In 2010 we interviewed author Jayden Woods about her novel Eadric the Grasper: Sons of Mercia Volume I. Jayden has now published the sequel – Godric the Kingslayer, and we caught up with her to discuss the new book:
1.) Compared to the first book, how did the writing process differ when you sat down to write “Godric”?
I certainly enjoyed the fact that the bulk of my research was behind me when I started “Godric the Kingslayer.” This allowed me to brainstorm about the story early on without feeling like I had to constantly fact-check. However, I still carefully aligned Godric’s story to the events of history, which was not always easy. Due to the importance of King Canute in the story, most of my new research surrounded Canute the Great himself. He is a fascinating man, full of contradictions, and I greatly enjoyed writing more about him as well.
2.) Godric is fictional but Eadric apparently had a son who helped him assassinate Edmund Ironside. How much were you able to research into Eadric’s son when creating Godric’s character?
All I knew was that a son of Eadric might have helped him kill Edmund Ironside. Eadric had only been married to Aydith for eight years at the time, so I concluded that the child would have to be either extremely young or born out of wedlock beforehand. Even with the latter scenario, Godric is still very young when he helps Eadric kill the king, and that dramatically shapes his character for the rest of the book.
3.) Since you were not bound to the same historical constraints as when writing an actual historical persona like Eadric, did you have a strong idea as to the direction you were going with Godric’s story?
Godric was one of those characters who practically wrote himself, fictional or not. Considering the circumstances of his birth and the traumatic events of his childhood, I had little doubt as to the sort of man Godric would become. The book begins with the death of Edmund Ironside so Godric’s future targets needed to be increasingly dramatic as the story continued. I decided to make Godric secretly responsible for the deaths of some rather important historical figures throughout the book, so most of my historical restraints centered around those figures.
There are a few instances where I play around a little with the facts of history and their unreliability, especially concerning Godric’s relationship with Thorkell the Tall’s real son, Harald. According to history, Thorkell and Canute “switch sons” in an effort to make peace with one another. I really wanted Godric to be the one to go, so Godric pretends to Harald and thus enters Canute’s court in Harald’s place.
4.) Eadric was villainous but realizes his mistakes and tries to impart some wisdom on Godric. Godric doesn’t seem to take this to heart and suffers terribly throughout most of the book consumed by revenge and anger. After writing about a character like Eadric, what made you want to continue along this dark vein with Godric?
Along with the fact that Godric’s childhood sets him up for a hard life, I also purposefully explore a different sort of hero with each volume of the Sons of Mercia series. Eadric Streona was a complex individual who did bad things for arguably good intentions; as selfish as he was, Eadric altogether desired peace and happiness for himself and his loved ones. He also had a heavy conscience and tried to justify his actions by reasoning his way out of them, both to himself and to others. Godric, on the other hand, is much more simple on the surface: he just wants revenge. Until the end of the book, he rarely pauses to question his own morality. Everything seems simple to him at first. Eventually, he senses he has crossed the line of justice and must try to turn back, but by then it might be too late.
5.) What can we look forward to in the next instalment of the “Sons of Mercia – Eric the Wild”? When will it be available? What other upcoming projects can you tell us about?
“Edric the Wild” will be the most epic installment yet, featuring a Robin Hood-esque hero and a delusional villain cruel enough for a Grimm fairy tale. The final volume of the Sons of Mercia follows Eadric Streona’s descendants into the Norman Conquest and features a variety of characters, from William the Conqueror himself to Wild Edric’s “fairy” wife of legend. It will probably release some time in the fall of 2012.
Between the launch of “Godric the Kingslayer” and “Edric the Wild,” I also plan to release a fantasy novel that I originally wrote several years ago and recently revised called “Ashes of Dearen.” In this saga, a red-eyed assassin, an unready princess, a sadistic politician, and an adulterous queen all desire a magical dust known as safra. Safra is said to bring happiness, but these characters’ quest to obtain it will throw three great kingdoms into the bloodiest war they have ever known.
Fans of the Sons of Mercia will probably enjoy “Ashes of Dearen” and vice versa, even though the genre is fantasy. The book should become available sometime this late winter and the ebook will be FREE, so keep a lookout on my website for updates: http://www.jaydenwoods.com.
We thank Jayden for answering our questions.
Want more medieval? Take a look at our digital magazine – The Medievalverse – Click here to see our latest issues