Hi guys! Felicity Pulman is taking over today with a guest post about Janna, the protagonist in her new series The Janna Chronicles which is being published by Momentum Books in the coming months. This is really exciting because the whole series will be released in ebook format between January and June – roughly a book a month!
The Janna Chronicles:
- Blood Oath
- The Stolen Child
- Unholy Murder
- Pilgrim of Death
- Devil’s Brew
- Day of Judgment
Here’s a little bit about the first book:Blood Oath (The Janna Chronicles #1) by Felicity Pulman
Published: January 22nd 2015 by Momentum Books
Format: Ebook, 282 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Goodreads ● Buy the ebook ● Buy the audiobook
Love, revenge, secrets – and murder – in a medieval kingdom at war.
A young woman, left alone and destitute after the mysterious death of her mother, plants a sprig of rosemary on her grave and vows, somehow, to bring the murderer to justice. But who can Janna trust with the truth? Even the villein Godric, who wants to marry her, and Hugh, the dashing nobleman, have secrets that threaten her heart and her safety.
In a country torn apart by the vicious civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, Janna needs all her wits and courage to stay alive as she comes closer to those who are determined to silence her forever.
Walking in the Footsteps of My Character
‘Death follows you,’ says an old woman to Janna, who has joined a group of pilgrims following her sworn oath to avenge her mother’s murder. But first she needs to find her unknown father – which means she also needs to solve the mystery of her own birth as well as the many crimes and mysteries she encounters on her quest.
When I first began this medieval crime series, I knew only how it would start and where it might end. I didn’t know I’d be writing six books, nor did I know where Janna’s journey would take her, or even if the ending I’d planned was really the end. I certainly had no knowledge of an old woman and her warning.
For me, writing a book is something of a mystical business. I think of a character or a situation, but before I can start writing I have to wait for the characters to speak to me, to tell me something of who they are and what it is they hope to achieve. I knew the background to the story: the 1140s and the bitter civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda: a time of great treachery and bastardry, when no-one could be trusted. A young girl, daughter of a wortwyf, alone in a medieval kingdom at war – that was my starting off point. I began to scribble notes about my characters, and research the historical background I had chosen.
In fact, the old woman’s prediction doesn’t come until Pilgrim of Death, Book 4 of The Janna Chronicles. I had no idea about pilgrims or Stonehenge or even the vital missing letter when I first started the series. I also knew little about life in medieval time and even less about herbs and healing, the skills I gave to Janna, learned from her mother and that help her transcend the social boundaries of that time as she travels through forest, farm, town, abbey and finally into the heart of the royal court. Truly the universe has conspired to help me on my journey, bringing me inspiration and information in the form of books, places, and experts just when I’ve most needed it.
Writing medieval England from Australia has been a particular challenge, but an exciting one. One time I visited the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey hoping to find out something about life in an abbey. I followed an excellent audio tour, and saw pictures of what the buildings might once have looked like – invaluable when it came to imagining Janna’s stay at Wiltune Abbey. Even better: at the back of the ruins was an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ herb garden. I had a wonderful time walking around with the very helpful gardener, who allowed me to pick, taste and photograph some of the herbs unknown to me but that Janna would have used when making up her medicaments.
Following clues regarding her mother’s real identity, Janna visits Amesbury Abbey. It’s no longer in existence, but is in close proximity to Stonehenge. I decided to play the tourist and so visited the henge. I had a vision of a bleeding body stretched out on a fallen monolith and my series suddenly took off in a different direction! What happens at Stonehenge is crucial in Book 4, Pilgrim of Death, and Janna’s meeting with the old woman.
And so I walked in Janna’s footsteps, and saw what she saw, and dreamed up characters to bedevil her, like the abbess and Lord Robert, but also to keep her company (and falling in love) along her journey: the villein Godric, the nobleman Hugh and the charismatic pilgrim, Ralph. I didn’t know about Ralph at first, nor did I know about the relic seller, Ulf, a fun character but a minor player who suddenly took on a life of his own.
The experience of, effectively, living Janna’s life was so intense that even now, some years later, I remember everything I saw with great clarity. There are still times when I feel quite disorientated; when I feel homesick for a country that is not, and never has been, mine. The advice for new writers is to ‘write what you know’. It’s good advice, but perhaps even better advice is to ‘write what you feel passionate about, tell the story you have to tell.’ In researching and writing the Janna Chronicles, Janna has become part of me, my alter ego (she’s so much braver and smarter than I am!) which makes this series particularly close to my heart. I hope readers will find as much pleasure as I have known while following in Janna’s footsteps!