Britain 455AD. The Roman Empire has fallen. As the daughter of a king and a priestess of the sacred grove, Anya’s life in Germania is one of wealth and privilege – until she dares to speak out against the high priest’s barbaric human sacrifices. Her punishment is exile. Forced to leave her homeland, she sails to Britannia, to an island that is sliding into chaos and war, as rival kingdoms vie for power. Alone and far from home, Anya must learn to survive amidst the bloodshed, treachery and intrigue of fifth century Britain. Can she find a place to belong – a home, a hearth, a welcome?
I hope you enjoy this interview.
1. When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m one of those people who needs peace and quiet when I write. But when our kids were still living at home, there wasn’t a spare room in the house so, in desperation, I wrote in a storeroom/cupboard. I eventually managed to convince myself it wasn’t claustrophobic, just very, very cosy! I prefer to write either very early, or very late in the day, when the house is quiet and the phone is less likely to ring.
2. Do you have a certain ritual?
I don’t think I’m organised enough to have a ritual! Because I write historical fiction, research is a big part of my writing process and I make copious notes. Consequently, my desk is always hideously untidy, piled high with reference books, lever-arch files, sticky notes and loose sheets of paper bearing obscure titbits of information which, at the time, I felt certain would come in useful.
3. Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
I have a succession of cups of tea on my desk throughout the day, all of which grow cold because I forget to drink them.
4. What is your favourite book?
As a birthday gift, my daughter bought me William Sieghart’s The Poetry Pharmacy, ‘tried and true prescriptions for the heart, mind and soul’. Divided into sections such as Mental and Emotional Wellbeing, and Love and Loss, it’s an inspiring collection of poems from a diverse group of poets.
5. Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
At the moment, I couldn’t contemplate writing anything other than historical fiction. For me, it’s like time travel, but from the comfort and safety of my writing chair. I absolutely adore being transported into the distant past and exploring what it meant to live there.
6. Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Absolutely. It’s a great way to flesh out characters – their appearance, their strengths and weaknesses, their unique quirks. But, strangely enough, no-one ever seems to recognise themselves!
7. Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes, I do, because otherwise I’m worried I’ll forget them.
8. Which genre do you not like at all?
When I wander around a bookshop, I tend to avoid the Fantasy section like the plague. But then again, I think Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pure genius, so perhaps I shouldn’t generalise.
9. If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
William Shakespeare, without a doubt. I have so many questions I would like to ask him. But I would be so in awe of his genius, my input to our co-written book would be zero!
10.If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I lived on the flat plains of northern Germany for several years, and they were my inspiration for Anya’s life in Saxony. Apart from that, my novels are largely set in Britain and I thoroughly enjoyed my research trips to the historic sites featured in The Saxon Wolves, including Tintagel, York, Hadrian’s Wall, and the Roman baths at Bath. My first novel, The King’s Daughter, was set in the Viking era. I hope to write a sequel one day, and would love to visit Scandinavia and explore the homeland of the Norsemen.
Thank you, Penny Ingham and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Penny’s father, a journalist, instilled her with a love of history from an early age. Family holidays invariably included an invigorating walk up an Iron Age hill-fort whilst listening to his stirring stories of the Roman attack and the valiant defence by the Britons. Consequently, Penny has a degree in Classics and a passion for history and archaeology. She has enjoyed a varied career, including BBC production assistant, theatre PR and journalism, but her ambition was always to write historical fiction. Her first novel, The King’s Daughter, was awarded Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. Penny has worked on many archaeological excavations, and these ‘digs’ and their evocative finds often provide the inspiration for her books. Penny’s research also takes her to the many spectacular historical sites featured in this novel, including Hadrian’s Wall and Tintagel.”
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