Friday, May 17, 2024

Join The Coffee Pot Book Club in conversation with author Anna Belfrage #Medieval #HistoricalFiction #BookChat @abelfrageauthor @cathiedunn

Their Castilian Orphan

The Castilian Saga

by Anna Belfrage

It is 1294 and Eustace de Lamont is back in England after five years in exile. He will stop at nothing to ruin Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor d’Outremer.

Robert’s half brother, Eustace de Lamont, has not mellowed during his absence. He is more ruthless than ever, and this time he targets Robert’s and Noor’s foster son, Lionel.

Lionel is serving King Edward as a page when Eustace appears at court. Not only does Lionel become the horrified witness to Eustace’s violent streak, Eustace also starts voicing his suspicions about Lionel’s parentage. The truth about Lionel’s heritage is explosive—should King Edward find out, all would be lost for Robert and Noor.

In October of 1294, Wales rises in rebellion. Robert must leave his family unprotected to fight the Welsh rebels on the king’s behalf, comforted only by the fact that Eustace too is called to fight.

Except that Eustace has no intention of allowing his duty to his king—or a mere rebellion—come between him and his desire to destroy Robert FitzStephan . . .

Welcome back, Anna! 

Thank you – that looks like a nice and comfy chair over there!

It's yours. Please make yourself feel right at home.
Would you prefer tea or coffee, or perhaps something more…fortifying?

Tea. Always tea. You want to make me happy, you serve me black tea and a piece or two of dark chocolate.

Of course. There you are. We found some lovely organic dark chocolate for you.

Although I’m sure many of our Coffee Pot follower know you and your novels quite well by now, would you please introduce yourself to our new followers?

My name is Anna Belfrage, and I am a Swedish person with a passion for British history and love stories, both of which combine rather beautifully into writing historical fiction set in medieval Europe and featuring protagonists like my Robert and Noor.

When I am not writing—or reading—I spend a lot of time working. I am fortunate to have a stimulating career as a non-executive director on the board of various companies. And any time over, I tend to spend on exercising and cooking/eating, which IMO is a perfect combo.

I write in English because I grew up abroad, and also because no matter how I try, I cannot seem to develop a voice in Swedish. My sister tells me that is probably because I do not even try to write in Swedish. She is probably right, but I love the English language!

I'm with you right there!

Could you tell us a little about your fabulous Castilian Saga series, and what inspired you to set your story during this period in history?

Originally, I wanted to write about Edward I’s conquest of Wales in 1282-3. I am fascinated by Edward I, this complicated character who on the one hand is so utterly ruthless—vicious, even—on the other was a loving husband and an affectionate father who suffered the loss of ten children.

Plus, I had this absolutely gorgeous scene in my head when one of Edward’s captains entered his hall bearing an armful of apple blossom to apologise to his young wife. That was the first time I met Robert FitzStephan, and even if the apple blossom scene did not make the cut for this series, it is still there in my head for future reuse.

As the story progressed I saw a major opportunity to also include some Castilian and Aragonese history—which is why my Eleanor d’Outremer (Noor to her friends) ended up having a Castilian background.

Your apple blossom scene sounds delightful. What a wonderful image!

In Their Castilian Orphan, young Lionel finds himself as a squire at the court of Edward I of England – a charismatic, intelligent, but highly dangerous king. How does the boy cope with the intrigues that abound in such a bustling court?

By keeping his head down. I think all boys who served at court became quite adept at minding their own business, which does not precluse that they probably talked among themselves about things they saw or overheard. In Lionel’s case, he is a bit of an outsider among the other pages. After all, Lionel is something of a charity case, at court only because Edward’s beloved wife, Eleanor of Castile, asked him on her deathbed to take the boy in. Not that Eleanor was entirely charitable in doing so: she had strong suspicions as to who Lionel really is, and wanted him firmly under the king’s thumb.

When researching the Spanish history of the era, did you come upon any unexpected surprises?

Not really – I mean, I had already read so much about the era and the Iberian kingdoms prior to starting out on this series. Well, what I did find interesting is that Sancho IV of Castile had problems getting his marriage to Maria de Molina approved by the pope as he had been betrothed elsewhere prior to falling heads over heels for Maria. His would come back to be something of a problem for Sancho’s son, who was born under the shadow of potential illegitimacy, seeing as there was no papal dispensation.

How fascinating!

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing a successful Historical Fiction series set in different countries – in this case, England, Wales, and Spain?

Language was an issue. Reasonably, the common man—and Robert is a common man with little real education, bar what he received as a page at Wigmore—did not go about conversing in Latin, which was the lingua franca of envoys, clerks and educated men. So how would he communicate?

Problem sorted itself given that Robert’s first language is French—even if he speaks early English as well—and people in Navarre and Aragon would definitely speak French as their second language. As described in The Castilian Pomegranate, the Castilians were not quite as comfortable with French—unless they were of high birth—which causes some problems for Robert. I also spent some time considering money but decided that gold was gold and as there was a constant flow of goods between England and France, and France and present-day Spain, there would also have been money-changers.

We’ve been following this brilliant series from the beginning, so, naturally, we’d love to know which part of it you personally love the most?

What a difficult question! I love the entire story, obviously, but I think I am proudest of The Castilian Pomegranate because of the fact that it included so many complex political issues: The French invading Aragon, the Castilians busy defending their borders against the Moors while pushing the Reconquista, the Castilian and Aragonese constantly trying to take advantage of each other’s weaknesses, an irate pope. And set against this, a young woman who suddenly comes face to face with her inheritance, her people, and is so blown away she unconsciously causes her husband so much heart pain. *sniff*

A real mix of intriguing events. The Castilian Pomegranate is a fabulous adventure.

What are you working on next?

At present, I am thinking. (Painful, that!)

I have several ideas in my head, one of which involves Robert’s and Noor’s daughter, Isabel. But I also want to see what happens next for Duncan and Erin, presently travelling to Russia under Peter the Great, and then there’s this new story, featuring Lenore, which seems to be some sort of historical fantasy. I suspect I’ll end up writing all three of them!

Ooh, how exciting. Best of luck with your projects!

Thank you for your time, Anna. It’s always a pleasure to host you.

Thank you for having me! Any chance of some more tea? And a biscuit?

Of course. Here you are! 🥰🫖

Universal Link

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

More recently, Anna has been hard at work with her Castilian series. The first book, His Castilian Hawk, published in 2020, is set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales. His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, while the third, Her Castilian Heart, finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain! The fourth book, Their Castilian Orphan, now available.

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Readers’ Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website,

Connect with Anna:

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram

No comments:

Post a Comment