|Tracey Warr’s award-winning historical novels are published by Impress Books, and set in early medieval Wales and France. Conquest: Daughter of the Last King
is the first in a trilogy about the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys,
and the Normans. It was awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s
Bursary. The second book in the trilogy, Conquest: The Drowned Court, will be published this autumn. Her earlier novel, The Viking Hostage is partly set on a island off the Pembrokeshire coast: a fictional mixture of Caldey and Skomer islands. Her first novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver,
was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and the Rome Film Festival Book
Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Tracey is a writing
tutor for A Chapter Away in Gascony. She divides her time between Pembrokeshire, France and London.
1. Are you working on another book?
Yes, I’m working on the second book in a trilogy about the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Normans. It’s called Conquest II: The Drowned Court and will be published by Impress Books in the autumn.
2. What is your preferred genre?
Historical fiction, but I have also published a future fiction novella as an ebook, called Meanda, which is set on another planet in the future. And I am working on a biography about three sisters who lived in 11th century France and Spain.
3. What do you love most about writing in your genre?
The historical research and then trying to figure out what could have happened in the gaps between the facts, what motivated the historical people, who are the basis for my characters, to take the decisions they made, to undertake the actions they were involved in.
4. What is your writing style?
I usually have one or more central, female characters and one or more sub-plots running in parallel. I have used a mixture of first person narrative for the central character and third person subjective from the perspective of a few other characters in most of my stories so far. I try to create a believeable world around my characters – the landscapes, buildings, objects they engaged in. I often incorporate small quotes from the literature of the times I am writing about to have a suggestion of the voice of those times. So one of the characters in my first novel was a female troubadour and I included extracts from real poems by real female troubadours as well as cooking recipes and medical advice from medieval books. My second novel is about a real French noblewoman who was kidnapped by Vikings. I drew on the poetry of Viking skalds and the Icelandic sagas in my research. My current trilogy set in 12th century Wales refers to some real Welsh poetry and texts from those times.
5. What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?
History, literature, landscape, objects, paintings and illuminated manuscripts, maps.
6. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite?
Aina of Segur in my second novel, The Viking Hostage. She is not the main character and she took me by surprise in the writing, emerging as a character with tremendous verve (I hope!). She is spoilt, headstrong, reckless, but she has a zest for life. She struggles to escape the narrow path of noble marriage prescribed for her, and I found myself liking her a great deal. There are other secondary characters too that I grew fond of, including Sybil de Montgommery in my latest novel, Conquest I: Daughter of the Last King.
7. Which character in your books are you least likely to get along with?
Pons, Count of Toulouse, who is the second, loathed husband of my heroine in Almodis the Peaceweaver.
8. What is the biggest surprise that you experienced in becoming a writer?
The way characters start to ‘fly on their own’ at a certain point in the writing when they take me by surprise. They begin to move the story in different directions or give it a different emphasis from my original plan as they develop, interact with other characters, and their motivations and desires emerge and become clearer.
9. What has been the best compliment?
Poppy Coburn’s comment in her review: 'I could not put this book down from the moment I started it. I practically inhaled the content.' www.poppycoburn.com
10. Tell us a little about your plans for the future?
I have a queue of books to write: two more books in the trilogy on Nest ferch Rhys set in Wales; then a biography of Almodis de La Marche and her sisters Raingarde and Lucia who were female lords in southern France and northern Spain in the 11th century; and then a novel set in Toulouse and the Catalan Pyrenees in the 12th century featuring a female troubadour, a fresco artist, a murder and an unjust conviction. Other ideas keep bubbling up but I’m trying to keep them well on the back burner until I’ve made some headway with my existing list.
Read an interview with Tracey on Judith Barrow's Blog
A Chapter Away