhood. Whatever coup de grace he’d planned, I feared I’d never see until it was too late.

“That wasn’t fair.” In our secret kingdom of night, titles, and much else customary between master and servant, had been abandoned.

“Check.”

I’d revised, chosen to move my last knight to pin down his king. Of course, I knew quite well that second guesses are nearly always fatal this deep in a match.

“Nothing in this world is fair.”

As his hand went for it, I saw my doom—a lurking bishop.

“Checkmate,” Richard lifted a dark brow in triumph. Extending those jeweled, elegant fingers, his Bishop cast down my helpless king.

“You touched my foot on purpose.”

“What of it?”

It was worth losing any number of chess matches to see him smile. Always glorious—and always rare—it had, lately, become a thing of legend.

“Old Dick” doesn’t smile. This was well known all over his Kingdom. Like a great many other things that are “well known,” there was not a grain of truth in it.

“I don’t mind. It’s only that you used to win by your wits, and now it seems you must rely upon the lowest tricks to best your humble servant.”

He laughed shortly, but it was not an entirely happy sound. Playing with my king now, turning it between ringed thumb and forefinger, he said, “Better for all of us had I learned the game of low tricks at a far earlier age.”

How to reply? Crouching at the back of this night’s wakefulness lay the same old horror. Where were his nephews?

Everyone knows the pawns are the first to go. In my Lord’s case, crime had brought, as it so rarely does in this wicked world,apunishment not only swift, but apt. In the space of sixteen months, the King had lost his adored son and his dearly beloved wife, my noble mistress.

On this night, Richard Plantagenet had traveled almost to the end of his earthly course, to the haunted land where human tribulation ends. Gazing at the ruin of our board, I believe we both knew it.

***

Juliet Waldron is a grandma and cat mother who decided to finally do something with her long ago BA in English. She’s always loved to read historicals + history, and to make up stories. She has three grandgirls, one who just graduated from college and another who just entered the 8th grade. The youngest is her own little autistic planet, but she takes a mean photograph.

Juliet’s favorite pastimes are hiking, bicycle riding, cat-hugging and gardening. She’s been married to the same guy and riding behind him on his motorcycles for the last 48 years.

Click here to buy: Roan Rose

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The Carsonville Hotel

We’re at the end of the season here in the Northeast–the motorcycle season, I mean. This is just a little something about a fun Pennsylvania ride.

Ride East down Powell’s Valley Road, a fairly generous piece of fertile land between two soft, old PA folded mountains. The valley used to be all farms, but now houses are growing like mushrooms in the fields. It’s so far away from almost anything, I wonder what the people—especially the ones in the windswept new McMansions—do for a living.

When you see the sign for “Carsonville” you’re almost there—and then, suddenly, you are. The road straight ahead drastically narrows. There’s a stop sign and a wide left hand sweep. If you go dashing around that left turn, up the mountain, you missed it. The worn building on your left  is the “hotel,” actually a restaurant and hunter/biker bar of ancient reputation.  It’s not really what’s inside that counts—although there are trophy elks’ heads and a sad and beautiful mounted cougar on display in the dining room. It’s the view from the backyard patio/party site, across the fields and farms, a patchwork which goes to the crumbling rock fences abutting state forest lands. At least, that’s what we like most about the place.

Other riders, large groups of HD/Victory/Gold Wing riders, the kind who come in large, loud packs, stop off, and chow down on burgers, fish sandwiches, crabcakes and huge plates of fries, washed down with a few beers/sodas, and socialize.   (The restaurant is said to cook a mean steak, but we’ve never had one.) We’re solitary rocket riders, on our favorite journey over the mountains, riding our black Hyabusa. We like to arrive early on Friday or Saturday or Sunday, as the place wakes up—11—11:30—12:00 ish—and sit, like Ferdinand the Bull, “just quietly” at an outside table while the staff and other bikers roll in.

“When do you open?”  Customer’s will ask Denis. He’s one of the owners’ sons, a man who lives just up the mountain and who often rides his own classic early 80’s Honda 650 to work.   This fine machine has only 82,000 miles on it and we always admire it because it reminds us of our own “thrilling days of yesteryear.”

“When I get here–it’s open,” says Denis, with a smile.

–Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Old Dead “Friends”

I’ve spent a lot of my life fixating upon dead heroes, which means, as we turn into October, I’m entering my favorite other-worldly season.  (Maybe “hero” isn’t quite the word, but “famous historical personalities” is unwieldy.)  Richard III came into my life early, just pre-teen, via a discarded paperback, “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey, fished from a wastebasket in the lounge of a 1950’s Barbados hotel.  For some reason, this mystery story about a man whose chosen motto was “Loyalty Binds Me” and whose reputation had been blackened, started an obsessive fire in my brain which is, even 50-some years later, burning hotter than ever.

Richard started life in 1452, which is a long time ago—560 years at Fotheringay Castle, now nothing more than a heap of earth by the River Nene where the original motte and bailey stood. As you can see from the picture, 500+ years doesn’t leave much behind! He was born on October 2, which makes him a Libra. If the Tudor spin doctors are to be believed, he was a seriously out of balance child of this supremely balanced heavenly sign. If the skeleton just recovered proves to be the King, it appears that he had a deformity at birth, a severe scoliosis, which would have caused his right shoulder to be carried high.  He only lived for thirty-two years, but he (or his distorted shadow) has left a large mark on World consciousness via Shakespeare’s blood-and-thunder melodrama.

I’ve been flailing around in the flesh more than twice as long as this particular dead hero, but have made not a jot of difference to the greater world.  Still, King Richard, his fair wife, Anne Neville, and others of the bloody Plantagenet cousinage have been talking, loving, cutting off heads and battling in my imagination since childhood. When the recent excavation in that Leicester car park came up with those bones–scoliosis, battle wounds, and all—it started the whole royal panoply, complete with banners and drums, parading through my mind.   More than that, some days it comes seeping out, a moving picture of antique glory superimposed over the ordinariness of daily life. I feel closer to these semi-imaginary long dead than I do to my neighbors. After all, these royal shadows have been with me from childhood. I’ve imagined them while standing on tropical beaches, Cornish cliffs, and all the way to this present slough of suburban senior citizenship.

Roan Rose, my new Second Wind novel, grew from a long time dedication to this old, old story, one which has been fictionalized a great many times already. Still, I “owed” Richard and Anne a book,  even despite the recent big name debut of something similar. In my novel, the fall of the House of York is seen through the unusual lens of “downstairs” eyes. The narrator, Rose, begins her association with Anne Neville while they are both children. Although Rose loves and is loved in return, she can never be more to Anne and her royal cousin (eventually, husband, Richard) than a “common woman,”  a servant. She alone of their triangle of affection will endure to tell of the end of an ancient dynasty and of the dusty survival of a peasant. The price she pays for her loyalty to master and mistress is high.

I can hardly bear to let her go. I’m sure a lot of other writers out there will understand this reluctance to end my “visits” to a much loved creation.

~~Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Interview With Juliet Waldron, Author of “Roan Rose”

What is your book about?

Roan Rose, my newest novel, which will soon be published by Second Wind Publishing, is a story about a peasant girl who becomes a house servant to a royal family. Their wealth and power and their eventual downfall affect her life in unpredictable and sometimes terrible ways.

How long was the idea for the book developing before you wrote the story?

Perhaps four or five years. I’d wanted to write a book about the Wars of Roses since childhood, but was never sure how to approach it, especially as the subject has lately become very popular.

What inspired you to write this story?

My love for the Late Medieval period and my interest in the royals involved. I’d already researched the period pretty thoroughly.

Tell us a little about your characters. Who was your favorite?

The heroine, Rosalba, is my narrator. It is through the lens of her perception we see the events of this tumultuous, barbaric era. As a poor girl, she sees life in the castle in ways her masters do not. As a peasant woman in the 15th Century, Rosalba has a mostly insurmountable set of challenges, but she is bright and resourceful. Occasionally her emotions keep her from making the best choices, but she is always courageous and not afraid to act.

How long did it take to write Roan Rose?

About three years, which is fast for me. One thing about writing a historical based upon the lives of real people is that the plotting is done in advance. I don’t think a historical writer should alter facts to pretty up—or tidy up—a story.

What do you want people to take with them after they finish the story?

I’d like them to know a little more about history and about the historical characters involved, of course. In this case, I’d like them to think about women’s lives, and how perceptions of women have changed in 600 years—and how, in many ways, they haven’t changed at all. Limitations placed upon women simply because they are women are present the world over. In positive and in negative ways, biology is still destiny.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My mom was an Anglophile who loved to travel.  I spent my teens in Cornwall and in Barbados. An English education reinforced my interest in the UK and her history. (She is called “Britannia” after all.) I read Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, which is a classic mystery novel about the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, before puberty. As I was nerd child who had crushes on historical figures, the idea of an unjustly accused King whose name had been blackened by the real perpetrator was appealing. My interest in this Wars of Roses story resurrected during my writing years. Somehow, I felt I “owed” the Middle Ages a book. Roan Rose is my take on what is becoming a favorite ground for novelists.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a number of words a day?

My schedule, when I’m deep in a story, is ideally all the time. As I’m retired, that’s possible. Otherwise, I don’t push. My muse—and I believe in her/him—goes back out the window when rules are set in concrete. Now, if you are a writer with lucrative contracts and books pending, you are working at a job, and need to punch the clock. Otherwise—my kind of writer sometimes needs to run the vacuum, cook a meal or clean the cat boxes.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got a creature story in the works. Thank heaven no one is waiting with baited breath, because I don’t have time for creativity just now. Every now and then, I’ll jot down a paragraph or two, just to hold onto the images.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process?

The most difficult part is WRITING. It’s one thing to have those little voices in your head and pretty images of some long-ago world, but it takes the other side of the brain to actually find the words and force them out through the tips of your fingers onto a keyboard. Left side creates; right side organizes and uses logic in order to discriminate, to pick and choose among effects you want your words to make. That takes time and lots of re-reading and re-thinking—commonly known as “editing.”

What do you like to read?

History/non-fiction is my favorite, because that’s where my stories come from. However, I spend a lot of time reading in order to review e-books of all kinds and historical novels through the Historical Novel Society magazine.

What writer influenced you the most?

At the moment, I’d say Cecelia Holland.

What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

It’s here, and it’s called the internet. The rise of the e-book, after a decade in which problems of software and hardware have been (more or less) sorted, is the best thing that’s happened for readers since the printing press. It gives them far more books to choose from at better prices. Traditional publishing has a long way to go before it can meet the e-book prices of independents or the appetite of e-reading consumers. It’s good for writers because more of us can take a crack at the market than ever before. Perhaps we can find readers in a more direct way than through the strangle point of NYC.

Where can readers learn more about you?

From Second Wind Publishing.com

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