From Leslie:[This is probably the most frequent question I've had since mid-November. I picked this one at random from literally dozens of variations on a theme.]
I bought Hild at the suggestion of NPR--I often rely on their book reviews to point me in the direction of new and wonderful books, and this time was no exception. I devoured this book. I read it in every waking minute I had available for reading. I got cross at my husband when he wanted to watch "our" TV shows because I couldn't be torn away from this book. Admittedly, some of the language threw me at first, and having the e-book, the pronunciation guide was at the end, and not as accessible as a paper book*. But I hunkered down and gathered the meaning from context and I WAS OFF.
Thank you for writing this book. I completely felt like I was in a different world. I love this history of women… how much they were relied on to keep the entire community running, how they could be strong like Hild. I never got the sense from the whole book that the women were treated as property (well, save Gwladus' situation) and from official history, that's all you get. Women were an afterthought. But they had such huge roles! This was a refreshing read.
I'm not a writer, just an avid reader, but when I came to the end of this book, I simply wanted to know more. What happens to Cian and Hild? What of the war? Does Edwin lose power? I have so many questions that are unanswered… Are you thinking of continuing her story? I would buy it immediately. Thank you again, for such an engaging read, and I plan on checking out some of your other work as well. Thank you for letting me get lost in the story.
Yes, there will be more. My plan is for there to be three books, and whole thing to be known as LIGHT OF THE WORLD. The second, the one I'm working on now, will cover Hild's life from where we left off at the end of the first to her recruitment by Bishop Aidan into the fledgling church. The third will cover what happened when she got there.
You have to bear in mind that I'd originally intended to tell Hild's story in one big book. But as I told the Paris Review, I hit 100,000 words and Hild was only twelve... People plan and the gods laugh--especially with fiction.
So, I'm working on it. For those who just can't wait to know what happens next regarding the Big Ticket Historical Names (excluding Hild, of course; we know nothing of this period of her life; anyone who says andy differently, no matter how authoritatively, is just guessing) I can recommend two paths. One is to look names up individually on Wikipedia. You'll have an amazing time tracing the interconnectedness of it all. The second is to buy a narrative non-fiction history, The King in the North, by Max Adams. I read it last month and was pleasantly surprised. It takes as its central focus Oswald Æthelfrithing and while Adams and I don't always see eye-to-eye on the role of women he's spot-on with the kings and battles and so forth. Which means--be warned!--there will be spoilers...
* For those reading digitally, feel free to download and (gasp!) print some of the extras (map, pronunciation guide, glossary etc.--scroll down to More Information) to refer to so that you're not constantly having to click away from the narrative. Enjoy.