Today, I’m welcoming Cathie Dunn to the blog…
First of all, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. It’s a pleasure to be here.
A pleasure to have you! So, what first attracted you to the eras you’ve written about?
I’ve always had an interest in history. When I was young, my mother regularly took me to exhibitions, and living near historic towns and cities has helped deepen that interest. In my early teens, my favourite eras were the Merovingians and Carolingians, and I have only recently begun to read up about them again. When I was in secondary school, I used to subscribe to a history magazine aimed at young readers, which was a brilliant way of reading about history without getting bogged down by complicated words (and, in those days, without dumbing down!). Articles were written in plain, clear language, and I learnt much about many different eras and places. Growing up in an area with many medieval castle ruins took my interest to the Middle Ages – the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades and England, Scotland and France. I still love exploring castles, towns and ruins, and I often combine holidays with research.
What sparked your first foray into historical fiction?
I grew up reading M M Kaye, Judith Merkle Riley and Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr. Though quite different in style, I loved the historical details in their novels, plus the romance. I found it an irresistible combination. I also read medieval murder mysteries, so I had to add suspense to my own work.
Tell me a bit about your research process – are you able to stay focused, or do you find yourself distracted by new, interesting snippets or stories?
I love research. I really do. You discover so much. The problem is that it takes you to places – and then onwards to other fascinating bits and pieces of information you didn’t know about. I love getting lost in research, as you can find rare gems to add to your novel. It often adds a few sub-plots to a story, but it takes much time…
I sympathise indeed! So, of any real historical characters who have appeared in your writing, which is your favourite?
I think my favourite real historical character (so far) has to be Robert Earl of Gloucester, the older half-brother of the Empress Matilda. He is sorely overlooked by historians, but he played such a crucial part in her attempt at claiming the English throne. Said to have been rather ‘normal’ (he was even called ‘boring’), I found him to be a fascinating, brave and loyal character. He would have made a great king had the point of illegitimacy not been an issue by the time Henry I died.
Have you ever had to include a real historical character you’ve really disliked?
Not yet, but never say never. The second novel in The Anarchy Trilogy will bring in some more real historical characters. I should really mention Geoffrey Plantagenet, count of Anjou, Matilda’s second husband, who couldn’t always be relied on, but he seems to have been a likeable rogue. So it’s impossible to dislike him!
Well, the Plantagenets do seem to have had a certain charisma about them… If you could visit any historical event or period (as a witness only, no changing things!), which would it be, and why?
Great question! There are so many events I would love to have witnessed. The coronation of Henry II and Eleanor is one; Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants is another. I’m fascinated by Eleanor, and that coronation would have been a highlight in her life. As for Hannibal – elephants in the Alps must have been an incredible sight (though, sadly, many didn’t survive the journey).
And how about ‘rewriting’ the history books? If you could change any single event, which would it be, and what would be your preferred outcome?
Again, there are many instances where a different outcome could (!) have led to peace and stability. However, I think Richard III winning at Bosworth might have been an intriguing outcome. But then, we’d never have heard about those entertaining (but cruel) Tudors!
True about the Tudors, but I’m with you with Richard! Finally… You’re allowed a whole afternoon to yourself with anyone from history. Who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
I’d love an afternoon with Eleanor of Aquitaine over a jug of wine. I would ask her about her childhood, her crusade and the intrigues happening there, and her relationship with her fiery husband and her sons and daughters. The stuff legends are made of…
Legends indeed. Thanks for joining me today, it’s been great!
About Cathie Dunn:
Cathie Dunn writes romantic suspense & adventure set in Scotland, England and Normandy. A hobby historian, her focus is on the early, high, and late Middle Ages.
She has two historical novels published with Crooked Cat: Highland Arms, a romantic Scottish adventure, and Dark Deceit, the first in The Anarchy Trilogy. Cathie also self-published Silent Deception, a romantic paranormal novella set in Victorian Cornwall. All her books are available on Amazon and other outlets.
Cathie currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two cats and currently works on a historical Scottish romance and the second book in The Anarchy Trilogy.
You can find her online at: