Thursday, 3 January 2013

Guest Author - Kim Rendfeld

Guest Author

I am delighted to introduce Kim Rendfeld

Photograph courtesy of Kim Rendfeld

author of 

The Cross and the Dragon, published by Fireship Press, is available in e-book via kindle,Nook, Kobo, (and other readers) and in print from Amazon US, UK and Canada, and other countries.

"Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge in the early years of Charlemagne's reign, told by a fresh, new voice in historical fiction."

Kim, welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for being our guest author today.

What inspired you to become an author?

I've enjoyed storytelling since I was a child, if playing with my dolls counts, and that urge led to a career in journalism, along with a few attempts to write a novel. By the late 1990s, I was content with editing and writing the short non fiction of newspaper articles and was considering public relations. I had given up on writing a book, but discovering a German legend prompted me to try fiction again.


Where did you get the inspiration for your debut novel, The Cross and the Dragon?

During a family vacation in Germany, I stumbled across a legend about the origin of Rolandsbogen, an ivy covered arch on a high Rhineland hill, and it is a very different interpretation of Roland (Hruodland in The Cross and the Dragon), best known as the stubborn hero in “The Song of Roland.”

What comes next is a spoiler, so readers who would like to avoid it can skip to the next question.

 In the legend of Rolandsbogen, our hero builds the castle for his bride and goes off to war in Spain. He survives the attack in the Pyrenees, but his wife is told he died. Not wishing to marry another, she takes a vow of chastity and joins the convent on Nonnenwerth, a Rhine island. Roland comes back too late and spends the rest of his days at his window trying to catch a glimpse of her to and from prayers.
This legend is not true. The historic Hruodland died in the attack, and that is all we know about him 

Yet the story of Rolandsbogen left me with questions such as “Why would someone lie to the bride?” It followed me home and would not let me rest until I sat at my computer and started writing, even though I knew little about the Middle Ages at the time.

What makes you want to write historical fiction?

I enjoy experiencing another time and place, and I've never lost my fascination with legends and folk tales.  The Middle Ages in particular has a lot of fodder for a writer, especially the melding of personal and political among the aristocracy.
King Charles’s (Charlemagne’s) personal life rivals a soap opera. At the beginning of my story, he is about to go to war with his ex-father-in-law, who is threatening Rome. I didn't invent that or any of the other wars in The Cross and the Dragon.

I hope my story tells readers something they didn't know, but my first purpose as a novelist is to entertain.

Do you outline the plot first, or do you let the story go wherever it takes you?

I use historical events as an underpinning for my story, but otherwise let the story take the lead. I would simply get stuck if I did the outline first. I wrote a few drafts before writing an outline for revision and then threw two-thirds of the outline away because the characters had different ideas.

Ellie and Icy
Picture courtesy of Kim Rendfeld
Do you have a special place to do your writing?

I have an office in our house, the proverbial “room of one’s own.” My computer is in a corner with windows on both sides, and my reference books are close at hand. It is not the tidiest place, but it is mine. My two distractions walk on four legs and will sometimes purr in my lap while I'm writing.

Can you tell us what are you writing next?

My next book is tentatively titled The Ashes ofHeaven’s Pillar. Here is the most recent draft of the blurb:

Charlemagne’s 772 battles in Saxony have left Leova with nothing but her two children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. Her husband died in combat. Her faith lies in the ashes of the Irminsul, the Pillar of Heaven. And the relatives obligated to defend her and her family sold them into slavery, stealing their farm.
Taken in Francia, Leova will stop at nothing to protect her son and daughter, even if it means sacrificing her honor and her safety. Her determination only grows stronger as Sunwynn blossoms into a beautiful young woman attracting the lust of a cruel master and Deorlaf becomes a headstrong man willing to brave starvation and demons to free his family.
Yet Leova’s most difficult dilemma comes in the form of a Frankish friend, Hugh. He saves Deorlaf from a fanatical Saxon Christian and is Sunwynn’s champion—and he is the warrior who slew Leova’s husband.

And finally for fun...

If you could invite three people from history to your dinner table, who would you choose and why?

That is a tough one for me, because there are so many interesting people, but in no particular order, the guests would be:

Susan B. Anthony—She was one of the leaders for women’s suffrage in the United States but died before she could exercise the right to vote. What would she think of the status of women today?

James Madison—The fourth president of the United States, he is considered the father of the Constitution, the basis of our laws. Does he believe it’s a living document with implied rights such as privacy (as I do) or would he insist on sticking to the letter? If he knew how some people interpret the Constitution, would he have written it differently?

Bertrada—When she was queen, Charlemagne’s mother was the most powerful woman in Francia, the matriarch of an upstart ruling family. Even though the medieval mindset can sometimes be disturbing to a 21st century audience, it would be interesting to hear her take on the historical events in her time.

The sculptures of Bertrada and Pepin are 13th century funerary statues at the Basilica of Saint Denis, where they are entombed (wikipedia)

Kim kindly invited me to read her book The Cross and the Dragon. Here are my thoughts on the story ...

The history of the Middle Ages is bound in folk lore and legend, and in The Cross and the Dragon, set during the martial reign of Charlemagne, the author Kim Rendfeld, takes the story of Alda, wife of the military leader, Hruodland, and blends together a story about the effects of war on the women who were left behind, and about the men who loved them.

With quite harsh realism the author has blended fact with fiction and has created a story which is rich in historical detail and alive with atmosphere. The subtle but imposing characters make the story very readable, and even if you know nothing about the middle ages, you will enjoy the experience of stepping back into a time when love and war were intermingled and to be a woman in man’s world was often a frightening and lonely place to be.

With this, her debut novel, Kim Rendfeld has shown that she understands the fine distinction of her subject matter and without compromising historical fact she has the ability to weave together a good fictional story.

Kim,thank you so much for spending time with us, Jaffa and I  have loved having you as our guest author today. 

We wish you continued success with your writing career.

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