Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Publishing
Publish Date: January 22, 2013
Order Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. But what begins as a clandestine arrest ends in cold-blooded murder. And when Fitzurse, the knights’ ringleader, kidnaps Theodosia, a beautiful young nun who witnessed the crime, Palmer can sit silently by no longer. For not only is Theodosia’s virtue at stake, so too is the secret she unknowingly carries—a secret he knows Fitzurse will torture out of her. Now Palmer and Theodosia are on the run, strangers from different worlds forced to rely only on each other as they race to uncover the hidden motive behind Becket’s grisly murder—and the shocking truth that could destroy a kingdom.
Author Bio: E. M. Powell was born and raised in Ireland, a descendant of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. At University College, Cork, she discovered a love of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English during her study of literature and geography. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Manchester Irish Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers. A reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, she lives today in Manchester, England, with her husband and daughter.
For more information, please visit E.M. Powell's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Interview: Q. Please tell us about your current release.
My novel is The Fifth Knight, a medieval thriller based on the infamous murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. History documents that there were four knights present at the murder. In my novel, a fifth knight is present- Sir Benedict Palmer. The focus of the knights’ quest isn’t Becket, but a young nun, Sister Theodosia Bertrand, who lives within the walls of Canterbury Cathedral.
Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?
Not a short one! It took me eleven years to achieve publication. The Fifth Knight was my third completed manuscript. I joined organisations like Romance Writers of America and the Historical Novel Society, both of which have been hugely helpful in learning the craft and learning how publishing works. There has of course been the support of my husband and daughter and I couldn’t have done it without them. As important has been the support and encouragement of other writers, all of which is pure gold. I’ve had some hiccups along the way like losing my eyesight and getting cancer. Those are the times you find out who and what is important in your life. They say it takes 10,000 hours to learn a craft- that’s certainly true in my case!
Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your current release?
Like any writer, I could go back and tweak certain things. A friend who is very knowledgeable about Catholic doctrine pointed out that Becket wore a ring on the wrong finger. That got past me, two editors and a proofreader. Sigh! Seriously, I hate avoidable errors and like any writer try to make sure these don’t occur. And for any book, there comes a point where you have to let it go. I know writers who are still writing the same novel after fifteen years. If they’re happy, that’s fine but it wouldn’t be for me.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest nut for me to crack was character development. I found plot, structure and pacing all to be relatively easy. But as Donald Maass points out in his great book, Writing The Breakout Novel: ‘A plot is just a plot. It is the actions of a person that make it memorable or not. Great characters rise to the challenge of great events.’ The main reason for passes on The Fifth Knight was that the characters weren’t engaging enough. So I rewrote and rewrote and read everything I could get my hands on regarding characters. Then one day, something went ‘Ding!’ and I finally got it. Now, reading reviews, I get a real buzz when somebody has really liked the characters. Bizarrely, one of my favourite reviews is a 1* Review from Amazon. The reviewer wrote: ‘I found the female character to so annoying, ungrateful, selfish, irresponsible and frankly, stupid that I couldn't take it anymore.’ I read that and thought: ‘Yay! I’ve truly cracked it.’ Fortunately, most reviewers liked Theodosia a lot more. And a lot like Sir Benedict Palmer a lot!
Q. Do you have a musical playlist you listen to while writing? If so, what kind of music?
I like to write in quiet. But two songs that always make me think of The Fifth Knight are Knights of Cydonia by Muse and Bring My Love by Starsailor.
Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I love my villains so much. They are the best fun and I’m never happier as when they are doing something unspeakable. The word ‘sadistic’ pops up quite a few times in reviews. That’s fine by me. The bad guys of course get what’s coming in the end.
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
I’m working on the sequel. Working title is The Blood of The Fifth Knight. King Henry II summons Benedict to fight for him once more against the threat of rebellion.
Q. Please tell us your latest news.
I’m really excited about taking part in Manchester’s most exciting up-and-coming book festival, Prestwich Book Festival. Fellow historical fiction author Deborah Swift and I are doing a tribute evening to the late Beverley Hughesdon on 28 May 2013. We love the title: ‘Knights, Nuns and Sisters on the Run.’
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for buying The Fifth Knight and posting so many great reviews. It means the world to me that you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written and that I’ve been able to take you to another world for a few hours. I hope I can take you there again!
Twitter Hashtag: #FifthKnightVirtualTour
Twitter Hashtag: #FifthKnightVirtualTour