Sunday, November 4, 2012

Interview with Medieval Author, Joyce DiPastena

One of my favorite Medieval authors is Joyce DiPastena. Her novels are Loyalty's Web, Illuminations of the Heart, and Dangerous Favor. She classifies her tales as historical romance, but with all the history and details she packs into each page, they are very historical.

 I am fortunate Joyce granted me an interview today!
Joyce, what started you writing about medieval times?
I fell in love with the Middle Ages during high school when I read a history book on the early Plantagenet kings of England called The Conquering Family, by Thomas B. Costain. I'd been dabbling with writing  stories in other time periods--I always seemed drawn to historical settings for my early writing attempts--but for some reason, this book especially intrigued me. When I went to college (the University of Arizona), I decided to major in history. I consequently took courses in many various time periods, but my heart always beat a little quicker in my medieval history classes, so I took every medieval history class I could find. At the same time, I began my first full length novel and also set it in the Middle Ages. And I've never really looked back. 
 What is it about the Medieval period that fascinates you and keeps you writing about it?
I don't really know why this particular period fascinates me so much. I'm fascinated by many time periods, ancient, medieval, Stuart, Regency, the American Revolution. But when it comes to writing, I just enjoy the medieval time period more than any other.

 What keeps me writing about it? There are still so many fascinating things to explore! My books so far have touched on subjects such as medieval illumination, medieval Arthurian poetry and medieval politics. I've just completed two short medieval stories that incorporate medieval carol dancing and medieval reliquaries (highly decorated boxes that held objects believed by the Catholic Church to be holy, such as fingernail clippings, locks of hair, even vials of tears from the original twelve apostles or the saints that followed them). 

I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of topics available to research and explore and share with readers in a story of one sort or another. I think it will be avery long time before I tire of writing about this time period!
 What are your most trusted resources on details of that period?
I have a very extensive personal library of medieval research books that focus on multiple specialized topics, but here are some of the ones I find myself referring to for almost every story I write are:

The Castle Explorer's Guide, by Frank Bottomley
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks, by Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler 900 Years of English Costume, by Nancy Bradfield (I think this may be available under a different title now, but the same author)
English Costume from the Early MIddle Ages Through the Sixteenth Century, by Iris Brooke Medieval English Gardens, by Teresa McLean
A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century, by Margaret Wade Labarge
Thank you so much, Joyce, for the interview!

Visit Joyce's blog here.

Here are DiPastena's Medieval tales:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Names of Those Who Died at Montsegur

Who were those Cathars who died at Montsegur on 16 March 1244? Click here to go to the list. There are several of the time who recorded the numbers of martyrs as between 200-240. Only heaven has all the names recorded, but this link will give you some we know who definitely lost their lives at Montségur.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lavelanet, France

Shadows of Montsegur takes place in Lavelanet in the French Ariege department. The village was built at the foot of a castle called Castelsarrasin (not the village of Castelsarrasin) that belonged to the Count of Foix. The castle was destroyed when Simon de Montfort's army attacked the village in 1212, and then rebuilt, but again destroyed by war. The the castle was torn down in 1964.

On the left is a photo of the rebuilt castle before it was demolished, and on the right is its medieval fireplace.

The website I found the photos.
Here is another interesting site on Lavelanet.

This stone dove is one of the few Cathar artifacts found at Montsegur. It is now in a private collection. Read more on Montsegur.