27 May 2013

Meet Our Contributors: Lisa J. Yarde

When Carrie Lofty offered me the opportunity to contribute to Unusual Historicals almost seven years ago, I jumped at the chance because I write the unusual historical. With varied settings from medieval Spain, England, Wales and France, and diverse historical figures ranging from an 11th century Saxon nobleman at Hastings to a 14th century Moorish queen, my writing doesn't fall into the traditional favorites of the Tudor or Regency periods. I tell stories about people who never got the chance to do so, because of their gender, religion, status or simply, because they ended up on the losing side of history.

If this is the first time you're hearing about me, here are a few things you should know:

I'm obsessed with historical research
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but sometimes I would rather spend months or years researching a period than writing the book. I know, not exactly helpful for getting the book finished. While I still believe the best historical fiction immerses readers in a place and time with great and useful details, my emphasis on the research is becoming a bit of a problem now. The bookshelves are falling apart under the weight! Don't believe me? Elements of these books:

The books! (That's all I could get into the shot - there are more)
went into the writing of these books:

There are still three more books to write in the series on Moorish Spain. You know what that means. More research! 

I'm a huge travel buff
If I won the lottery, I would never be in one place for very long. Who's got a bad case of wanderlust? This person! Imagine how it must be when I can travel to the places I'm researching for a particular novel (cue the angels and their harps). There's nothing like walking the streets where the historical figures might have walked to lend authenticity to certain scenes. I'll never forget the first trip to Spain in November 2001 and a tour of the Alhambra in Granada. Things that still stay with me: the sounds of my boots on medieval cobblestones and the murmur of water in fountains. I've also been to Wales and England for other stories, each place leaving its own distinct impression.

Heather field in South Wales. Still have some dried sprigs in my room.

I love making book trailers
Not as much as I enjoy research, of course, but it's pretty close. Not every author finds value in trailers, but I do as they've attracted some new readers. A combination of the right music and images will capture elements of a story perfectly. I've found great links to images at Fotolia.com and Dreamstime.com. Good, free images are at Creative Commons and Public Domain Pictures. Some of the best music is available via Pond5 (requires payment) and Incompetech (free). Here's my latest effort for the upcoming title, Sultana: Two Sisters:




Lisa J. Yarde writes fiction inspired by the Middle Ages in Europe. She is the author of two historical novels set in medieval England and Normandy, The Burning Candle, based on the life of Isabel de Vermandois, and On Falcon’s Wings, chronicling the star-crossed romance between Norman and Saxon lovers. Lisa has also written three novels in a six-part series set in Moorish Spain, Sultana, Sultana’s Legacy and Sultana: Two Sisters, where rivalries and ambitions threaten the fragile bonds between members of a powerful family. Her short story, The Legend Rises, which chronicles Gwenllian of Gwynedd’s valiant fight against English invaders, is included in Pagan Writers Press’ 2013 HerStory anthology.

When Lisa's not writing, she's most likely found doing research, moderating Unusual Historicals, playing PC games until 3AM, or hanging with the two best nephews on the planet and one very spoiled Shih Tzu.

6 comments:

Saba said...

Moorish Spain sounds like it would be so fascinating to research. And what gorgeous covers!

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks, Saba. The Moorish Spain period is also fairly complicated, but very interesting.

Catalina de Arazuri said...

I love Moorish Spain, I have been studying it for a few years now. I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, my area of study is Al Andalus. I am searching for any research I can find that will tell me about styles of clothing, preferably in the 10th century, but any would be nice and dance. Through miniatures a some of my friends and myself have been able to recreate Persian dance, but Moorish dances have so far been impossible to find. Do you have any suggestions for research?

Lisa Yarde said...

Catalina, unfortunately I have nothing on Moorish dance, but a fair bit on male and female clothing. Please email me at lyarde1175 at gmail dot com.

J. B. Anderson said...

Lisa,

I think my original post got lost somehow, so I'm retyping it briefly. I came across your post on medieval apprentices because I was trying to clarify the meaning of a phrase used by the Masters of the Company of Barber-Surgeons of London (5 July 1608). The master (employer) was ordered to treat his apprentice better: He lacked a "change of apparell"; this might have been the reason that he was "lousie" i.e. "lousy", full of lice. I like historical research too, but concentrate of medical. I'm a medical linguist, editor, and writer, and find that historical research provides a rich context for subjects I'm working on. Thanks again!
Janet Byron Anderson

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks! So glad to meet another avid researcher. The medieval period shows the more things change, the more they stay the same. The superstitions and approaches may seem alien to us, but basic human nature as in our curiosity and need to understand remains the same.