Welcome readers. This week we are pleased to bring you news of a remarkable book by Rae Andrew. It is a racy, Gothic fantasy that is reminiscent of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones. I am sure that is bound to whet your appetite.
It smoulders, it fascinates and it intrigues.
THE LAY OF ANGOR, BOOK 1: GONDARLAN
By Rae Andrew
We give it a ***** rating
And we are pleased to welcome Rae into the office for a chat to tell you all about it.
Rae, welcome. I hope you don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing your real name as Helen Cox. Tell us about yourself – or about you both!
Hello, readers. Well, I used to be an archaeological conservator and museum collection care advisor; then I met my husband and turned into a ‘writing housewife’ with a freelance publishing and lecturing business, Herstory Writing & Interpretation - Helen does factual history, and Rae makes it up! My special interest is the 15th century, and I’ve written three non-fiction books on the battles of Wakefield and Towton (you can find out more on my website, http://www.helencox-herstorywriting.co.uk ). I also edit The Towton Herald, Towton Battlefield Society’s newsletter, act as Secretary of its Wars of the Roses re-enactment group, The Frei Compagnie, and I’m a pretty mean shot with a longbow!
Wow! You pack a lot into your life. Tell us about the book.
It’s an historical romance in a parallel world, more Gormenghast than Middle-Earth – dungeons without dragons and swords without sorcery, but plenty of black humour, political intrigue and nice juicy sex! The heroine, Princess Elinor of Gondarlan, is very moody because her father King Thorund is packing her off to marry a stranger – Jehan of Angor, a tattooed New Age hippie dressed in doublet and hose – and the running joke is the culture clash that happens when he arrives at the Gondaran court to woo her. Needless to say, the path of love doesn’t run smooth… not for Elinor and Jehan, at any rate.
And it is all in there, folks. How did you get the idea for the book? It must have taken a long time to imagine all that history.
Originally, from a rude story I wrote as a joke for a previous partner! His suggestion that I develop the characters and try to publish it got me thinking. I didn’t fancy writing contemporary erotica for the ‘adult’ market, or an historical ‘bodice-ripper’ tied to a real place and period - so I invented an Urth of my own, where I could bring in all sorts of personal interests and favourite themes from real-world history. I had the basic storyline roughed out in a couple of months – but it took nearly 10 years of further evolution, endless re-drafting and ruthless pruning to achieve the finished product!
How is the series developing? And how many books do you plan?
The second instalment, Breath of Gaia, has just come out on Kindle and Kobo, with the paperback to follow shortly. Book 3, Wolfsbane – which should be in print by early 2014 – is about a third of the way through. I’m planning one more, Children of Fafnir, to finish the saga, and I’d like to round off with an archaeological detective story linking a contemporary version of Urth with Princess Elinor’s world. But I could potentially write more - as Terry Pratchett has with his Discworld – if the demand is there! Meanwhile you can follow developments on the Lay’s own website www.lay-of-angor.co.uk or its Facebook page, The Lay of Angor.
We like that idea of the detective story and we are great fans of Terry Pratchett. Your background in archaeology has clearly been a big help. The story drips with facts and has great atmosphere. As a history re-enactor I guess that has helped. Can you give us an idea of how you actually picture a scene?
Thank you! Yes – it’s given me loads of ideas, experiences and material to draw from. Lots of the environments are ‘real’, either places I’ve visited or seen on TV – for instance, Gondarlan is a hybrid of Scotland, Scandinavia and Iceland, and the architecture, costume and so on loosely based on European medieval. Within that framework, the details fill themselves in as if by magic – I see it in my mind’s eye, and hear the characters speaking, as if I’m watching a movie. They’ve taken on such a life of their own, I feel like more of a conduit, or a secretary taking dictation, than a creator; the main challenge is capturing everything on keyboard as quickly as it flashes through my head!
Rae – I mean Helen, it has been a pleasure. We wish you well with the rest of the series.
Gondarlan is available as an e-book for £2.99 on Kobo and Amazon Kindle (Kindle Prime members can borrow it free). The paperback is available at £7.99 plus p+p from York Publishing Services – order from www.YPD-books.com, by phone on 01904 431213, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or order through any good book-shop. UK readers can also buy signed copies at the discount price of £7.50 inc. p+p direct from Rae Andrew – email your order to email@example.com.