PaperBackSwap Blog

Author Interview with Elizabeth Chadwick

PBS would like to thank Elizabeth Chadwick for agreeing to be interviewed for the PBS Blog and Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)  for doing the interview!


Jerelyn:  I would like to thank 2011 RNA Award winning author, Elizabeth Chadwick for agreeing to visit with us on the PBS blog.  Ms. Chadwick is one of my very favorite authors.  I have read all of her books more than once.  We can now get most of her books without importing them.  As many are now available to her American readers.

I stole some quotes from your Web Site:

“An Author who makes history come gloriously alive!” The Times

“The best writer of Medieval Fiction currently around!” Richard Lee Founder of the Historical Novel Society.

“Elizabeth Chadwick is a gifted Novelist and dedicated Researcher. It doesn’t get any better than that!” Sharon Penman

Pretty high praise.  When did you know you had to be a writer?

Elizabeth:  I told myself stories from being very small. I can remember being three years old and making up a story about some fairies on a cotton handkerchief I had.  I told myself stories verbally for fun all the way through my childhood, but didn’t actually start writing anything down until I was 15. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but once I started writing, I had an epiphany moment and realised this was what I wanted to do for a living. It took another 15 years plus before I achieved that dream, but I knew from being a teenager that I wanted to be a writer of historical fiction.


Jerelyn:  Your focus is on the 12th and 13th centuries, why the Middle Ages?

Elizabeth:  The actual reason is pure chance.  When I first started writing things down, it was because I had been inspired by a TV programme. It was called Desert Crusader and start a very handsome 12th century knight galloping around the Holy Land having adventures. I was 15 and just at that stage where young girls tend to put posters of pop stars on their walls. Only my pop star was French actor Andre Lawrence from the TV programme. I began writing a story about him; I guess you’d call it fan fiction today, but it quickly developed a full storyline of its own. I had to begin researching the Middle Ages and specifically the 12th century because it was something I knew very little about and I wanted my story to  feel as real as possible. The more I researched the more interested I became in the Middle Ages and the more  I wanted to write about it.  So really the research and the story followed each other round in a never-ending circle. By the time I came to the end of the novel I was certain that I wanted to do this for a career.


Jerelyn:  Did you study history, or did your expertise in this period come as you researched your novels?

Elizabeth:  I studied history at school in the UK to A level standard which is the requirement you need to enter university, but I didn’t take it any further. Also the A level I studied was in Tudor and Stuart history because there wasn’t an option for medieval at the school I attended. If there had been I would have taken like a shot. As it was the nearest I got to Medieval history in school, was studying Chaucer for English A-level. My expertise these days comes from several decades of studying the period as personal research. I have an extensive library of Medieval reference works and I’m always adding to it. Here is an url to them listed on one of my blogs. http://elizabethchadwickreference.blogspot.com/


Jerelyn:  You employ several unique writing techniques.  The first is music, is it your muse?

Elizabeth:   Music has always been very important to my writing. I don’t write at the computer – that would be too distracting. However I listen to music when I’m away from the computer doing mundane jobs, or when I am at the gym. I have a large collection of music and I will listen to songs that I think might suit the storyline of the novel, or suit an emotional moment of one of the characters or have resonance with a scene I am writing. I know when a song is right because I get a kind of  ‘ching’ in my solar plexus – a little moment of adrenaline. I then play the song over and over while thinking of the scene I am going to write or the emotional state of a character, and the resonances sink into my subconscious ready for when I start writing. In To Defy a King for example, the main love scene’s inspirational song is Amoreuse by Kiki Dee. The lyrics begin ‘Strands of light across a bedroom floor/change the night through an open door.’  It’s about a life changing lovemaking experience, it’s very beautiful and sensual and a little poignant too. I wanted to use light imagery in that love scene and I built on it using Kiki Dee’s song. You’ll just have to read the novel see what I mean! For the Magna Carta crisis two  of the songs I used from different perspectives were Fake It by Seether for the falsehood and double dealing, and If You Tolerate This (then your children will be next) by The Manic Street Preachers, for the dilemmas facing the hero, heroine and their families. Some songs, such as Amoureuse  are with me from the start .of the writing, others come on board later. Some stay some go, but at the end there is a dedicated soundtrack that I always send to my agent and editor when I deliver the novel. You can see the soundtrack for To defy A King and some of my other books here. http://elizabethchadwicksoundtracks.blogspot.com/


Jerelyn:  The second is the Akashic Record, which I find fascinating will you tell us about this?

Elizabeth:  My goodness where to start! It’s a very long story so I’ll try to condense it down as much as possible.  I’m just the beneficiary, so I’m not exactly sure how it works in full,  I only know that it does

This is what Alison King, my Akashic records consultant says:

When people think, feel or speak, it creates a subtle electrical charge. For example, the brain’s electrical activity (such as when thinking) can be measured by ECG equipment (in fact, it‘s a measurement of whether we’re alive or dead).

The electrical vibrations we create all the time are discharged into the environment, where they are impressed onto a subatomic substance which is only just starting to come to the edge of scientific awareness, (think string theory and the environment that would suggest). An analogy of this process might be voice recording techniques, where the vibrations of the voice are impressed upon susceptible material, such as magnetic tape or digital receptor. Once the Akashic recording has been made, it can be read in a similar way to listening to a voice recording or watching a movie, with similar facilities to fast forward or rewind. The huge difference is, the Akashic Record is an organic structure, rather than 21st century technology; it therefore requires an organic reader, such as a human being, who can attune sensitively to the vibrations required. A mundane example of this would be, walking into a room, and being able to pick up on an atmosphere without knowing of any preceding events that have taken place there.

I have known Alison since we were in our 20s. We met when our children were toddlers and we used to get together for coffee once a week. We carried on meeting up even after the children had gone to school. I became a published author in this time and Alison became a complementary therapist working with Reiki and NLP. I had always known she had the ability to see auras and just took it as part of who she was. Her own development and training had led her to realise that she could tune into the past and into people’s thought, feelings and emotions. She was using this in her current therapy to go back to incidents in clients lives that had troubled them.

One day at our normal coffee meeting, she asked how I was getting on with my writing. At the time I was writing a novel called the Greatest Knight and I was having difficulty finding out about the mistress of William Marshal’s brother. I knew the lady’s name but that was all. Alison said she could tune in and try to find her and having nothing to lose and an open mind, I said okay. Alison tuned in and came across a lady standing on some grass swinging what Alison described as a bag on a string.  Not knowing anything about the middle ages at all, Alison thought the lady might be drying lettuce!  I laughed and said she was probably swinging a hawking lure. Alison went on to describe the lady and her relationship with William Marshal’s brother, and what came through was so astonishing and real that I knew I just had to use this resource as part of my historical research. I send the details garnered to a Professor  of Medieval cultural history for corroboration. She tells me what is coming through is medieval mindset not modern.

I would say that the Akashics are nearly always accurate and are extremely valuable in giving the emotions and reasoning beyond why historical characters made certain decisions. We don’t just see the decision we know why it was made and what the person was thinking at the time. Not only that but we can see it from several different angles internally and externally and know what other people were thinking. Very rarely Alison and will experience a blip. This has happened to us when Alison has been under the weather and her tuning has gone awry. Sometimes also we’ll have something that seems unlikely at the time but then turns out to be true. For example, while writing Lady of the English, I had asked Alison to go to Lincoln Castle and she saw a tunnel there. ‘They didn’t have tunnels at Lincoln Castle,’ I said. She replied that she was just telling me what she was seeing. Then a couple of months later, what should turn up but a tunnel at Lincoln Castle? Here’s the url. http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/news/Tunnel-vision-reveals-buildings-castle/article-2935933-detail/article.html

Sometimes information is circumstantial. For example Alison saw William Marshal’s second son Richard as ‘lovely roly-poly lad with red hair and freckles.’  Unbeknown to her his grandfather Richard de Clare  had red hair and freckles. Red hair frequently broke out in the de Clare line. It can’t be proven either way because history has left us no record of Richard Marshall’s colouring, but since red hair was frequent in the family, it is strong circumstantial evidence. There is a lot  more on my website about the Akashic records. If you go to the To Defy a King page, you can click through to some Akashic material on the novel, and a recording on Youtube of Alison actually speaking.


Jerelyn:  I don’t know if this is a research tool for you or not, but you belong to Regia Anglorum.  What is this?

Elizabeth:  Regia Anglorum is a re-enactment society I belong to. It portrays the Viking, Anglo-Saxon Norman and Angevin periods of British history with the emphasis on authenticity. I’ve been a member of Regia since the early 1990s and have found it an invaluable research tool. It’s one thing to read about processes in a book, or to see items in a museum, but to own replicas and find out how they feel in use, is a goldmine of research for an author.  I know what it’s like to look across a tourney field wearing a bucket helm. I know what a struggle it is to get a mail shirt on and off. I have learned to spin and weave, I don’t do it well but I know the technique and the process. I have tried and tasted mediaeval foods. I know what it’s like to walk up and down spiral staircases in flat medieval shoes while wearing a long dress!  There is also a wealth of expertise among the membership of Regia Anglorum and people I can call on to ask obscure questions at a moment’s notice. Generally someone will know the answer. It’s bringing the history of the page and into real life – that’s how I see it.


Jerelyn:  In reading your body of work, your earlier novels have fictional protagonists. This changes in the late 1990’s. You then began using real historical figures. Is this when you began to use the Akashic record in earnest?

Elizabeth:  No. Use of the Akashic’s came about purely by chance. I had already decided to make the move to writing biographical fiction because of the changing nuances in the historical fiction genre and because I found myself becoming interested in the stories of real people. So Lord’s of the White Castle, ,Shadows and Strongholds and The Winter Mantle are my own imagining. It was just that coffee afternoon and Alison’s chance question about The Greatest Knight that opened me up to one of the most fabulous research tools a historical novelist could have.


Jerelyn:  I would like to talk about To Defy A King.  Will you tell us about it?

Elizabeth:  It’s another novel about the Marshall family, specifically about William Marshal’s eldest daughter Mahelt who married Hugh, the son of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk.  Mahelt was only 14 when she married him and at a time of great upheaval for her own family who were being persecuted by King John. Her father chose to leave the country to remove himself from the heat and Mahelt was married into the Bigod family to keep her safe during her father’s absence. She had to come to terms with not only this arranged marriage to someone she barely knew who was 11 years older than herself, but also had to try and fit into a strange household with different ways of doing things. She found her loyalties challenged and it was very difficult for her to strike a balance between the needs of her birth family and her marriage family. It’s also about the upheaval in the country that brought about the signing of the Magna Carta and rebellion that happened afterwards. It’s about love too in its many forms. It’s about how love grows and how it can wither. It’s about how it endures and how it can be rekindled. It’s not just about a young couple striving to find their way through; it’s about mature people too, and family ties – the links of fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, and especially one particular link between brothers.


Jerelyn:  Mahlet doesn’t find life in Framlingham very easy, does she?

Elizabeth:  I’m afraid she doesn’t! At home she’s been her father’s little princess and perhaps a little bit spoiled, although she has a good heart. She’s impatient and strong willed, and although she knows her duty to make this marriage and goes into it determined to do her best, she soon finds herself conflicted when she comes up against her father-in-law’s more rigid way of doing things. She is his daughter-in-law, not his little princess and she has a place in the household. When  Mahelt steps outside of that place she is in for a rough ride.


Jerelyn:  Your write great male characters.  What did you find compelling about Hugh?

Elizabeth:  Hugh I found to be a lovely balanced man. He could always see both sides of an argument and mostly get on with anyone apart from his half brother William Longespée, and even then he was willing to give it a go. He tried to give Mahelt some leeway even under the stern gaze of his father. He was a fine administrator and lawyer, he could fight when he had to, but he also had a lovely artistic side. I guess I like male characters who are honourable and decent and can stand up for themselves and their families. Whenever I write heroes, I always research them a little first in the Akashic records first to make sure that they are someone I can work with.


Jerelyn:  What do you think motivated King John to such cruelty?

Elizabeth:  I think there are several strands to this. Part of it was jealousy. John wanted people to be attached to him not others, so in Longespée’s case, that meant he was jealous of Longespée’s wife Ela, and wanted her in the background or out of the way. I think it was envy that motivated him to act towards her as he did. I think another part of it was about control. John used cruelty to control people, but it didn’t always work. It’s like dogs in the park, peeing up a tree. John wanted to be biggest alpha male and pee the highest!  Perhaps other things in his family background, and even genetic predisposition also led to such behaviour, but these are matters for future research. I wouldn’t like to say at the moment but hope to do so at some point.


Jerelyn:  We talk about you a great deal in our Historical Fiction forum here at PBS.  We are continually astounded by how you are able to bring to life the sights sounds, tastes, and smells, of this time period.   Do you credit your participation in Regia Anglorum and the Akashic Record with your ability to do this?

Elizabeth:  Absolutely. I would say that is a great part of what makes the difference. Imagination obviously plays its role too. You have to sink yourself into the body of your character whether it be male, female, child, older person, or even an animal! You have to become that identity. You have to experience everything through your character. Doing a vast amount of research really helps you to know and understand a person from a different period. I began researching the Middle Ages when I was 15 years old, so that makes a difference too I think. I’ve been at it for decades. If I suddenly decided to leave behind the Middle Ages and write about a different historical period, I wouldn’t know where to begin. How many years of research would it take for example until I was au fait with the Regency period or the Roman?


Jerelyn:  I understand that Alison King has had some rather difficult experiences when doing her readings.  Could you tell us about a few?

Elizabeth:  Well childbirth scenes are always a bit dicey because you never know where you going to come across.  Alison works at the high empath range and this can involve some discomfort! Then there was the time I asked to go to William Marshal when he went to Ireland the first time in 1201. Alison arrived when he was on his way there and still on board the ship. Unfortunately he was feeling very seasick indeed and Alison was heaving! Apparently in history William had a really difficult sea crossing and vowed that if he was spared he would found a religious establishment on the site his landing, which he did at Tintern Parva. Alison has also been to the death of Prince Arthur in the Tower of Rouen, and that was something pretty terrible which I’m not going to say any more about here. We have had some very moving experiences, and sometimes some very amusing ones. One of the funniest we had, which I mention in very brief passing in For the King’s Favor, was Mahelt throwing her doll off the top of the castle tower just to see what would happen. It landed in a pig wallow and she got covered and then had to have a bath! Talking of baths, the bathing scene in To Defy A King is taken from the Akashic records, although I did tone it down slightly as Hugh was actually filthier than stated!  You just never know what you’re going to get with the Akashic records.


Jerelyn:  You had a brush with Royalty early on in your writing career. Will you tell us about it?

Elizabeth:  My first novel won an award called the Betty Trask Award, which was for first novels of a romantic or traditional nature. The year I won, the awards were presented by Prince Charles at Whitehall.  It was a bit surreal, because before that I had been working in a supermarket stacking shelves on the cat food aisle in order to make ends meet while my husband was home from work looking after the kids. Then I got a publishing contract for The Wild Hunt, and next minute I was accepting this award from Prince Charles! I didn’t say much, just went up curtsied and receive my cheque – but what a start to a career!


Jerelyn:  Wild Hunt and The Running Vixen are being release in one volume, will this also be available in the U.S.?

Elizabeth:  Not at the moment that I know of because it’s a different publisher.  It’s my UK publisher Sphere that are doing the two titles, but look out for a contest on my blog.


Jerelyn:  The Lady Of The English is your next novel, and it will be released in the UK in June, when will it be available in the U.S.?

Elizabeth:  Sourcebooks are publishing it on September 1st I believe. They are thinking about changing the title – I so hope they don’t!


Jerelyn:  Will you tell us about Lady Of The English?

Elizabeth:  It’s a slice of life story about Empress Matilda and her stepmother and Queen of England Adeliza of Louvain.  It takes both women from 1125 to 1148. The former date was when Matilda was widowed and returned to her father’s court. The latter date is when Matilda, having fought for her right to inherit, left England and Normandy, and when Adeliza too went through a second major life change. Her first major life change (if you discount marrying Henry I), was her marriage to William D’Albini after Henry died. Lady of the English, is about how these allied but very different women struggle to win through in the difficult years between these dates.


Jerelyn:  As I have stated before, you write great men.  In the H/F forum we call them “Historical Hunks”, who is the Historical Hunk in Lady Of the English?.

Elizabeth:  There are three – sort of. I don’t suppose you could really call him a hunk, but there is Geoffrey le Bel, Matilda’s husband. He’s a nasty piece of work but I suppose has a dangerous charisma and superb looks. We know he was very handsome, had reddish coloured hair and light-coloured eyes. So a kind of anti-hero, and I don’t condone his behaviour towards his wife one little bit.  But he was still sexy.  Then there’s Brian FitzCount, Lord of Wallingford. He carries a torch for Matilda, but how far will each of them let the attraction go? Alison tells me he has a slight look of Cat Stevens!   The other one is Adeliza’s second husband William D’Albini – Will for short.  I think readers might quite fall for him and what he gives to Adeliza, despite them having difficulties to overcome, not least being on opposite sides of the dispute between Stephen and Matilda.  It’s not a perfect marriage, but that’s what makes it a real one.


Jerelyn:  How many languages are your books translated into?

Elizabeth:  I’m not sure now. It was 16 but I think that may have gone up again. Let’s say 18 to be on the safe side!


Jerelyn:  What do you read?

Elizabeth:  Anything and everything. My reading tastes are very eclectic. I enjoy all eras of historical fiction and most sub genres, although I don’t read much straight historical romance. I enjoy modern-day crime and thrillers, again all genres. So I will read Peter James alongside Janet Evanovich. I don’t read much chic-lit, but the occasional one still goes down a treat. What I am looking for in any novel I read is an absorbing story well told that respects its audience’s intelligence. I don’t read fiction in the medieval genre very often because to be honest I’m way too picky and most of them end up as wallbangers because of historical errors either of detail or mindset. I do enjoy the novels of Sharon Kay Penman though.  I love her big works of biographical fiction, but I do wish her publishers would like to write another Justin de Quincy mystery.  Oh, just remembered.  I love the novels of Terry Pratchett.  Witches Abroad is one of my favourites –  Grebo is perhaps the sexiest alpha male I have ever met!


Jerelyn:  I consider you an Historical Fiction writer.   Do you see your work more historical fiction, than historical romance?

Elizabeth:  I consider that I have never written historical romance. I have written the romantic historical which is a different thing entirely i.e. A historical novel might have a romance in it, but that romance is only one strand in the fabric of the story. I enjoy including a romance in the historical fiction I write, but I like the work to be meatier than just the story of the hero and heroine. So it’s historical fiction with a romance involved. And probably when you look at most historical novels they will have a romantic element somewhere.


Jerelyn:  Thank you so much Elizabeth, it isn’t everyday one gets to communicate with ones idol.  I appreciate you taking the time.

Elizabeth:  Thank you for inviting me. I’ve enjoyed the chat – and it makes me smile to think I’m someone’s idol!  I just happen to write books for for a living!  :- )


Jerelyn:  If you want to learn more about Elizabeth Chadwick, she has one of the best author web sites I have seen,  You can see and listen to the soundtracks to her books, read more about the Akashic Record, see her puppies, and much much more at  http://www.elizabethchadwick.com/. Your can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter!



Elizabeth Chadwick has offered to send one of the following books, autographed by her, to one lucky member who comments on the Blog. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck to everyone!

Tags: , ,

22 Responses to “Author Interview with Elizabeth Chadwick”

  1. Donna B. (eclecticreader10) , says:

    Great interview. Good job Jerelyn.

  2. Sianeka N Hollywood, CA says:

    I hate when I do this: I just erased my entire (overly long) comment! *sigh* Will try to recreate it…

    I enjoy reading historical fiction because it brings history to life for me, but I have never been a “dedicated” fan of the genre, only reading books as I’ve happened across them. I do like the way that good historical stories enlighten me to facts about the period I’d not previously known, and these tend to color the way I view that era ever after.

    I guess one of the reasons I’d not delved more into this genre is because there are so many Historical Romances out there, and upon a cursory look, I’d not distinguished them. Not that there is anything wrong with a nice romance, but I prefer my history to have some new to me historical facts/truths. I like spicing up my own personal historical knowledge.

    This interview with Elizabeth Chadwick has brought to my awareness her research and attention to detail, and these are signs that her books will be ones that would interest me quite a bit. I am definitely putting her down as an author to watch for, and will be looking for an opportunity to start reading some of her books.

    Her involvement with the Regia Anglorum reminds me of the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) here in the US. I’d not previously heard of the Regia Anglorum, but I have had some preliminary contact with the SCA, and they fascinated me. They are also a re-enactment group that promotes authentic historical studies and methods. I’ve learned a lot from SCA members just with my slight contact with them while costuming myself for Rennaissance Fair participation…

    Thank you to Elizabeth for sharing your work habits and ethics with us, and to Jerelyn for sharing one of her favorite authors and introducing us to Ms. Chadwick!

  3. Cheryl M. (hannamatt52) says:

    Wonderful interview about one of my favorite authors. Great questions from our own Letty from the h/f forum. Well done!

  4. Aubree T. (notyourstar) , says:

    What a great interview!! I really liked learning how the Akashic Record works. Awesome giveaway too!

  5. Cathy M. (misfit) says:

    She’s the best. Can’t wait for Lady of the English, especially now with the Cat Stevens thought in my head. Woohoo.

  6. Deb B. (bookzealot) says:

    Terrific interview! Am working my way through all of Chadwick’s books — so far, I have found each one to be compelling and engaging — and feature some of the best historical hunks around. Her unique research methods obviously work well. Looking forward to spending many more hours happily ensconced in the Middle Ages via her books.

  7. Bonnie (LoveNE) , says:

    Fabulous interview! (yea Jerelyn!) Very interesting info about how Elizabeth immerses herself in the characters. I am intrigued enough to read many more of her novels. Thanks to PBS for letting it’s members get a deeper look into all types of books and the people who write them!

  8. OlieAnn S. (olieann) says:

    I have always loved the history in books….

  9. Christa H. says:

    Thanks for this awesome interview. No one immerses the reader in a scene like Elizabeth Chadwick. It was so interesting to learn more about how she does it.

  10. Kelly P. (KellyP) , says:

    I am completely fascinated by the impact music has on her writing! Very interesting to see the various inspirations a writer will use in putting word to paper – and certainly, our own EC is one of the best! Thanks to Jerelyn for a wonderful interview … and thanks to Elizabeth Chadwick for being so open and forthcoming!

  11. Jade W. says:

    I’m so excited to read one of her books. I don’t read a lot about this time in history, so I would like to learn. I sure hope I win.

  12. Klava DeArce says:

    What a great and candid interview! It’s really interesting that Ms. Chadwick was a story teller even as a young child…

  13. Vicky T. (VickyJo) says:

    Fascinating interview, but it was far too short! Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. I have to say that I was very impressed to read of your 15-year-old self doing research for your story! I’ve just discovered your fiction through my good friends at the Historical Forum here at PBS, and I want to also thank you for the distinction between historical romance and romantic historicals; I definitely prefer the latter.

    Oh, and I second the wish for another Justin de Quincy!

  14. T.C. Robson says:

    It’s so interesting seeing other people’s influences, like her soundtracks, because some of the greatest ideas can come from very strange and unexpected places. Plus, I can’t help but like a woman who gets inspiration from Seether and Stone Sour and the like! That’s awesome! 😀

  15. R E K. (bigstone) , says:

    Have read several of her books. All I can say is that I enjoyed each and every one and keep looking for more. The backgrounds of authors are always fascinating to me and Elizabeth Chadwick’s personal history adds so much to the books I read. Keep writing – I am waiting for more and more and more.

  16. Kelly E. (rainfall) says:

    I’m super excited to read my first E.C. book now. I love hearing all of the influences she uses in her writing. And now I’ll be looking for little hints in the writing – especially the musical influences.

    Great interview!! 🙂

  17. Elizabeth B. (Cattriona) says:

    I have been a fan of EC’s for years — thank you Jerelyn and Ms. Chadwick for doing this interview!

  18. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    I love Ms. Chadwick’s books! Great interview Jerelyn.

  19. I fell in love with Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing when I read The Marsh King’s Daughter. She is definitely a masterful historical author. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

  20. Shannon G. (forever913) says:

    Ack! No more changing titles please! =)

  21. Hello, every time i used tto check blolg posts here early in the daylight, as i love to find out more annd

    Feel free to visit my web blog; best place to meet women

  22. Reto 90 says:

    Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological globe
    everything is available on web?

Leave a Reply