I was supposed to post a review earlier, but I have not been able to do so because of some reasons. Thank you so much Rebecca and Frolic Blog Tours for understanding me and giving me time. The review is going to be up soon!
So, before we start getting all talkative, let me share a few things about the book!
The Lady Of The Cliffs
Book Title: The Lady Of The Cliffs
Series: The Bury Down Chronicles, Book 2
Author: Rebecca Kightlinger
Publisher: Rowan Moon
Publication Date: November 1, 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
The Lady of the Cliffs
~ Book Two of The Bury Down Chronicles ~
Long ago, before this cusp of land was known as Cornwall, there dwelt in a cave at the foot of a cliff on Kernow’s rugged coast a healer.
“You know them, don’t you, Megge of Bury Down?” asks a voice that is silk over silk.
“These cliffs of Kernow.”
Cornwall, 1285 CE
Now nearly seventeen, Megge and Brighida must endure another brutal loss. And as they perform the rites of transition that precede a burial, Megge accepts a daunting new charge that carries consequences not even her cousin the seer can predict. It brings visions. Dreams. And voices that come to her as she goes about her work.
A silken voice beckons her back to the cliffs of Kernow, which she has seen only in dreams. A commanding voice orders her back. And the menacing voice she’s heard since she was a girl is now ever at her ear, bringing new a haunting meaning to her grandmother’s words, “You’re never alone.”
But only when the tales of an old woman, a stranger to Bury Down, echo those voices and conjure those cliffs does Megge embark on a journey that leads to a secluded cove they call The Sorrows and a destiny none of the women of Bury Down could have foreseen.
For those of you who will also be mentioning the first book in the series, Megge of Bury Down was recently named a Distinguished Favorite in the categories of historical fiction and cover design at the Independent Press NYC Big Book Awards.
And honestly, I love the book. I was not expecting to enjoy historical fiction this much and yet I did!
And onto the interview now!!
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Hello Rebecca, it is great to have to on the blog! I hope you are having a very safe time. I have a few questions today! About you, The Bury Down Chronicles and of course about your writing life!
So, Let’s get going!
Can you tell us more than “About” yourself?
I like Tim Horton’s coffee, long, quiet afternoons, every season Pennsylvania hands me, and I like to study and work. With the exception of the coffee and studying, which I didn’t fully appreciate until I was in college, those are pretty much the things I’ve always enjoyed. In junior high, I was a candy-striper in a small hospital; in high school, a bus-girl in an Elk’s Club; in college, a physical therapy aide, a nurses’ aide, a home-health aide, and for a couple of weeks I was a bookkeeper in a junkyard. The less said about that, the better.
After med school and residency, I practiced OB/GYN for a long time and delivered the sweetest babies you’ve ever seen. But an injury put an end to my medical career; and now, with an MFA under my belt and a lot of time to think and study, I write historical fiction in a rambling, 170-year-old home just outside a small town in Pennsylvania.
It’s a quiet place bordered on three sides by woods, and I go out every afternoon to feed the critters that line up along a log waiting to be fed. Across the street is a wooded cemetery in which the previous owner of this house (who lived here for seventy years, taught math, raised a nice family, and died at the age of 102) now rests. His grave overlooks the property, so I feel a special tenderness toward the place and strive to make sure it always meets his approval!
My husband and I have a Chihuahua named Princess, a Border Collie named Cassie, three cats (Grace, Samantha, and Annie), and a tiny Sebright hen named Kate, who crows like a rooster. A couple of years ago, we turned most of our yard into butterfly patches filled with milkweed and colorful flowers; and for a time last summer, I took care of and got to know a lovely Monarch butterfly named Muriel.
This summer brought fewer Monarchs and very little gardening, but lots of writing, editing, proofing, and all the other delicious work that goes into putting out a new book!
I see you like to read and review Historical books, why do you adore medieval books so much?
Because I love to think about the people living in those times. While their day-to-day lives were infinitely slower, harder, and more repetitive than ours, their lives, like ours, were both touched by joy and rocked by calamity. Years of work could be suddenly disrupted by events out of their control, catapulting them into new ways of living, working, and just getting by. They lived their lives and raised their families as best they could—just as we do—and it is this shared humanity that I love to see in that gorgeous era of mysticism, superstition, and striving for better.
Can you give out some book recommendations for readers who love your book as well as the readers interested in reading Historical fiction?
The Mists of Avalon provides unforgettable mysticism and power in a coming-of-age story set in dark-age Cornwall.
A more recent novel, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field, by Kim Michele Richardson, is a gritty coming-of-age story I adore. It’s set in hardscrabble Appalachia and features characters I cannot get out of my mind, years after having read and reviewed the book.
There are readers here who might have no knowledge about your books; can you introduce your books to them?
The Bury Down Chronicles series is a magical-realist tale: a story set in a recognizable era in the real world, but with elements of magic or mysticism that are considered a normal part of life for those in the story. The series develops gradually and, when completed, will reach from the warm days of the late thirteenth century, through the sudden onset of the Little Ice Age in the early fourteenth century, and into the devastating famine of northern Europe, which no one—except Murga—will have seen coming.
Megge of Bury Down opens in 1275 and introduces both Murga and Megge: Murga as the first seer of Bury Down, and Megge as her intended successor.
Megge is a young girl growing up in a family of mystical women healers and seers, and though she possesses strong feelings of duty and the desire to belong, she balks at doing the one thing that will make her a true woman of Bury Down. Her story is an intimate portrait of a family of strong women, and in it I hoped to capture both the slow pace of medieval life and the sudden upheavals that force both the family and the child into new roles and alternate ways of seeing their world. It also portrays the competition between siblings (though Megge and Brighida are not sisters but cousins), the unconditional love of an elderly confidante, and the desperate striving of a mother to bring a rebellious daughter into line when everyone’s lives—and the life-sustaining power they hold—depend on this child’s decision.
In The Lady of the Cliffs, seventeen-year-old Megge learns the true nature of her family and companions. She also discovers her own origins and must make a decision that will determine who—and what—she ultimately becomes as well as the future of those whose lives are in her hands.
How did “The Bury Down Chronicles” originate?
It’s complicated! When I write, I sit down and wait for a scene to start playing out. Sometimes it’s purely visual—an image, or someone doing something—and sometimes it’s a voice telling me a story. Usually, it is both. I write what I see and hear and try to stay absolutely true to the story, since I never know where it’s going to lead. One day nearly ten years ago, as I was finishing a story set in present-day Holland, I sat down to write and instead of seeing my characters in Amsterdam, where I’d left them the day before, I saw a small girl with messy brown hair, dressed in rough, heavy woolens, sitting on a big boulder at the top of a hill dotted with sheep. She looked right at me and said, “When you’re done with those Dutch people, I want to go next.” I quickly finished up with “those Dutch people,” and from that day on, Megge has been telling me her story and revealing her life. And I’ve been striving to get it right.
I have seen a lot of times that the author’s start with a different name in mind for the title but it changes by the time it is launched out to the readers, did your books have a different name before? If so, why did you decide to change their names?
Megge of Bury Down was originally titled The Book of Seasons. But when I realized that “Megge of Bury Down” would be Megge’s title once she took her vow, I changed the book’s title.
The Lady of the Cliffs was the only title Book Two could have had!
How did you get into writing stories? Was it a dream from childhood or was it like ‘I woke up one day and realized I wish to do something else’?
One Christmas roughly twenty years ago, while I was still in medical practice, my husband bought me a manual typewriter. For a year, I sat down every night and wrote a story set in western Pennsylvania during the labor movement of the 1930s. I did a lot of research and loved writing it. But back then, my fiction writing was a hobby, not a profession, and while I loved the story, it wasn’t a professionally written novel. It wasn’t until after my wrist got shattered and I had to leave Medicine that I started writing seriously. Megge’s was such an unusual story—an afterlife narrator telling the story of a girl whose family had mystical work to do, in the real world, in an identifiable historical era—that I knew I needed to study writing craft seriously if I was going to do the story justice. From then on, writing simply became the one thing I do.
Is it really important for you to have a particular atmosphere around you to write? If yes, what kind?!
It has to be quiet, with no interruptions, and casual. I can’t write at the desk in my office. Too serious. So I write at an old kitchen table that’s set up in the living room, usually with Princess sleeping on the couch and sometimes with the cats or little Kate hanging out with us.
What advice and talks do you have for aspiring authors/writers?
I could talk about writing all day, but the best advice I can share boils down to three things: Study writing craft and editing. Listen to the voices that come to you unbidden. Hire a professional editor.
Lastly, Can you name a title for historical fiction and of course a non-historical fiction book which you love?
I love Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, my favorite of the Arthurian legends because of its mysticism, its strong women characters, and the conflicts that arise as these young women choose their paths in life.
My favorite non-historical novel is still The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I love it for its beautiful writing and its unsentimental portrayal of a very human protagonist making his way through difficult, ever-changing times. In the story, he seems to stumble into situations and people: some who use and discard him, and others who take him in, lead him to “the next thing,” or simply befriend him and form the nidus of a strong, stable life.
My favorite short story, also based on the theme of upheaval, is “Babette’s Feast” by Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen).
In short, I guess my favorite stories are ones that bloom slowly. Stories in which flawed, uncertain, or somehow battered protagonists makes their way through the unknown and in the process find their tribe, their work, and the life they’re meant to lead.
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It was a great interview. The answers are just beautiful! I hope you enjoyed this as well!! The review for both the books will be published soon!!
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