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History Buff is a site
for history lovers everywhere. It is also a site very interested in women
of the past. Although I (sadly) no longer have time to continue these interviews, here is an archive of Q&As about women's lives
in history. And please feel free to stop by History Buff's
sister site for archaeological discoveries making news today. Enjoy!
historical fiction writer I am fascinated by news stories featuring the
past as it's unearthed and reimagined and brought to life. I spend a
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Monday, December 1, 2008
Q&A With Historical Fiction Author Katherine Christensen
*Your novel, A RIB FROM EVE, tells the story of a powerful and educated woman named Malgven as she makes her way through life in the seventh century. What interested you in this remote, yet fascinating, period of history?
After the tragedy of 9-11, like most Americans I found myself searching for answers. As a software engineer I used the internet, researching history, going back in time to try to find where this incredible friction between peoples began. This is when I stumbled upon this amazing time period I like to call "the final taming of the Caucasian tribes". In the fourth century Rome literally surrendered its empire in the west to the Caucasian Tribal Leaders and continued its decay there-after. The most powerful formidable family line, the Merovingians of the Frankish tribes, emerged as clear leaders filling the former void of Roman tyranny. It was now a Europe without borders, and by the sixth century, all other tribes were either paying homage to or being thrashed by these Kings. Caucasian women, during this time period, had incredible influence with their men, almost to the point of enchantment, some hinted.
During Malgven's early seventh century, the patriarchal Catholic Church has gained a strong foothold in these Kingdoms and conversion from Pagan to Christianity is at its peak. Rapidly the Clergy are becoming fed up with the power these women have over their men.
*How much of A RIB FROM EVE is based on fact, and how much is fiction?
Strong influential women were key fixtures among Celtic tribes of the Franks, Saxons, Danes, English and Irish up to and well after the demise of Roman Imperial Power. Fictional and mythical characters are woven among strong historical figures depicting clashes for power as well as the chaos of Pagan conversion to Christianity. The story centers around the family of Malgven, fictional daughter of the historical Merovingian King Dagobert I. Through her family's eyes we bear witness to an era of new beliefs, treacherous times, and violent enemies.
I now own a concise library of both modern and historical literature on the subject which serves as sources for the historical figures and events.
*Your novel includes several creative elements (definitions, footnotes, a map) to enhance the reader's enjoyment of the story. Can you explain what gave you the idea to do this?
One of my all time favorite authors is Ann Rand. I first read one of her novels over twenty years ago and still find myself picking one off the shelf every couple of years to read it yet again. Passion can only describe my feelings about this time period and the facts have proven more fascinating than fiction. My goal is to reach readers on a number of levels: those who just enjoy an entertaining read, those who find themselves fascinated with the time period, and those who enjoy discovering new layers within a novel after they pick it up for the third or fourth read.
*Tell us something surprising about women's lives under the Merovingian King, Dagobert I.
Women in aristocratic families were opinionated, respected, well educated and at times, formidable. Pagan influences were very strong, even in Christianized households. There are many disputes about the historical ordination of women -- that is a woman who held a cleric position such as Deaconess or Episcopa(female Bishop). It is very evident that our ancient sisters' achievements were often neglected or erased by historians. Given women held strong positions of power and influence as priestesses and warriors, prior to the taming of the tribes, it seems only logical this would carry over into the early Caucasian Christian era, for a time in any case.
*What are you working on next?
I often find the greatest inspiration for my novels when I walk some of our pristine wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest with my four footed hiking buddy, Lucy, a very athletic Australian Shepherd. My senses seem to come alive on the trails allowing me to process storylines, climb inside characters and wrap around historical events as if I were actually there myself.
My next project is a prequel to A RIB FROM EVE featuring the notorious Merovingian Queen divas, Brunhilda and Fredegunda.
The late sixth century lived through one of the most violent Merovingian blood feuds in history fueled by these sisters-in-law. The hands of both dripped with the blood of their own family members, slaughtered at their whims through the kings under their influence. In this next novel, these fierce women and their progeny will interact with pivotal, historical figures and not only witness, but participate in underhanded and appalling political intrigue as well as dastardly behaviors.
By the way, the historical Fredegunda is Malgven's great grandmother. . . .
Thank you Katherine! And feel free to visit Katherine Christensen online for more information about A Rib From Eve.