Paula, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion and I’m delighted to be interviewing you for the second time! You have written a story that involves one of my favorite persons in history, Harold Godwinson and you have introduced people in your book that I’m not familiar with. Please tell your audience about your story.
Hi Stephanie, thanks very much for allowing me to tell your readers about my book. Sons of the Wolf is set in 11thc England in the years leading up to the Norman Invasion. Many people know the date 1066 heralded the end of Olde Engla-lond and swept in new masters from across the sea, the dawn of the Norman Age in Britain. Much has been made of the ‘Usurping Godwin’ whose comeuppance on the field of battle was delivered by the ‘righteous’ William of Normandy. But do they know the story from the English point of view? In Sons of the Wolf, the preceding events that influence both sides are explored and in the sequels that follow the reader will be able to take in the factors that culminate in the Battle of Hastings. The story looks at the events of the 1050’s through the eyes of Wulfhere, warrior, husband, father and loyal subject of his king Edward the Confessor. Holding his lands directly from the King, his position demands loyalty to Edward himself, but Wulfhere is duty-bound to also serve Harold, a bond forged within Wulfhere’s family heritage and borne of the ancient Teutonic ideology of honour and loyalty. Wulfhere is a man with the strength and courage of a bear, a warrior whose loyalty to his lord and king is unquestionable. He is also a man who holds his family dear and would do anything to protect them. So when Harold demands that he wed his daughter to the son of Helghi, his sworn enemy, Wulfhere has to find a way to save his daughter from a life of certain misery in the household of the cruel and resentful Helghi, without comprising his honour and loyalty to his lord, Harold. On the battlefield, Wulfhere fights for his life but elsewhere the enemy is closer to home, sinister and shadowy and far more dangerous than any war.
The hardest scene I had to write was a scene where the town of Hereford is razed and sacked by an army of Welsh and Norse-Irish. There are some horrific threads throughout the chapter and although I didn’t want to write something too graphic that would leave the reader feeling sickened, I did want the reader to get a sense of the terrible thing that raids like this must have been. It was probably the most difficult scene I had to try and get it right.
One of my reviewers wrote in her review, “Paula’s characters feel like real people, with complex human emotions, motivations and sometimes failings.” How did you research the lives of your characters and please explain to your audience if there were any fictional characters to your story and who they are.
My main character is fictional but he is plucked from the Doomsday book into my story and created anew for Sons of the Wolf. Wulfhere was the thegn that owned the land around Little Horsted near Uckfield in Sussex. Nothing is known about him apart from the fact he had 5 hides and 30 virgates of land, 16 tenants and 7 and a half plough and oxen between them. I have created his story, his family and his personality for him. I hope he doesn’t mind! He is a very flawed character and all my characters are complex just like real people are. His family and the other fictional characters are written the same and even in the 11thc, you can tell by their writings and their tales that the Olde English were just like us, they loved, they laughed, they cried and they fought. They wanted the best things in life and above all to belong in their place whatever that might have been according to status. Poems like The Wanderer, The Seafarer, Deor, the Wife’s Lament are just some that give us a glimpse of their nature. The riddles from the Exeter Book show us their bawdy side. Through these writings, the Anglo-Saxon English come alive. There are also the usual historical characters in the book too and Harold Godwinson and his family make plenty of appearances as their story runs parallel with Wulfhere’s.
What would you like readers to come away with after reading your book?
I want them to care deeply about my characters. I want them to feel what they feel, sense what they sense. I want them to hate them, love them and be cross with them when they muck up. I want my readers to care what happens to them, whether they understand them or not. My characters don’t always follow the goody-two-shoe type mould you might get in some books. To me they had to be real and how can characters be real if they are perfect? I actually love all my characters, even the nasty ones, because they are my creations.
How long did it take you to write, Sons of the Wolf? Will there be a sequel to Sons of Wolf and when do you plan on the release if so?
It took me 6 years to write Sons in its entirety which included the sequel The Wolf Banner which I am currently editing. It was originally meant to be one volume but I had no idea how big it was until I approached my publisher. The Wolf Banner I am hoping will be out some time in the Spring.
What are you currently reading?
I have been reading a very large epic book called The Jacobite’s Apprentice. It’s about the rivalries between the Hanoverian and Jacobite factions in Manchester in the 18thc. Well researched and reads like a classic. I’m reviewing it for my friend the author David Ebsworth. Thing is I’m very busy and only read when I am in bed really so it’s taking me such a long time. I’ve also just read and reviewed the Norman Conquest by Marc Morris which was great.
What do you plan on reading next?
Well, I first found out about BRAG on Facebook and hoped that one day I might get an award too one day! So pleased I did!
A little about Paula: Lives inWest Sussex, United Kingdom .Mother of 3, psychiatric nurse, author of Sons of the Wolf and damn funny woman! Seek not evil Seek not to gain but Seek only to give and live just in the day.
A message from BRAG: