Author Interview: Nan Hawthorn
I would like to introduce Author Nan Hawthorne, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.
Read the entire interview at:
Nan thank you for the pleasure of this interview. You write about a period of time in our history that I’m fascinated with and would like to know more about. Please tell us about your book, An Involuntary King: A Tale of Anglo Saxon England.
An Involuntary King: A Tale of Anglo Saxon England had an unusual beginning. The year was 1964 and the place the Southeast Alaska Methodist Youth Camp far “out the road” from the capital, Juneau. I was twelve. I met a girl named Laura Burr who was a year younger. We started playing “Indian princess” with her as the princess and me as an Indian brave, the story quickly changing to something more to our liking, the queen and king of a mythic kingdom. We got into it, held a wedding and wedding supper, then had to figure out how we would continue “The Story” as we came to call it once she had gone home to her town and I to mine. It started out as letters between the royal couple, but after a couple years we realized these two needed to be where they need not have such a long distance relationship and started to write stories about them and many other characters we created. We kept at this for a few years.
About 35 years later I started a storytelling group called Ghost letters and while trying to decide what historical or fictional character to play on it, m y husband suggested I resurrect the characters from “The Story”. The stories and letters I now wrote were fun and showed me I could write fiction. So I started putting the pieces together. In the final draft I had a very grown up novel of love and betrayal, battle and friendship in an imaginary late 8th century Anglo Saxon kingdom, in the area and at about the time that the Vikings would soon start raids.
The 8th century was such a long time ago in our history. Were there any challenges you faced while researching for your book?
My first challenge was that Laura and I had pretty much created a generic medieval world based around castles and knights on horseback. I had chosen as a teen to set the stories in a period before, I thought, much was known of England, the 8th century. The first thing I learned when writing the book seriously was that there were no castles, no knights, nothing resembling the image of Arthur’s Britain. I actually had to start over and change situations and settings to match the era I had now set the stories in. I wound up adoring the Anglo Saxon period, so, as they say, it’s all good.
The second challenge was how to write realistic battle scenes. I eventually discovered Bernard Cornwell’s work on just these needs, but in the meantime I put out a call in the Society for Creative Anachronism for someone who would help me “choreograph” Anglo Saxon battles. That’s how I made the acquaintance of Jack graham, a high school teacher with whom I now have a mutual admiration society. He tells me tactics for battles and I turn them into prose. He is still with me, sad that my upcoming fourth novel has no battle in it.
I am severely visually impaired so cannot simply go to the library and do research the way most people can. So I have relied heavily on the Internet, which, thanks to my own assistive technology, is about as accessible as a medium can be. In the four years since An Involuntary King was published, the Amazon Kindle keyboard has come along with its text to speech feature and suddenly more books and other materials than I could ever have imagined are in a format I can read!