Today's guest blogger is Margaret Frazier, author of The Murderer's Tale and her newest release, Winter Heart. Margaret discusses how her love for unrelated interests led to the interesting plots that weave through her stories!
I grew up in a small town in the middle of Illinois. I wasn't sure why I often felt like an alien there, but I did – as if I was out of sync with the whole world.
Then I discovered science fiction and fantasy and -- as I moved into my teens -- archaeology and anthropology. A strange combination of unrelated interests? Not really. All four – science fiction, fantasy, archaeology, and anthropology – show us different worlds and different ways of being from our everyday one. At the very best, they take us so far outside our familiar ways of seeing the world that we’re then able to turn around and view our lives from outside -- see our lives as one way of being, not the only way of being.
It was a great comfort to realize that being "other" was not the same as being "wrong".
And then I fell into medieval England.
It happened by accident when I was in my mid-teens. In close succession, a movie (El Cid), a play (Richard II), and a novel (The Daughter of Time) twitched my interest about a time I’d had no interest in at all until then. Wanting to know a little more about the actual world of the people in that movie, play, and novel, I found myself being drawn in deeper and deeper, wanting to know more and more, and in many ways, I found myself in a world as alien as anything you’ll find in many science fiction and fantasy stories. The difference is that there are actual remains from that medieval world. We have the letters people wrote to each other, can read the stories they told, visit places where they lived, hear the music and see the pictures they made. We have documents of actual lives.
All right – yes – I confess I turned into a research freak. I couldn’t learn enough about this new world I had discovered; I wanted more, always more. Oh, all right – full disclosure here -- I still can’t get enough of it. The research goes on!
But even stronger than my urge to research is my urge to tell stories. I was making up stories for myself long before I was able to write them down, and so my love of The Other that finds fulfillment in late medieval England has been turned into novels and short stories – and now a novella, Winter Heart – as I take the richness of details about a complex, multi-layered world and weave strands of it into stories, trying to make that long-vanished world and its people alive again for readers now. I have two series. The newer one follows Joliffe the Player, a travelling actor beginning to be involved in spying for a powerful bishop. My older series centers on Dame Frevisse, a Benedictine nun, with Winter Heart the latest of her stories. Despite it has characters familiar from novels and other short stories, it’s meant to stand alone, a story woven around the beliefs, emotions, laws, and faith as lived by people in a small place in a long ago time and yet mirroring so much we can see in ourselves today, because love, lust, and greed are strong in all times, whatever different forms they take. I constantly explore them in my stories – darkly as in the novel The Murderer’s Tale and the short story The Stone Worker’s Tale; with greater hope in ones like The Squire’s Tale.
I love to travel otherwhere and otherwhen, both in what I write and what I read. As for the science fiction, archaeology, and anthropology that saved my sanity when I was very young -- I still love them: they’re where I go on vacation from medieval England!