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Friday, May 9, 2014

Taking Tea with ... Lisa Yarde and a wonderful giveaway

Before I open the door to my weekly guest... let me whisper to you that she has a VERY generous giveaway in her handbag, so read on my friends... George, the doorbell...

And I am delighted to welcome someone I have been simply dying to talk to for ages... Lisa Yarde. Lisa is a fabulous historical writer and den mother to the Unusual Historicals blog site and I think we have a lot in common... apart from writing historicals set in unusual historical periods!

Lisa, do come in.  I have been looking forward to welcoming you to my tea table, but first the formalities… what tea is your preference (or do you prefer coffee)?

Tea, always! I was born in Barbados, once known as “Little England” where we’ve definitely kept up our tea-drinking traditions. (AS: George... the fine china tea pot, please...!)

I know you as a prolific blogger and the founder of one of my favourite blogs – UNUSUAL HISTORICALS. As a writer of “unusual historical”, it means the world to have a place where those of us who like to venture outside the well trod historical paths, can go. What triggered you to start the blog up?

I was lucky enough in 2006 to receive an invitation from the former moderator of Unusual Historicals to do a series of posts. As you say, it’s so important to see novels outside the mainstream. I became a moderator of the blog two years ago. It still represents exactly what I write; the unusual historical, and I have a great team of fourteen other contributors who are prolific and knowledgeable writers.

You were born in Barbados, but now live in NYC. What is the journey that took you from the Caribbean to the jungles of New York?

I came with my parents when I was ten, so I didn't have any say in the decision to move. Life in Barbados was very different, less fast-paced, but we kept connections there with frequent trips back home. After twenty-eight years, I still call Barbados home although New York is also home for me. Actually Spain, too and Wales. 

What sparked your love of history and what period of history would you say is your passion?

My love affair with history started in Barbados, growing up in the shadow of colonial buildings in the capital and learning about the island’s British heritage. England’s past fascinated me, especially when I discovered the medieval era, which is my favorite period. (AS: We must have a chat about cricket...)

You have written two novels set in medieval England and Normandy but I really want to talk to you about the “Sultana” series set in the Moorish occupation of Granada where they built the wonderful Al Hambra (it’s on my bucket list). Are you able to give me a very short, potted history of this period of history?

Muslim kingdoms ruled Spain for over seven hundred years, but in the last two hundred and fifty years, only the Moors of Granada remained under the Nasrid dynasty. Just my luck that members of the family turned out to be the most dysfunctional group I’ve ever read about, with sons poisoning fathers and brothers stealing the throne from each other. Without their dynastic squabbles, the Nasrid might have held on to Granada, but then, I wouldn’t have so much to write about them.

Are the characters in your books based on real historical characters and what inspired you to write the series?

All of my novels feature the main historical figures of the period and some obscure ones when I can flesh out enough details from the sources. I’ve long realized that I write about the underdogs of history, people whose stories have been told by others with all the biases you can imagine. Everyone knows about 1492 and Columbus, but there’s the other 1492, where the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella recaptured Granada. What was life like for the losers? The question inspired me to research the Moors of Granada.

The latest book in the Sultana series is coming out later this month:


In fourteenth-century Moorish Spain, a young woman caught up in the dynastic struggles between warring brothers, struggles for her survival. Wed to a husband who looks upon her with more suspicion than lust in his eyes and surrounded by enemies seeking to claim his throne, she must escape a brutal past and find redemption, forgiveness and love.

The Bride price will be available later this month... please visit Lisa's website  for information.


Lisa J. Yarde writes fiction inspired by the Middle Ages in Europe. She is the author of six historical novels, which take place during Europe’s medieval period, including two works set in England and France, and a series about the last Muslim rulers of Spain.

AND NOW HER FABULOUSLY GENEROUS GIVEAWAY... LISA HAS A $25 Amazon gift VOUCHER for a randomly chosen blog commenter (and as a bonus if you leave a comment, you can go in the draw for my May Rafflecopter contest - click HERE to enter)

You have to be in it to win it so please drop past and maybe tell Lisa and I which "unusual" period of history most intrigues you.