This month we bring you a short Q&A session from Jessamy Taylor, author of King’s Company, showcased in The People’s Book Prize Autumn Collection.
Can you briefly summarise your debut book, King’s Company.
King’s Company is a historical adventure story. William D’Amory is growing up in twelfth century England, during a time of civil war, when a chance encounter plunges him into a world of intrigue and betrayal. He meets new friends and dangerous enemies, and learns the truth about his father, as he is caught up in the fight for the throne of England itself. The book explores the themes of friendship and betrayal, in a vivid and realistic historical setting.
What were your inspirations for writing the book?
I’m fascinated with the similarities between our world now and the same place and people centuries ago, which make historical fiction relevant. In writing children’s books, the historical setting gives a context where children have to be independent and responsible at a much earlier age, so their stories can be more dangerous and exciting. And I’ve always been inspired by poking around in ruined castles, overgrown woodlands, and other grubby places.
Were you aiming the book at a particular age-range?
The book is targeted at children (boys and girls) aged between 9 and 12. It is relevant to the National History Curriculum, particularly in the aim to ‘understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance’. It has particular relevance for Key Stage 3, particularly to the development of Church, state and society in Medieval Britain following the Norman Conquest.
Did you have any interesting experiences during the research for the book?
I love doing the research: clambering over ruined castle walks and going on long walks through the Dorset countryside, reading lots and lots of historical novels for research (the ones written for children are often the best) and watching any historical dramas and films (particularly if they include some good sword fighting). But I also love studying really obscure history books in the British Library. When I was a teacher I saw how fascinated children are by the ‘true story’. After one of my ‘medieval’ lessons they all galloped out of the classroom one by one as I dismissed them – I was very proud.
Do you know of other books that readers might have read, who may also enjoy King’s Company?
King’s Company falls into the same category as books by Rosemary Sutcliff, Ronald Welch and Geoffrey Trease, although with a less formal, more contemporary feel to the dialogue and political passages. More recent books which deal with a similar period in history are Elizabeth Laird’s Crusade and Kevin Crossley Holland’s Arthur series (The Seeing Stone etc).
Do you have a favourite bookshop where you are a regular customer or in your hometown?
Ink84 on the Blackstock Road in Highbury is my new favourite bookshop. My other regular one is the Waterstones on Islington Green. There is also the Stoke Newington Bookshop, and the Muswell Hill Bookshop. The Alligator’s Mouth in Richmond is near where I grew up, although it’s relatively recent so I didn’t actually go there as a child.
Do you have any hobbies?
Visiting historical sites and discovering their stories; having bizarre conversations with nine-year-olds about how the world works; long walks in the countryside; reading, and watching good TV.
Are you on twitter?
Yes, my twitter address is @jessamy_taylor
You can read an extract from King’s Company on The People’s Book Prize website where it is being showcased for the Autumn collection. Please visit the site and help support new and undiscovered works.
* UPDATE * We are very pleased to give an update – King’s Company is a Finalist in The People’s Book Prize! The Autumn collection is now closed and final voting will open again on 15 May 2017
Published by IndieBooks
More about Jessamy:
Jessamy was born in 1975 and educated in Hampton, Middlesex, and at Cambridge University, where she read History. She has worked in music publishing and as a teacher. She now lives in North London with her family, and muses on the similarities between twelfth-century England and daily life in her kitchen. She is currently working on the sequel to King’s Company.
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