I am so happy to welcome Rosanne Lortz this morning. I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
- When did you first start writing?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had one or two half-finished stories in the works. My favorite projects were re-writing fables and fairy tales. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” was one that I was particularly proud of–it was renamed “The Ant Who Cried Wolf,” and I had changed the characters into ants, aphids, and ladybugs.
- What did you do with your earliest efforts? Do you still have them?
Regrettably, all of my earliest stories have gone the way of lost laundry socks. The one thing I do still have is my poetry journal, which contains adaptations of familiar stanzas like “Roses are red, violets are blue….” I still look at it frequently, and read excerpts to my students when I’m teaching a poetry class. It’s part of my pep talk to get high schoolers not to be embarrassed about showing their poetic efforts. “Hey, if I’m sharing with you something this awful that I wrote, you don’t have to be embarrassed to share any of your poems with the class.”
- What made you choose to write in the genre you write in?
It wasn’t until I went to college that I knew I wanted to write about history. My history professor, inspired me with a love of historical research and primary sources. During my senior year, I wrote a hundred page thesis entitled: The Life and Death of Saint Thomas Becket: Type of Paul, Type of Peter, Type of Christ. While my fellow classmates groaned and agonized over their theses, I found (to my surprise) that writing mine was a lot of fun! I savored my sources, raced through my writing, and even derived a mysterious satisfaction from formulating footnotes. Loving to write stories and loving historical research turns out to be a great combination for writing historical fiction.
- What do you enjoy most in the writing process? What parts of it do you really dislike?
It’s hard to narrow down all the things I enjoy to just one favorite. I like the research, the plotting, the writing, the editing. I do, however, really struggle with writing romantic scenes. Whenever my hero and heroine have a tender moment, you can frequently hear me throwing up my hands in frustration with a muttered, “Argh! I’ll come back and finish this part later.”
- Historical fiction takes a lot of research. What is one of the most memorable or interesting things you’ve learned along the way?
Research always throws fun little tidbits your way. Most recently, I learned that the Turkish sultan Alp Arslan’s mustaches were so long that he had to tie them behind his head when shooting a bow and arrow so that they wouldn’t get caught in the string. Another interesting tidbit: when Tancred (the protagonist of the trilogy I’m working on) is looking for wood outside Jerusalem in order to build siege towers, he retires into a cave in order to…um…use the facilities. And miraculously, the cave is stockpiled with seasoned wood, perfect for the purpose at hand.
- How do you get your ideas? Where do you look for ideas?
I usually get my ideas for novels by reading through primary source material. There is something so vivid about the language of medieval chroniclers. They make me want to take their stories, put them in my own words, and share them with the world.
- Tell us a little about your current project.
I am currently at work on Flower of the Desert, the second book in my Chronicles of Tancred series. Set during the First Crusade, it’s a tale of love, loyalty, valor, and vengeance. It follows Tancred, a Norman marquis born in southern Italy, from the siege of Antioch to the capture of Jerusalem. Along the way there’s rivalry between the Crusader captains, famine and fighting, an alluring Turkish princess, and a feisty Greek girl determined to stick with the marquis no matter what happens.
Once I finish Flower of the Desert I’ll be writing Prince of the East, the third book in the trilogy that shows Tancred’s rise to power in the Holy Land. After that, who knows? I’ve been interested for quite a while in James, the Earl of Moray, half-brother to Mary, Queen of Scots. Perhaps there’s a novel to be written about him and his role in the Scottish Reformation.