05 April, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

My thanks to Kathryn Warner of the Edward II blog for awarding me a Liebster (German for ‘Favourite’) blog award.

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
  4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog

My answers to Kathryn’s questions:

What's your favourite novel and what do you love about it?
-Impossible to pick just one.  Sword at Sunset, by Rosemary Sutcliff, for the marvellous writing.  King Hereafter, by Dorothy Dunnett, for the love story between Thorfinn (Macbeth) and Groa. Legacy, by Susan Kay, for the complex portrayal of Elizabeth I showing her cruelty and caprice as well as her charisma.   

Do you have any pet peeves in historical fiction?
-The same as in any fiction; dullness.

What are you most proud of?
-Having Paths of Exile selected as Editor’s Choice by Historical Novels Review.

Your favourite and least favourite people in history?  (As few or as many as you like!)
-Alfred the Great.  In part because of his comment in his translation of Boethius, “a king must have people who pray, people who fight and people who work”.  I have a soft spot for a king who actually recognised and acknowledged the importance of working people.
-Least favourite? That’s a hotly contested title!  Too many to mention.

The country, city or other place you'd most like to visit?
-I have a fancy to cycle the length of the Outer Hebrides, hopping from island to island on the ferries.

Which five people would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
-Aethelflaed Lady of the Mercians, Hild of Whitby, the un-named early-seventh-century queen of East Anglia, Acha of Deira and Bernicia, and Rhianmellt of Rheged.  
All these women were important in early medieval Britain.  Aethelflaed ruled Mercia and fought the Vikings in the early tenth century.  Hild ran the seventh-century monastery of Whitby and advised kings and princes – in modern terms her role was a sort of cross between a university vice-chancellor, diplomat and CEO of a sizeable company. The queen of East Anglia influenced (at least) key religious and political decisions, yet we don’t even know her name.  Acha and Rhianmellt made international marriages that may have helped to weld kingdoms together, yet they are recorded only as names.  Historical fiction can try to imagine their lives and characters; Theresa Tomlinson featured Hild as a secondary character in Wolf Girl and A Swarming of Bees and Nicola Griffith has a novel forthcoming with Hild as the central character; Kathleen Herbert imagined Rhianmellt in Queen of the Lightning; I have plans for the un-named queen of East Anglia when Eadwine’s story gets that far. I would like to find out what they were really like.  I suspect it would be a lot more complex and surprising than anything in fiction.

Facebook or Twitter or neither?

What's one of your goals for the future?
-Finalise Ring of Scorpions (the follow-up to Paths of Exile) to get it ready for publication

What's your favourite season?

Dogs or cats or neither?

What's your favourite hobby?
-Writing and the associated reading about history.  Embroidery, dressmaking and hill-walking.

My 11 blogs:

I know some of these have already been nominated.  Feel free to take part or not as you choose, and to do as little or as much as you wish.  These are 11 blogs that I enjoy reading and that I think are well worth a visit.


Nicola Griffith said...

I'm delighted to be part of this meme. I'll post my response some time in the next few days.

But I'm even more excited about Ring of Scorpions! It'll be fascinating to see how our visions of this time and place coincide...or clash :)

Gabriele Campbell said...

Thank you for the award.

Kathryn Warner said...

Great to read your answers, Carla!

Rick said...

Congratulations, and thanks for the link! I'm enjoying visits to the others on the list - love some of those blog names, too.

I also like your characterization of Hild's multiple public roles.

With all of the attendees at your hypothetical dinner party, including the unnamed East Anglian queen, real life allows, among other things, a level of sheer contradiction in behavior that would be problematic to portray in fiction.

Carla said...

Thanks, everybody!

Nicola - I'll look forward to your response. And even more so to Hild, for the same reasons you mention :-)

Rick - that comes of trying to explain that an abbess in seventh-century England - perhaps especially an abbess like Hild - had to do an awful lot more than prayer and contemplation. For all that an abbey was supposed to be a refuge from the world, someone still had to organise food and supplies all year round - you needed Martha at least as much as Mary :-) And Hild is specifically noted as an advisor to secular rulers and her abbey as a centre of learning, probably the nearest equivalent now is a serious university.

Yes, that's part of what I meant when I said the reality would almost certainly be more complex and surprising than fiction. One of the frustrations of a period with very little documentation is that there isn't the scope for the 'stranger than fiction' moments that you see in things like court rolls in better-recorded eras.

Deena said...

Great responses Carla.

I really would be interested who your least favorite person in history would be. Just off the top of your head, who would come first? :) It's quite easy to think about something that we really like than something hat we don't like as much.

Carla said...

Deena - hello and welcome. I will give it some thought :-)

Beth said...

Looking forward to reading more about Eadwine and his companions - and I've been intrigued by the title ever since I first saw it on the Trifolium site!

I like your choice of dinner party guests - a poignant reminder of how little we know, which when you consider how important these women were is disappointing to say the least. It would be great to know what they were really like; although, as you say, we might well be rather surprised.

Carla said...

There's a story behind the title :-)

I suppose in this period we really know very little about anyone, but that seems to apply redoubled in spades to the women. I wonder what they would all think of each other? Apart from Aethelflaed they were all contempories or near-contempories and some may have met each other.

Beth said...

I shall be interested to read it. :)

That's true - even many men remain nothing more than names, as evidenced by Cynfarch in your most recent post. But for such an important figure as the queen of East Anglia not even to be accorded that...well. I hadn't thought about the possibility that some of them might have met each other - a very interesting idea!

Carla said...

Quite so. Bede does name some queens, even when they appear only fleetingly (e.g. Coenburh daughter of Cearl), so it's curious that he describes at some length two quite significant incidents involving the queen of East Anglia without giving her name in either of them. One could argue that he doesn't name people he disapproves of, but he clearly did approve of her actions when she talked Raedwald out of accepting Aethelferth's bribe. It's possible that her name happened not to be recorded in any of his sources - East Anglia was some distance away - but on the other hand he clearly did have access to East Anglian sources, like the king who testified to having seen Raedwald's double altar, so one might think that Bede could have asked him for the queen's name if he wanted to know. Maybe it was too much trouble to find out a minor detail, or some similar prosaic reason, or maybe there is something behind the omission...