Subscribe to Jessica's exclusive newsletter

Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter

* indicates required

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The End of the Pandemic

The Cruz de la Carne in its deluxe silver holder or monstrance, 
in a photo grabbed from ZamoraNews.

The Middle Ages came together with the present day in a spectacular way today, Ash Wednesday, in my history-soaked Zamora. 

Onlookers like me and the paparazzi prepare for the new rite.
This and all following photos and video 2021 Jessica Knauss 

As I'm sure you're aware, we're in a global viral pandemic. As the strangely prescient release of We All Fall Down emphasized, this is not the first such health crisis, not by far. 

The bishop processes from the main altar and reads a prayer. 

The legend says that during the first run of the Black Death through Spain, in about 1350, a monk named Ruperto poured his heart and soul into praying for the end of the pandemic. An angel appeared to Ruperto and gave him the relic now known as the Cruz de la Carne (Flesh Cross), saying that as long as this cross was worshipped, there would never be a pandemic in Zamora. 

I guess the Cruz de la Carne fell out of Zamora's devotion, in spite of its prominent placement in one of the chapels in the cathedral, because we've had our share of COVID losses, like everywhere else. Before the pandemic, the Bishop of Zamora passed away and is now buried in the floor behind the choir in the cathedral. 

Just last December, Zamora finally got a new bishop. He came to us from Murcia, and apparently, is looking to make his mark. He learned about the legend of Ruperto and declared that every Friday during Lent this year, the Cruz de la Carne would be the protagonist of a special prayer at the north door. They decided to start observing this rite today, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Today, I didn't attend mass, as I didn't want to occupy one of only 25 spots because I'm not Catholic and wouldn't want to get the ashes on my forehead. That spot should go to someone else. But I went to the cathedral door to witness the rite and absorb the medieval atmosphere. It felt a little like the old days, arriving at a beautiful, historical spot in Zamora to wait for an event, like Holy Week, but with social distancing. 

The Bishop himself said prayers asking for the end of the current pandemic and displayed the Cruz to all the cardinal points, thus reestablishing the worship of the Cruz de la Carne in Zamora and keeping the legend alive. 

Personally, I don't find the relic itself pretty to look at--what kind of flesh is it?--but I do feel the pull of history when I'm in its presence. 

As readers of this blog know, I'm passionately devoted to medieval Spanish history, and get a particular frisson of delight when I come across medieval legends or miracles. I hope this kind of devotion suffices. If so, we have already officially kicked this pandemic's butt. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Happy Holidays

The Feliz Navidad sign always makes the
Plaza Mayor look like a postcard. 

This year, there doesn't seem to be much holiday cheer. So here are some photos of the cheeriest things in my city and a video of one very enthusiastic author talking about the thing she loves most (my book launch party). 

It's not the holidays without certain treats. My favorite variety tray of
the "most expensive turrón in the world." It's not that pricey.  
I found a Yule Log! I used to find these at Italian bakeries
in the United States, though the word "yule" suggests
 a Celtic origin... This Spanish version is so good

The fine folks at Kindle Press are gifting you a trip to magical
Providence, RI, for only 99 cents this December! 

The street lighting this year is even more subtle than usual.

But with the native beauty of Modernist and
Romanesque architecture, you don't need to add much. 

Afternoon strolls down the shopping street.

The old town hall. 

Down Balborraz Street, one of the oldest
and most beautiful streets in Zamora. 

The "umbrella" in the Plaza Mayor with the sign
so you don't forget where you are! 

My city has "love" in it! 

I wrote this book to curl up with and get lost in. 

Heading toward the oldest part of the city. 

The theatre, for plays and events.
(People from elsewhere often ask me if it's a movie theatre,
which seems to be the fate of many old theatres.)

On the side of the Parador. 

The store with the weird costumes for parades has a tree! 

The Renaissance convent and a Modernist balcony. 

The palace from the time of Ferdinand and Isabella 

How can you not follow the advice of Holiday Rhino? 
Holiday Rhino is from a complete zoo in Winterhaven,
Tucson, Arizona, 2011.

As this year comes to a close, let's be grateful it's over! And certain that 2021 will be much, much better. Stay safe, everyone. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Seven Noble Knights on the Loose! and a Secret

Happy book birthday to the love of my writing life, Seven Noble Knights

It's out today from Encircle Publications. Let's hope this is just the start of unimaginably great things! 

Tons of great photos, videos, interviews, and excerpts await you here

My author copies haven't arrived yet, so this is the closest thing to a photo of the author with her book I can get for now. Can you believe nobody asks me about my supercool mask when I walk down the street??

My city has reopened the bars and restaurants just in time to go celebrate! With masks on. Stay safe, everyone! 

And check out my message for readers on release day! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

My Cinematic Novel Just Got That Much Closer to Cinema

Devoted to the TV! 

Seven Noble Knights
(Indie preorder) (Amazon preorder) has made it into the quarterfinals of the Road to Development Contest. I won't mention the website hosting it because I'm including below the highlights of their feedback, which I think they would prefer to remain anonymous. But come on, so many nice things about my book! I have to share! 

The Road to Development Contest is just that, a competition to be picked for development into a movie or TV show. I always thought Seven Noble Knights would do well as a series, either for streaming or on a cable network, or even, in the best of all possible worlds, on Masterpiece Theatre. The contest seems to agree (see comments below). 


There is no social component to this contest. Seven Noble Knights has made it this far on its own merit, which makes me proud. But it also stands to reason that if my dear readers shared this news and the book made it to the top of internet searches, such exposure could influence the judges. I would be ever so grateful for such sharing. 

Seven Noble Knights would be an expensive proposition, so from a practical standpoint, I'm not sure what chances it really has at this skint point in human history. But no one can deny that it would be really super awesome to have a Seven Noble Knights series! 



Primary Hook of Story

A story of betrayal and revenge similar to some of the occurrences of Game of Thrones.

Fanbase Potential

It could, especially those interested in medieval stories, with knights, gorgeous ladies, tragic love, and sword fights.

Awards Potential

If well adapted, it could manage to earn some technical accolades, since the story would have to recreate an entire period.

Lead Characters

Most of them are brave, but some are cunning, some horribly hot-headed and some simply honest and honorable, which means that they are different, complex and well-established in the narrative.

Uniqueness of Story

The story is very well-written and developed. With a top-notch adaptation, it could become a great TV series or film.

Possible Formats

Film - Studio, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming


The narrative is good and compelling, and the author has great writing skills, which makes the book interesting throughout most of the reading, no matter what character you are following. In fact, the structure is also very well-developed. By following different characters and getting to know their needs and aspirations, no matter which side of the main issue they are on, we learn more about their personalities and realize there is no one completely right or wrong in the matter. The ending is particularly good, creating a reflection about how many of these people's struggles, grudges, sorrows and acts of revenge are based on actions that cannot be undone and lives that can't be recovered, creating a spiral of violence that seems to have no valid origin or reason to exist. All these things could be very well explored in a miniseries, especially if it would use each chapter to follow one of the characters, more or less like the book does. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

30+ Multimedia Reasons to Read SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS

Seven Noble Knights is chock full of great historical tidbits. During the run-up to its new debut from Encircle Publications on December 11, I've been participating in lots of fun new multimedia experiences you can find links to in this post. I'll add new material as I do more cool events. I'll also include some oldies but goodies because Seven Noble Knights is nothing if not historical. 

Seven Noble Knights is available for Kindle preorder for only 99 cents. Grab it before the price goes up on December 11! It's also available for preorder in softcover. Order it now and it will probably arrive on release day. If you're trying to avoid the 'Zon, try directly from the publisher, or, where you can order, and it will come to you from your favorite (or closest) indie bookstore. Or, if NetGalley is your groove, snag it there in exchange for a review. 

Perhaps the most important reason to read Seven Noble Knights is that it would make "a great TV series." 


• A short and sweet interview on Chat and Spin Radio about Seven Noble Knights and the importance of artists in trying times 

• An interview with All Classical Portland's book guru Ed Goldberg, crammed with noble knights, devious ladies, and ominous auguries! Check it out and download it at the station's site. Or try listening here, at the top of the page

• A lively chat about battles and authenticity with author friend and elegant narrator Seymour Hamilton 


“Let Seven Noble Knights welcome you to historical fiction! …it’s a rich saga populated with characters you will grow to love (and a few you will love to hate). The ancient empires of Spain are a beautiful backdrop to the struggles of humankind across all generations of all lands: romance, revenge, war, and adventure.”

—Pushcart Prize nominee Reneé Bibby, The Writers Studio

• Seven Noble Knights is endorsed by a discerning reader in the Historical Novel Society Review

• Author Seymour Hamilton observes medieval bathing habits. 

• Author Kim Rendfeld discusses love and vengeance in medieval times. 

• A fan in Spain admires Seven Noble Knights

• Nancy at Goodreads says Seven Noble Knights kept her awake at night! 

• Grab it at NetGalley and review it yourself! 

About the Author

• A thrilling romp at Much Medieval Mayhem hosted by Anna Belfrage: The Princess Bride, Cantigas de Santa Maria, and the multicultural, multiethnic Middle Ages. 

• At Historical Fiction Blog: What's my writing process? What do I have in my refrigerator? 

• Writing Superheroes with Author Maria Grace: My surprising secret life, with polka dots. 

• At the Huffington Post with The Book Doctors: They mention a blog post about the Pitchapalooza where we met in person, and that's here

• At Unusual Historicals: Legends of medieval Spain, history, and fantasy. (Unfortunately, the giveaway mentioned is no longer active.) 

• An appearance in the St. Helens Chronicle gives my opinion on ebooks and the lure of historical fiction. 

• 10 Questions in 10 Words with Author Linda Sands: Seven Noble Knights as well as Boston, The Invisible Library, and a sweet roll with Nutella. 

History and Legend

"My Characters Lived in Tenth-Century Spain" at Historical Fiction Reader: The complexities of tenth-century life couldn't help but produce a legend. 

• "How the Seven Noble Knights Survived One Millennium ... and Counting" with Author Kristin Gleeson: A story so good, you can't tell it just once! 

• "A Medieval Ritual of Rebirth" with Author Kim Rendfeld's Outtakes of a Historical Novelist with an excerpt sure to squeeze the breath out of you 

"Fertile Fields, Fields of Blood": Exploring the site of the novel's big, bad battle 

• A different version of Seven Noble Knights from the 1800s 

"The Seven Noble Knights in Modern Life"Living with the legend in my characters' hometowns today 

Characters: Inspirations and Interviews

• That time I stumbled upon my characters near their hometown  

• "Salas de los Infantes, Where the Seven Noble Knights Lived": A delightful visit to Salas de los Infantes to share a copy of Seven Noble Knights and see the casket inside the Romanesque-Gothic transition church 

Lambra: The Villainess

• “Vengeful Ladies and Bloody Cucumbers: J. K. Knauss on Seven Noble Knights with Author J. L. Gribble and the pivotal bloody cucumber scene! 

• “When Does a Blood-Soaked Cucumber Solve Your Problems? J. K. Knauss interviews Doña Lambra, Villainess of Seven Noble Knights” with Author A. J. Culey 

• Meet the Villains 

• Blanca Flor, Lambra's daughter 

• Long-Suffering Justa, Lambra's maid 


• Meet Gonzalo González, the youngest of seven noble knights.  

• Meet Mudarra, the conflicted hero of Part Two.

Book Clubability

Seven Noble Knights was the official February 2017 pick of the St. Helens Literary Divas Book Club. The author made a special appearance and good times were hadContact the author to arrange a virtual or in-person visit for your book club.

Virtual Events and Video

A release day message to my readers! 

Your truly and some engaged readers celebrated Seven Noble Knights with this entertaining virtual launch experience! We talked about men, women, monuments, cucumbers, honor, and the writing process. Catch the recording here or in the box above. 

Many thanks to Susan Wands of the NYC Historical Novel Society for making this possible. 

Lands of Legend: On December 5, 2020, I gave a photo- and excerpt-filled a virtual tour of Spain, medieval and modern, courtesy of the New York Public Library. The event was well-attended and the audience was engaged and asked thoughtful, interesting questions. There was no recording, but a special encore presentation has been recorded in four parts. 

On May 3, 2017, I gave a reading of Seven Noble Knights and did a book signing at the Harvard Book Store, fulfilling a lifelong dream

Check out this intimate reading of Part One, Chapter I. 

Watch the colorful trailer with art by Ayal Pinkus.

In October, I joined the other wonderful authors of We All Fall Down to talk about hope in hard times. 


• The siege of Zamora (at the bottom of the page)

• When you can't kill 'em, throw a blood-soaked cucumber at 'em, with J. L. Gribble. 

• Think chess is a slow, intellectual game? Check this excerpt out and think again, at History Imagined. 

The World of Seven Noble Knights

Research and sudden dramatic transport from the 21st century to the tenth: