Today we have with us, Rosanne Lortz, author of From the West: Book I of the Chronicles of Tancred.
Publisher: Madison Street Publishing (September 2011)
Haunted by guilt from the past and nightmares of the future, a young Norman named Tancred takes the cross and vows to be the first to free Jerusalem from the infidels. As he journeys to the Holy Land, he braves vast deserts, mortal famine, and the ever-present ambushes of the enemy Turks—but the greatest danger of all is deciding which of the Crusader lords to trust. A mysterious seer prophesies that Tancred will find great love and great sorrow on his journey, but the second seems intent on claiming him before he can find the first. Intrigues and passions grow as every battle brings the Crusaders one step closer to Jerusalem. Not all are destined to survive the perilous road from the West.
Giveaway details: I have been generously given 1 paperback copy of Ms. Lortz's book to share with you. This giveaway is open internationally. Just leave a comment with a working e-mail address. This giveaway will be open until September 8. A winner will be chosen using random.org. I will notify the winner by e-mail.
Ms. Lortz writes:
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HISTORICAL FICTION
I grew up in a house stuffed with bookcases, oak monstrosities full of overburdened shelves double-stacked with books. My mother was, and still is, a great collector of books, especially the classics. The Odyssey and Herodotus’ Histories found haphazard places on one shelf while The Count of Monte Cristo and War and Peace elbowed for room in the adjoining bookcase. It was a library that the Great Books Foundation would have taken pride in, and a library I hope to inherit someday.
Although the term “classic” is hard to define, most lexicographers would agree that any book trying to attain to that exalted category must “stand the test of time.” A classic is, by necessity, from an older world and a past era. When reading a classic, you take an excursion into history. Perhaps it was the ease of access, perhaps it was a hereditary obsession—but suffice it to say that growing up in this environment, I too became enamored with the classics and, in the process, with the stories of the past. After the rich tapestry of Ivanhoe, Kidnapped, Pride and Prejudice, and A Portrait of a Lady, contemporary fiction seemed too thin a garment to wear. For me, the classics were the first step on the road to becoming a devotee of historical fiction.
It was only a small leap from the classics into the world of “classic” historical fiction. I devoured the adventures of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood and learned that Ben Hur, the novel, was even more exhilarating than the movie version with Charlton Heston. I scoured the library and used bookstores to get my hands on every book written by Howard Pyle, Samuel Shellabarger, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Edith Pargeter (AKA Ellis Peters). When I go back and look at the copyright dates for my favorite novels during this period of my life, I see they fall anywhere between the late 1800’s and the 1970’s. Everything was put into print at least a decade before I was born.
In a very definite way, these older books written by authors from previous generations shaped my ideas and ideals for what historical fiction should be. Historical fiction is a grand adventure, the story of a person, an event, or an era that engages the senses and the imagination of the reader. Historical fiction carves a window into the past with as clear a pane of glass as the author’s writing can render. Individuals, both ordinary and extraordinary, come alive before our eyes: soldiers, saints, mothers, miscreants, kings, cobblers, and every kind of human being born on this earth. Events, both commonplace and momentous, unfold like a roll of cloth with all the wrinkles and nubs that “real” life brings our way. All this, I discovered, was the grandeur and gift of historical fiction.
Later, after I had broadened my literary horizons enough to compare my canon of favorite books to something else, I began to realize what historical fiction was not. And as I nitpicked my way through books I did not enjoy, I considered the nuts and bolts of what made a good historical novel. Historical fiction is not airplane reading with sentences no longer than twelve words apiece and cliffhangers at the end of every three-page chapter. (And yet, it must embody the element of action if it is to engage the reader….) Historical fiction is not a vehicle for erotica with period clothes portrayed solely for the purpose of unlacing them and casting them aside. (And yet, it sparkles best when placed in a setting of romance….) Historical fiction is not an excuse for moralism with characters woodenly forced into exemplifying archetypical virtues and vices. (And yet, it does teach us by showing the good and evil within previous generations….) Sometimes, by discovering what we do not admire, we can discover more truths about the things that we do—and it was during this more “critical” period of my reading life that my love for historical fiction became refined and reinforced.
Historical fiction is a genre I fell in love with long ago and the relationship continues until this very day. Eventually, my enthusiasm for it led me to write my own historical novels--I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince (2009) and Road from the West: Book I of the Chronicles of Tancred (Sept. 2, 2011). Becoming a writer, as well as a reader, of the genre has increased my appreciation all the more, and I fully intend to let that appreciation—just like my mother’s book collection—grow and grow until there is no more space to hold it.
Thank you for joining us Ms. Lortz! - Kari
About the author: