Sure, she’s a Medieval scholar and a professor but, boy, can she spin a great story, too! If you like quests and dragons and stories like THE HOBBIT, I suspect you’ll enjoy both THE COMING OF THE DRAGON and PEACEWEAVER. Based on the Beowulf saga, THE COMING OF THE DRAGON is a tale of bravery that has real characters and real heart. Rune is an outcast and has to prove himself by saving his adopted people. Even though I’m not a huge fantasy fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have just started PEACEWEAVER, which came out this year. With a strong female protagonist, Hild, I’m finding it particularly intriguing — such fun to learn about Norse mythology and culture in the context of a great story. PEACEWEAVER is a stand alone so you don’t need to have read THE COMING OF THE DRAGON first (but I would!). And now I can’t wait for RING-GIVER, the third in the series….
So, without further ado, onto the interview!
Can you tell us how this book, or any of your books, came to be published?
My first novel, The Book of the Maidservant, was published after I attended the Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference and was paired with the person who ended up becoming my editor. She read the first three pages and asked for the full manuscript, on which she eventually made an offer. Since then we have worked together on three other books, The Coming of the Dragon, Peaceweaver (which is now out on shelves), and Ring-Giver (which comes out at the end of 2013).
Tell us why we should buy this book.
My best friend says people should buy Peaceweaver for the scene where Hild serves mead to the warriors in her uncle’s meadhall. I’d say that if you enjoy fantasy that reads like realistic historical fiction, and if you enjoy strong female characters who know how to wield swords, this is a book for you.
Who or what has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?
Studying the Middle Ages in graduate school and then teaching medieval literature has led me to all of my stories.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote Peaceweaver because I had introduced a character near the end of The Coming of the Dragon who intrigued me and I wanted to know her story. Peaceweavers—women who are married into enemy tribes in an often ill-fated attempt to bring about an alliance—are important in Anglo-Saxon literature, which I study and teach. I wanted to know about the topic from the woman’s perspective, which is usually absent.
What helps you write?
Turning off all internet connections!
How do your ideas come to you?
Initial ideas for stories usually come from reading, and often from teaching. Once I’m in the midst of a novel, ideas can come from literally anywhere—the appearance of light on a tree branch, the sound a car makes on a highway, an idea from a newspaper article—so I keep a notebook handy to jot them down.
How much of your book is autobiographical?
Not a whit. With Peaceweaver, I wanted to write about a character who is completely unlike me—she’s brave and filled with self-confidence—and who lives in a time very different from our own. I did, however, belong to a fencing team when I was in college and I was able to use things that I remembered from that experience when I wrote the sword-fighting scenes (footwork—it’s all about the footwork!).
Do you have a favorite quote or bumper sticker?
There’s one from the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School that I like a lot: It’s amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care who gets the credit.
Is there a sequel?
Peaceweaver is a stand-alone companion novel to The Coming of the Dragon, and the third stand-alone companion book, Ring-Giver (which skips forward a generation) will be out on Dec. 24, 2013.
And now for some light hearted questions…
Tea or coffee? Flavor? Milk or sugar?
Mornings: French roast coffee with lots of milk.
Afternoons: Tea, Earl Grey, hot.
As long as the sun’s out, I can be happy.
Can you deal better with wind or rain?
Rain, I reckon, but see above.
Chocolate or some lesser nectar of the gods?
Oh, please. It goes without saying: chocolate. But I am such a philistine that I’ll take Hershey’s Kisses over those sophisticated 95% cocoa confections with exotic flavorings.
Cat or dog?
Cat. Decidedly. Especially this one. (See below.)
Flats or heels?
What is the point of wearing shoes in which you cannot run away from invading space aliens? Comfortable flats.
Favorite sport or form of exercise?
Long walks on the beach.
Language in which you’d most like to be fluent.
Country you’d most like to visit.
Topic you’d most like to write about.
The Middle Ages. Hey, that’s what I do write about! Lucky me.
Some favorite books?
I have far too many favorite books to list them, but some I return to regularly are Megan Whalen Turner’s The King of Attolia, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light, all of Jane Austen’s novels but especially Persuasion, Margaret Mahy’s The Tricksters, Leonard Marcus’s edition of Ursula Nordstrom’s letters, Dear Genius. I love literary letter collections (such as the letters of Sylvia Beach) and literary biography, such as Brad Gooch’s Flannery and A. Scott Berg’s Max Perkins, Editor of Genius.
Thanks, Rebecca! To learn more about Rebecca Barnhouse and her books, please visit www.RebeccaBarnhouse.com.
And finally, here’s Rebecca’s, cat, Kitty-Boy!