Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Carol McGrath : A Conversation with Rebecca Hazell

Please welcome Carol McGrath and Rebecca Hazell to the Review! Take it away ladies!

Today I am interviewing Rebecca Hazell, who lives and works in Canada, and who is the author of a superb trilogy set in the 13th century, a story of adventure and a superb heroine as Russia is invaded by the Mongol hoards. If you enjoy big novels such as The Game of Thrones you will love her books. They are my great discovery this year. We both read Russian literature and history at university, Rebecca in the US and myself at Queens University, Belfast, so it is no surprise that I love these novels. In fact, I enjoyed the first two so much I asked Rebecca for an interview, and here it is.

What inspired your trilogy The Tiger and the Dove?

I wasn't so much inspired as gripped by the scruff of the neck by its plot when I was about 20. That was 40 plus years ago, and I finally had to give in, do the extensive research, and then write the three novels. When I began, I thought only of one book, but it would have weighed more than A Suitable Boy.

Tell us a little about it.

The three novels are three sections of a memoir written by the heroine, Sofia, a former princess of Kyiv (Kiev) in 13th century Russia. They are more or less intended for her daughter, but they are also a form of catharsis for Sofia, who has led a most unusual life that mirrors the many significant events of her era. The first novel, The Grip of God, begins with her capture and enslavement during the Mongol invasions. The second novel, Solomon's Bride, covers both the final years of the so-called Assassins, who were devoted to overthrowing both the Mongols and the Sunni Islamic establishment, and King Louis IX's first disastrous crusade. And the final novel, Consolamentum, carries her from Antioch to a ruined Constantinople, and then west into France where the Inquisition is burning Cathar heretics at the stake. All this is merely the background for a dramatic plot with many fully fleshed characters; in fact, the plot is driven as much by character as by event.  

Can you give us a quick snapshot of your writing day?

My writing day has been a mix of researching in libraries, and online once the Internet became available, contemplating how to say things in a manner reflecting those times, and writing, setting said writing aside, revising, and then revising some more!

Do you think that the history is more important than the storyline in an historical novel?

No, but when the history is inaccurate it spoils the story, too, at least for me. It's important to integrate the two seamlessly so that historical detail brings you into the story and embeds the characters in their times.

What is your own favourite novel?

Almost anything by Jane Austen. What a genius!

When can we expect part three of The Tiger and the Dove?

I expect Consolamentum to be released in late June or early July, important since it's already scheduled for a blog tour!

Have you a writing plan for after the whole trilogy is complete?

I'm under contract to co-write a book with a psychiatrist who wants to do a memoir about his encounter with the healing aspect of Buddhism. And I'd also like to write another historical novel about two rival queens who happen to be my ancestors. It will involve a lot less research than the trilogy, but it's still daunting. Or I might go back to writing for children again, which is where my writing career began.

Thank you, Rebecca, for coming onto The Review to tell us about your writing. I cannot wait to read the conclusion of Sophia’s story. Rebecca can be found at her blog, and her novels can be bought through Amazon UK and Amazon.Com. Do look!

Carol McGrath is the author of The Handfasted Wife, published 2013. Her new novel, The Swan-Daughter, will be published on 18th September 2014.


  1. Having read the first two in this trilogy I can vouch for their excellence. Do read them.

  2. I'm looking forward to the review tomorrow!