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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Interview: April Munday

Today I'm welcoming historical author April Munday to The Writing Greyhound for a chat about her writing, inspiration, and her latest novel The Heir's Tale. 

How did you first become interested in writing?
I started telling stories almost as soon as I could talk and I’ve been writing them down since I could write. I’ve still got the first chapters of a few novels I started as a teenager and I get them out every now and again and cringe.
the-heirs-tale, april-munday, book

Tell me about The Heir’s Tale.
The Heir’s Tale is a historical romance. It’s the first book in a series of four (so far). The five Montfort brothers are at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 and one of them is killed. The battle changes things for all of the survivors, and Ancelin, the protagonist of The Heir’s Tale, takes his dead brother’s place as heir to an earldom. Some months later he returns to England and he’s not sure that he wants to marry the woman his father has chosen for him and she’s not sure she wants to marry him. There are tears, fights and death on the way to the happy (for some) ending.
What’s the best thing about writing fiction?
Nothing is too outrageous. My characters can say and do things that I would never dare – and get away with it.
How do you get inspiration?
I read a lot about the Middle Ages and most of my inspiration comes from that. Recently I read that the Isle of Wight was occupied by the French in 1377 and I thought that that might make a good setting. The idea will ferment in the back of my mind and will either connect with something else that I read or discover, or it will fade away.
Did you have to do a lot of research during the writing process?
There is a lot of research if you’re writing about the past. Fortunately, there are some basics of life in the fourteenth century which remain the same regardless of what the characters are doing or where they are, but there’s usually something specific that needs to be researched before I start to write. Sometimes, however, I write something I hadn’t thought about earlier and wonder whether it’s anachronistic or even physically impossible.  
In the novel I’m working on at the moment one of the characters was slashed across the palm of his hand and another one was going to sew it up. I don’t know whether that was practicable in the 1360s so I would have had to look it up if I hadn’t already decided that the character needed to be able to use that hand later in the novel. I have four shelves on my bookcase full of books about the Middle Ages, but sometimes I have to go further for the information I need. 
I also like to visit medieval buildings to get a feel for them and how people might have lived in them. A recent visit to a fourteenth-century house taught me that it might not be a good idea to share a secret inside the house. I could hear every word spoken in a room below when I was in a bedroom.
april-munday, author

What’s your writing process?
I write longhand and then type it up. That way I can write without being distracted by the internet. Three or four weeks after I’ve finished the first draft, I print it, read it and make notes about what needs to be changed. This is the difficult part because the first draft is always dreadful. I make the changes and tidy it up until I’m happy for someone else to see it, at which point it goes to an editor.
Which authors inspire you?
Steinbeck: he wrote so that a reader has to respond to his writing emotionally. Jane Austen: a woman who wrote on scraps of paper in her spare time, but who was incredibly innovative in her writing.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Keep going until you’ve finished the first draft. Even if it’s terrible, just keep writing. Once you’ve got the first draft, you’ve got something you can work on.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
I know I’m supposed to say that it’s impossible to choose, but it isn’t. I never tire of reading Emma by Jane Austen. I love the way Austen manipulated me into believing that Emma and Frank Churchill were made for one another and then told me all the reasons why they weren’t.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I’m a keen amateur musician and play in a quintet with four friends. The need to practice daily gives my day a bit more structure than it might otherwise have.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing the fifth book in the Soldiers of Fortune series. It’s about Ancelin’s scrivener, inspired by meeting a reenactor at a medieval event. All the time that he was telling his audience about how to make ink, how to make a pen and how to write on parchment, I was looking at his bow and wondering how a scrivener would fare as part of an army.
What are you reading at the moment?
Lost in the Lake by AJ Waines. I went to an event where she was interviewed and have a signed copy.
The Heir's Tale is available to buy now. To find out more about April and her writing, check out her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you think? Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for having me on your blog, Lorna.

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  2. April, lovely to read more about your writing. I am in awe of your ability to write so many books!!

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    1. Isn't she brilliant? Thanks for commenting, Suzanne!

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    2. Thank you, Suzanne. There are many more stories in my head.

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