Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the winner of more than 20 literary accolades. For a complete list of her awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

Helena is represented by Laurie Blum Guest at the Re-Naissance Agency.

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight to historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Meet My Main (Female) Character

Welcome to today's installment of the "Meet My Main Character" Blog-Hop! 

Last week I introduced the main character of my recently released novel, St. Louis' Knight, Sir Geoffrey de PreuthuneThis week I want to introduce the the female lead, who is as much a "main" character as Geoffrey, even if she didn't make it into the title.

Now to the introductions!

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she a fictional or historical person?
Eleanor de Najac is a fictional character, born from holidays in "Cathar Country" (the Languedoc) and particularly visits to the spectacular village and castle of Najac.

2) When and where is the story set?
The novel is set in the Seventh Crusade, 1250 AD, in the Holy Land. The Seventh Crusade was led by King Louis IX of France and ended in a terrible debacle, with the King of France and virtually all of his nobles, knights and troops captured.  While the common troops were slaughtered if they refused to convert to Islam, and enslaved if they did, King Louis and his knights and nobles were held for ransom. It is also just six years after the final erradication of the last Cathar stronghold at Montsegur.

3) What should I know about him/her?
Eleanor is the last child of the Sire de Najac, born late in his life.  After his death, her mother joins the Cathar faith and one of her brothers joins the struggle of the independence of Toulouse against the French crown. When the forces of the French King finally seize Montsegur, her mother chooses to be burned at the stake rather than abjure her Cathar faith, and one brother is executed while the other is arrested -- along with Eleanor. Although only 14 years old, as the daughter of a heretic, she is turned over to the Inquisition.  After her brother's death in prison, however, she becomes the hieress to Najac.  Her feudal overlord, the Count of Poitiers and Toulouse, does not want to see her convicted of heresy since then her property would fall to the Church.  He therefore sends for her to join his wife's household as she follows him on crusade.  Her ship wrecks on the coast of Cyprus and her leg shattered when fisherman take her off the wreck. She is left lame and alone on a strange island among strangers.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes her life up.
Eleanor's life has been shattered three-fold, first by the brutal repression of Toulousan independence that has cost her the lives of her mother and brothers, by the hounding of the Inquisition after her own arrest, and by the ship-wreck that has left her a semi-cripple. At the start of the novel she is physically alive, but only her hatred of the Inquisition and the King of France spark her spirit.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Eleanor has survived by her wits and an inner strength that defies reason. Her determination to outwit her tormentors, not hope for a better a future is what has enabled her to escape the Inquisition.  At the opening of the novel, it is joy at the defeat of her worst enemy, the King of France, that gives her new spirit and courage. She ventures out of her defensive, emotional cacoon and starts to tentatively spread her wings.

6) Is there a working title? Where can I find out more?
The title is final: St. Louis' Knight. It is the first of a three part series titled The Templar Tales. You can find out more on this blog, or on my website: http://talesofchivalry.com.

7) When will the book be published?
The book was released March 31, 2014 and can be purchased on amazon.com here.

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