How long have you been writing?
I set off for Sydney with the promise of a temporary position as a humour columnist in a big Sydney newspaper in 1984. I had no steady job, a hatful of dreams and a pregnant wife. Somehow we survived and I have made a living from writing ever since. Some years it’s been skin of the teeth, other years it’s been champagne and lobster. But then, if you want stability you’d never be a writer.
When did you first know you could be a writer?
About 3 years ago. The 25 years before that I thought I was a complete fraud. I’ve heard this is a common problem among actors, writers, artists. What happens when they catch me out and find out I’m no good? About 3 years ago though I felt I actually knew what I was doing.
What inspired you to write your first book?
It was a crime novel! VENOM was loosely based on the life of Charles Sobrajh, a serial killer who was operating in Asia when I was a very young man backpacking around Asia. He had actually drugged and murdered lots of very young backpackers around Asia – so naturally I was drawn to the subject. It was my first thriller and launched my career.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I had writer’s block for about five years. It wasn’t that I stopped writing but I just kept writing the same story over and over in different forms, a bit like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Daddy’s home! Until then, because I’d been so prolific, I’d kind of made fun of writer’s block, I thought it was self indulgent. What I actually had, I think, wasn’t writer’s block but a deep depression resulting from some traumatic things that had happened to me in my life just before then. I had always taken for granted that I could write and then one day I couldn’t do it anymore. When the pall lifted and I got my mojo back I took myself back to school and when I finally started writing again it was like a whole new me.
Can you tell us about your main character?
Isabella of France was a French princess, a real person – she made a brief appearance in BRAVEHEART, as Mel Gibson’s love interest later in the film. This of course was totally impossible in real life – she was only 9 at the time he died.
Isabella has grand designs for her own life, she imagines herself a female version of her father, King Phillip the Handsome of France. She is shipped off to England to marry Edward II as part of an important political alliance. She’s only 12 and she doesn’t understand then that her husband is in love with another man, a junior nobleman called Piers Gaveston. She has been taught obedience all her life, so she goes along with the situation – but she doesn’t go along with it forever.
She was taught all her life to obey. But if she wants to change her own destiny she has to rebel. That means defying all England, even defying God – as the king rules by divine right. Will she do it?
She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.
12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England – only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair – does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?
Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight – but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage – and England apart.
Who is Piers Gaveston – and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?
The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny – but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life – and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.
This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.
In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, ISABELLA is thoroughly researched and fast paced, the little known story of the one invasion the English never talk about.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13