Finding a Hero

Today Writer Wednesday is privileged to welcome Barbara Bettis. Barbara’s debut novel is Silverhawk, currently an exclusive on Amazon.

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Recently, several members of one of my writing groups were talking about how we came up with ideas for our stories. Almost everyone had different methods or at least variations on different methods. Characters came first to some, plots to others. A few envisioned scenes that spun into story lines later.

When I tried to isolate how the idea for my debut novel came along, I realized Giles and Emelin’s story combined a couple of those ways. But it all began in research.

I’d been gathering information about King Richard I (the Lionheart) because my first book began with his return to England after his release from captivity in February 1194. The name of Mercadier kept popping up as a sort of right hand man to Richard in his wars. Mercadier was a mercenary.

A mercenary usually was a knight who didn’t have land and who had to find a way to, in simple terms, make a living. He usually fought in the hope of winning land and riches and even a wife. Later in the Middle Ages, some might follow the tournament circuit in hopes of accumulating enough coin to buy property. Either way, they led hard, sometimes brutal, lives.

The ones who hired themselves out as private soldiers, so to speak, were fiercesome warriors because they had to be or they’d die. Mercenaries weren’t particularly popular men, according to many sources. There are accounts of bands of these knights that were basically outlaws—thieving, raping and murdering. Not all were like that, however. Many more were simply soldiers in an army.

When I thought about what kind of lives they led, I began to wonder: What would it be like for one who wasn’t one of the renegades? It must be a lonely life at times, avoided by regular people out of fear or mistrust.

I “saw” in my mind the figure of a mercenary knight mounted on his horse, sitting in the middle of an empty circle in at the edge of a village, while on-lookers threw him suspicious, fearful, even threatening glares, but who would have nothing to do with him.

I felt so sorry for him. He wanted to be accepted, he wanted to be loved, but because of his profession, because of his past, he knew he never would.

Sir Giles evolved from there. I made him a trusted friend and captain of Mercadier’s, and as such, trusted by the king. But then, he needed a mission—a goal, a motivation. He needed a woman who would love him and that he could love. But their romance couldn’t be too easy.

I really enjoyed working out their combined paths.

How do your story ideas come to you?

(*Caveat: The discussion here is summarized and simplified and not meant to be an exhaustive, academic study of mercenaries. By the way, according to the website, our term ‘freelance’ came from Sir Walter Scott’s use of it to refer to medieval mercenaries in his book IVANHOE (1820).)

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About Silverhawk:

He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape

Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.  But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

The buy link for Amazon:

The book will be in wide release in November.