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.

 

Richard III Tour: Bosworth Field – Praying with the King

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: My visit to Bosworth Field is burned into my memory. It is the ultimate destination for a Ricardian – the place where he did not plead, “My kingdom for a horse,” but instead cried, “Treason!” as an unworthy pretender invaded his realm and wrested it from him. Richard was the last English king to lead an army to the battlefield. To stand where he died moved me deeply. But to kneel where he prayed transcended it all.

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Leicester
Sept 25, 1990

Map to Bosworth Field

10 mile round trip on foot

Today was exhausting and exhilarating. I went from low to high several times.

I walked 10 miles.

One mile to the bus station.Then scrambling around trying to get the right bus. (Leicester has not treated me well.) Then from Market Bosworth, 2½ miles to the visitors center at Bosworth field. Then 1½ around the battlefield. Then 1½ round trip to Sutton Cheney church where Richard prayed the night before the battle. Then 2½ miles back to Market Bosworth.

Then another mile back from the bus station in Leicester to my B&B. And I really had to run to Market Bosworth to catch the bus and only with about a minute to spare – or else I’d have to wait another hour.

Nerve wracking.

The battlefield was really nice and the walk there wasn’t too bad, if long. I didn’t get to stay long at the place he was actually killed though. I wonder how they know.

Church of St. James, Sutton Cheney

Church of St. James, Sutton Cheney

At Sutton Cheney, there is this really old, old church with a damp smell. But so peaceful. I knelt where I thought Richard might have at the altar and looked at the crumbly walls as he might have. And I got that tingly feeling, like you get when you’re in the basement and you just want to get upstairs now. And at that point, a sadness came over me and I cried for Richard.

I sat for a few minutes alone in the church and cried. Then I prayed that I would have the talent and perseverance to tell Richard’s story.

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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: Leicester – I felt his bones beneath me

In 1990, I set off for England for a month – the first time I had been “across the pond”  – and I was going on my own. I was thick in the middle of writing my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” I believed him innocent of the crimes he was accused of, and read all I could about him. Books and research were not enough. When I went to England, I went to experience the places Richard had lived and died. I went to find the king I had fallen a little bit in love with.

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Looking back from 2014: When I visited Leicester, the city was not yet famous for being the place where a King of England’s remains were excavated in 2012. During my visit, there were no crowds gathering at the site where Greyfriars Priory once stood. The city felt unloved and avoided, much as Richard himself had been before becoming the poster child for archaeology.
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Karla Tipton

Karla Tipton, England,

Leicester, Sept 24, 1990

I’m starting to wear down. Either it’s me or all this traveling is taking its toll. I caught trains and carried heavy luggage all day. In the pouring down cold rain. Miserable. Did laundry.Then tonight I walked to all the places Richard had been that are no longer standing. Not very exciting. I did sort of feel his bones beneath me at Greyfriars – but it might have been fatigue.

Tomorrow, Bosworth Field. Which means another long walk. I sure hope this one is not along a busy highway like the one to Middleham. If it is, I hope it’s flat with lots of shoulder.


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Related links:
King Richard III Pub
Statue of Richard III
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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.

Finding gold in a conversation

 

Tropico Gold Mine

Inside Tropico Gold Mine, Rosamond, California.

The other day I had the weirdest experience: a newspaper reporter interviewed me. No mistake: he interviewed me, and not the other way ’round.

For years, I was the reporter at the “great suburban newspaper.” And I had interviewed all sorts: old timers, rock stars, museum curators, historians, gold miners, artists and even writers like me, who’d just had their first novel published.

In “News Writing I” at Kent State University’s School of Journalism, the professor tried to teach us how to interview. We were given an assignment to interview each other. Most of us felt intrusive asking questions of someone we barely knew, even if it was as innocuous as, “Where’d you grow up?”

When presented with such a question, the interviewee often replied without elaboration, as if answering a question on an admissions form. The “share all” mindset of the 21st century was still decades away.

Evidently, there was more to this interviewing business than just questions and answers.

I can’t say that class assignment did me much good. Interviewing is a technique I developed over time, as I conducted interview after interview, learning what kinds of questions touched people where they lived, allowing me to draw from them the quotable quotes.

The interviewer has to be a listener. At one time, journalists excelled at listening. I don’t know if that’s still true, in this age of navel-gazing and blogging (irony duly noted).

In the midst of listening, you discern a path through the interviewee’s psyche and follow it, formulating new questions along the way, based on what he says – and not asking everything you had prepared in advance. All this has to be done while scribbling (or typing) frantically (which is why I recommend recording interviews, so you can worry about that later).

Throughout the conversation, the interviewer must hone in on the one thing the interviewee is most passionate about. That thing might not have anything to do with the music she just released, or the tour she is doing, or the exhibit she curated.

It might be totally unrelated – but no less important. Whatever that topic is, the interviewer must shift directions, and push forward into that strange land that had not been mapped via website or biography, nor researched ahead of time.

For it is from that wilderness place the best quotes are mined. The gold of the interview is found in the cache held dearest to the interviewee’s heart.

That is also when it becomes a true conversation between two people, a spontaneous human interaction, a meeting of the minds, memorable for both participants. And when the article based on this interview is written, the authenticity of that miraculous communication shines through.

The young reporter who interviewed me by phone is writing his article for that same college newspaper I wrote for so many years ago.

It was a very educational 20 minutes – for both of us. He had never interviewed an author before, and I had never been interviewed (in “real time,” not via email) as an author before.

The reporter had very well-thought-out questions – about me, about my writing process, about “Rings of Passage” and its main character, Richard III – an unlikely romantic hero.

After all the preparation I had done over the years to interview people –  now that same thing had been done for me. It was not unpleasant. It felt like admiration, in a way. My background as a reporter helped me not to be nervous beforehand. Regardless, it was still a heady experience, exhilarating, yet daunting.

And so unexpected – to be suddenly the person on this side of the phone interview.

To answer the begging question –  yes, the college reporter followed where I inadvertently led, excavating at least one golden topic held close to my heart. I’m sure he could hear the excitement in my voice when we talked about it. I look forward to seeing it in print.

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“Rings of Passage” is a time travel romance set during the reign of Richard III, who is the romantic hero. It is available in e-formats at the following links:

For Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EOA6BP0

For Nook (ePub and PDF):
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ringsofpassage-1271207-143.html

 

Universe, throw me a (royal) bone!

Richard III PortraitThere are times in your life when something in the Universe shifts and you get what you want.

Up until that point, it seemed impossible. It was the tallest Everest to climb without ropes, or the widest Pacific to cross in only a bamboo raft. The odds were always against you.

Finally, you get to an age where the magical thinking stops and reality sinks in. You accept the fact that what you want so badly, what you have wanted all your life, you will never have. You make peace with it. And inside you – really deep inside you – it does become okay not to have it.

Perhaps it’s that acceptance that causes the shift. Maybe, when the Universe is between hoisting weird coincidences upon hapless humans and laughing at them, it stands back, takes a look at your noble acceptance and hears your brave utterings of “It wasn’t really that important.” Then, and only then, the Universe says, “Ah, ha! Now let’s throw her a bone!”

It’s exactly what happened to me. The Universe threw me a bone. Actually, it threw me an entire skeleton.

In February, it was announced that the skeleton of King Richard III had been unearthed from beneath a parking lot where, back in the fifteenth century, the Greyfriars Priory had stood in Leicester, England.

I took the hint, and unearthed my own remains – of a novel I had finished years ago and had tried, but failed, to get published.

The time had come to try again.

In “Rings of Passage,” my unlikely romantic hero is King Richard III. In the centuries since he was slain by Henry Tudor’s army (528 years ago today), Richard has been unfairly maligned by, oh, just about everyone. That’s what happens when the winning side writes history books.

To add insult to injury, Shakespeare wrote one of his greatest plays based around Richard’s infamous crimes, such as how he’d had his innocent nephews, the Princes in the Tower, murdered. (In my novel, you’ll find out who really did it.)

The Bard leaves us with the taste of ridicule in our minds when he writes Richard’s final cry as he falls in the throes of battle: “My kingdom for a horse!”

I mean, who is ever going to forget that? (Especially, if you’ve heard it spoken by Laurence Olivier.)

At the Battle of Bosworth Field, this was the real final cry Richard shouted at his usurping and unworthy cousin Henry Tudor: “Treason!”

Today, on the anniversary of Richard III’s death, my novel “Rings of Passage” has been brought to life. In it, Richard is loved by a modern heroine, Anise, who travels back in time to attempt the impossible: to change history and save the king from his tragic fate.

The excavation of an anointed King of England’s remains, followed by the DNA evidence confirming his identity, was the unlikeliest of outcomes – and yet proved successful.

The unearthing and resurrection of my novel? Well, let’s just say both occurrences are a bit of a miracle.

(To give credit where credit is due, I recommend you visit the Richard III Society’s article by Dr. John Ashdown Hill describing how this amazing archaeological discovery unfolded.)

And because today is August 22:

“PLANTAGENET, Richard. Remember before God, Richard III, King of England, and those who fell at Bosworth Field, 22nd August 1485, having kept faith. Loyaulte me Lie.”
Afterthought: My novel can be found here: