How Templar Prize came about……

I have always found stories of the Crusades fascinating and after seeing the Ridley Scott movie, Kingdom of Heaven, I was prompted to learn more about this fascinating time in history, which resulted in a conflict that still exists in one part of the world, or another, to this day.

The Crusades involved two powerful religions clashing over an area of land that is considered sacred by both Christians and Moslems, generally known as the Holy Land. Richard’s famous adversary was Salah ad-Din, the only man who has been able to persuade the Sunni Moslems and Shi’ite Moslems to unite under one banner.

Richard the Lionheart is a fascinating character. Much has been written about him, but we know little of the man behind the façade. He was no doubt a brilliant leader, a great tactician and fine warrior who was well respected by his men. Some claim he was a homosexual, some not, but we will never really know the truth of the matter and under the insistence of my editor I left his sexuality as somewhat ambiguous in my book.

I wasn’t able to visit Jerusalem or Acre for my research, but I did visit Cyprus where Berengaria and Edwina were held prisoner by the evil Isaac Comenius, and where Richard and Berengaria eventually married. The current castle has been rebuilt since the twelfth century, but it is still quite small and so I allowed myself some artistic licence when writing about it!

Barbarian Prize

Pompeii is without a doubt the most fascinating historical site I’ve ever had the privilege to visit.

I loved it so much I returned to Italy just to visit it again, see more of the city and soak up the fantastic atmosphere.

Before I went there I expect just ruins, much like other roman sites but it is a real city with streets, sidewalks, shops, fast food joints, houses and baths. There are even a couple of buildings with their roofs intact but that is unusual as so much pumice rained down on the city, before the pyroclastic cloud of ash that killed everyone, that the roves of the buildings collapsed under the onslaught. However, because the buildings were hidden for so many centuries beneath a massively thick layer of volcanic ash, they are amazingly well preserved considering they are 1,000 years old.

When I walked along those amazing streets, looking at the graffiti on the walls, the shops the inns and the baths it felt almost as if I were stepping back in time. Pompeii makes it easy to imagine what life was like in 79AD.

Walking these streets on an amazingly hot and sunny day, the sun beating down on my head, the story of Taranis and Sirona began to form in my mind.

I hope in the future to revisit Pompeii and also to revisit the characters I lovingly created. Taranis and Sirona have so much more to tell.