Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 4 months ago

S1E13 Mary Alice Monroe and Patti Callahan Henry with Rebecca Bruff and Signe Pike

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Writing About a Real Person. Mary Alice Monroe and Patti Callahan Henry have a fascintating discussion with Rebecca Bruff about her debut novel Trouble the Water and with Signe PIke about the second book in her Lost Queen Trilogy, The Forgotten Kingdom. Both women wrote about very real people in different centures.  

Welcome to Friends and Fiction. Fivebest selling authors and the stories novelist mary Kay andrews. KristenHarmel, Christie Woodson, harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary, Alice Munroare five longtime friends With more than 80 published books to their creditIn 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviewsand fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing and to highlightindependent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they have writtenthe books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love booksand you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. MhmFrance and fiction is sponsored by Mama Geraldine's bodacious Foods, thecompany that makes Mama Geraldine's cheese straws which come in sixvarieties and are the best selling cheese straws in the United States.Founded by former radio executive Cathy Cunningham and named for her mother.They have melt in your mouth cookies to delicious treats and a woman ownedempire. Now that is something that Friends and fiction can really getbehind try them. You'll be so glad you did get 20% off on your online order atmama Geraldine's dot com with the code. Fab five snack on. Y'all. Welcome to the Friends and fictionpodcast. Today we are talking about writing about true stories and people.We will be talking to a debut author of Trouble, the Water Rebecca Dwight Rough,a meticulously researched history of robert Smalls, a freedom seeker, civilwar hero and the first black U. S. Congressman. Rebecca is a PhD methodistpastor and was inspired to research the life of robert Smalls here in the lowcountry and we'll also be talking to the author of both The Lost Queen andthe Forgotten Kingdom Signee pipe. She is a graduate of Cornell University,Signee has worked as an acquisitions editor at Random House and then atpenguin before leaving to write her first book, fairy Tale. one womansearch for enchantment in a modern world, Pike has spent the past 10 yearsresearching and writing about Celtic history, myth, folklore and tradition.I am Patty Callahan and I am mary Alice Munro. And first on this episode, wewelcome Rebecca. Hey, Rebecca. It's good to see you both. It is, it reallyis. It's been too long, loves the book and to hear each other. Right? Yes, sogood. So Rebecca. I know this novel is about robert smalls, but can you tellus a bit more about him and about the book for you? Not the back flap for you.What is this book about? And then we'll dig into the wise of the novel. Okay,great, great way to jump in. So for me, the book is about honoring a storyacknowledging and honoring and under told almost untold story. And you know,it's not the only under told story that's not the only unacknowledgedstory, but it's a story of an extraordinary man with an extraordinarylegacy that most of us don't know about. And when I discovered this story, I wasstunned that I've never heard the name, but I didn't know the history. And thenof course, as I began researching, I was stunned to discover why we don'tknow the story and stories like this, that um, it says a lot about how we doand don't handle history and how we do and don't acknowledge and honor reallyimportant stories. So that's kind of what the book is about. Um, as it isabout this amazing man. He truly was an amazing man. I have to just jump in andsay that he, I was blown away myself by how much I did not know about robertSmalls until I read your book. I knew who he was. I'm from south Carolina andhe is known here, but not to the breath we should know him and what an impacthe had for our state, but also for our nation. So I'm so thrilled you wrote itand you were called to do it. Well let me just jump in also and say, it's sogood to see you again, Patty and I met you at a writer's workshop a couple ofyears back. It seems like such a long time. It doesn't, it seems like alifetime ago. You, it is really because...

...look, all you've done, you had not yetpublished trouble the water. So, um, that's a big shift in your career inyour life because you have a PhD in theology, which is quite impressive.And you served as a pastor of a methodist church in texas. So the firstquestion I have to ask is what compelled you to switch. Here's movedto south Carolina and write a novel. It was rubber smalls. We were leaving in trouble, a perfectnickname, isn't it? We were living and working in Dallas in the UnitedMethodist church. We are appointed to varieties of churches over time. So I'dserved several there and I was working in this wonderful, huge church becausethey're huge. They're with a great staff, great senior leadership,wonderful congregation. My parents were at that church but we took a brief tripto the Carolinas. Our youngest graduated at Chapel hill and then wecame to Beaufort for like three days and I never days I changed but I'venever been in the low country and so we, we were fascinated by the place and andthe beauty. I, you know, I'm a west texas girl. I grew up in the panhandleof texas. So to see water and trees and all this was really marvelous. But wejumped on a carriage tour and that's when I first heard the name robertSmalls. And first heard the story and these little bits of the story, noteven the entire story, but I was, I was so taken by his story and so like Isaid earlier, just stunned that I've never heard the name, you know, read anawful lot, a lot of degrees on the wall, but I've never heard the name. And sowhen we got off the carriage tour, we went straight to the bookstore I hearon Bay Street in Beaufort and I picked up several books and we flew back toDallas and for the next three years or so I was kind of reading and Googlingand trying to fill in the blanks because there's there are a couple ofgood biographies, there's some stuff online that some of it's accurate andsome of us not I've discovered but there there's not, there are a lot ofgaps in the story. We know enough of the historical record to know hislegacy is contributions. But my goodness, there's so many things thatare missing. We don't know where his last name came from. Yeah. I have afeeling that just popped up in my mind. Yeah. His last name, who his father was,how I met his wives and of course my background in education and theology. Iam curious about the interior lives of people and relationships and the theinfluence of religion and social constructs and all those sorts ofthings and I just couldn't find any of that. And you know, I kept reading andI kept making notes and and began sort of, his curiosity became sort of aintrigue. And then that sort of turned into a little bit of a compulsion. Andafter after about three years of that, I felt like like it was a story thatneeded to be told. Yeah. And I had heard someone say, you know, when youcan't find the book, you want to read, just write it. And I thought thatsounded fun and Challenger and intriguing. And so we had thisconversation about moving to beaufort for a few months to research and towrite. And so in early 2017, we loaded up the dog and some stuff came to toBeaufort for what we thought was a four month sabbatical. And after two or three months, I wasvery clear that I couldn't do this in four months or six months. Um and wediscovered that we loved Beaufort and we love the low country. So we made thedecision to make it home and now we're here. That is a big, so I I tell peoplefrequently, you know, robert smalls changed a lot of lives and still is,but he changed mine and I never saw that coming. That's nice. I like that.Well, it's always so interesting for all of us to hear the origin stories ofbooks like what set off the spark this and yeah and a carriage ride, you knowand hearing his name and the next thing, you know, your entire life is differentand you know, we've both written about real people and I know that feelingwhere all of a sudden that past matters right there lives matter. And thestories that were told incorrectly or from other people's point of view,start to bother you, and you want to tell it from your point of view. So Iknow that feeling. So tell me, why does...

...this story about this man That happenedover 150 years ago, matter now? Why this one? Why this one? So this man hiscontributions? Let me, let me be really specific about just one of thoseincredible contributions. And for people who are listening, you know, itmay not know, kind of the fullness of his story. The smallest was bornenslaved. Which meant that he was prohibited from learning to read andwrite. It was against the law to teach an enslaved person to read, or to writeWhen he was 12 or 13 years old. He was sent to Charleston. He was hired out inCharleston, which of course meant that he worked. And the wages he would haveearned were sent back to his owner in Beaufort. And he had several jobs. Heworked as a lamplighter. He worked in a restaurant at the hotel. But when hewas around 18 or 20 years old, he was working on a cotton steamer in theCharleston Harbor. It was called the planter. And And in 1861, he was justwhat, 22 years old? The Civil war began. And boats like the one he was workingon became confederate gunboats and confederate troop boats. So at thatpoint, he was, he was enslaved on a boat that was keeping him enslaved.Which is something to make us pause and think about. And um, so he was, youknow, he was working on behalf of his own enslavement. And I can I have twosons. I can only imagine the rage and the and the frustration um, in In hisheart and with his crewmates. But on the night of May 13 in 1862, afterabout a year of that, he had the opportunity to come and do that boat.And he took it very quietly from the Southern Worf on charleston Harbor,which you both know to the northern. He picked up the woman he loved and theirChildren and the women and Children of some of the crew mates, and theyslipped very quietly right under the nose of the confederates out ofcharleston Harbor. And the next morning, just before dawn, they delivered thatboat to the Union Navy and they were all liberated. And and he was shortlythereafter, he was made the captain of that boat on behalf of the Union and hepiloted it very heroically through the rest of the war. But when the war wasover, he came back to Beaufort, lots of things happened. He was elected tolocal leadership and then the state legislature before he was a congressmanin the U. S. Congress. And when he was a state legislator, he co authored thevery first legislation that ensured education insured literacy for all theChildren of south Carolina. And it was among the first of its it was the firstof its kind in the country. I mean it was it was the model for that and thisfrom a man who had been prohibited from reading and writing. And so bad alone.I think just, you know, puts him in the in all the record books and he shouldbe in all the textbooks. Every child in every school should know that part ofhis story, if not the whole story. So, so that I think is the thing that thatreally captured me. There's so much about him that was that was endearinghis courage, his strength, his constant fortitude. He was always lookingforward. He was a relationship builder and a bridge builder. But the four sideto to ensure education, you know, I know, but see you're talking when Ihear you talk now, I hear you describing the facts of who this manwas. But when I listened to the I listened to the narration and read thebook and it's a very different feel. It's, you know, it's not a presentationof facts. You are in the head of robert smalls. And I think what wasparticularly important in the major theme of the whole book wassurprisingly, it wasn't just about becoming a freed man, which wasobviously important. It was reading and writing. And for me, what brought thebook alive was robert Smalls says the young boy, and you spent quite a bit oftime in that area. He was innocent. He was precocious. He was curious and hisname. Trouble said it all, he wasn't. He never was a kind of child who got introuble, but his curiosity put him in awkward situations. And also he wasbeloved by Mr Mckee, his master and therefore there was always a questionof who his father was. But the language was always so interesting. You did sucha beautiful job with all the language of that slave era and which is toughand risky. And you were really clear in a child's language about how much hewanted to learn to read and write, that his inability to read and write was histrue enslavement. And it was expressed...

...so emotionally Through this child'svoice that by the time he was an adult, you caught the tinge of anger in hislanguage as well. So that changed. So let's talk language. You definitely usethe lingo of the black slaves in the 1850s. In fact, hearing the richbaritone of Gerald C. Rivers for the audio book was a true joy. Hisperformance was one of the best I've ever heard for an audio book. So let me just start that you've donegood, you really Charlton and Geraldine, but your use of the language you gavehim the words to speak. So here's my question. Were you concerned aboutgetting the language correct? And also, were you worried about anyrepercussions? Social repercussions here today about writing a blackperson's voice as a white woman? Yes, all of that was very concerned. Um, soto the, to the language and the sort of dialect. So, you know, I'm not fromhere originally of texas's southern, but it's not south Carolina, Southern.And in a way, I think that actually was a benefit to me because I was hearing,I was hearing in ways that weren't familiar and I had the wonderful goodfortune of making some acquaintances here on ST Helena island at the pincenter and that sort of thing. Some, some good friends with deep roots thatcould give me some guidance and I wanted in the book and in the, in theaudio both to evoke that just the lyricism of the gullah sound withoutgoing into caricature and a very fine line, so hard, so hard and so, so I didthat with a pretty light hand. I didn't use it a lot. I tried to use it verycarefully. Um, I put it in the mouth of people like his mother, you know,sharing her stories and jailed tales George those sorts of things. So Itried to do that extremely carefully. Um, your second question is huge andyou know the issues of representation and and whose story is this for a giant.So as I was as I began, I sort of naturally began writing in the firstperson. I like reading first person patty. I know you do a lot of that. Itseems real natural. All seems seems very intimate. I love reading thingsthat are written first person because I feel like I'm you know, looking oversomeone's shoulder reading their letters or their diaries. So I, so Ijust naturally began doing that. And then it occurred to me that you know,here I am 60s something white privileged woman in this century tryingto put language in the mouth of a young enslaved african american. Um, youngman from a long time ago, the, the distances to cross suddenly seemedimpossible. You know, not not only race but gender and time and geography andall those things just seemed ridiculously difficult. And I reallystruggled with the question who, who am I to tell the story? You know, that'sand if I can have, but I'd I also recognize that well, two things my ownbackground, but also you all know this the beauty of fiction is that itinvites us into another person's experience. And that's how we learn andexperience things that aren't our own experiences, how we cultivate empathyand compassion. And so I was kind of committed to finding a way into that.And, and then my own experience as a pastor, people tell me everything youknow, and, and uh, my own life experience. But hearing the experiencesof others, I feel like I've, I've been privileged to hear and learn so muchabout dreams and hopes and hurts and losses and betrayal and all the stuffof life. And that's a pretty deep well to, to reach into when we're exploringsomeone else's hopes like this young man and then then the other sort ofpiece of all that was the, the growing awareness of the importance of tellingand honoring this story. And so it all sort of overtime sort of shifted fromwho am I to tell the story to who am I to not tell the story. You know, thestory has to be told people that look like me. It looked like us kept thestory pretty suppressed for a long time. Um, and it's it's a story to be honored.And so that kind of shifted and it kind of, I think it gave me the confidenceto just push through. But I will tell...

...you when, when the manuscript was readyand was in Marley's hands and she began, you know, shopping it around the thebig publishers wrote the most beautiful rejections, a great story beautifullywritten. But we're, you know, it's the story of a black man written by a whitewoman and we don't want to do that. And and we were very fortunate that she umI found a home for the story with a small press that said, yeah, this storyneeds to be told and they didn't fabulous, courageous, really. It's verycourageous. And you know, you just think a difference of five years mighthave made all the difference. I think it very well well, may have. And, youknow, I knew, I mean, when we moved across the country, that was risky andI knew trying to tell the story this way was risky. But it's nothing likethe risk that this young man, you know, I mean, think about I think about whatI would risk my life for and there are things I would risk my life for, but herisked the life of the people he loved and the families of his friend, I mean,he risked all of it, all of it, and I knew that this might not be asuccessful venture for me to write the story, but you know, no one was goingto blow up and no one was gonna land on the bottom of the atlantic where we'regonna be okay, and you got the story out and the story is that and it's andpeople are talking about it and people are having conversations that arereally, really relevant right now, and I didn't see that coming. I, you know,I've kind of got this platform to to have some of these tough conversationsthat that that really mattered. I think thatthe stories that want to get told as desperately as it feels like his storywanted to be told, the vessel doesn't matter. You give into it, you let thestory come and the judgment of other people is to be put aside when you feelas if the story is coming through you. Well, I just have to jump in and saylistening to you both of you talking because both of you have written a bookthat you were called to tell. It's really beautiful to hear for me to hearyou both speak. Thank you. Thank you. So, as we round this out, that was verykind, very as you write stories, you're called to write to. I do. But this istwo people each of you, you had joy and you had robert and you both knew nomatter what I'm writing, no matter what I have to cannot do it. They do not doit. They don't leave you alone. And I think we'll see it in the second halftoday. You know, when, when a character story comes knocking you, you ignore itat your own peril. So I would love to round out our talk today real quickabout the research you did for jane mckee, not just robert because I knowfor me doing the research, you know, for joy, I had modern day letters, Ihad, even for the pulaski that, you know, 18 38 there were accountings. Didyou find anything, a diary or letters or anything from her? So a little kindof crude, really fond of her early on. You know, I recognized that she wasthis young mother sort of bewildered by the world that she was trying to makesense of. Um and I didn't have anything about her, but I did discover the marychestnut diaries, y'all are probably familiar with. Those mary chestnut wasthe life of a confederate lieutenant and she kept this giant journal and shewas so observant and she was very sharp and, and so she gave me some of thesort of language of the time and sensibilities a little bit. But I also,I sort of drew on my relationship with my mother and you know, because I waswatching Mrs Mckee and her daughter move into sort of a new world throughall of this and and my mom and I have this wonderful relationship, but we seesome things kind of differently and we we share that in thoughtful and carefulways, but we navigate the world differently in some ways. And so I drewa lot on that. I um I'm shocked. I can't believe you didn't have lettersand diaries door. I didn't and you know, and originally the original manuscript,the original manuscript, I had her keeping a diary and writing lettersback and forth with the daughter and then with the editor, nail that too. Ihave to say that was so much fun. That was so much fun. I just, you know, mostof my, most of my professional career, I've written a lot, but I didn't get tojust make things up. So being able to be really imaginative and and really, you know, I tried to get into thehearts and the heads of these these...

...women who, you know, they wereprivileged, they had they had a lot, a lot of material stuff, but they didn'thave the right to vote. They didn't have much say in anything. They werestruggling with, not the same issues, but they were struggling and trying tomake sense of a world that was really changing. And we've been there right. Iam. I'm just curious about your resources because you didn't have a lotfor her. And as robert Smalls is a boy, did you? Where did you draw all thatinformation from? How much was available to you? So, I had theextraordinary good fortune of meeting robert Smalls, great great grandson,Michael. But we're more was in charleston. He's building thatwonderful international african american museum there on the side ofGazans Worf. He was in Buford to speak about Smalls at the Penn Center just afew months after we moved here. Uh so I went to listen to him. And it was, itwas before Covid he was greeting everyone and I told him how excited Iwas to meet him. But I was too starstruck and too intimidated to tellhim. I was trying to write a book and his great great grandfather father. Ijust said, you know, I love your great great grandfather. Um, but that, thatopened up kind of a door to, to learn a little bit more and to, you know, getinto some of the, some of the details of some of the biographies. I didn'twant, I wanted to be careful that I didn't ask for family stories because Ithink those belong to the family, but things that were in public domain andin the biographies. Yeah. Have fun with, you know, embellished. Well, Rebecca, we are so honored andpleased that you came to talk to us today about robert Smalls. This is atruly amazing book and it sounds like it was the story that would not leaveyou alone. So, thank you for joining us on the friends and fiction podcast.Thank you both so much. It was wonderful, so much. Great information.Thank you. It's just delightful to be able to talk with you. And um you know,we all love sharing our stories, don't we? And this was a wonderful one. And Ithink that we hope it spreads the word because this is the book that everyoneshould read. I hope, okay, everybody run out there, double the water bubblesof water and it's on audio now. So listeners people that read that with.Yeah. And I highly highly recommend the audiobook because it's one of the bestI've ever heard and people know I love my audiobooks. So thank you Rebecca,Thank you so much. Thank you Patty mary Alice. Great, great to be with you.Thanks so much. Bye bye now, let's welcome Signee pipe to talk about theForgotten Kingdom. The second book in her the Lost Queen trilogy. It is justnow out on june 8th in paperback. Welcome signee. Hello, signee. Hello,wonderful to be here. Well, I just have to say you know, we're all friends andso it's especially nice to see you here. And also interestingly enough, we justspoke to Rebecca Rough and Signee was one of the teachers at the writer'sconference that are referenced earlier when we met Rebecca. So is in theserendipity now onto your magnificent historical, which we love. This isactually booked two of the series, the Forgotten Kingdom. And this book picksup where the lost Queen left off. We learned that lang gora the powerful anduntil now tragically forgotten thing of sixth century Scotland is the twinsister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin. So Signee, where arewe in this book? So the Forgotten Kingdom as you said, it picks up rightwhere the end of the loss queen commenced, which was with this, withthis battle. It's an actual historical battle that took place in sixth centuryScotland. And lingering, our queen had people she loved on both sides of thebattle. And so um the beginning of the Forgotten Kingdom, we begin to learnmore about who's lived and who's died as this battle and in the aftermathscatters all of these characters to the wind. And of course many of thesepeople were actual historical figures which is always so stunning to realizethey've forgotten and yet they were real and and they not only wereforgotten, but they inspired legends. I want to think that you have foundthousands of years from now that your story would inspire actual legends. So,one of my favorite things about any novel and particularly with you becauseI know it is the origin story. So where...

...did you get the spark of the idea forthe Lost Queen trilogy? Where did it really begin? I know you wrote fairytale and you were in Scotland and you have an interest in Arthurian legends.And then I was in the whole book store. Um and I picked up a book that wasnonfiction about the origins of Merlin and it was written by a Glasgow lawyerwho claimed that Merlin was based on an actual historical figure named lilac.In and the whole book lays out his his theory, which now has become much morescholarly accepted. And basically that was the first time I ever read aboutlanguorous. Um Although Merlin is a wizard and has been consigned to theworld of myth, the fact that this this man lilac and had a twin sisterlanguorous who is an actual historical queen, was mind blowing to me. And thenas I read add a marjorie is the name of the author. As I read his book, I readabout all the events that took place during the life of this brother and thesister and it just started to turn in me what a terrible injustice this hasbeen. That languorous life has been forgotten, given all that she livedthrough and what an important figure she was and that she had beendeliberately brushed under the rug by her enemies at the time. Um And theirand their censorship of her life. And there Degradation of her brother's namehas been successful enough to stamp out her memory. But of course, thanks tothe Arthurian legend, we still have some echoes of Merlin and the life ofMerlin 1500 years later. Did you when you first saw that book? Right. Ifwe're talking about the spark of this fire that became this amazing storywhen you first picked up the book and saw it in the bookstore, signee, didyou think to yourself, oh this should be a novel or were you just interested?And then you took it from there? I don't think I thought that it couldbe a story or a novel until I started roiling with all those emotions readingthe book. And that's when I realized, you know, I have a background as aneditor um working at at some of the big five publishing houses in acquisitions.And one of the things that I learned as an editor is that a lot of times, um,in order for a really important story or really important change to takeplace, it has to be popularized by fiction, which is strength and it seemscounterintuitive, but a lot of times until we can really live the story insomeone else's skin, it doesn't affect us in the way that I really felt itshould. Yeah. So it occurred to me that the only way to really resurrect,languorous and to give lilac in back his life. Because, you know, while someof us believe in magic, there's really no such thing as wizards in the waythat, that he's been portrayed, religion and belief is another topic.But so I felt like they had been robbed of their lives and I wanted to turnthat to them. And so I thought, well, the only way to really do this is topopularize it and to make it into fiction, which is a really good segueinto the question that I have because we've talked about this a lot and howdo we categorize your work, its historical fiction and the facts arethere? It's based on real people. And yet you always do delve into somethingelse that mystical and the unknown. And a lot of that's the true and faith, Ithink. And in your book has been referred to as Outlander needs Camelot,which is actually a pretty great tag if I do say so. However, we don't wantpeople to not recognize that this is true historic fiction. So the bottomline, your research is meticulous and scholarly and you managed to take thatand bring all that knowledge to life in a truly authentic, vibrant story world.So how would you describe this series? And are your challenge? Is balancingscholarship and compelling fiction? Absolutely. There's always thatchallenge, especially just given the topic, the fact that I'm writing aboutthe legend of Merlin, someone who inspired the legend that causes a lotof, of mis labeling and the books are often labeled as fantasy, um, uh,understandable. So that's why I worked so hard to right about the historicalevents that happened. We know the...

...battles that took place. We knowChildren who are descended from language with, I focus on going to thehistorical sites. We know a lot of these old fortresses you can actuallygo visit today. Um, well I go visit those sites and um, that's, that's theway to really, we've in the actual historical background. It is achallenge. But the more I immersed myself in the facts, the easier itbecomes to stay focused on that. And I really try to also just wear completeblinders when it comes to any sort of our three in books, television shows oranything like that, because as far as I'm concerned, you know, those arefantasy and what I'm doing is founded and based solely on fact, so that doeshelp keep it straight. But you know, you you mentioned about the, thebeautiful elements of the druid IQ religion, the pre christian religion,and that's a really important element to and I'm trying to show readers that,you know, just because sixth century people believed in the power of cursesor believed in the power of prayer and ritual, that doesn't make it fantasy.People go to church every sunday in this country or synagogue or the mosqueand that doesn't make what they're doing fantasy. Does it try to bringthat question up to my readers as well? You know, just because I'm writingabout a pre christian religion, um doesn't make it fantastical. It wasjust as real to them as as any sort of prayer anyone could murmur today. Mmhmm. When I read Fairy tale, which is your first book and a memoir, that samething came up over and over this idea that just because it was Celtic doesn'tmean it's fantasy. It is what they believed. And so let's talk about theresearch. Yes, let's because sixth century Scotland tell us about thatkind of research. You have discovered so many fascinating things from secretsto landscapes, to mistakes made in history books. And the travel. You'vegot to tell us about the travel you even visited languorous childhood home.That was one of the most amazing experiences was I had to write thefirst couple of chapters of the book without ever having gone to the placewhere she grew up, which is today, a park that anyone can visit. It's calledShadow Hero Country Park and it's looking um just outside the village ofHamilton in central Scotland outside of Glasgow ish. And you can go there today.And I had to write about going down to the river was the first scene that cameinto my mind when I was writing the book. It was really eerie when I wentto the location finally and I was walking down the trail to the water andit looked exactly as I had written it, but well, I've never been there before.So there were weird things like that that would happen that were verymystical. Um, but at the same time it's enormously helpful to be able to talkto, you know, the grounds managers and say, well, where would they affordedthe river? And you can see what color the rocks are and you can see whatcolor the water is. And is it shallow or deep? You know what? They've beenable to put a boat through here? Or where did they, where did they try tocatch salmon? Where were the salmon traps? And you can find out all ofthose things by visiting these sites and just walking the grounds and seeingthe flora and the fauna. And um, so that's the kind of research that Istarted to do. And that's when the characters really came to life for mewas being in those places. I could almost feel them in the land. Still. Itwas sort of like a memory lived in the land and that was a really, reallybeautiful experience. And so since then for every book, I have gone back toScotland to go to the sites because there's always interesting new placesthat crop up or new people that I want to write about Also. Um you asked aboutwriting about the 6th century. It's really tough. It is a maddening loverto write about the 6th century. There's so little archaeologically. Um mostlythe britons who are the people that I write about linguine with was a briton.They built out of timber. So wood rots away all we have left or post holes. Soyou have holes where houses used to be and huts. And um we don't even reallyknow certain things about, you know, like did they have windows we don'treally know. Um so there's been almost nothing that's been found. We we knowwhat came before and we know it came after, but the sixth century ismaddeningly, I bet I can legend. Well, you know, speaking of all those tripsto Scotland, you promised me and Patty a trip to Scotland and Darren Covid puta halt to our plans. But we're holding you to it. So I'm just going to startright there. Your scenes are so vividly...

...described. They're really beautiful andthe pageantry, the wildlife, even the clothing is just everything was so muchbrought to life and in case anyone out there doesn't know this series wasoption for a television series. So we're all holding our breath to watchit live and maybe you have an update. And the other thing I'm curious to knowis, and all this research that you've done. Can you tell us one thing? Thatwas one of the most surprising things that popped up? Mm. Well, yeah, as faras the our trip to Scotland um was wrapped by Covid and we will go. Theother thing was of course postponed by Covid was the development of thetelevision series which is everything is backlogged. So we are still backlogbut the show is still in development and just really exciting. Right. Right.Yes. And soon we'll be looking for a network for our, for our show. Sothat'll be really oh my gosh, I can't wait. No, it's a really, I couldn't askfor more incredible team. It's you know bruna Papandrea from made up storiesand they've done Uh nine perfect strangers and they're coming out,they're coming out nearly every week. It seems like with a new show based ona book. So they are the perfect people to be working with. Great. Yes. Andtell us about the surprise, most surprising thing. The most, one of themost surprising things, there's always weird little synchronicities thathappened that patty and mary Alice and I delight in talking about. Um but oneof the strangest things when I was researching the Forgotten Kingdom wasthat I went to. So we talked about this big battle that took place at the endof the Last Queen. And it's what opens the second book, there is a legend insouthern Scotland that when Merlin he survived the battle, most people thinkthankfully for my books, that's what I've also I've also talked about theheart that was good. And so he fled to southern Scotland to this little townum called Moffitt. And he's thought to have lived at the bottom of themountain there. And a lot of other nonfiction writers who have studied theidea of Merlin and tried to prove the existence of Merlin have put forth theidea that he lived. It says in some of the old texts that he lived at a spring.You know, they had this really beautiful freshwater spring halfway upthis mountain and that that's where Merlin lived and he was up to histhighs and snow and survived there for seven years. Well, I went to go visitthe site with a friend of mine who's a mountain guide and he was teaching meabout orienteering about mapping and we had an OS map and as we were looking atthe map, one of the things that I discovered was that there was a littlesign for a burnt mound. Um wow, it's something that the ancient Celtics usedto use to do laundry and they would sort of do sweat lodges, they would useit to clean themselves to cook and right by it. There was also a hutcircle that had been forgotten and I thought why would a Lord Merlin wasMadrid and a politician and a warrior, why would he be thigh deep in snow upat this? Well, I went to go see the spring and there was nothing, there wasnothing there but a little overhang of rock. There's no way one could surviveup there. But here at the base of the mountain, you had a hut with a way tocook in a way to take a bath in the free world of winter. And so it couldvery likely be the place where Merlin and the other warriors who survived uhlived in exile after the battle of artery. With, wow, so fascinating. Imean, I loved every time you came back from a trip and posted your photos andfor those of you listening, if you go to Sydney S I G N E pikes P I K E Sinstagram, you will be awarded with the most gorgeous photos of Scotland andthe views that she got to see. So Sydney speaking of Scotland andenchantment, I once read this whole list of random facts about theforgotten kingdom. And I want you to tell us a few of those because I thinkthey drive home the gist of this novel. Yeah, I'm always loved doing the listsof facts. So, so I'll give you guys my top three that I think are interesting.The first, the first fact is that lilac in or slash merlin as he's known in inlegend, wasn't a wizard. He was a warrior as I mentioned and he was apolitician. He was a nobleman and he was a druid. And the reason he'sconfused and thought to be a wizard was because he was a member of your injury.That pre christian religion and Jared's weren't wizards, although some of themwere involved with sacrifices and the...

...religious aspects of the life druidswere actually just the non christian intellectual cast of Ireland gaul andBritain. So well, so we did with priestly duties. Others, they were thedoctors, the teachers and the lawgivers of the ancient Celtic world. That'swhat um, and of course there were some that were priests, but there were manywho weren't. So that's really, isn't it just real quick, Isn't it amazing howthrough the centuries that one word shifts for what we think it meansversus what it really does mean for these very real people in this veryreal time. Yes. And it was done with a very real purpose which was todenigrate the legitimacy of people like lilac in who used to have a lot ofpower. Um, when you relegate some of you to, to fairy tales and to thenursery, you're, you're stripping away their power although their memorieskept alive. But any sort of sense of real power or impact become finished.Yeah, diminished. Exactly. Okay. So fact number two, is that a lot ofpeople think we talk about Scotland that it was inhabited by the Scots? Andwhat's really interesting about my time period is that during the sixth century,there were actually four different peoples that were living in ancientScotland. And primary among those were the britons. They controlled almost allof central Scotland. The picks who lived up north of the Clyde line, theScots who are actually from Ireland and they were interlopers and they livedonly over in the west of the country and then the angles with anglo saxonsand they were coming over and trying to take over land to the east. They werethe invaders from across the sea. We had four different people all my lifeand talk about a melted but it's really exactly And then the last one is thatum this is when I found out researching the forgotten kingdom and moving intobook three, which I'm writing now is that people in the early medieval timeperiod believed in the power of curses and prayers. I mentioned this earlier.No. Um but christians and pagans alike believed in that ability. Um and bothchristians and pagans thought that they had there were certain people who hadthe ability to influence the weather. So there's yeah, there's stories ofSaint columba being called upon by some of his followers to summon a fair windso that ships could sail. And he does this through prayer and I know throughreading texts and digging up ancient lore that we've certainly got prechristian people or non christian people who work believed to be able todo the same thing. So these are people who really truly felt they couldinfluence the weather that they could influence crops through the power oftheir own prayer. Which goes back to what you said at the very beginning,which is that christian pre christian they really are. It's all about themessage is the same. It's prayer. What they believed in is very real. It'shistoric, not fantasy. Exactly. Exactly. So those are only three of my facts.But I often do things like I've got a list about 10 things you're reallylearning about history when you watch game of Thrones. Um so he's trying tostrip the magic out of things. You know your your your call you because youwere a book called fairy tale. But the magic of that book was that with thispatty said its enchantment. It does it's very it's very alluring to knowthat there's something that's real that is also mystical and that is sort of mylife's mission is realizing that the world we live in right now is no moreor less magical than the world of Merlin and Arthur and languorous withforgot to tune into that. Oh beautiful Signee, beautiful big data and uh thatwas perfect signee Before we go real quick tell everyone where they can findyou on the webs, where the social media channels where can people find all thisamazing information about you, You can find me on instagram under signee pike,I'm also on twitter right now. I'm not on facebook and then of course mywebsite has information about all of my books. Um little videos, you can readan excerpt from the novels and keep up on news about the tv development andall that fun stuff too. Thank you so much. We're so honored you came to talkto us and we loved The Forgotten Kingdom and we also loved the LawScreen, which is a prequel to the prequel before it. And we are sopleased about having you on Friends and...

...fiction. It's always so fun. We get totalk about stories together. Thanks signee. Oh thank you so much. It's beengreat. Thanks so much for having me. Thank you for tuning in, Join us everyweek on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs every Wednesday night atseven p.m. eastern time and please subscribe to our podcast and follow uson instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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