13 April 2014

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Elise Cyr on SIEGE OF THE HEART

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Elise Cyr with her latest novel,  SIEGE OF THE HEART. The author will offer a free DIGITAL copy of Siege of the Heart to a lucky blog visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

He fought for king and country, but that battle was nothing compared to the one he’ll wage for a woman’s heart.

Still reeling from the news of her father’s death during the Norman Conquest, Isabel Dumont is unprepared when trouble arrives at the castle gates. Alexandre d’Évreux, a Norman knight with close ties to England’s new king, has arrived to secure the land and the loyalties of the Dumont family. Desperate to protect her people, Isabel strives to keep the confounding knight at arm’s length and hide the truth about her father’s death.

For Alexandre, the spoils of war come with more than just a generous gift of land. They come with Isabel Dumont. Vowing to marry only for love, Alexandre finds himself in a difficult situation as a conqueror granted dominion over the land and its people. Isabel is the one person capable of helping him win the regard of those living in the war-torn country…if he chooses to accept her.

Just when Alexandre finds a spark of hope that he and Isabel have a chance at love, she vanishes. His quest to find her plunges him deeper into the conquest’s fallout. Was she taken? Or did she leave?

CONTENT WARNING: Entering into this novel may cause extreme affection toward knights of old, admiration for strong-willed women, and the overwhelming belief that love really can conquer all.

**Author Interview: Elise Cyr**

What draws you to the medieval time period?

There was a time when I wanted my very own knight in shining armor to come into my life and whisk me away on a grand adventure. Clearly, I consumed too many fables and fairy tales growing up. But these fantasies are linked to history, a brutal past to which the remains of any castle will attest. For me, medieval times come the closest to evoking the world of fairy tales. There were not only knights and castles, but also adventures and quests and good triumphing over evil, as in the great chivalric romances. With grand battles and power struggles, medieval history can provide a rich backdrop for a story, full of dramatic potential.

What was the inspiration behind Siege of the Heart?

As a lover of history, I am always fascinated by accounts of how one person can have a profound effect on events. This story started with one person as well: William Malet who was an English advisor to Duke William as he prepared to cross the channel and take England for his own. I wondered at how an Englishman could come to help a Norman take over his homeland, and figured there must be others in England who would be in a position to help Duke William in the conquest, given the charged political climate. Thus, my heroine’s father, Lord Bernard Dumont, was born, a man with conflicting loyalties who could ease the way for Duke William’s rule. His actions set the book’s plot into motion and are the means of placing my English-born but Norman-blooded heroine in the path of the hero—one of William’s honor-bound knights.

What challenges did you face in writing the book?

Researching the time of the Norman Conquest was particularly difficult because of its transitional nature. I focused my efforts on the late Anglo-Saxon period and the post-Conquest era, and often had to make inferences on what happened in between. To compound things, since history is often rewritten by the victor, it was sometimes difficult to take the accounts of the Norman Conquest at face value. I’m a history enthusiast, not a trained historian, so I sometimes found myself swamped by facts, but unable to find the ones I needed to serve the story. But I learned a tremendous amount, about the time period and about myself. I hope readers enjoy the manner in which I was able to bring the historical setting to life.

What was the most surprising thing you learned while researching this book?

That while there were plenty of Norman knights at the time of the Conquest, the concept of chivalry, as we know it today, wouldn’t come about for approximately another hundred years. Early on as I was developing my story, it was a huge blow to learn I couldn’t mention “chivalry” as it was anachronistic—akin to putting a turret on my motte and bailey style castle. I had a fantastic line and everything where my heroine rips into the hero for his less-than-noble behavior, but alas, it had to be revised for the sake of accuracy.

What’s next for Elise Cyr?

I’m currently revising a novella-length story set in France during the crusades. After that, I have a longer medieval story I want to tell, but I’m still thinking about it—often I let stories simmer in the back of my mind until the pot boils over, so to speak, and I’m compelled to start writing. To stay current with my upcoming projects, you can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or check out my blog.

*** Learn more about author Elise Cyr. Follow Elise on TwitterPinterestGoodreads, or check out her blog.

Siege of the Heart by Elise Cyr. Available in ebook and print (coming soon!) from Kensington Books. AmazonBarnes and Noble and Kensington Books.