C 2019Castles seem to be an obsession with me.  The whole of the Princelings series revolves around inter-castle rivalry.  And here’s a post to celebrate C in the A to Z Anniversary challenge.

I’m doing flashbacks to the posts I’ve done on my past A to Z Challenges.  Today it’s a post from last year, when my theme was ‘inspirations for my writing’.

Castles in the UK and my books (2018)

atoz letter cCastles are common in the UK.  Stockades built by the Celts against the Anglo Saxons, or Saxon fortifications to ward of the Vikings, now crumbled away, or great stone towers by the Normans in the 11th Century, most are ruined but many still in use (the Tower of London, for example).  Then there was the golden age of castle building, during the Wars of the Roses.  Most lords had castles to retreat to – just read some of the historical fiction by Philippa Gregory: the Red Queen spent her life in some man’s castle (mostly being mistreated).

When I started writing the Princelings of the East, I envisaged a world without people.  I had vague ideas that a catastrophe had wiped people out and left a great plain where London and the Home Counties would be. But that isn’t part of the story. Castles were connected by tunnels, and thriving communities led by their kings and lords ran more or less in harmony under well-established rules.

My Illustrations

talent seekers coverI started drawing the castles.  Mostly they were simple keeps surrounded by more walls.  Occasionally they turned into wedding-cake types of structures.  Sometimes my mental image of them don’t really translate to the pictures I drew.  That’s the case with Castle White Horse, which evolved on the book cover of the Talent Seekers to something that couldn’t ever host a wall-running competition.  Castle Buckmore I described as ‘more like an enormous country house, surrounded by high walls’.  My first attempts didn’t do it justice.

I found more inspiration in real castles when I went looking for them.  Castle Buckmore is now modelled on the grand villas of Lake Garda, then surrounded by walls to leave the outward appearance of the first book.  Castle Palatine is firmly based on my memory of Durham castle, whereas my Castle Edin is actually based on a photograph of Edinburgh castle.  I wanted the complexity of Edin to shine through.  By contrast, Castle Marsh, the first to be imagined, is a simple keep with round towers, on a rock.  It has expanded a little over the years.

I started drawing the castles. Mostly they were simple keeps surrounded by more walls. Occasionally they turned into wedding-cake types of structures. #princelings #illustrations #atozchallenge Share on X

Real Castles

The first keep I ever saw was Rochester castle, which we went past on the train when we visited our grandmother as kids.  What with that and Enid Blyton’s Castle of Adventure, well, castles were excellent for a fertile imagination!

There was an excellent BBC tv series on about castles a few years ago, which I had to watch for research, didn’t I? Some of the great castles of the UK featured strongly; Caernarvon, Alnwick, Hever, Bolsover.  More recently I saw a Mary Berry programme that went inside Scottish castles – that was fascinating too. I visited many of the Scottish castles on holidays.  Unfortunately I don’t have photos of them.  I’ll just have to satisfy you with some of some of the East Anglian castles that are easier for me to get to – Castle Rising, Castle Acre (ruins), Caister, Framlingham, Orford.  Or you could look at some great English castles on the English Heritage website.

First posted on 3rd April 2018

If you like flashbacks, why not join in Flashback Friday?

IWSG Question of the Month

Insecure Writers Support Group badgeI know I didn’t really mention the IWSG today. The question of the month was about hard scenes to write.

I’ve just finished writing a scene I’ve been dreading, where a major character dies. I’ve been crying all the way through it, and when I finished I must have sobbed for a good five minutes, nearly as much as when the real Fred died.

Oh, I feel awful. How do other writers cope?

Don’t forget to enter my AtoZ Giveaway this year! See yesterday’s post to enter.

C is for Castles – an AtoZChallenge Flashback special #IWSG

16 thoughts on “C is for Castles – an AtoZChallenge Flashback special #IWSG

  • 3 April, 2019 at 8:00 am

    I remember reading the Castle of Adventure and others in the series. It was an act of rebellion as I wasn’t allowed to read anything by Enid Blyton! Couldn’t put it down.
    Really like your drawings, Jemima.

    • 3 April, 2019 at 11:24 am

      I remember being told not to mention Enid Blyton when I went for my interview for secondary school. Of course I did! I suspect I said I’d been told not to mention her but I thought her Adventure series was very good, much better than the Famous Five (which of course it was!). They took me anyway…

  • 3 April, 2019 at 9:49 am

    I love castles – always have. My earliest memory of castles is visiting Bodium castle with our primary school. It seemed like it was so far away and so big, but actually, it’s just a few miles down the road from the village we used to live in. Funny how the world is so much smaller when we are smaller too!
    Wow, you did a lot of work on your castles – bravo.
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Ghost Stories

    • 3 April, 2019 at 11:25 am

      I’ve always admired Bodiam, but never visited that. I must add it to my list, which I’m actually going to work on now I’ve got some free time!

    • 3 April, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Thanks, Mary Lou. It’s interesting seeing them develop over the years 🙂

  • 3 April, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I love castles too. Wish I could go visit some. Sounds like you wrote a really moving scene if it made you cry. I’ve never tried killing off a major character yeet.

    • 3 April, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      It’s not recommended, I can tell you. This one first arrived in the second book – this is number 9. Actually, I’d better not say too much, or all the spoilers will be out.

  • 3 April, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    What’s not to like about castles? You pen and ink drawings are spectacular.

    • 3 April, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks, Noelle. I’m sorry about the pictures you wanted, but…

  • 3 April, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Oh my gosh, I totally love Castles. They are beautiful, mysterious, and oooooooooo if walls could talk!!! You do a wonderful renditions of them also. Great job. I use to dabble in drawings, but then I got soooooo busy with work & surgeries that I let it go for a while and found that crocheting kept my mind at ease better! Have a great day & thanks so much for sharing. I love your drawings so much almost as much as I love Castles. ~hehehe~ Thank you!

    • 4 April, 2019 at 8:50 am

      Thanks, Dolly! Crochet, eh? I did that for a very short while but never did more than mats for glasses 🙂 I think all these things are ones you can pick up and put down while other things take priority. I just found a reason to start drawing again – and you can tell the improvement between the first ones and later 🙂
      YOu certainly have a busy life! Thanks for visiting.

  • 4 April, 2019 at 2:44 am

    Wonderful sketches. Castles have always fascinated me. I grew up imagining all castles should be like Bodiam. Lived in Lewes for some years and before we left the UK, in sight of Harlech.

    • 4 April, 2019 at 8:51 am

      There’s two I haven’t seen./ Already added Bodiam to my list; now when can I get over to Harlech?

      • 4 April, 2019 at 7:29 pm

        Harlech is other side of Britain from East Anglia, but worth the trip. There is a third castle hidden in my comment – Lewes. I lived there with my first wife and the castle is visible from miles around. We also lived in Norwich, so I’ve explored that one – not that it’s anything spectacular.

  • 5 April, 2019 at 8:32 am

    I haven’t yet found the nerve to kill off anyone I like. I’m just a softie. I’ve let some characters get beat up a bit, but all my corpses have been of folks we won’t miss 🙂

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