The question being asked of me is “What inspired you to write Barbarossa’s Princess?” Ah…simple question, but not simple answer.
I can go back 17 years when I visited Castel del Monte in Italy for the first time and had an attack of déjà vu that turned me into a grinning, hopping fool. I whirled round and round in front of the castle’s entrance and ran through the rooms like a child. I had the feeling I knew the landscape, I knew the rooms.
My relatives whom I had just met two days earlier felt that the adage ‘if you shake the family tree too hard the nuts start falling out’ was true.
I could not contain my enthusiasm from then on. I learned as much as I could about Sicily, and the Sicilian-born emperor who built said castle (which isn’t in Sicily.) I was hooked on Frederick II Hohenstuafen, the Sicilians, his many castles, his incredible life and Constance de Hauteville, his mother, the heroine of my novel.
They say, blood lines called to one another. Perhaps another reason for writing an intimate portrait of Constance is because we are somehow related. Constance was descended from the Vikings who changed the face of France, England and Sicily. However I did not know that we shared DNA at the time I began my novel. All knew was that I felt compelled to know Constance and her son.
Around this time, a very good friend of mine had just had her DNA analyzed. On a whim, I contacted National Geographic’s project on the migrations of the human race, and sent them my DNA. What I learned was that I was descended from Vikings. Am I a direct descendant of Constance? I will never know unless I find someone who has her bloodline and compare it with mine. So far, I know of no one who is her direct descendant.
My visit to Castel del Monte, my reading about Constance both laid the foundation for choosing to write about my heroine. The spur that got me actually writing was a book called “Travels of a Medieval Queen.” This book documents Constance’s trip from Sicily to Germany to marry the emperor’s son. It tells how she left Palermo, went to Messina, Salerno, Rieti and many other places along the route that took her to Germany to marry the son of Barbarossa. It talks about the landscape, the castles and lots of trivia. I was so frustrated by the end of the book, I slammed against the wall and committed myself to writing an exciting portrait of Constance’s life and times.
I weave a story that tells about her life before her betrothal, about her journey, about Barbarossa’s court, about the different customs, about her fate.
My work on Barbaross’a Princess was a book I was destined to write. Resources would come to me out of nowhere. All I did was ask and there it appeared online, in a bookshop. I have written a 12th century tale of intrigue, violence, betrayal, lust and ultimate triumph. The reader gets to know Constance’s hopes, fears, desires and dreams. Barbarossa’s Princess was a labor of love.