Richard III Tour: York – Keys to the city

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: In one day, I saw as many of the Ricardian sites in the City of York as I could. Richard spent much time there. He felt these citizens were truly his countrymen. I realized the City of York loved Richard at least as much as I did. This was proven by its preservation of the places in which he had lived and breathed. In a time before there were quite so many willing to defend the King’s honor, the City of York provided a sturdy wall around his reputation.

City of York
September 23, 1990

I “did” the city, today:

Jorvik Viking Centre
Merchant Adventurers Hall
St. Williams College
The Shambles
York Minster
Frigate Wax Museum
Monkbar
Mickelgate Bar
City Walls

Keys to the Merchant Adventurers Hall

Keys to the Merchant Adventurers Hall

Quite a list for eight hours. Of course, I did some places better than others. Jorvik was like a Disneyland ride without Animatronics.

The Merchant Adventurers Hall was exquisite as a 15th century structure. I especially liked the undercroft.

York Minster’s windows are fantastic, as is its tower and foundations. In the Chapter House, Richard had been involved in several ceremonies.

The  Bars were great, too. Sort of miniature castles. Very Ricardian. The Castle Museum was wonderful. I’d love to take my mother there. She’d love it.

At Friarsgate, they had a wonderful lifesize 3D model of Richard. I kept looking at his legs in black hose. Very attractive. I shot lots of photos, which I hope come out.

At last, I got to eat. I had a wonderful vegetarian lasagna and garlic bread, and a much needed pint of lager.

Then I came back and watched “Last of the Summer Wine” on BBC1. And a show called “Trouble Shooter” about a guy who figures out what’s wrong with failing companies. Tonight: Apricot computers.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

Reader Challenge: Name that Beginning for “Dangerous Reflections,” my second novel

Three ways to start my second novel, and I can’t decide which is the best. Help me out! (Hint: there are prizes.)

Alastair and Martie, wizards in my second novel, "Dangerous Reflections"

Alastair and Martie, wizards in my second novel, “Dangerous Reflections”

If you like historical fantasy, or books such as “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” or “Harry Potter,” this challenge might be for you.

All you have to do is read five pages of three different openings (15 pages total) for my novel “Dangerous Reflections.” Decide which one grabs you and makes you want to read more. Then post your choice here or on my Facebook author page.

There are three prizes up for grabs: two $10 Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) gift cards, and an autographed copy of “Rings of Passage.” Into a virtual hat I will put the names of participants who picked what ultimately turns out to be the most popular opener. The top three chosen can then select their prize.

There is no deadline, but after 20 or more people have posted their choice of opener as a comment on this blog, or on my Facebook author page, I will conduct the drawing.

This is a learning experience for me. I want to know what readers like. Here’s your chance to tell me.

The three openers for “Dangerous Reflections”can be found here:

Beginning 1
Beginning 2
Beginning 3

Richard III Tour: City of York – Ghostly encounters

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: I was Richard III’s biggest fangirl when I walked into York through Mickelgate Bar. If the King had been a rock star, then being in York was like going to his greatest concert ever. It was magical and moving and intense. I had close brushes with ghosts, real and imagined. And if you ask me where I think Richard should rest for eternity, it would be in this city, which has been unwaveringly loyal to the King for 500 years, long before he became an archaeological celebrity.

City of York
September 21, 1990

So far, York is my city – and Richard’s.

Richard III wax statue, Friarsgate Museum, York

Richard III wax statue

He’s still their favorite king. Everything has the Yorkist white rose and there’s even a pub, the King’s Arms, with his portrait on the sign.

I felt Richard the minute I walked through Micklegate Bar, where his father’s head was piked after the Battle of Wakefield.

Went on the Ghost Walk. Spooky. The guide was a great storyteller. We went into some dark places. A snicklewalk  – and the Judge’s Court. Little nooks right out of literature.

My guest house is outside the walls. After hearing about all those ghosts, I was nervous coming back through the dark. Also, Friday nights are kind of rowdy.

York is a wonderfully medieval place. I’m listening to my Gram Parsons tape, just for a contrast. “Sin City.”

September 22, 1990

Woke up in a sweat.

After that ghost walk, I was quite shaky about that stuff.  I slept well at first, but then I woke up after 2 a.m. to a noise I couldn’t identify.

So I listened and heard something else. And then the adrenalin started pumping. I lay perfectly still, eyes shut tight, pretending I was still asleep. Terrified.

Then I heard the noise again. And I identified it as my stomach. The curry I had for dinner was gurgling around down there.

I was relieved, but the adrenalin was already there. Had to take a Valium. I had bad scary ghost dreams the rest of the night.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

Richard III Tour: Middleham Castle – Pilgrimage to the past

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: Richard’s childhood home was one of the places I most wanted to visit. Getting to Middleham Castle proved to be a challenge, testing my endurance. Once there, I had very little time. The universe granted favors in the form of earthly delights – a picnic lunch of delicious market cheese and bitters, with a gorgeous view of the Yorkshire Dales. I had longed for transcendence, but felt let down at the time. The photos tell a different story. Middleham had been a jewel in the crown of my Richard tour. The lesson: Let the expectations go, and experience what is offered.

Middleham Castle, Yorkshire
September 22, 1990

Middleham Castle

Doors through Middleham Castle

This day was a lot of work.

This morning, I got the train to Darlington, then a bus to Richmond.

Richmond was having its market day. Cobbled streets, buildings all of stone. I wished I could stay longer. Went to an antique fair. Then I got some cheese and a beer and packed them away to wait for the bus to Leyburn.

Oh, what a beautiful ride through the Dales. I’ve never seen a landscape like Yorkshire. Sort of Pennsylvania pushed up against Indiana farmland. Loads of sheep. Long-haired ones with long tails. We went over hills, through woods, past fields divided with dry stone walls. Leyburn was quite quaint, as well. But then I had towalk 2½ miles to get to Middleham Castle. And I didn’t have a whole lot of time because I had to catch the bus back.

No pleasant walk across the Dales, this.

I had to walk along a fairly busy two-lane highway with no shoulder, up and down steep hills in a cold wind. Not fun at all. I got there and was almost locked out – but the British Heritage lady let me in after all.

There I climbed up on the ruins overlooking the great hall, and ate my Leicester Whirl cheese with herbs and garlic, and my Huntsman’s cheese, and drank my Stones Bitter.

I talked to Richard, but it’s not like he was there like he was at Warwick and Kenilworth. Maybe I was just too tired to commune.

It actually did seem rather peaceful. If I felt anything, it was in what had been the chapel.

I explored it faster than I would have liked, but my time was short. The material about the castle was all about Richard, and I got some books. But then there was that walk back looming before me.

At last I set off – the wrong direction! Going probably ¼ to ½ mile the wrong way toward Coverdale. Turned around, back through the town of Middleham. The walk back was exhausting, colder, but without as many cars. Crossed the Ure River. Couldn’t enjoy the countryside. Too much against me.

Back in Leyburn, I caught the bus, changed in Richmond. The bus driver kindly dropped me at the rail station, saving me that walk. I blessed him over and over.

Once on the train, I was freezing. A woman brought a refreshment cart through, and I got a hot chocolate. A lifesaver! I felt like a guardian angel was looking after me – maybe Richard? – for making that long pilgrimage to his castle.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

Richard III Tour: Kenilworth Castle – The King’s ghost roams

Aside

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: I remember being very affected by Kenilworth, as if I had entered a holy realm. It was back in the days before there were digital cameras, and I had used all my color film at the storybook castle, Warwick. All that remained in my backpack was 35mm black-and-white 400 ASA film – which meant the pictures would be contrasty with some visible film grain. Turns out, Kenilworth looks amazing in black and white. That day, the universe had my back.

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Sept 20, 1990

I can’t describe how I felt at Kenilworth. These huge chunks of ruins gave me the eeriest feeling. Like how I always imagined Wuthering Heights. It was the first place I’d visited that will actually be in my book.

I had to take two buses to get there. I got there late – about 4:30. There was hardly anyone there – two or three other people and myself. And it was cold, about 50. The wind was blowing gustily. The sky was steel grey. Surrounded by gentle, green slopes, sheep, a quaint town.

Door into the past

Door into the past

There at Kenilworth, it was so isolated. So far from anywhere. It echoed with the past.

I walked all of its nooks and crannies. I climbed up into a tower, up these narrow spiral stairs in the dark – and it was ghostly. And to think that Richard stayed there.

I got a tight stomach, a tingly feeling, as if I might see Richard’s ghost any minute. As if the past were going on at the same time in a different dimension. As if we were sharing the same physical space. I was nervous, as if I were about to meet someone famous. I got rushes, as if I had taken an amphetamine. Like Anise must feel in Richard’s presence.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

Richard III Tour: Warwick Castle – The King slept here

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: Walking into Warwick was like entering a storybook castle. I remember being fascinated by centuries-old structures that the locals took for granted. What struck me was the difference in perspective between what Americans think as “old” compared to the British. “Thousand-year-old castle? Eh. Nothing special.”

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Sept. 20, 1990
Warwick Castle

Queen Anne's bedroom at Warwick

Queen Anne’s bedroom at Warwick

Warwick, still intact, was magnificent. So much of it has been tampered with by the Victorians. But there was an old bed there, carved intricately of wood. With the 4 big bulbous posts and roof – to be surrounded by curtains. I imagined Richard and Anise there and I could picture the scene perfectly. Delicious.

I saw the dungeons and tried to absorb that. And where Edward IV was imprisoned by the Earl of Warwick. Just a tiny room, with a bed and a teeny tiny writing table with a candle on it.

My floor plan of Anise's bedroom

My floor plan of Anise’s bedroom

I went up and down 200 stairs (narrow staircases) and got quite a thrill, knowing Richard had been there. I saw a room I quite liked for my book, as Anise’s room. 

It was somewhat difficult today, dealing with the buses. But so well worth it.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.