TheImp of Eye didn’t begin its life as a collaboration. It started out as an idea my dear friend Moonyeen Blakey, a fellow author who’d published award-winning The Assassin’s Wife with Fireship Press in 2012. She had the idea after researching a previous novel on Jacquetta Woodville, King Edward IV’s mother-in-law. She had encountered a Marjory Jourdemayne, The Witch of Eye, who along with the Duchess of Gloucester and others, was accused of witchcraft. A perfect idea for a novel, she told me.
Mistress Jourdemayne fetches me such a cuff round the head, I almost bites me tongue in two.
‘You little imp. Don’t try to cheat me again, Barnabas,’ she says, kicking the sticks I’ve collected for the fire. ‘I know what the fishmonger asks for broiled carp.’
‘It was only a groat’s worth of salt herring,’ I says. I sits, muttering by the hearth, nursing a bruised knee from the stumble I’ve taken against the hearth fender.
Over the next few years the novel began to take shape and changed direction occasionally. Moon shared her progress and ideas with me and I gave my enthusiastic feedback. Unfortunately, Moon fell ill with a second bout of cancer. She’d beaten cancer almost 20 years before and this time we thought it would be no different, but we were wrong. In March 2014, Moon died passed away.
Before she died, she asked me to take over her writings, including the many drafts of her novel about Barnabas, one of which was entitled The Imp of Eye. She told me to do what I thought best with it, because she trusted me and my writing quality. She knew I would honour her spirit and try to get the story out to the public.
I narrowed down the storylines to those two main characters, which I felt also improved the tension and pace of the story. With those two characters I was able to increase the attention and scenes for the Duchess of Gloucester to show the splendour and intrigue at court as well as develop the relationship between the Duchess and her husband.
Barnabas’s age always troubled me, because he seemed too young at ten to handle all the challenges that were thrown at him. I also wanted to hint at a growing attention to women. This seemed important to me because I was really starting to adore Barnabas and felt he could go on beyond this book. So I made him thirteen years old at the beginning and fourteen at the end of it.
I also introduced and changed a few characters to support the increasing number of plot twists better and also give Barnabas a future in other books. For instance a jolly large blackamoor that was shades of Ali Baba’s genie became an elegant scholar from the heart of African Timbuktu. Barnabas’s friend Amice became Alys, the Duchess’ servant.
Expanded scenes in the palace meant more research for the sake of accuracy, something I take seriously as a historian. I had Moon’s research books and my own, added to my prior knowledge which helped me in painting vivid scenes. One book I had a lot of fun with was a text on medieval feasts. I knew meals could be elaborate, but I was amazed at the extent of dishes and entertainments that were provided. I couldn’t resist to used it as a plot twist in the novel.
All the time I was writing I felt as though Moon were at my shoulder, debating, discussing and directing. It was a unique experience and in the end I have to say I fell in love with the novel and its characters. The Imp of Eye, Book One in the Renaissance Sojourner Series, was born. I think Moon would approve.
Look out for A Trick of Fate, soon to be a FREE novella ebook prequel on Amazon and other ebook venders. And if you’re up for more free books, sign up for my mailing list on my website and receive A Treasure Beyond Worth, a free novella ebook prequel of Along the Far Shores.