Conquest, Book 3
Unhappily married to Stephen de Marais, the Welsh princess, Nest, becomes increasingly embroiled in her countrymen’s resistance to the Norman occupation of her family lands. She plans to visit King Henry in the hope of securing a life away from her unwanted husband, but grieving for the loss of his son, the King is obsessed with relics and prophecies. Meanwhile, Haith tries to avoid the reality that Nest is married to another man by distracting himself with the mystery of the shipwreck in which the King’s heir drowned. As Haith pieces together fragments of the tragedy, he discovers a chest full of secrets, but will the revelations bring a culprit to light and aid the grieving King? Will the two lovers be united as Nest fights for independence and Haith struggles to protect King Henry?
When and where do you prefer to write?
In the morning, either at my desk or in my pyjamas in bed. I often wake up early with sentences or scenes in my head and have to get them down on paper.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Yes. I don’t write with music, and I need a good few hours or days without any distractions to feel able to write. It’s important to be able to turn off all distractions – especially email notifications, social media, phone notifications and so on. When I first moved into my house in France, I didn’t have wifi for a couple of years. I used to save up a long list of things I had to do online and go to the local library twice a week to work online and have the rest of the time at home, blissfully disconnected and writing. It was very effective. I need to recreate that for myself now! It was also a very useful way to get to know the local librarians who launched my first novel at the library.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Jane Austen. That would be fabulous, but I think she would soon get fed up with me! I love the cadences of her language, the trenchant humour, human observation, characterisation and plotlines in her work.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
The bad one – always more interesting! In my own novel, The Anarchy, I particularly enjoyed writing the character of the bard, Breri, who is a double agent, spying for both the Normans and the Welsh. Parts of him are modelled on my best friend. I also thoroughly enjoyed myself with King Henry I, who must hold the record for the highest number of illegitimate children (24). I paint him as lascivious, intelligent, humorous, and very good at being a king. When I was writing I felt the page light up whenever he entered a chapter.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Orderic Vitalis. He was a monk and a writer living in the 11th to 12th centuries. He wrote a wonderful account of the Anglo-Norman world, a history of his own age. I draw on his writing when I am researching my medieval novels. He has some very beautiful use of language and an extraordinarily curious mind for someone who spent most of his life in a small, remote monastery.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
At the kitchen table or on the balcony. I like reading while preparing to cook and while eating. Or on the sofa. I like reading and doing nothing else too. Or in the British Library. I love libraries and would be quite happy if I could just squat in one.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
River Viaur, Laguepie, France – view from the castle.
Photo: Tracey Warr
Swimming in the river. There is one right outside my house. Nothing beats swimming down with the green vista of the banks and the winding stretch of the river opening up before you, accompanied by visiting dragonflies and the occasional leap of a fish or swoop of a bird.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
I made this out of fresh air. I’ve done it quite a few times now (five historical novels, one future fiction and several books on contemporary art) but it never gets stale.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
I usually have a few bad titles first. I try ideas out on my neighbours, friends, publisher and wait until they stop screwing their faces up sceptically. I belong to a writing group with a number of very good writers in it and we critique each other’s work. It’s very helpful for motivating each of us to keep producing writing too. I would sound them out with book titles.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
9th century silver trefoil Terslev-style brooch https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Terslev-style_brooch.jpg Attribution: Unknown author, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
I give suggestions to my publisher and then give them feedback on various rough drafts they send to me. My second novel, The Viking Hostage, uses a contemporary version of a Viking brooch. In the other part of my life, I am an art historian, and my fiction often draws on objects in museums and illustrations in manuscripts—some cover ideas can come from there.
Thank you, Tracey Warr and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Tracey Warr (1958- ) was born in London and lives in the UK and France. Her first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011) is set in 11th century France and Spain and is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Occitan female lord, Almodis de la Marche, who was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Books Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel, The Viking Hostage, set in 10th century France and Wales, was published by Impress Books in 2014 and topped the Amazon Australia charts. Her Conquest trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy recount the story of a Welsh noblewoman caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writers Bursary. Her writing is a weave of researched history and imagined stories in the gaps in history.
Tracey Warr studied English at University of Hull and Oxford University, gaining a BA (Hons) and MPhil. She worked at the Arts Council, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chatto & Windus Publishers, and edited Poetry Review magazine with Mick Imlah. She also publishes art writing on contemporary artists, and in 2016 she published a future fiction novella, Meanda, in English and French, as part of the art project, Exoplanet Lot. She recently published a series of three books, The Water Age, which are future fiction and art and writing workshop books – one for adults and one for children – on the topic of water in the future. She gained a PhD in Art History in 2007 and was Guest Professor at Bauhaus University and Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts. Her published books on contemporary art include The Artist’s Body (Phaidon, 2000), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Midden (Garret, 2018). She gained an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St David in 2011. She is Head of Research at Dartington Trust and teaches on MA Poetics of Imagination for Dartington Arts School.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tracey-Warr/e/B0053YDVPE
Books in the series
The Daughter of the Last King (Book 1) – https://geni.us/LPF1
The Drowned Court (Book 2) – https://geni.us/ddAFsas
The Anarchy (Book 3) – https://geni.us/274ZX