Friday Feature: Mary Anne Yarde
“It is dangerous to become attached to a du Lac. He will break your heart, and you will not recover.”
So prophesies a wizened healer to Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex. If there is truth in the old crone’s words, they come far too late for Annis, who defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves.
Alden du Lac, once king of Cerniw, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden’s kingdom lies in rubble, his fort razed to the ground and his brother Merton missing, presumably dead. He has only one possession left worth saving: his heart. And to the horror of his few remaining allies, he gives that to the daughter of his enemy. They see Annis, at best, as a bargaining chip to avoid war with her powerful father. At worst, they see a Saxon whore with her claws in a broken, wounded king.
Alden has one hope: When you war with one du Lac, you war with them all. His brother Budic, King of Brittany, could offer the deposed young king sanctuary—but whether he will offer the same courtesy to Annis is far less certain.
1. What books influenced you over the years?
Do we have all day? This could take a while! As soon as I learnt to read, I had my nose stuck in a book. I was lucky that I had a much older sister, so I inherited all her hand-me-down books, which caused no end of arguments. My sister was very particular about her books. No bent pages, no cracked spines, they had to look like new…always. In fact, even now, how she reads a book is a mystery to me, they all look like they have just come off the shelves of a bookstore. Unfortunately, that all went out the window when I got my hands on them. Very soon they were dog-eared, with occasional notes in the margin. Scandal!
By the time I hit eleven, my sister’s bedroom was better than the local library, and I would sneak in and help myself to her growing collection of Mills and Boon Romance novels. Needless to say I learnt a lot from those books! Although my mother was not impressed when she found out about my choice of recreational reading activity. She was more Jane Austen, I preferred Nora Roberts.
In 1995 a book came out that touched me deep inside in a way no other book had. I was a teen, and my boyfriend was going away on a school camp for a week. I was more than a little miserable as I faced the trauma of being apart from him — What it is to be young and in love! — Just before he went, he took me shopping, I guess he wanted to cheer me up, and we ended up in a bookstore. There was a book near the front that caught my attention. It was Nicholas Evan’s debut novel. I am sure most people have heard of The Horse Whisperer, it was made into a film starring Robert Redford, but let’s not talk about that. The Horse Whisperer is, in my opinion, one of the truest accounts of human emotions that I have ever read. Guilt, Anger, Pain, Jealousy, Compassion, this book has it all, but above everything else, The Horse Whisper is about Love. I ignored my boyfriend for the rest of the day while I read The Horse Whisper in one sitting — I don’t think that was quite what he had in mind when he bought it for me. Even now, after reading a countless number of books, The Horse Whisper still does it for me. When I read it, it feels like coming home. As for the boyfriend, he forgave me, and a couple of years later he asked me to marry him, but in all those years we have been together, he has never bought me another book…I can’t understand why not?!
2. Please share your writer’s process in bringing The Du Lac Chronicles to life.
I came up with the idea of The Du Lac Chronicles about 12 years ago. I know…I took a long time thinking about it, when I should have been writing it. But eventually, after hours of researching The Dark Ages and Arthurian Legend, I finally sat down in front of the computer and typed those very frightening word…Chapter 1!
As for my writing day, I tend to write in the afternoon. I always listen to music, I find I get distracted if I don’t have music blocking out everyday sounds. I love movie soundtracks. At the moment, the soundtrack to Braveheart is my preferred choice, but that changes depending on what I am writing about.
I know some authors write out of order, but that is far too complicated for me — I would get in an awful muddle if I did that. I start with Chapter 1 and off I go until the end. After the first draft, I do rewrites, which takes me far longer than the actual writing of the book itself and involves countless cups of tea and biscuits — Writing is so not good for my waist and hips! And then it is off to the editor.
3. What other time in history fascinates you? Why?
This is a difficult question to answer. I have tutored High School History for many years, my “speciality” being Modern European History. But I have never felt compelled to write about that era. If I had to choose a particular time in history to write about that isn’t in The Dark Ages, then I would look to the reign of Edward I.
Edward is renowned for being a harsh, brutal, and cruel king. But there was a softer side to him. He adored his wife, Eleanor of Castile, and he hated being apart from her — he even took her on Crusade. Not quite a honeymoon in the Caribbean, but each to their own! Edward was devastated by her death in 1290, after 16 children and 36 years of marriage.
Edward, the loving husband, is not how he is remembered. He was the Hammer of the Scots, the conqueror of Wales. But, there is something about him that intrigues me, and I would like to explore his world in more detail.
“You are so cold.” He rubbed his hands down her arms. “I wish I could light a fire for you.”
“You are my fire,” she mumbled.
Alden cursed. When she said things like that to him, he did not know how to respond. There was sincerity in her voice and she was clinging to him in such a way that ¾ he ran his fingers down the softness of her cheeks and gently raised her face to look at him. Slowly, ever so slowly, he lowered his face to hers. He had to know if one kiss would end his preoccupation with her. Her eyes widened for a moment and she glanced down at his lips and then back to his eyes. Their breaths mingled and he watched as she closed her eyes in acceptance of what he was about to do. A smile pulled at his lips as he lowered his mouth to hers. It was a gentle kiss, almost an offering, and it shook him to his very soul. A small sigh escaped her and he raised his head.
“Look at me.” He spoke quietly.
Reluctantly she opened her eyes and he saw desire, need and another emotion that he did not dare name. No one had ever looked at him as Annis did now.
Connect with Mary Anne Yarde and Her Books
Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury–the fabled Isle of Avalon–was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.
At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.
Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking–so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!
Want to win an ebook copy of the Du Lac Chronicles?*
Answer this question in the comments below: Mary Anne’s fascinated by the private and public persona of England’s King Edward I (the infamous Longshanks of Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart’). What person in history similarly fascinates you? Please share the name of that person and why he/she interests you.
*Random winner drawn from comments on 10/22/16 at noon ET.