First of all welcome and thanks a lot for being my guest at FLY HIGH!, Kamil. It’s a great pleasure to have the chance to present you and your new spellbinding novel, 'Gentlemen of Pitchfork, to my readers, since they are always so interested in historical fiction! Thanks also for granting them five copies of your book in the giveaway contest attached to this post (see rafflecopter form below)
Let’s start briefly introducing your book.
The book tells the story of three English knights, who joined Henry Vth in his campaign for the throne of France.
How would you describe the main heroes of your novel? Let’s play with 3 adjectives each.
Lord Arthur: combative, inspired, slow-witted Sir Robert: bright, observant, overeducated Sir Ralph: experienced, disillusioned, womanizing
Are they inspired to literary characters you admire?
Probably more than I would like to admit, but I couldn't honestly point at any specific one I had in mind while creating them. Some of the characters were however based (partly) on people I personally know from reenactment groups – and they are well aware of that.
How did you come to be so interested in English Medieval history?
As a boy I had my head filled with the knight’s tales. The first originated from fantasy (my mother read Lord Of The Rings to me when I was 5). Then I joined a history reenactment group at the age of 14. The group initially reconstructed English archers from late XIVth and early XVth century. My senior collegues were reading everything they could find about English medieval history (they had good general knowladge of history as well, a lot of them are archealogists and historians). But why they chose that particular period and unit, I don't really know. I just accepted it as my reality. That’s how it all began.
Writing historical fiction must be challenging. How much do you work on researching and how important is historical accuracy to you?
All the time I spent in the historical reenactment (18 years) can be, in a way, treated as research time. Being a reenactor is my greatest interest beside writing and for me it always meant learning as much as possible about every aspect of the reenacted era, not only about the garments and arms but also about culture, arts and mentality of people. I do expand on that in one of my video interviews available on my webpage.
So the final formula would look something like: [18 x time spent for the biggest hobby (on average I would say 3 hours a week]). This should give something around 1872 hours. That was the basis I started with and then add a few dozens additional hours spent on book-specific research. I honestly don’t know where that time went.
Now, historical accuracy is crucial to me. While writing my books I am very careful not to make my historicaly educated friends laugh (unless it's intended). However I sometimes do “cheat” a little for a better literary effect. For example one of the songs used in Gentlemen of Ptichfork is actually from XVIth century.
What were the most exciting aspects of that age you discovered while researching
I was surprised by many discoveries I made along the way. The most exciting of which would be my general impression that I keep on under- and overestimating the people of the epoch. On one hand we have rules such as: a man can beat his wife as long as the stick is not thicker than his thumb, on the other there is quite interesting philosophy (scholasticism with it's subtle logic or thomism). There are acts of incredible cruelty as well as those of compassion and forgiveness.
The historical moment your tale is set in is the XVth century and the Hundred Years War. What are the historical figures you decided to blend with your own fictional characters?
There are plenty of historical figures described in the book. Apart from the most prominent people of those times such as: Henry Vth (the King of England), Charles VI (the King of France), Joanne d'Arc (not so prominent at the time), John the Fearless (Duke of Burgundy); there are some less influential characters as well: David Rambures (the Master of the Crossbowmen), Philip Munier (counsellor of the Duke of Burgundy), Thomas Chaucer (son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer) and many more.
When you are not writing,what do you like doing?
I like to spend time with my family (my wife and my daughter), programming (which is my current occupation), reading, sword-fighting, playing: computer games, board games, squash.
What are you up to at present or in the next future?
I began writing a book about certain prominent Polish knight. I am afraid it might take much more time to write then my first two books. In a way I find it harder to write a book in which history of my own country is involved, even though it's fiction. There’s less emotional distance which makes it easier to write and more difficult to write well.
That’s all, Kamil. Thanks a lot for answering my questions.
Thank you very much Maria.
Giveaway time - Win an e-book copy of Gentlemen of Pitchfork