What are you currently reading?
Mary Poppins by Pamela Travers. The whole series is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Do you have a favorite author? Who is it:
Pamela Travers (at the moment). The message in her books is that magical isn’t behind the everyday, the magic is the everyday. I love that. She wrote a lot of non-fiction essays as well. Her books are rich in mythology, symbology and folklore.
When did you start writing?
When I started reading J My first verse was about a mouse who lived in a house.
Why do you write?
I’m an academic as well as an author so writing is part of the everyday for me – and it’s magical.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
I’d recommend NAKED to all readers of historical fiction and historical romance who would love to read a sensual and passionate re-telling of the Godiva tale.
If you could go back in time and meet one famous person or legend in history, who would it be? Why? What would you say to them?
I would want to meet Lady Godiva. I would say: ‘thank you’.
How did you come up with the idea for your book? Why did you want to write about Lady Godiva?:
I got the idea for NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva while writing about the popularity of the word lady in my academic work. The legend of Lady Godiva intrigued me and I became inspired to write my own version of her tale. It took me on a wild ride.
Tell us about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
The painting used for the cover of NAKED by John Collier was in the Pre-Raphaelite style (1898).The original is in an art gallery in Coventry, England. When the publishers (St Martin’s Press, New York) chose it I was thrilled because the girl in the painting has long hair just like my daughter’s and we had always noticed the resemblance. My daughter had been trying to get me a copy of the painting – then the book arrived.
Who would you cast for the main characters if your book became a movie?
I wrote NAKED as a screen play before it turned into a novel. It always seemed to me a story that would make a fantastic movie. It’s got drama, battles, romance, treachery and of course the famous ride. I like to imagine who would play Godiva, Leofric and Edmund, the love triangle in the book. At the moment I like Emma Watson (Harry Potter) or Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games) for Godiva.
I’d also like English actor Clive Owen to be in it. He was born in Coventry, the home of Lady Godiva. I saw him in a play on Broadway recently and I gave him a copy of NAKED!
How about an excerpt from your book meant to capture our imagination and make us want to read more?
The smoky hall was crowded but there was muted chatter at the trestle tables. The gleeman was silent. All eyes of the household upon me, I sat up on the dais.
My own eyes were sore as I blinked. Aine had bathed them with chamomile water, removing their redness at the rims. I wanted no tell-tale signs in front of Leofric. In a deep blue tunic, trimmed with gold, I had dressed myself with care, my hair brushed and braided. But no jewels.
Not feast. Famine.
Since the mealtime horn had blown, Leofric spoke not a word to me. I darted a swift sideways glance at him. There were no signs of hurt by my anger, in the devastating way I’d been hurt by his. He drank more ale than usual as he exchanged words with the Mercian warriors. Acwell sat to one side of him, avoiding my vision.
A board of bread lay in front of me. The piece I chewed I could barely swallow. It left the taint of ashes on my tongue. I dropped it onto my plate.
At last Leofric addressed me. “You do not eat.”
“How can I eat?” Tears threatened again; I forced them back with a tilt of my chin. The Earl of Mercia would never witness me crying. “When soon many will have no food?”
Beneath the beard a muscle worked in his jaw. “The folk of the Middle Lands will get through the hungry month.”
“Many will not. Many will die.”
With both hands I shoved my trencher of food away.
As he followed my movement, his gaze landed on my bare finger.
Tight as a carpenter’s vice, he seized my culprit hand. “Where is your ring?”
“Lost,” I faltered. It still upset me that it had vanished. “It was my own fault. The ring needed to be made smaller by the blacksmith.”
I hadn’t been able to bear to remove it.
“Where did you lose it?” His question as taut as his hold.
“I’m not sure.” In the town, in the fields, in the garden. It could have been anywhere. I’d searched and searched.
He dropped my fingers as if they burnt him. Gripping his silver tankard, he drained it dry.
The tankard still in his grasp, he jerked his head towards to me. His hearth-empty eyes gutted my soul.
“Will you repeal the law?”
The tankard slammed down onto the table. Froth spilled onto the linen tablecloth. “You try my patience. Have done. Do you dare to challenge my leadership further?”
“A strong leader lets his people starve?”
His teeth clenched. “Give. This. Up.”
His clipped accents reminded me of when I’d found the huscarl sword. I had blindly obeyed him then. This time I would not.
“Never. I’ll do anything to protect my people.”
In the curl of his beard he lifted his lip in a sneer. “Just what would you do?”
“What must I do?” My tone pitched high as a gleeman’s song. “Must I lie down my head in your lap, as the peasants do, when they become a slave? I will do it. Must I starve? I will do it. Must I ride through the streets in only my shift like a penitent? I will do it. All these things, I will do, to save one child from starving in Coventry.”
Our glances clanged. Sword. Shield.
“You would do such things?”
Under the table my fists tightened. I nodded.
His scorn knifed through me. “A penitent’s ride? You wouldn’t shame yourself in that way.”
“You don’t believe me? I’d make such a ride, if it means you repeal this law.”
Speculation flared as he stared at me. I knew that look.
Then he clicked his fingers. The serving boy ran to his side. “More ale.”
The serving boy poured, his hand shaking.
In a single gulp Leofric drained it and slammed the tankard down on the table. “Again.”
Once more the boy poured.
He drained that too.
All chatter in the hall had turned as quiet as church prayers. From the tables below folk began to listen and watch openly.
Leofric threw down the tankard. It rolled off the table, onto the floor. “You say you would ride, but you would not.”
“Are you saying I don’t keep my word?” Each word I made a dart. “I can assure you, my lord, unlike some, I always keep my word.”
His glare scorched, but mine was equal to it.
“You wouldn’t shame yourself in that way. You would ride through the streets, of Coventry, in only your shift? Like an adulteress? Like a whore?”
As if he had struck me, I reeled.
This from the man to whom I had pledged my body.
For the sake of Coventry.
With my breath came courage deep from my lungs. “It would be no shame to me to save my people.”
He leaned so close I could almost lick the ale from his tongue.
“And would you ride – naked?”
Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva by Eliza Redgold
NAKED Book Cover Blurb
We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.
We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax. Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.
Eliza Redgold: Biography
ELIZA REDGOLD is an author, academic and unashamed romantic. She writes historical fiction (St Martin’s Press) and romance (Harlequin).
NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released internationally by St Martin’s Press New York in 2015. Her ‘Romance your Senses’ series of contemporary romances are published by Harlequin. They include Black Diamonds, Hide and Seek and Wild Flower. Eliza is also contracted to Harlequin Historical for two upcoming Victorian historical romances. Look out for Enticing Benedict Cole in November 2015.
Eliza Redgold is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.
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