I’m very pleased to have Karla Tipton as my guest today. I won’t say how many years we’ve been friends (ahem), but we met fresh out of college at one of the first newspapers I worked for. We were both lifestyle feature writers at the time. Karla got a computer and started writing fiction before I did. I joined the critique group she was in and that’s where I first read Rings of Passage, her debut novel released today by LazyDay Publishing. Karla is quite the Renaissance woman as you’ll find out.
Cara Bristol: Welcome Karla! I know how hard and how long you’ve worked to see Rings of Passage come to fruition. Can you tell us what this day is like for you?
Karla Tipton: Hi, Cara! I’m happy to be here. The publication of Rings of Passage still feels a bit unreal to me. I finished this novel, um, let’s say a few years ago – long before the excavation Richard III’s remains last year became news. At the time I was writing it, I poured my heart and soul into it, but time passed and I didn’t sell it. I moved on to write two other novels, also as of yet unpublished. So to have Rings published now is validation for me, as a writer, and feels very good. I have been celebrating on the inside since February, when LazyDay picked up my book. Today I get to celebrate on the outside, because now it has really and truly happened! I’m a published author.
Karla Tipton: It’s a time travel story about Anise, a young woman in present time who is very unsure of herself because of her overbearing mother. She is transported by way of a magic ring to King Richard III’s court in 15th centuryEngland. The King, who is going through an uncertain period in his own life, is suspicious of Anise because she is hiding something, but at the same time he’s also drawn to her, too. Anise knows about Richard’s terrible reputation, mostly from Shakespeare’s play, but quickly finds out he’s not the evil-doer he has been made out to be. They fall in love, and then the you-know-what hits the fan. There is political intrigue with wizards involved and Anise is accused of witchcraft – that is never a good thing during medieval times. All the evidence stacks up against her and Richard has no choice but to have her imprisoned, even though he loves her. Anise knows Richard is going to die at the Battle of Bosworth Field in a couple of months of her arrival. She has to decide whether to use her foreknowledge to save his life and alter the course of history. Speaking of that battle, today is the 528th anniversary. It is also the publication date of “Rings of Passage” and that is a total coincidence, according to my publisher. It really was meant to be. I do believe that.
Cara Bristol: King Richard III may seem like an unlikely hero to many people, having been painted as a notorious villain. He has been maligned by history and William Shakespeare. He reportedly killed his nephews.
Karla Tipton: The historical record, when examined properly, doesn’t paint Richard as a villain – it’s all down to Shakespeare and the Tudor propaganda machine. The victors are the ones who write the history books. And that business about him shouting for a horse at the time of his death is totally untrue!
There is very little hard historical evidence (it’s all circumstantial) that Richard had the “Princes in the Tower” murdered. During his reign, they disappeared and their skeletons were found 200 years later buried under a staircase in theTower of London. Someone high-up ordered the murders, but there are many potential suspects. In my novel, you will find out who I think did it.
Cara Bristol: How do you turn an alleged villain into a hero?
I have had a lot of help clearing Richard’s name – historical romances and other pro-Richard fiction pre-dates my novel. There have been historians defending Richard for well over a century. The Richard III Society was founded in the 1920s to reassess Richard’s reputation through research. The society collaborated with theUniversityofLeicesteron the excavation of his remains from underneath a parking lot. When it was announced in the news that they had actually found him, my breath went out of my body. Next year Richard will get a burial befitting an English King. This fills me with great happiness, which might seem a little odd to anyone who isn’t a Ricardian. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since my little obsession with Richard. Now, with the publication of “Rings,” a lot of those old feelings have flooded back.
Cara Bristol: Since I’ve known you, you’ve always been interested in Richard III. Why?
Karla Tipton: His story has always moved me. He was an honorable king who got a bad rap. He suffered much loss in his life – the deaths of his young son, his wife, the brother he was closest to. He was a just and progressive king, passing laws that served the people. He tried to do the right thing, but got caught up in the intrigue and politics of the Wars of the Roses. On the surface, he has this terrible reputation, but it’s all based on lies to make the usurper, Henry Tudor, look good by comparison. Richard was also incredibly brave, a true medieval warrior. He took a great risk at that last battle by riding his horse straight for Henry to cut him down and end the challenge to his reign. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and he lost his own life. He’s a tragic hero. What’s not to like?
Cara Bristol: What kind of research did you do in writing Rings of Passage?
Karla Tipton: I borrowed most of my research materials from the Richard III Society, American Branch, library. At this time, there was no internet, so there was a lot of snail-mailing of hard copy materials back and forth. I also took a research trip to England, and visited many of the locations depicted in the book. Some of them were not very easy to get to. I wouldn’t rent a car because I was too scared to drive on the “wrong” side of the road in a foreign country. I had to take trains and city buses to get to the locations I wanted to visit, and and then walk a few miles. I walked 10 miles round trip to visit Bosworth Field. But it was well worth it, because I went to Sutton Cheney, and the chapel where Richard prayed the night before he died. It was incredibly moving to be there, and is also the setting for a very important scene in my novel.
Cara Bristol: What are you favorite elements of the book?
Karla Tipton: I enjoy casting real people of history as characters, and giving them motivations that suit my purposes. I like twisting historical events by inventing alternative root causes, or by having the results turn out different from what actually happened. In one scene, Richard consults his friend, William Caxton,England’s first printer, on the analysis of a book Anise brought with her from “the future.” Writing the character of Caxton was delightful.
Cara Bristol: We’ve talked quite a bit about Richard, tell us a little about Anise, the heroine.
Karla Tipton: The character of Anise was originally developed before the time of the take-no-prisoners heroine. In other words, in the early drafts, she was a wimp classic romance novel heroine for most of the time, until she rises to the occasion at the end. Between the time I began writing her character and now, readers lost interest in heroines of that type. To update her and explain her timidity, I gave her social anxiety disorder brought on by her overbearing and critical mother. After Anise gets the hang of the 15th century, she becomes stronger and overcomes her handicap fairly quickly.
Cara Bristol: Are there any sex scenes in the novel *wink*?
Karla Tipton: Of course there are sex scenes – the culmination of all that romantic tension is the fun part. In earliest drafts, these scenes were very “sweet.” As I reworked and improved the novel over the years, I wrote more explicit detail into them. It was very cathartic for me as the writer, and I hope it is for the reader, too.
Cara Bristol: Anything else you’d like to tell readers about Rings of Passage?
Karla Tipton: This novel does not fall into any particular genre, but has elements of many. At its core, it’s a romance between a modern woman and a medieval king. There is time travel, which is because of a time-honored fantasy device, a magic ring. Intrinsic to the plot are wizards and magic. It’s based on real historical detail about the Wars of the Roses, when the two royal families of York and Lancaster were struggling for the throne. These details are woven into the plot, but I twist the events and their causes to my own ends. Therefore, it also falls into the “alternative history” genre.
Cara Bristol: When you’re not writing fiction, what else do you do? Who is Karla Tipton?
Karla Tipton: I laughed when you introduced me as a “renaissance woman.” I think of myself more as a goth hippie, because I like writing paranormal, and I dig rock and roll, man. Besides writing, I play guitar and have been known to write a song or two. I’m in a classic rock cover band called Tanglewood. In my day job, I work for the government in information technology as a software developer, tester and web designer.
Cara Bristol: You’ve been interested in rock music forever. You wrote Rock Beat, a review column for the newspaper we worked for, you’ve been to a gazillion concerts, you’re in a band. Do you ever plan to write a novel with a rock star hero?
Karla Tipton: I’ve been a rock fan since I was 10, and have been a huge Rolling Stones fan since I was a teenager. The band just celebrated their 50th anniversary, and I’ve seen them 16 times now. Interestingly enough, my first time travel novel starred the Rolling Stones. The novel is written in longhand, in the first person, in my teenage journal. In it, a girl somehow finds herself transported to early 1960s London where the band is just starting out. She ends up living in the same apartment building as the Stones, and falls in love with Brian Jones, the guitarist who is destined to die a few years later. Of course she knows his future and intends to save his life. Do you detect a pattern here? I have tried to rewrite this novel a few times, but have never quite succeeded in capturing the charm of that first version. I will keep trying.
Cara Bristol: I remember that story. I read that one too! What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
Karla Tipton: As I mentioned earlier, I have two other novels already completed. These need some polishing. The one I’m working on now is “Dangerous Reflections,” a time-travel-fantasy-historical-murder-mystery romance, set in 1910. The love story is between a long-lived-but-ageless wizard Alastor, and a modern post-grad psychology student, Martie, who suddenly learns she’s a wizard and can time travel through mirrors. It’s Harry Potter for adults. There’s a magical and very hot romance at the heart of it.
Cara Bristol: Let’s play “quick five.” I’ll ask five questions and you give your first response.
If you weren’t an author you would be: I have been a writer of some sort since about age 10, but I also lean toward computer nerdiness. So I’d probably be doing what I do in my day job, working in IT. If not that, then maybe a professional rock fan selling bootlegs on eBay.
Without looking, reach into your purse and pull out three items. What do you have: A Dell Digital Jukebox mp3 player (I’m attached to my old technology), a bottle of artificial tears for my perpetually dry eyes, and a Walmart receipt, haha.
Favorite color? I wear a lot of black. If I have to pick a real color, it would be green.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be? On a rocky coast line. Somewhere with mist and clouds. Castle is optional.
If you could have dinner with five famous people dead or alive, who would they be? Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Richard III, Simone de Beauvoir, Marianne Faithfull and Sherlock Holmes… he’s a real person, right? And yeah, I never could count.
Cara Bristol: I knew Keith Richards and Richard III would be on her list!
Rings of Passage blurb
Twenty-first century actress Anise Wynford stumbles down the porch steps of her farmhouse in Massachusetts and into the nightmare of a raging battlefield of armor and sword fighting. When she later awakens in a medieval forest in the presence of a gallant white knight, their connection is immediate.
Concerned for her safety, the knight carries her to his castle.
Her knight turns out to be King Richard III, the villain of Shakespeare’s most famous play, in which Anise had been performing that very night. The truth dawns that she has been transported through time by a ring – a magical ring – she had found hidden in her late father’s house.
As Anise navigates the complex rules of politics and etiquette in the king’s court, she falls in love with Richard and he with her. But Anise knows Richard is destined to die in the Battle of Bosworth Field. If Anise chooses to save his life, she will alter the course of history.
As Anise becomes drawn into the struggle between York and Lancaster, circumstantial evidence stacks up against her, and she is arrested for plotting against the king. With no other choice, she confesses to Richard she comes from a future century. The king accuses her of witchcraft and treason, and orders her into the custody of the duplicitous and lecherous Lord Stanley, who convinces her she will be executed unless she sleeps with him.
As Stanley conspires against the king to put his nephew Henry Tudor on the throne, Anise learns that her trip through time was part of a magical plot by dark wizards to overthrow Richard.
Can Anise escape her death sentence, and save Richard from his tragic destiny on the battlefield? After the way he turned on her, does she want to?
[Add excerpt here – approx. 500 words]
“You weren’t the cause of their deaths,” she whispered, embracing him. “Their blood is not on your hands. You might be a king, but you’re not God – only He knows the reasons. You could never have killed your brother’s sons. The history books have played a cruel trick on you, Your Grace.”
The battle drew near. A king that no one, even through history, would ever truly know, would fall to his death beneath a traitor’s ax. With a gasp, she released him and stepped away, tears running down her face. She heard him rise – and he was behind her. He took her arms and gently turned her to face him in the firelight.
His expression relaxed as he looked into her eyes. Concern for her drew him from his misery. Anise could take little consolation from this. How could she, knowing what was going to happen to him?
He ran his fingers over her cheek, wiping her tears. “Do you cry for me?”
Anise’s breath caught in her lungs. “You’re suffering and I wish you weren’t.”
“What did you mean by the ‘history books’?”
Anise could only answer with more sobs.
The king wrapped her in his arms, held her close, smoothed her hair. “I am not worthy of your sorrow.”
She caught her breath. “Richard.”
“Anise,” he whispered, bending her name to his medieval tongue. His emotions, amplified through Glendower’s ring, washed over her until she could not tell his desire from her own. He claimed her mouth, pitching her into a sensuous whirlpool.
With a moan, she looped her hands behind his neck and opened her mouth at his demand. Their tongues collided and danced, sending tendrils of sensation through her body. They kissed until breathless, and when at last they parted, Richard gazed into her face so lustily that Anise’s insides throbbed with need. Lifting her into his arms with ease, the king carried her to the bed and lay beside her. He smoothed his hand over her cheek, and captured her mouth again, his lips caressing hers first gently, then hungrily. She fell back into the bliss of having him so close, touching her with such intimacy, feeling the energy surging between them, succumbing to the pleasure.
Richard pulled away abruptly. She opened her eyes to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, the firelight illuminating his taut expression. “I am not my brother – I will not force myself on you.”
“Richard,” she breathed. “You’re not.”
“Certes, how I want you,” he exhaled heatedly. He turned to face her. “The truth of the thing is this: I can never make you my wife. And I will not lead you into this sin.”
Even on the brink of sex, he was gallant. He did not know how little time he had left. Anise did not want to think of that. What she wanted was Richard. Her inexperience unnerved her. She felt the prickle of tears behind her eyes. She would not cry – not now. Not when she wanted him so badly.
Not when she knew her tears would stop him.
There was no way – not when she knew this might be their only chance. “Don’t worry for my soul. This is my decision, too.”
She urged him to lie back. “Come to me.” She wove her fingers through his hair and kissed him.
He wrapped her in his arms, his lips pressed to her ear. “This feeling overwhelms me. I cannot fight it.”
Magnified by the ring’s powers, Anise floundered in emotion. “Then don’t.”
Rings of Passage Buy Link
Please visit www.karlatipton.com and my social media sites:
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Amazon Author Page:
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karla.dawn @ karlatipton.com
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Please visit the other Historical Week posts:
Celeste Jones, Lady Katherine’s Comeuppance (Regency)
Coming Friday: Renee Rose, The Westerfield Affair (Regency). Writes in multiple historical genres.