The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
I have always wanted to write. One of my earliest memories is coming out of the library clutching a Little Grey Rabbit story by Alison Utley. I must have been four years old. I vividly recall the delight at having found a book I had not “read”.
By the age of thirteen I was scribbling stories. Did I ever complete any? LOL Probably not! I was writing pony stories. I desperately wanted a pony of my own – so I made one up. At the time I assumed everyone wrote stories as an “alternative existence”.
I was always reading a book or writing a story. I did not have many friends and was a lonely child; my “friends” were characters in books. To me they were real; as the characters I write about now are real. Is there some sort of parallel world I wonder, where fiction and imagination blend to become reality?
I hated school. It was a girls’ school where most of us were considered to be not very bright–having failed the exam to enter the grammar school–and the expectation was for us to become shop workers, secretaries, housewives and mothers. The only lesson I enjoyed was English, even though the English tutor was a dragon. She encouraged my writing, however. I guess she recognised my ability.
I had a short story published in an animal magazine when I was 16–the story of a foal lost in a sudden blizzard. That gave me the fire I needed to keep writing. Through the following years I drove everyone mad with ‘When I write my book’ meaning, when I get published. It was to be another twenty four or so years before I achieved it!
From school I went to work as a library assistant. By then I had a horse of my own, so I had no need of an imaginary one; I turned to science fiction instead. This was the age of Star Wars, first time around.
While working at the library I discovered King Arthur. The possible ‘real’ Arthur that is. Author Mary Stewart had added an author’s note to her novel the Crystal Cave in which she said that if Arthur had existed he would have lived circa 450-550. This was exciting! I had never much liked the legendary knight in armour Arthur; those stories had no feeling of reality to me. A post-Roman Arthur was a different matter entirely so I delved into some research, got hooked and wrote what eventually became The Kingmaking and the rest of the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy: Pendragon’s Banner and Shadow of the King.
When I was thirty, I’d had a small success with a children’s safety book (Come And Tell Me, now sadly, out of print) which gave me the boost I needed to be serious about my writing. Thanks to the encouragement of author Sharon Penman I submitted my work to an agent and I was accepted for publication by William Heinemann (Random House) one week after my fortieth birthday. From there I finished the Arthur Trilogy, wrote Harold the King, the story of the Battle of Hastings (to be published in the US as I Am The Chosen King in March 2011) and A Hollow Crown – The Forever Queen as it has been re-titled for Sourcebooks, and the reason I am here as guest on this blog.
In between the publication of Crown in 2005 and now though, I had a falling out with my agent and my backlist became out of print. I obtained the rights to my first four novels and took them to a UK self-publishing company. That gave me the confidence to go my own path and publish the book that my agent and I had disagreed over–Sea Witch, a pirate-based adventure fantasy for young at heart grown ups in search of a well-written fun read.
As a 50+ lady who had fallen hook line and sinker for Johnny Depp’s character Jack Sparrow, I wanted to read novels similar in nature to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a light hearted, full to the scuppers, treasure chest of pirate fun with a touch of believable fantasy thrown in for good measure. I could find no fiction to fit the bill, so I wrote my own–thus, Sea Witch and my Captain Jesamiah Acorne were created. Problem. My agent wanted me to write it for teenage boys. I wanted to write it for adult pirate fans. She dumped me. Her loss!
Sea Witch is mainstream published by a small UK independent publisher and is gaining in popularity. There is a huge gap in the vast pirate appreciation fan base for good pirate fantasy fiction. Jesamiah and I, with the aid of a few enthusiastic readers, aim to fill it.
When Sourcebooks approached me for the rights of my serious historical fiction I was delighted! The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy has already been published by them, making a moderate success, with The Forever Queen newly out this month, and I Am The Chosen King to follow next March.
I have had a roller-coaster publishing ride with enormous highs and deep, often despairing, lows; but fingers crossed, the future is looking good and at the moment I am loving every minute of it – thanks to Sourcebooks Inc and wonderful US bloggers and readers. It is nice to have the last laugh against my ex-agent and those people from the past who used to roll their eyes and sigh whenever I said “When I write my book…..”
THE FOREVER QUEEN BY HELEN HOLLICK – IN STORES NOVEMBER 2010
What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more? Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom—and her crown—are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.
Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Hollick lives in northeast London with her husband, daughter and a variety of pets, which include several horses, cats and two dogs. She has two major interests: Roman / Saxon Britain and the Golden Age of Piracy--the early eighteenth century. Sourcebooks Landmark will release the next chapter on Helen’s 1066 saga, I Am the Chose King, in Spring 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.helenhollick.net.