1101-1167 AD

to the sounds of Medieval England as in the time of Empress Matilda
at historical pictures of her people and the modern sites of her lands
How the Warrior Queen Series was Born
 I love history. Any time period, any event. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been fascinated with how people acted and why they did what they did.
 The first novel I wrote, at age eleven, had a strong heroine and took place during the United States’ Civil War. My novels are still basically the same – strong women from the past.
 My career in education was intense. A friend suggested that I eased the tension by writing. I pushed the thought to a corner of my sub-conscious. Later, my friend, Graham, and I were discussing the lack of female rulers in England. He mentioned that Matilda had to invade England and fight for her throne.
 I was hooked. I researched Matilda, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. “The Forgotten Queen” came forth swinging her sword and mad as hell. From this sprang the series.


The artist for The Forgotten Queen, Tell Hicks, is English. His research for the 12th century sword was meticulous and extensive. His search led him to several museums before he found what he wanted for the cover. The museum cooperated fully and let him take the sword from the display case.
 His wife cooperated, too. She donned a costume, held the sword by the handle, and posed for Tell. He frowned. It didn’t look right. He walked around and around while he contemplated the effect. It wasn’t balanced. He couldn’t get the cover shot to suit him. He knew how to solve the problem, but it required his wife to hold the blade and not the handle. Not a normal way for a warrior to handle a sword, but it made the cover balanced.
 Mr. Hicks placed a call to me and explained the problem. Could he do the cover with his wife holding it by the blade? I told him that he should do whatever he wanted to do. After all, he was the artist.
 I decided if anyone asked me about that cover I would say, “Life was a double-edged sword for Matilda.” No one has ever asked.


870-918 AD

to the sounds of Mercia and Wessex as in the time of Queen Aethelflaed
at historical pictures of her people and the modern sites of her lands
Swords Across the Thames is my orphan book. I call it that because it went to press during the time my husband was ill with lung cancer. The day the shipment was sent out was the last good day he had with us – our children and his best friend. A few days later he died.
 I never did much with that book in terms of book signings, readings, or promotions. Even the title had been non-existent until we had a contest through Romantic Times Book Review. Thank goodness the manuscript had been finished before Charles was diagnosed, or it would never have existed.
 This novel presented a few problems. First King Aelfred, the heroine's father, took his daughter out of the English Chronicles. (Now you know why I called her Lae – I couldn’t type that name the same way twice.) Why would he do this? I had to find the reason. Second, she was difficult to research. Fortunately, I found an historian who did considerable primary research. Still, even though Lae was found in the Welsh Chronicles and the Irish Chronicles, the question remained. Why was she left out of the English Chronicles? Only her birth was noted just the same as her siblings.  
 The third problem was how to explain the complex political problems with the Danes and the other countries in 10th century Britain without making the novel a history text. The solution slammed into my head in the middle of the night. An enemy appeared as a full-blown multi-layered person. He forced himself into the book in the first chapter and became, along with his family, a major force. Now the novel took a different turn from the outline. I had to do more research and look at the Danes from a different angle. As it turned out, it gave the story more depth because of the ongoing conflict between the two enemies – Lae and Eiric.
 Even though this book is still an orphan book in my mind, it is an important story about a forgotten woman in history. Lae is real to me, just kind of orphaned. And, I need to remind myself, did live, love, breathe, and ride in front of her army to protect her country.


60 AD

to the sounds of Celtic Britian as in the time of Boadicea
at historical pictures of her people and the modern sites of her lands
Ashes of Britannia had a long shot at a TV series for Rennaissance Studios as a replacement for Xena, Warrior Princess. However, the producer who contacted me left the studio and the project never got off the ground. Although that kind of recognition would’ve made me ecstatic, it is not a complete disappointment. First the producer, Michael McDonald, told me how much he liked the novel. He liked my book! That kind of affirmation is important to a writer. Writers work alone, usually, and we work hard. Sometimes we like our writing, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes we like our writing and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what works and what doesn’t. We work from our training, but also our instincts. It helps us when someone thinks what we’ve accomplished is good. So I thank Mr. McDonald for his phone calls, his interest, and his compliments. It helped spur me on to the next book in the Warrior Queen Series
    Ashes of Briannia was written based on one paragraph from Roman historical accounts of the battle with Boadicea and the Iceni. That’s a tough way to go for an historical writer. I knew I couldn’t do an entire novel on one paragraph. I knew I’d write the story – I just didn’t know exactly how I’d tackle that problem. I sidled across pages of history and learned about the Celts from this time period in other accounts. I searched archaeology journals, anthropology journals, and old maps until I had a feeling for the time period.
 It still wasn’t enough for a novel, so I looked south toward Rome. Why did the Romans want this “barbaric” island? What kind of person was Suetonius, the enemy of Boadicea?
     As soon as I realized he was an interesting character in his own right, I dug deeper. Roman warfare. Architecture. Emperors. Politics. Clothing. Food. Philosophy. History.
     My problem was solved. I would do every other chapter about Suetonius. I’d start with Boadicea, she is the heroine after all. However, the problem wasn’t solved! I had created a major obstacle – it was the age difference. Suetonius; story started more than a quarter century before Boadicea was born. If I started her story first, then it would confuse the reader when it came to  the proper sequence of events, not to mention that it would mess with my head.
    Ashes of Britannia came to a screeching, shuddering halt while I wrestled with my totally uncooperative brain. I can’t remember how the solution plowed its way into my shrinking mind, but it did.
 There’s a conviction in writing that we must never use flashbacks. Flashbacks are difficult to control because of time and place with regard to continuity, but I could see no other way to make the book work.
    Chapter I starts with Boadicea in the last few minutes of her life and flashed back to her childhood.
    Chapter II belongs to Suetonius and starts when he’s a young man and moves forward until his life intertwines with Boadicea’s about two-thirds of the way through the book. From that point, they both move forward in the same time frame.
    Research takes many turns. I had a scene with a rabid wolf. Britain is an island, as you know, and Ashes of Britannia takes place in the first century. The question that stopped me cold was, “since Britain is an island, did rabies exist then and there?” If not I’d have to throw out part of a chapter and figure some other way to put a character in danger.
    How does one research something like that? The Internet is my friend. I surfed until I found a zoologist at Oxford University who was a wolf expert. In less that twenty-four hours, I had the answer. I was thrilled to learn that I wouldn’t have to rewrite that chapter. Rabies did exist in Britain in the first century. Now I could dig out Metallica, Guns ’N Roses, and ACDC to listen to while I wrote the last battle scenes to finish the novel.


240 AD

to the sounds of Ancient Syria as in the time of Zenobia
at historical pictures of her people and the modern sites of her lands
The cover model for Zenobia is a young friend of mine. Stacy Walker and I met through the Romantic Times Book Review cruise several years ago when we shared a cabin as we sailed the Caribbean. Stacy, a professional model, usually graces the cover or pages of Heavy Metal Magazine. Portraying Zenobia was a change for Stacy, but she made a perfect Warrior Queen.
    A friend of hers, Alex Horley Orlandelli, from Italy, designed and painted original art for the cover. Together the two of them researched Zenobia’s clothing, her sword, and the city-state that Zenobia and Odainat ruled.
    Alex Horley Orlandelli is a well known internationally. Alex and Stacy gave me the original painting of the book cover. I was stunned with the generous gift. That wonderful painting hangs in my music room above my grandmother’s square grand piano. I see Stacy as Zenobia everyday, and I thank Alex and her everyday. If you want to see Stacy’s web site, click on the link to it. You’re in for a treat.
   Zenobia, the fourth novel in the Warrior Queen Series, is the first of the oriental women warrior trilogy. I left the British Isles to explore the lives of other queens who led their armies.
    Zenobia is an intriguing warrior. She, like Boadicea, clashed with the Roman military machine. There are several accounts of Zenobia’s husband’s assassination and who was responsible, so again I had to research extensively. Sometimes a fiction writer has to make a decision based on a gut feeling.
    Basically human nature hasn’t changed in millions of years. We love, laugh, cry, hate, and murder as readily as we did thousands of years ago. Usually ninety percent of the murders are committed by a family member. However, do these figures hold up for a head of state? Maybe. I did more research and came up with an answer that satisfied me.
    Zenobia and her husband trained the Roman army in desert warfare so they could fight the Persians. It’s because of this that Zenobia and Odainat became a couple of interest to the Roman Emperor, Gallienus. Rome did not like competition, and Palmyra’s royal couple were dangerously close to being more powerful in many ways than Rome.
    Emperor Gallienus had a problem and, historians think, solved it in the traditional Roman manner. He ordered the assassination of Zenobia and Odainat. A novel was born.
    The research was particularly time consuming. I already knew about the Roman military from Ashes of Britannia, but I had to research desert warfare, armor, and weapons for both armies as well as the Persian army. I had to research food, clothing, jewelry, architecture, drink, and bugs.
    It took awhile to decipher Zenobia’s polytheistic religion and traditions, but it was worth the search. Part of the joy of research is the discovery of answers to questions from an unexpected source. I used an architect’s drawings in which this entire incredible city had been mapped. Drawings of all the buildings had been completed and included in the book along with explanations of their use. These buildings gave me a lot of insight into daily life. In the process of memorizing the entire walled city, I discovered many temples. Further research indicated a strong religious bent to the population that included Jews and Christians. (The time that this novel takes place is before the Islamic religion was founded.)That book on the architecture of Palmyra answered my questions about this society’s religious beliefs and gave me another facet to the world I needed to build.
    Most history is sketchy and can be inaccurate. I like to check other sources regarding the people and their stories. The Romans kept good records, so I examined what they said regarding Zenobia and Odainat. My heroine was their enemy, therefore there was conflict. Without conflict, internal and/or external, there is no story. We had a story.

 copyright 2007-2011 © haley elizabeth garwood, all rights reserved

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