Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chat with author Mary Ann Bernal and WIN a SIGNED copy of The Briton and the Dane: Legacy

We welcome Mary Ann Bernal to the ludis today She has a very special treat for one lucky reader as well. You have a chance to win a signed print copy of The Briton and the Dane: Legacy. For your chance to win just leave a comment below with your email or twitter handle. On Friday we'll draw the name out of my magic chest and announce the winner! 

Now refill that sweet tea and get comfortable as we chat with Mary Ann Bernal.... 

We’re here today to celebrate your series The Briton and the Dane. The books are set in ninth century Anglo-Saxon Britain.  What about this period of history that fascinates you the most?
What intrigued me was how King Alfred managed to keep his kingdom of Wessex free from Viking rule despite the odds of conquest.  This was also a time when Christianity was replacing pagan religions, and the role conversion played in the political arena.  When King Alfred defeated the Danish Viking King Guthrum, one of the terms of the treaty was baptism, which King Guthrum agreed to, having King Alfred as his sponsor / Godfather.

Did King Guthrum willingly accept the one true faith?  Probably not, but it was politically expedient to do so.  Even though this was a time of unrest and instability, King Alfred managed to establish a standing army while he built up his defenses, created and enforced new laws and founded schools to ensure a competently-ruled kingdom after his death.  His reign lasted 28 years, dying at age 50. King Alfred left a legacy difficult to replicate, deserving the title Great.  Yes, I am one of King Alfred’s greatest supporters.

Tell us a bit about the book/s..
The Briton and the Dane trilogy follows the adventures of Lord Richard and his offspring, Stephen, David and Gwyneth.  King Alfred has just defeated King Guthrum, the terms of the treaty have been agreed to, and King Guthrum has already been baptized.  However, the Danish King still remains on Wessex soil, making preparations to return to his lands in East Anglia.

The story begins with Gwyneth atop the Keep in the early evening hours, enjoying the solitude when she sees movement on the beach. Of course she must investigate, which is how she meets Erik, who is wounded.  She hides her Danish Prince from her father, Lord Richard, who oversees a training camp for King Alfred’s recruits, aided by his sons, Stephen and David.  Gwyneth tends to Erik’s wounds in secret, while rumors of a Viking invasion are spreading throughout the countryside.

This epic adventure runs the gamut of deception, treachery, intrigue, and betrayal during a time of war and conquest, requiring three novels to complete the story.  I enjoyed every moment writing the saga.

What was your favorite resource for historic information during your research?  
“The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” and Asser’s “Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources.”  Documentation of this era is sparse because monastic libraries were burned during the Viking raids.
If you were to be dropped into The Briton and the Dane for a day what would you do?
In “The Briton and the Dane: Birthright,” we have the Festival of the Ancient Games, which includes a Roman chariot race.  Did Alexander from the Papal City of Rome defeat Draco of Athens - you’ll have to read the story to find out, but my champion did win. 

Do you have a writing routine or ritual you follow?
My writing routine varies.  Initially I would write in the morning but soon found myself working eight to twelve hour days - once in Wessex, I did not want to leave.  Changing the time to afternoon did not help much either because I found myself burning the midnight oil.  So, I followed Stephen King’s advice to write a few hours a day, every day, and once your word count goal is reached, you are done, because life beckons.

The ninth century is vastly different from today from language, customs, even the every day activities. Do you find it difficult to write in a historic period or is it easy to submerse yourself there?
After three novels I am so immersed into ninth century Wessex that I sometimes have to reword emails or letters, but occasionally I just keep a favorite word.  I find I have used “I am not privy to this information” quite a bit lately, but for the most part, when I return to this century I make a concerted effort to remain here.

What are three things ever present in your writing space?
My children found an electronic typewriter table that is adjustable, which is fantastic for keeping back and neck issues to a minimum.  If I sit too long, I can raise the table and stand - how great is that!  I am also surrounded by my characters - I did cast every person in my novels, all dressed in period clothing, all demanding more dialogue.  No wonder my characters take over!  My IPod constantly plays period music, which keeps me in Wessex.  Some of the soundtracks are from King Arthur, Beowulf, The Last Legion, Centurion, The Eagle, Outlander, Tristan & Isolde, Merlin - and the list goes on and on, and yes, I am really into this stuff. 

What do you do to get past the dreaded “writer’s block”?
In my opinion writer’s block does not exist.  There may be a day you are unsure of the direction you wish to take in the story, which may cause a delay in writing.  I think if you are staring at a blank piece of paper, you should just write whatever pops in your head and take it from there.  If it is not needed for the story, delete it.  If you find yourself agitated, take a mental health day.  If you are not having fun, then you need a new career.
Do you have any upcoming releases or events?
Since I could not say goodbye to the trilogy, I am currently writing “The Briton and the Dane: Concordia,” available 2013.

Where can we find Mary Ann Bernal and The Briton and the Dane?  

Thank you Mary Ann for stopping by for a chat.  Readers don't forget to leave your comment below (with your email or twitter) for a chance to win a signed print copy of The Briton and the Dane: Legacy! 


nylnestill said...

It would be intresting to trytheBriton an d the Dane.

W said...

I have just begun the second book in this series. What a fun series The Briton and the Dane has been! I'm looking forward to finding some time to finish it off and cannot wait for book 4!

Naphtali 2947 said...

One more reason to hate the vikings..all that history lost, and for what? So they could prove they could burn down a monastery?

Anonymous said...

'The Briton and the Dane' series are next on my summer reading list. I can't wait! @CrystalSchall

Anonymous said...

I just finished the story and loved every gory detail! A great read.

Anonymous said...

The author, Mary Ann Bernal, truly has a wonderful talent for telling a story and her knowledge of history is outstanding. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her books!

Elise VanCise said...

Whoo hoo Congrats to Naphtali 2947! You have one a SIGNED print copy of The Briton and the Dane: Legacy Congrats!