From Medieval to Mellotron: Legendary Ten Seconds band transcends time, inspires writing

As someone who writes novels just so I can time travel to the 15th century, I truly appreciate the inspiration behind the musical group, the Legendary Ten Seconds.

Most authors can name that “special place” that provides the best ambiance for easing them “into the zone” to create. One thing that sets the writing mood for me is a musical backdrop matching my novel’s setting in time.

Legendary Ten Seconds

The Legendary Ten Seconds band, pictured from left are Lord Zarquon, Camilla Joyce, Rob Bright and Ian Churchward

The Legendary Ten Seconds’ three collections of songs about Richard III builds the inspiration I need as I work on Heir of York – a time travel tale of a medieval king living in modern times, the sequel to Rings of Passage.

Through the band’s historically based songs, I am transported to a place where Richard’s life seems to converge with our own 21st century existence. The music is an exotic stew of of medieval, Elizabethan, and folk rock swirling with ‘60s psychedelia and ‘70s progressive influences.

Capturing the spirit
An example of this haunting blend is “Ambion Hill,” a song based on a present-day sighting of Richard III near Bosworth Field, where the king was killed in battle in 1485.

I saw a knight upon Ambion Hill,
His armour did shine in the sun.
He wore a surcoat of murray and blue.
It felt like a dream had begun.

Richard III CD

Richard III CD

Ever since Richard III’s bones were found beneath a Leicester parking lot in 2012, a similar sensation followed Richard III enthusiasts as they traveled to the city’s reburial events in March 2015 – a feeling that Richard was among us. “Ambion Hill,” inspired by a real life experience of Ricardian Susan Lamb, captures it perfectly. (Read about my own experiences in this Perceptive Travel article.)

The Legendary Ten Seconds band was founded in 2003 by Ian Churchward, a multi-instrumentalist and resident of Torquay, Devon (the same English town where mystery writer Agatha Christie was born).

Primary members of the band are Ian Churchward vocals, mandola, mandolin, bass and guitar; Lord Zarquon, Mellotron, electric keyboards, moog, drums and percussion; and Rob Bright, banjo and electric guitar. The band is also occasionally joined by Tom Churchward on melodeon; and vocalists Elaine Churchward, Phil Helmore, Camilla Joyce, and Violet Sheer.

The group’s songs on three albums (Loyaulte Me Lie, Tant le Desiree, and Richard III) are steeped in the events and personalities of the Wars of the Roses, but songwriter Ian Churchward’s earliest historical songs weren’t based on medieval events.

Fascination with history
During the late ‘90s, he was inspired by the album, Bones of All Men, which fused renaissance tunes with contemporary music. “I started to make up my own instrumentals in a similar style,” he said, writing songs “with a historical background – about the battle of Hastings and one about the First World War.”

Loyaulte Me Lie CD

Loyaulte Me Lie CD

At the time, he was a member of an English dance band playing Gaelic-based “ceilidh” music. From this period also emerged two instrumentals, “Tudor Danse” and “Fanfare For the King,” which now appear on the Loyaulte Me Lie album.

His interest in Richard III originated with stories based on English history read in his youth. But it was re-ignited by Channel 4’s documentary, King in the Car Park, about the excavation of the king’s bones.

The dovetailing of myth, reality and coincidence leading to the discovery of Richard’s grave, as well as the important role played by the Richard III Society to raise funds for the project, made a huge impression on him. “It was one of the most amazing things I have ever watched on TV.”

Afterward, Ian read the gamut of Richard III books, starting with Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, Sharon Kay Penmen’s The Sunne in Splendour and Annette Carson’s The Maligned King.

“I have lost count of the number of books I have read about Richard III,” said Ian. “I had to read as many as possible to give me the knowledge and ideas to write historical lyrics. The books are all absolutely fascinating.”

Inspired by many influences
On top of his love of medieval, renaissance and traditional English music, Ian appreciates the psychedelic and progressive rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “All of these styles of music are featured in the songs on the albums about Richard III,” said Ian.

“One of my favorite albums is Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd,” he said. Other influences are guitarists John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Hank Marvin of the Shadows. “I am endeavoring to play my guitar in a similar style.”

He met up with fellow musician Mike Peakman, who professionally goes by the name Lord Zarquon, at a time when their respective groups were disbanding. Together they wrote “House of York,” included on the Richard III album. This also coincided with recording “a batch of songs which had a 1960’s psychedelic folk rock feel to them.”

Lord Zarquon plays  keyboards using the sounds of the Mellotron, an “electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard” (so describes Wikipedia), which is at the heart of classic rock recordings by Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Yes, the Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues, and in the ‘90s, Oasis and Radiohead.

“Lord Zarquon is a huge Moody Blues fan and his Mellotron on the Richard III albums play a very important part in creating a sound that takes the listener to another time and place.”

Tant le Desiree CD

Tant le Desiree CD

To those people who have only passing familiarity with Richard III’s life, Shakespeare’s play seals the deal on the king’s villainous reputation, originally painted black by the Tudors: It is, after all, the victors who write the history books.

The Legendary Ten Seconds band takes a different stance. “To me Richard III is a flawed hero,” said Ian. “He had many good qualities but he also had faults just like any normal person would have.”

“I am not particularly motivated by the thought of changing the mind of someone who believes in his villainous reputation,” he added.

Charitable contribution
Ian Churchward is motivated by the Scoliosis Association (UK), which provides advice, support and information to people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions.

Ian learned about Richard III’s scoliosis from the documentary about the discovery of the king’s bones. It was the same affliction suffered by his wife’s cousin, who “had been a long term sufferer of scoliosis and died the same year that the grave of Richard III was discovered.”

A percentage of proceeds from the Legendary Ten Seconds music sales are donated to SAUK.

For those authors writing novels based in medieval or renaissance history, give a listen to the Legendary Ten Seconds. It might inspire you, too.

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RELATED LINKS

LISTEN or BUY MUSIC
Free taste of the Legendary Ten Seconds music here, and on Soundcloud.
Purchase MP3s and CDs.

WATCH VIDEO
How Do You Rebury a King?
based on events in Leicester, England, March 2015

About the Band
Legendary Ten Seconds website
Lord Zarquon’s website

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BUY MY BOOKS!

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

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.

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Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. After Martie is bequeathed a magic wand from her grandmother, she steps through a mirror into the arms of a powerful wizard and a truly magical romance.

An American novelist in King Richard III’s court

I opened my Facebook author page to discover my new friend Sarahleigh of Leicester had posted about the gift I sent her, a paperback of my novel, Rings of Passage. On the title page, I had written the inscription, “The Sunne in Splendour shined on us the day we met.” It was so true.

Sarahleigh stands with me as Leicester glows around us.

Sarahleigh stands with me as Leicester glows around us.

Meeting Sarahleigh among the crowd gathering the streets of Richard III’s “funeral” procession, marked the beginning of an extraordinary week for me in which I celebrated the life of a long dead English king. It’s as if this 500-year-old English monarch had suddenly become a rock star.

History geeks, scientists, writers, literary experts, members of the Richard III Society, and everyday working citizens of Leicester, came together for an international event that was as unlikely as it was miraculous.

Against the Odds
Excavated three years ago from beneath a “car park” in the city’s center, the bones of medieval King Richard III matched the DNA of a living descendant of Richard’s sister.

That’s the miraculous part. As Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist for the University of Leicester’s Greyfriar’s project said, “The chances of finding Richard was, I don’t know, a million to one.”

From ignominy to celebrity
On March 22, these royal bones were being transported via motorized hearse and then horse-drawn carriage in a dignified procession along the same route Richard III’s corpse traveled, ignominiously thrown over the back of a horse, the day he died.

Richard III's bones in procession

Richard III’s bones in procession through Leicester on March 22, 2015

He was on his way to Leicester cathedral, where within a few days’ time on March 26, he would be re-buried with the honor he never received the first time, when he was thrown into a shallow grave, 530 years ago. Henry Tudor, the victor of that battle and usurper of the throne, wanted to erase the memory of the last Plantagenet king from the minds of the citizens of his newly claimed realm as quickly as possible.

A medieval city’s transformation
When Richard came through this medieval city in 1485, it had a population of only 3,000. Leicester today has nearly 400,000 residents. Britain’s most ethnically diverse city, it was now undergoing what the news media called the “Richard Effect.”

Many of the people lining High Street waiting for the procession were from countries other than the United Kingdom – America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France. But the majority were Midlanders, born and bred in and around Leicester, who had heard about Richard III all their lives because they grew up among the landmarks of his final days. They had been taught in school the textbook facts about how he had been slain 14 miles from their city on the battlefield of Bosworth – the last English King to die in battle.

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel Novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel Novel with Richard III

My novel unearthed
The entwining of my life with Richard III’s legend began over two decades ago. Reading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time turned me into an instant Ricardian, chaffing against Tudor propagandists and Shakespeare’s smear campaign. I eagerly joined the Richard III Society and wrote my first novel, Rings of Passage. In it, Richard is a romantic hero worthy of happiness – not the Bard’s crouch-backed monster.

Many years my novel had languished on a computer hard drive.

Then, suddenly, Richard became newsworthy. Not long after the excavation of his bones and DNA identification, I unearthed Rings of Passage. The advent of e-publishing now made it possible for readers specifically interested in Richard III to discover my novel.

Not long after it came out, my novel passed the acid test when the Richard III Society publication Ricardian Bulletin reviewed it. I had my facts “pretty much bang to rights,” wrote the reviewer.
Whew! I passed the history test.

That kind of obsession
My visit to Leicester in March 2015 was not my first. In 1990, I took a self-guided tour of as many Ricardian landmarks I could get to during a month spent in England. I had been to the Bow Bridge, where Richard had been carried after the battle, his naked body slung over a horse. I had made a pilgrimage to Bosworth Field, which required me to catch a city bus to Market Bosworth, and then hike the remaining few miles to the battlefield, walk around it, and back again – a total of 10 miles on foot.

That kind of obsession is what compelled Philippa Langley to become the squeaky-wheel for the Ricardians, urging public and university officials to finally excavate the site where Richard had most likely been buried, the social services car park on the former location of Greyfriars Priory, destroyed during the Reformation.

I went to that car park on my long-ago trip to Leicester. Because of a locked gate, I could not get as far as Philippa Langley’s parking space marked with the letter ‘R’ under which Richard had lain for five centuries.

Yet, as I stood soggy in the cold rain, like Philippa, I swear I could feel him there.

"Leicester Glows" The Richard Effect
Come full circle to Leicester, March 22, 2015.

Arriving in Leicester by train just in time to make it to City Centre before the streets closed to car traffic, I stood not far from that car park once more.

Like thousands of others stacked six deep along the High Street, I waited for the solemn, horse-drawn procession carrying Richard’s coffin. Many only wanted the chance to toss a white rose in the Yorkist’s honor as he passed.

I first met Sarahleigh in this throng of Richard “fans” at a tree planter along the street, upon which the most “vertically challenged” of us could crawl and stand at a height lofty enough to stare down the street, blinking into the glare of the setting sun, and hoping to catch the first glimpse of the procession.

After that, Sarahleigh kept in touch with me online throughout the week, as we shared the experience of the “Richard Effect” on the city of Leiceister. It’s as if we were old friends long parted who had found one another again.

On Friday, the day after the re-interment in the Cathedral, we joined up for the remarkable and surreal experience of “Leicester Glows,” a “fire garden” of 8,000 flaming candles built into sculptures and trails throughout the cathedral gardens and lining the streets.

Sarahleigh ties a prayer ribbon at Leicester CathedralWe spent the evening chatting, sharing a pint, and eating fish and chips in the Last Plantagenet pub, and then wandered the fiery streets celebrating the reburial of Richard III.

The week nearly over, Sarahleigh and I took our turns tying prayer ribbons at Leicester Cathedral, and giving thanks to the universe for allowing us to share this remarkable historical event.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch described it perfectly: “It’s just an extraordinary thing to witness history through death brought back to life in order to be placed back to death again.”

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Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

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.

______________________________________________________________

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. After Martie is bequeathed a magic wand from her grandmother, she steps through a mirror into the arms of a powerful wizard and a truly magical romance.

At a loss for words? Find out when Karla Tipton speaks at Mysterious Galaxy’s “Author Meet and Greet” July 12

On Saturday, July 12, I will be signing copies of “Rings of Passage” at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego. The event is from noon to 3 p.m.

Karla at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore

Back on May 3, Karla joined other authors to celebrate California Bookstore Day at Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach.

The “Local Author Meet and Greet” will also include 12 other Southern California authors, representing fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and young adult  and other genres.

I have five minutes to speak about my novel.

While I have been in front of an audience with my guitar—and have even done some singing on occasion—I don’t have much experience speaking in public.

So I’ve been practicing what I’m going to say.

Have a listen here. Think it’s good to go?

 

 

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Mysterious GalaxyLocal Author Meet and Greet
July 12, 2014
noon to 3
Mysterious Galaxy Books
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268-4747

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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.

 

 

“Name that Beginning” reader challenge: We have winners!

Three months ago, I asked readers to tell me which alternate beginning I should use for my second novel, Dangerous Reflections. Up for grabs were $10 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or a signed copy of my first novel, Rings of Passage.

So congratulations go to Laura, Tammy and Luke as the winners! An email will be arriving soon with instructions on how to claim your prize.

Of those who weighed in, all but one voter picked Beginning 2, with the dissenter choosing Beginning 3. (Beginning 1 had no fans.)

Because I ended up blending beginnings #2 and #3, I threw everybody’s name into the hat (aka the Random Thing Picker), no matter which beginning they voted for, to arrive at the winners.

So thank you to everyone who participated. You truly helped me make this very difficult creative decision.

Dangerous Reflections

Dangerous Reflections:
Wizards in love

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy centered around a romance between Martie, who just learned she is a wizard, and the man who must teach her how to use her powers. The story is primarily set in Edwardian London, when the popular culture of the time embraced the concepts of the occult, magical societies, mediums and meandering upon the astral plane.

Without further ado, I introduce the new beginning to Dangerous Reflections.
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Chapter One
Present Day
University of Western Pennsylvania

With the magic wand tucked in her backpack, Martie knocked on the office door. It fell open a crack, and inside sat the man she most—and least—wanted to see: Professor Cirksena, the only person within five hundred miles who knew anything about the history of English magic.

Her former Ph.D. professor in psychology looked up from his work, and smiled. “Come in, my dear.”

Martie forced herself to step into the office. Her heart raced, not with affection, but fear. Six months ago, she had ended their relationship.

He had praised her thesis. It showed much promise, he’d said. Something sparked when their eyes met. As the weeks passed, Martie had become enamored.

“I have been expecting you.” The professor’s Frisian accent sent a shiver of repulsion through her. Without wanting to, she recalled his hands on her, and his hot breath in her ear. He had a dark sensuality that attracted her – and scared her to death at the same time.

“I heard about what happened to your father and grandmother. I am sorry.”

Besides the stress of being in his presence again, her “second sight” —a peculiar family trait she had inherited from her grandmother—shot off mental flares.

Escape while you still can.

Martie lifted her chin in defiance. “I need your help, Professor.”

Cirksena’s demeanor, with his fine Burberry suit and smug expression, exuded arrogance.

“So formal, my dear? You used to call me Marcus. We were friends once, were we not? And colleagues. I am certain we would have proved Jung’s theory, if you had given us the chance to finish.”

“I am just as sure we wouldn’t have.” Her voice shook. “I’m not here to talk about my dissertation. I’m here because I need your professional opinion. Believe me, it’s the only reason I’m here.”

Cirksena leaned forward. “Is it about your family? Have the doctors made a diagnosis? You found them in that comatose state, did you not?”

Martie’s face grew hot. How does he know so much?

She shuddered internally at the memory of coming home from her university job as a graduate assistant to find her family members unconscious in the living room. After failing to revive them, she had called 9-1-1.

Reaching into her backpack, she retrieved the wand, and placed it on his desk. “What is your assessment of this… heirloom? It belongs to my grandmother.”

“Ah,” was all he said as he picked up the wand.

Alarms went off for her. Martie stared at him.  “You’ve seen it before.”

“What an odd thing to say. I have seen ones like it before.”

She watched silently as he withdrew a loupe from his top drawer, and put it to his eye, examining the wand’s markings. After studying it for several minutes, he looked up from beneath bushy eyebrows, his gaze boring into hers.

What’s going on here? Whereas a moment before, her second sight unequivocally knew Cirksena recognized her Gran’s wand – now it was saying Cirksena spoke the truth. He had never seen it before.

Cirksena did not break eye contact. Martie summoned her willpower and looked away. “Well?”

“What would you like to know?

Martie steadied herself, but could not keep the nerves out of her voice. “After my family got sick, our lawyer delivered this wand to me. My grandmother had instructed him to do that if anything happened to her. He told me our family had been connected to a magical society in nineteenth century England, but that Gran had refused to give him more details.”

A sob caught in her throat, but she repressed it. “The timing of this makes me suspicious. I can’t help but think this skeleton in the family closet has to do with Dad and Gran’s sudden illness. This wand seems to be the key to saving them. But I can’t quite figure it out.”

Martie had no problem  begging when it came to her family. “The doctor says the longer they are in a coma, the less likely they will regain consciousness. Can you help? Will you help me?”

Cirksena’s dark eyes found hers and held them for a moment before returning to his examination of the wand. He weighed it in his hands, and ran his finger over the odd alchemical symbols painted along its eighteen-inch length.

After a long moment, he set the wand on his desk. “I will help you. I expect something in return.”

The thought of owing him a favor turned her stomach to knots. “What do you want?”

“If you agree to my terms, I will rouse Judith and Dr. Harris from their lethargy.” He sounded confident he could do it.

Truth dawned like a red sun rising before her eyes. “You had something to do with their illness.”

“Nonsense.”

Her backpack slipped from her hands and hit the floor with a thud as another revelation occurred to her. “You know my dad because he teaches at the university. But how is it you know my Gran’s first name?”

“I think you had better sit down.”

“You already knew about my family’s connection to magic? How long have you known? The whole time? Even when we almost –”

She did not dare speak that out loud.

Cirksena rose. Martie backed away.

She didn’t have to be a psychic to sense how he much enjoyed this cat-and-mouse game. It was written on his face, evident in his voice.

He gestured toward a chair. “Stay, and I will tell you some of what I know.”

Some of what you know?” The realization he had been manipulating her all along sank in. “That’s right – you came to me about my dissertation.”

A muscle in Cirksena’s cheek twitched.  “So I did. The topic of your dissertation intrigued me. Jung’s investigation into alchemy is an atypical interest for a post-graduate psychology student of this century.”

Martie shook her head.  “It’s more than that. I think you researched my family before you came to this university. That’s why you came.”

Cirksena forced a smile. “That’s ridiculous. I looked into your family history after I became aware of your work.”

This ran deeper than Cirksena admitted. A professor does not do a background check based on a student’s thesis topic. So much for ESP. Why hadn’t she “sensed” this? At one time they had been close – inappropriately close for a student and her professor. Did he have some ability to cloak his intent from her second sight?

Obviously, he wanted something. And he wanted it badly. “Why go to all these lengths to become involved my research? What is so important that you would do this awful thing to my family?”

He was momentarily taken aback by her comment, but did not deny her accusation. When he finally spoke, Martie thought she heard him wrong.

“I want the Philosopher’s Stone.”

“You want what?”

He repeated it.

“You’re being sarcastic.”

He was perfectly serious. “I want you to bring me the elixir of life. ”

Martie’s mouth fell open. “Now you’re mocking me, my work.”

“I believe in your thesis.” Cirksena was emphatic. “I want the stone. I’ll settle for nothing less.”

“We both know there is no such thing.”

“Yet you yourself tried to prove its existence.”

She glared. “I failed. Or I gave up. It was naïve, wishful thinking. You flattered me and I stupidly believed you when you praised my theory in the first place. You encouraged my obsession. You manipulated me.”

“I encouraged you, yes. Because the Philosopher’s Stone does exist. I know who has it. And if you want to save your grandmother and your father, you will find it and bring it to me. That is my price for helping you.”

Martie narrowed her eyes. “I am more convinced than ever that you had something to do with their illness. I will tell the police. They will arrest you.”

“They will do no such thing.” Cirksena settled into his chair again. “This is an odd way you have of asking for help, but I will ignore it.”

Martie’s face went hot and she bit her tongue.

He tilted his head. “Surely the lawyer gave you something besides this wand. Something that explains it? A letter, perhaps?”

His words jogged her memory. “There is a letter. But it doesn’t make sense.” She grabbed her backpack from the floor, retrieved the envelope and handed it to him.

He unfolded the letter and read it aloud.

“Dearest Martinique – I should never have kept the secret of who you are. Look into the mirror and know the truth. Save Doctor Uncle. He died because of me. You’re the only one who can save him. Save him and he will save us. Love, Gran”

It rattled her, hearing Cirksena speaking the name her grandmother had always called her in his strange Old English-sounding accent.

Cirksena had more surprises. “Judith is your great grandmother, is she not?”

A slight panic thrilled through her. He knew that, too?

“She was born in 1903. She’s 111 years old. She was once a practitioner of magic.”

Martie stared.

“Wizarding blood runs through your veins. You, your father, your great-grandmother—and the grandparents you were never permitted to meet—are all descended from an ancient line of English sorcerers.”

If she expected to hear anything, it certainly was not this.

Cirksena raised an eyebrow. “But your father, Dr. Harris, is a man of science. I have had enough conversations with Martin to know he does not believe in magic.”

Martie’s hackles rose at his easy summation of her father. “See, you don’t know everything. My dad goes by his middle name, ‘Frank.’” It was a childish thing to say. Gran had always scolded her for being petulant. She didn’t care.

He ignored her interruption. “Because your father did not approve, you grew up in a house devoid of magic. But that doesn’t mean you are not a wizard.”

“You have totally lost your mind.”

Cirksena did not flinch. “You don’t have to believe me. I can prove it.” He picked up the wand.

“What are you going to do with that?”

He stood and motioned for her to follow him, which she did reluctantly. He led her toward the back room of his office, to a full-length mirror. “Have you ever read ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

His gaze went momentarily distant. “Wait—there is something missing. Were you not also given a medallion with a five-sided symbol on it? You should recognize it from your alchemical studies.”

She reached into her backpack. The medallion had been stored with the wand, in a wooden box with the Eye of Horus carved into it, but she hadn’t discovered it right away. She pulled out the metal disk, hanging on a chain. “A pentacle.”

“Yes. Put it on,” he said.

“Why?”

“Do you want proof or not?”

Martie reluctantly put the chain around her neck. “You had better get to the point soon.”

He handed her the wand. “Stand before the mirror.”

“What purpose…?”

“Do as I say.”

Martie eyed him warily, but stepped in front of the mirror.

“I know you sense things others do not. You see things others do not. What do you experience as you look into the mirror?”

She gazed at her haggard reflection. The stress was getting to her. She appeared gaunt and thin, and the state of her hair made her look like a madwoman.

A moment later, a “thrumming” sensation vibrated through her body, to the tips of her fingers and toes. “Whoa, what’s going on?”

“You are feeling the magic within you. It is your birthright.”

Startled, Martie stepped away from the mirror. The strange sensation passed.

She breathed deeply to calm herself. “That was weird.” She retreated into the outer office and squeezed her fingers to get the feeling back into them. What was that?

She turned to face Cirksena, who had followed her back. “I want some answers. “You’ve obviously done the research. Who is this ‘Doctor Uncle’ mentioned in the letter? Did Gran have an uncle who was a doctor?”

“It is, perhaps, a nickname she called him,” Cirksena suggested. His expression revealed nothing more. “She knew him when she was a child in London. He may have been a friend of her mother’s. After Violet Morley died, he stood in as her protector until she was adopted by her new parents and immigrated to America.” He paused. “This man was a powerful wizard. But he died  in 1910. Judith wants you to ‘save him’ because she believes she was responsible for his premature death.”

“How can you know that? What did she do?”

Cirksena remained silent.

Martie retrieved the letter and reread it. “What does Gran expect from me exactly? How is ‘saving’ a dead person even possible?”

He seemed to be calculating how much to reveal. “I believe Judith wants you to use the wand to return to 1910 and prevent the wizard’s death.”

Martie threw up her hands. “Time travel? Really?”

Cirksena smirked. “Surely you have figured it out. Judith’s guardian was a wizard. It is he who possesses the Stone. You must get it from him.” He shrugged. “And if you wish to save his life to appease your grandmother, feel free.”

It was Martie’s turn to laugh, albeit weakly. “That’s all I have to do. Go back in time. What about the part you haven’t told me? Such as, how?

The professor’s mirth evaporated. “I will help you. We will work together again.”

“When hell freezes over.”

Martie picked up her backpack and shoved the wand and case into it. She turned toward the door.

Cirksena took a step toward her, as if to prevent her leaving.

She quickly moved away from him. “Do I have it wrong? Is this really some ridiculous ploy to get back with me again?”

Cirksena smiled. “You are very self-absorbed and deluded, my dear, to believe so strongly in your own importance.”

She snorted. “Just checking.”

“You need me.”

She proceeded toward the exit. “Now who’s self-absorbed and deluded.”

He shook his head. “You can’t do this on your own.”

Martie rounded on him. “Watch me.”

He cast a final remark her way. “If you want to save your family, you will be back.”

“Gran believes I can do it. If she does, then I do.” She closed the office door firmly behind her.

*  *  *

Smothered by death.The words looped endlessly in Martie’s mind.

She sat by the hospital bed where her grandmother lay motionless and sheet white. She couldn’t shake the memory of the feather dream. In this comatose state, could Gran be having it?

It was a dream Martie had had for years, beginning the night her mom died. The blinding white light. The sense of being cradled by something primal, something overwhelming, asphyxiating. Like drowning in feathers. When she was little, it had sent her crying to Gran’s bedside in the middle of the night more times than she could count. When Martie was older, Gran admitted to having the same dream. “It’s like being smothered by death.”

The words had branded her mind, and from that moment on, Martie felt connected to her grandmother as she had never been to anyone else in her life.

“Oh, Gran, what will I do if I lose you?” Martie’s voice was barely a whisper. Tears gathered in her eyes and she brushed them away. Her foot caught the leg of the chair, nearly tripping her as she hurried out.

Martie went down the hall to her father’s room, her stomach hollow. Her dad lay as still and pale in his bed as Gran. She sat next to the bed and touched his arm, but there was no response. She found his hand and held it. His fingers did not move.

Her chest ached as she watched his quiet breathing and studied the facial details she had taken for granted when he was up and around. The crows feet at the corner of his eyes, the laugh lines around his mouth—these creased her heart as surely as his face.

She didn’t care that Dr. Martin Frank Harris had lied to keep her safe from her family’s weird obsession with ritual magic. She missed his silly sense of humor, and the strange noises from the basement when he worked on his “perfectly serious” experiments with magnetic rocks. She wanted him back.

The likelihood that Cirksena had done this horrific thing to her family to blackmail her into getting what he wanted—whatever that was—settled upon her like a ten thousand pound weight.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Karla Tipton’s first novel, “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. It’s available in Kindle and all e-book formats, as well paperback on Amazon.com and B&N websites.

 

Richard III Tour: Taking the tube to 15th century London

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: After spending weeks in the country and small cities, London overwhelmed me with its size. It was more than a little intimidating, even though I had previously visited many large cities on the East Coast, as well as the largest cities in California. But nothing prepared me for the feeling of bigness exuded by London. Maybe it wasn’t its size in terms of square miles or population, but the sheer weight of its history. Structures of every era, from medieval times through the days of Swinging London, impressed me at every turn as I walked its streets toward the house called Crosby Hall, a fifteenth century mansion where Richard III often stayed when visiting the city as the Duke of Gloucester. Ironically, 40 years after Richard’s death, the house served as the residence of Sir Thomas More, whose biography of the fallen King painted his reputation black. With some additional help from Shakespeare, this villainous version of Richard has transcended centuries.

London
Sept 28, 1990

Sir Thomas More statue

Sir Thomas More statue

London was a bit overwhelming my first day there. I felt kind of lost, wishing I had company.

First, I took a train into Waterloo, then wandered around until I found the underground (tube). Then I had to figure out which underground train would take me to Victoria, so I could get my tube pass validated. At last I get to Trafalgar Square, where, at last, I decided to get on a tour bus, though I’ve avoided them up to this point.

It was very useful, because I did see all the places I’ve heard about for years – Nelson’s Column, Piccadilly, Hyde Park, the Thames with all its bridges.

We had a Cockney guide from the East End driving the second half of the trip (the first bus broke down). He showed us the church where the Bow Bells are.

“To be a Cockney, you have to be born beneath the sound of these bow bells,” he said.

He showed us the London School of Economics where Mick Jagger went, and the “Bag o Nails” pub where Paul McCartney met Linda Eastman.

When I got off that, I was starving and went to Pizza Hut. Then I got on the tube again to go to South Kensington (Sunny South Kensington, as Donovan says) and make for Richard III’s townhouse, Crosby Hall.

I wandered around there, going through Chelsea (expensive district) to where the house was on Cheyne (Chain-ey) Walk (also the street where Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull used to live). It was interesting.

Then I came back to West Byfleet to have dinner. Rosamond had made pizza!

______________________________________________________________

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: History inspires fantasy fiction at an ancient church near Bosworth Field

My visit to an ancient church where Richard III prayed on the eve of his death became the backdrop for this transformative scene in my novel, Rings of Passage.” 

(see photos below)

St. James Church, Sutton Cheney

Window at St. James Church

The   door   of   the   church  was   scored  by centuries  of  use  by  the  simple  people  of  his parish. Richard ran his fingers along the scars just as  Francis  caught  up  with  him.

“Dickon.  The hour  grows  late.  This,  of  all  nights,  you  must rest.”

“I’ve  learned  to  do  without  rest.  What  I haven’t  learned  is  why  God  has  forsaken  me. This I must know before I die.”

He  looked  up  at  the  exterior  of  the  old church. Small and squarely built, it had been put up  by  the  Normans long  before a  Plantagenet ever wore the crown of England. A corner of his mouth quirked – and doubtless it would remain so long after.

“Perhaps  here  I  will  find  it.  I  cannot  be swayed from this, friend.”

Francis sighed,  recognizing Richard’s stubbornness in full force. Grasping the large iron ring at the center of the door, Francis pulled. It opened with a groan.

Within, the walls glowed, bathed in the light of a multitude of candles. Stretching to the ceiling were the colored glass windows that in daytime colored the interior of the church, but at night receded into shadow. The vicar hovered near the altar, his face anxious. He had faced a steady stream of knights who had come this evening to make peace with God.

Other than the priest, the church was empty.

Richard nodded to Francis, who stayed by the door to keep others out. The king did not want to be disturbed.

Under the vicar’s watchful eye, Richard knelt before the altar. The priest consecrated the bread and wine, ministering to his king who, in the eyes of Deus, was but a mere mortal.

But Richard could not open his heart to God. Even now, forgiveness would be denied.

Why have you deserted me, Lord?

Richard spoke the prayer that brought him the most peace: “De beato Juliano. Cum volueris pere res afflictos relevare captivos redimere in carcare positos…”

But he could not concentrate. The memorized words flew from his mind like startled birds. And though he knelt before God, Richard could only think of Anise.

Forgive me, my love – I judged you by my own besmirched soul. I accused you when you were without guilt. My ignorance brought you only suffering – ’tis this I abhor most of all. Dear Anise, wherever you are, know that even hours before my death, I would give up my kingdom to be with you.

A sense of peace flooded his soul, causing him to gasp. He sensed Anise nearby. Was he imagining it? Or had she heard his thoughts? He choked back a sob. “Anise?”

Richard remembered he was not alone. He looked at the vicar and saw the priest staring fearfully at something to Richard’s left.

He followed the man’s gaze and knew why he was frightened. In the aisle, a mist had gathered. Glowing with an otherworldly light, it spread out before him.

Richard’s senses expanded as the power of the magic ring on his finger thrummed through his arm. Opening to its insights, a presence filled him up.

Her presence. Anise. Richard got off his knees and rose to his feet.

His pulse raced as he watched the mist take human form, and now recognized her face at its center.

In his mind, he heard her speak – but could not make out the words.

He sensed her struggle. She wanted to tell him something. He could feel she was weary.

And she began to fade. Don’t leave me, Anise!

He thrust his arm into the glimmering mist, reaching for her – and caught hold of a hand that wavered between two worlds, one moment solid and the next, spirit. The shock of her presence filled him. She could not come to him, but was confined in some place that would not let go.

Where in God’s name is she?

Richard’s mind numbed to everything but Anise – and at last he heard her.

So… tired… cannot go on… must tell you…

She was giving up. Her exhaustion coursed through him. Richard was losing her. I must not… lose… her.

Clinging to the tendril of mist, using what power he could glean from the ring, he fought for her. He pushed back the weakness that sapped her strength, lending her his will and his strength – and his love.

As her spirit rallied, the otherworldly light grew brighter. He could discern her features more clearly now, her eyes hollow with weariness, her full lips, her dark, flowing hair.

She said his name, not in his mind only, but spoken aloud, “Richard.”

From the corner of his eye, Richard saw the vicar backing away in terror.

Anise tried to speak, but no words could be heard. Richard concentrated, opening his heart, drawing her into himself. Her thoughts, her emotions, her soul, joined his.

He knew the eternal blackness she experienced, and sensed her weariness. Without words she told him – she could not hang on. She had tarried too long in that place.

If he let go now, if he lost her, it would be forever. She could not return.

Then all became clear. Richard knew how to save her – to save them.

Clinging to her insubstantial hand for all his life, he shouted to the vicar, “Marry us!”

The priest held up his hands, shaking his head. “N-no, Your Grace – ’tis evil!”

“You fool! ’Tis a miracle! If you don’t marry us, she will die!”

Still the priest refused.

Richard was furious. There was no time for this! With his right hand, Richard felt for his scabbard, and made ready to draw his sword.

“Do you deny your king? As I am your sovereign Lord, I demand you marry us, or be cut down upon this altar.”

The vicar’s eyes widened.

______________________________________________________________

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: 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.

______________________________________________________________

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: 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.

______________________________________________________________

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.

______________________________________________________________

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.

______________________________________________________________

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.