Guest: Ashley York - The Gentle Knight

Welcome, Ashley! Please tell us about yourself.

I have wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade. My first story was a mystery and I discovered that my classmates loved it and it kept them guessing. I was a voracious reader, even at a young age, and loved the history in the novels I picked up. I was so enthralled with that history that I decided to get my MA in History. The early medieval period is my favorite, as you can tell from the novels I write.

Although my works are fiction, I often like to incorporate authentic places, events, and people to increase the reader’s enjoyment. One of the more valuable lessons I have learned as a writer is the importance of using real history with the flair of artistic license. You’ll discover a world of fiction wrapped around historical people and events! I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I delight in writing them.

I live in New England with my husband, two cats and a yellow Labrador named Caledonia.

Q: Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us about it. Do you have a review you could share with us?
A: The Gentle Knight is the second book in The Norman Conquest series. It's about Peter, John's friend from The Saxon Bride, and an Irish princess. 
A medieval soldier returns home to find his lover died in childbirth just as his own mother had. Believing he is cursed, Peter of Normandy turns from love. When he must give escort to an Irish princess more noble than many knights, he struggles with his decision to live a solitary life. Can he take the chance that his love won't be a death sentence and possibly make them stronger? 

Padraig MacNaughton's death bed decree rips his daughter from the shelter of her protective Clan. Forced to take vows at a Priory in England, Brighit finds herself in the hands of lecherous mercenaries with their own agendas. Dare she trust the Norman knight to see her safely to her new life as a nun? Even when she finds in him the fulfillment of all she's ever wanted? 
Or will honor and duty eclipse their one chance for happiness? 
I found this story passionate, captivating and fun to read! It really kept my interest until the last page. I love medieval romance, so The Gentle Knight was perfect for me! A great historical romance set in England, fast paced, filled with passion, danger and intrigue. "

The reviews have been very positive. I'll post a few excerpts:
" I loved her first book The Saxon Bride in The Norman Conquest Series! I was not disappointed with the second one The Gentle Knight. Again, she really wrote another beautiful medieval story filled with strong emotions and rich characters.... Beautiful chemistry between Peter and Brighit!
" I started reading this book and I just couldn’t put it down. A fast paced story that is filled with danger, passion, intrigue and love."
" Another spectacular read by Ashley York in The Gentle Knight (The Norman Conquest series, book 2. I totally devoured this book. It has so many twists and turns and at times a major heart string puller so have your Kleenex nearby. It's a major page turner that is superbly written..."
Q: Awesome reviews! What inspired this story?
A: I have to admit that I recently re-read a review that had mentioned a hope to hear more about Peter and I can't remember if that's where I got the idea or not. I did love Peter in The Saxon Bride. He was able to say all those things to Rowena that she needed to hear but John was too rigid to say them. He needed his own story and with a wonderful, strong heroine like Brighit. She's also driven to do what honors her father and family. Peter has his work cut out for him in trying to win her over.
Q: What is the story behind the story?
A: Well, one thing is that Brighit was originally Brenna. That was the name I always used in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) but someone I have the greatest respect for felt very strongly that it sounded too modern. Another little tid bit is that when Rae Monet Inc designed my cover, I was not thrilled with the snow but loved the Norman soldiers on horseback. I figured I would mention snow in the book. Anyone who's read the story is probably scratching their heads because there is no story without the snow storm.
Q: Why do you write romance?
A:  I'm a romantic through and through. Naturally romance is my favorite genre to read. When I was first married, my sister in law gave me a book about a fierce Highlander. He was so passionate and in love with the heroine but then he went away to fight, leaving her alone and pregnant.  She goes off for a new life in the unsettled wilds of the new world. I couldn't tell you the year or what battle he goes away to but I loved their passion. I wish I knew what the name of it was.  I'm a fast reader so I didn't care for the smaller books. It had to be you know I found Diana Gabaldon.
Q: What do you enjoy most about writing romance?
A: I love finding the words to convey what I see in my head. I have a vivid imagination and really work to have a reader feel like they're there. One review said  "The story is great, plot thick, and the characters feel alive. I wanted so badly to be in this book. " That was my goal and I'm glad she connected with them.
Q: How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
A:  I learn more and more about the time period because I never stop researching. The next in the series is set in Ireland which is a totally different setting than England circa 1075 but with overlapping characters from both of these books.
Q: Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A:  This book starts at Drogheda Ireland so I needed a town that:  1) dates back to 1075 2) isn't too far from where they would have departed to England from 3) wasn't that far from Hill of Tara and Meath. It's perfect for the book because this was relatively speaking a calmer location than some in Ireland but because she's Irish royalty, she needs to be near the High King's locations, etc. Her genealogy is really fun to do, too. She is connected to some very big names. That will come out more with her brother's story, The Seventh Son.
Q: Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: I chose it because Peter's a great warrior. He can follow and he can lead without any qualms. the expression maybe "I'm a lover not a fighter" but Peter was both. In battle he's fierce. In the bedroom he's gentle.
Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: Right now I'm just loving Peter. He had a really bad upbringing with an abusive father who reminded Peter daily that his mother had died delivering him.  Peter ends up as squire to William of Normandy which is where he meets John.
Q: Thank you so much for being our guest today, Ashley! Would you like to ask readers a question?
A:  This story recounts the Irish legend that I had grown up with and that is the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son has special powers. In this story, Brighit is the seventh child, the only girl and the last child. Her brother, Tadhg, is the sixth son of the seventh son of the seventh son. The next book is about him. Should that title be The Sixth Son (which Tadhg technically is) or should it be The Seventh Son? 

Ashley is giving away an ebook copy of The Gentle Knight to one lucky commenter!

Here is an excerpt from A Gentle Knight:
"Ivan, sit with your men or be gone from the room."
The innkeeper reappeared with a well-browned pheasant, speared with a knife, on a wooden platter. This time he was followed by a gray-haired woman, probably his wife. She carried a tray of dark bread and offered the upper crust to Peter. Her head bowed slightly.
"My thanks," Peter said.
Mort smiled, no doubt pleased by the deference being shown Peter. The man had probably informed the couple of the honor they were being paid by the presence of one of the King's own favored knights.
After properly serving the knight, the couple brought in the victuals for the other table.
Peter removed the knife and cut the meat. He pierced a small, juicy piece and offered it to Brighit.
Her warm eyes held his for a moment before accepting it, the pink tip of her tongue catching the liquid that dripped off it.
The tension in his body doubled.
"My thanks."
"I hope you find everything to your liking."
"It is very good," Brighit said.
The innkeeper's wife topped off Brighit's mug.
"Is there no one else here? Are there no wenches about?" Peter asked.
The gray-haired woman paused beside him and searched his face before responding. "A young woman helps sometimes."
He waved his hand to decline the mead, opting to continue with his own filched libations. He took a long sip. The sudden, delicious warmth in the room may have been from the fire, but he suspected it was not. Release would be sweet. "Will she be here tonight?"
Brighit frowned at Peter. He speared another piece of meat.

Please visit Ashley online at: 
Twitter:  @ashleyyork1066,  
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Ashley York said...

Thanks for having me, Vonda.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you for being with us today, Ashley!

Red L. Jameson said...

Yay! Two of my wonderful friends are here!

Oh, Ashley, this is such a great interview! I loved learning more about you and your amazing story! I want, even though I will probably be the outlier, the next story to be called the Sixth Son. Hee-hee!

I can't wait to read this story! Have a great day, ladies! Hugs!

Lana Williams said...

Really enjoyed learning more about you, Ashley! This looks like an amazing story! Congratulations!

Ashley York said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies.