Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Tales from Wales.-A Conversation with Judith Arnopp."

     I live on the East coast of the United States. Most of my on-line friends and connections however live on the other side of the pond, as writers sometimes refer to the Atlantic Ocean; which can often make for interesting sleep patterns. At the bright and shiny hour of  three AM in the morning I was lucky enough to catch my friend Judith Arnopp just as her day was beginning. Judith Arnopp has written four novels currently in the marketplace, with a fifth to be released shortly.

     Her works span quite a bit of English and Welsh history: Peaceweaver is set in the run up to the battle of Hastings, telling the story of Eadgyth who was married to Grufydd ap Llewellyn and Harold II. The Forest Dwellers is after the conquest and deals with the Norman occupation and who murdered King William Rufus. The Song of Heledd is set in 7th century Powys, with the story taken from fragments of a 9th century Welsh poem. The Winchester Goose and the soon to be released fifth novel, The Kiss of the Concubine are both set in the Tudor time period. It is her latest piece which sparked our early morning conversation this day.

Q: Who is Judith Arnopp?

A: I've no idea NO, sorry I will be serious. I was born in the south of England but always had a deep love for Wales. I've lived in rural Wales for almost twenty years now (that is a different country from England you understand?) and am more Welsh than English now. I must be, I even follow the rugby.  I've written stories and poems since I was little but didn't dream of doing it seriously until I went to University (aged, cough, cough, 40) and the lecturers there urged me to write professionally.

Q: What was it that drew you to historical fiction?

A: I've always loved history. When my children grew up, I went to University and took a degree in Creative Writing and English and then a Masters in Medieval History so it made sense to write history, and I don't think creative writing works unless you write about what you love.

Q: How much do you think Wales influences your writing?

A: The surroundings and the weather definitely have an effect, especially in my earlier novels that have Welsh settings. Sometimes I look out of the window at the rain drifting across the mountain and all I have to do is write what I see and imagine how my characters would feel if they were out there. I did have a reader comment once that 'rain doesn't 'billow in sheets' and I could only reply. ' It does in Wales!' But it doesn't always rain ...honest.

Q: What makes your writing different from other historical fiction writers?

A: I am not overly concerned about detail. I research thoroughly so I know the world my characters are moving through. I write in the first person and my character takes no more notice of her surroundings than you do of your kettle as you make a cup of tea. What matters is how she/he feels. My 4th novel The Winchester Goose is written mostly from the perspective of a prostitute from Southwark in London, I don't think there are any other books that give a possible opinion of the goings on at Henry VIII's court from that angle. I don't avoid the nastiness or try to pretty up the past. It was a harsh, difficult time, (especially for a girl like Joanie Toogood) and I portray that unflinchingly.

Q: So tells us about your latest effort...

A: My first novels were set in and around 1066 but I published a short, not very serious pamphlet of short stories on the Queens of Henry VIII, called Dear Henry. Some people hated it but the majority loved it and kept asking if I'd any full length novels set in the Tudor court - so I obliged.

My soon to be published novel, "The Kiss of the Concubine" is about Anne Boleyn, but unlike other very famous authors who have written about her, I have not made ​​her a witch or proud or ambitious for the sake of a good story. I've got inside her head (I hope) and tried to discover her motives. I feel she has been wrongly portrayed in the past and I wanted to try to put that right.

Q: When will The Kiss of the Concubine be released?

A: It is with the editor now, so as soon as I can get that sorted. It will be a kindle edition before Christmas. But we are in the middle of a major house move so the paperback will be a bit longer.

I would like to thank Judith Arnopp for taking the time out her day, when she is in the middle of a move. I think we can all sympathize with the upheaval and stress that moving can bring into our lives.

Here are links to Judith's efforts.

She writes a blog, so her readers can stay abreast of events in her world:

This is her official website:

This is her Amazon Author's Profile Page:

-DS Baker


  1. Ah, yes - Wales is truly a land of song and story (and rain!). Lovely interview! All very best wishes with the books xx

  2. Judith, nice to see your sense of humor come out in this interview. Also, I like that you do not add overmuch detail in your writing, such as you say about the teapot. I prefer that a story move along with activity and as you say, the feelings of the characters. Good work!

  3. thanks for the good wishes. I know, Madame Gilflurt, I am a little crazy :)