10 November 2011

My guest this week: Christina Courteney

Thank you, Helen, for having me as your guest as part of the blog tour for my latest novel Highland Storms. As we share a love of history, I thought I’d talk a little bit about that, and in particular about doomed causes. 
 I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fascinated by history ever since I was a child. I still remember my very first history lesson at school, when the teacher told us about Stone Age cultures and we were taken to see a sort of canoe or boat made out of a hollowed out tree trunk. I couldn’t believe someone had made that using only stone tools and from then on I was hooked.
As I was always a voracious reader, my father pointed me in the direction of things like the Norse sagas, the Odyssey and Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers.  I think at first I took them as real history, until I learned to distinguish between fact and fiction.  But they were the basis for my love of historical fiction and when it came to writing my own novels, there was never any doubt in my mind that this was the sort of thing I wanted to write myself.
Certain times in history seem more interesting than others, and also specific events. Personally, I love reading about doomed causes, the ones that in my opinion were just or right and should have succeeded.  Throughout history, there seem to be so many of these doomed causes, which could have turned out well, but for one reason or another didn’t.  These absolutely fascinate me.
I know you’ve written about King Harold and his doomed attempt to keep the throne of England. He came so very close to succeeding, and I have to admit I would very much have liked him to. It’s the same with the English Civil War – I so wish the Cavaliers had won and by rights they should have done!  It’s only small consolation that they triumphed in the end through the restoration of Charles II.  Most of all, however, I’m fascinated by the Jacobites, which is why I couldn’t resist setting my latest novel in the Highlands (although some time after the defeat at Culloden).It seems Bonnie Prince Charlie could definitely have achieved a free Scottish kingdom, but he’d set his heart on the throne of England as well and so he failed. 

These “if only” moments stir up your emotions and you can’t help but take sides, I think. You ask yourself what if Harold hadn’t had to fight the Vikings first? What if King Charles I hadn’t been quite so unwilling to listen to good counsel? What if Bonnie Prince Charlie had been content with his Highland domains?  But you know you can’t change history, you can only lament what happened and weave your own stories out of what occurred.
But that, in itself, is the fun part of being an author, because even if your fictional characters take part in doomed uprisings or whatever, you can let them survive and live a long and happy life, unlike the real protagonists.  And apart from doomed causes, I love a happy ever after ending, so for me perhaps it’s best to stay in the world of make-believe I create myself.

Dinner guests 

I’d like to invite (I’m sure there are lots I’ve forgotten, but these were the ones that sprang to mind right away):-

Jesus – I’m not religious, but I’d really like to meet the real historical figure and find out what it was about him that was so charismatic. I’d also like to clear up a few things that a lot of people seem to have misunderstood with regard to what he said/didn’t say, like the role of women within the church and so on.
Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar – I’d try to persuade him to tell me what secrets they were really hiding.  I know people laugh at all these conspiracy theories, but those guys were definitely onto something or they wouldn’t have become so rich so quickly, or flourished for so long. I hate unsolved mysteries, I want to know what it was! 
Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert of the Rhine – I have a thing about Cavaliers,  as I mentioned, and he sounds like a fascinating man, not just handsome (and a renowned ladies’ man), but also intelligent and inquisitive. I think he’d be fun to talk to. If only King Charles had listened to him before the battle of Naseby, he may not have lost! 
Bonnie Prince Charlie – here’s a man I’d like to talk some sense into!  If only he’d been happy with being king of the Scots and not insisted on the throne of the whole United Kingdom, he could have been king, lived happily ever after and Scotland would have been its own country again.  I would love to debate this with him! 
Jared Leto – at last someone who’s not a historical figure, I hear you say, although his performance as Hephaistion in the film Alexander often makes me see him that way.  Jared seems like a really interesting guy, a very complex character, and I’d love to chat to him about his various personas as an actor, singer, songwriter and film producer.  And if that fails, well, I could just look at him … :D
The Queen – I think she’d hold her own in any conversation and she looks like she has a great sense of humour.  It would be fascinating to hear her real views on the world.
Joe Elliott (lead singer of the band Def Leppard) – a bit of northern charm and down to earth attitudes would add spice to the table I think. Not sure he fits in with any of the other guests, apart from maybe Jared, but sometimes it’s good to have a mixture. And hopefully he could be persuaded to sing for us as well.
Roger Moore – I think he personifies the “English Gentleman” and he seems to have a great sense of humour too. I used to watch him as “The Saint” when I was a little girl and have liked him ever since – he’s my favourite James Bond of course.
Georgette Heyer – a very forthright lady, from all accounts, and one who could be counted on to stir up the conversation.  I think she was very sharp, very intelligent, and it would be fascinating to talk to her about her books.
You Helen – as a previous blog guest said, it would be rude to leave out the hostess!  We could debate lost causes between us and you can help me talk sense into Prince Charles Edward.

Thank you for the invite Christina -
can I sit next to him please? :-D

Many thanks for having me here!
 It was a pleasure Christina - I am reading Highland Storm at the moment - love it! My next Sea Witch Voyage (Ripples In The Sand) is connected to the Jacobite Rebellion, although a little earlier than Bonnie Prince Charles - a bit part will be his father James III and the failed attempt to launch an armada in 1719.

Christina's website

Highland Storms
ISBN: 978-1-906931-71-1
published by Choc Lit 
1st November 2011

Who can you trust?
Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.
But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate is in ruin and money is disappearing. He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?
Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her. But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.
And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy.  Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …

Note from Helen:
 I have just finished reading Highland Storms.
 I suppose there are a few stereotypical characters - the bad man, the beautiful girl, the handsome, well muscled hero who can ignore any injury, no matter how painful.
There's the boy meets girl but neither of them are willing to admit they have fallen instantly in love... boy thinks he's lost his girl; girl thinks boy doesn't love her anyway..... bad man ends up..... (well I'm not divulging that bit!)
But to bake a quality cake you need a favourite recipe, and I can assure you, Highland Storms is fit for a Baker's Masterclass.
It has all the right ingredients required for a scrumptious read  - and the icing on the cake is Christina Courtenay's wonderful ability as a writer of historical romance.
Highland Storms - highly recommended!

my next guest Beachy Books - fun books for children


  1. Thanks again for having me as your guest, Helen, and thank you also for the lovely comments about Highland Storms - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I can't wait for the next instalment in your pirate series, especially if it features Jacobites!

    And yes, ok then, we'll sit either side of Jared :)

  2. Thinking up dinner party guests is such a good idea! I like your list Pia Christina. And, having also read Highland Storms, I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for an enthralling historical romance.

  3. I find it interesting who different guests choose & why. I don't think any of my guests' choices have been predictable.

  4. Hi Christina, the things we learn as children really stay with us. Thank you for the interesting comments.
    Una Tiers.

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Una, glad you enjoyed it :)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.