Interview with Kim Rendfeld, author of The Cross and the Dragon

Publisher: Fireship Press

Publish Date: July 15, 2012

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Interview: Q. Please tell us about your current release.

The Cross and the Dragon is a tale of love amid the wars and blood feuds of Charlemagne’s reign. Here is the blurb:

Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon’s vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor’s malice is nothing compared to Alda’s premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.

Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.

Is its magic enough to keep Alda’s worst fears from coming true—and protect her from Ganelon?

Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge.

Q. How did writing this book affect you?

Perhaps the greatest impact on me is that I am all the more grateful for what we have today. The Middle Ages, a time when the personal and political are intertwined, is fun to write about, but I would never want to live during that time.  I am quite fond of my coffee in the morning, our instant communication, vaccines and mostly scientific medical care, freedom of speech and religion, social safety net, and women’s rights.

Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?

My journey with The Cross and the Dragon is somewhat accidental, and it began with a family vacation in Germany, when we encountered the legend behind the Rhineland castle ruins of Rolandsbogen in a travel guide. What I’m about to say next is a spoiler; readers who would like to avoid it should skip to the next paragraph. The story is that Roland built a castle for his bride and went off to war. The bride heard false news that he was dead, took a vow of chastity, and joined the convent on nearby Nonnenwerth, an island in the Rhine. Roland returned too late and spent the rest of his days at his window, hoping to get a glimpse of her as she went to and from prayers.

The story refused to leave me alone. It followed me home on the plane, where I made sketches in my journal. Finally, I gave in and sat at my computer to write about it, even though I knew little about the Middle Ages at the time.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I’ve agonized over many a transition, but I would have to say the hardest part on an emotional level is cutting the manuscript, something I’ve done twice now. And I don’t mean a little trim here and there. When the cut is 25,000 to 30,000 words, I’m talking about eliminating scenes I researched and enjoyed and characters I liked. It feels like all those violent-sounding sayings, “murder your babies,” “kill your darlings,” “shoot your pets.” But in the end, the process improved the story, and the result was a more focused tale.

Q. Do you have a musical playlist you listen to while writing? If so, what kind of music?

I am so easily distracted that I most often need quiet. Well, the birdsong outdoors when I can open the windows is nice. When I play music, I enjoy instrumental classical. My tastes vary with what I’m in the mood for, which can range from the bombast of Wagner to the dreaminess of Debussy to the passion of the Beethoven.

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I have scraps of paper on my desk with calculations of how long it would take to travel between particular destinations. It’s a complex process. After looking up Points A and B in one of my nonfiction books and making sure they existed, I go to Google maps and sometimes redraw the route to my best approximation what existed. If my character are traveling with carts, I then divide the trip into 12- to 15-mile per day segments, and on top of that give another three days to rest the animals and replenish supplies at a city or abbey along the way.

So today’s one hour, 10 minute trip between Cologne and Koblenz, Germany, would have taken about five days, and that’s if nothing went wrong, like breaking a cart wheel.

Just for the sake of tidiness, I am going to put future calculations into a Word doc.

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

I am working on a companion book, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, and here is the latest draft of the blurb for that.

"Can a mother’s love triumph over war?

Charlemagne’s 772 battles in Saxony have left Leova with nothing but her two children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. Her husband died in combat. Her faith lies in the ashes of the Irminsul, the Pillar of Heaven. And the relatives obligated to defend her and her family sold them into slavery, stealing their farm.

Taken into Francia, Leova will stop at nothing to protect her son and daughter, even if it means sacrificing her honor and her safety. Her determination only grows stronger as Sunwynn blossoms into a beautiful young woman attracting the lust of a cruel master and Deorlaf becomes a headstrong man willing to brave starvation and demons to free his family.

Yet Leova’s most difficult dilemma comes in the form of a Frankish friend, Hugh. He saves Deorlaf from a fanatical Saxon Christian and is Sunwynn’s champion—and he is the warrior who slew Leova’s husband.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).

My husband and I are celebrating the arrival of our third granddaughter, born May 2. She is absolutely adorable.

Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!

I love old-time radio dramas, particularly science fiction and what passed for horror. The cheesier and more melodramatic, the better.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I am grateful to everyone who has read The Cross and the Dragon and loved it. A writer spends hours and hours alone at their computer, their mind in a different time and place, and then sends their book baby out into the ether, not knowing how it will be received. So when someone lets you know how much they’ve enjoyed it, it is a boost, and it sometimes comes when you really need it.

If you have yet to read The Cross and the Dragon, I invite you to visit to learn more.

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