Thursday, August 08, 2019

The Owen Archer Ensemble, a guest post by Candace Robb - plus US giveaway for A Conspiracy of Wolves

I'm happy to welcome Candace Robb here today for a guest post about the supporting cast in her long-running Owen Archer mystery series set in 14th-century York.  The eleventh and newest volume, A Conspiracy of Wolves, was published last week by Severn House/Crème de la Crime in hardcover and ebook.


The Owen Archer Ensemble 
Candace Robb

I approach each scene with a vision of its shape and the characters involved, yet I know it will take on its own form as I write, including unplanned characters who stroll onto the set and make themselves comfortable. A few of these incidental characters not only return in later scenes, but also reappear in future books, becoming members of the series ensemble. Some first appear in a rather minor role—Magda Digby and Brother Michaelo; some are integral to the plot—Alisoun Ffulford.

Magda Digby insinuated herself into an early draft of The Apothecary Rose, her role growing from a cameo appearance—the grieving mother weeping over her son’s grave—to the final version in which she is a minor but notable character. A chance comment from my agent at the time after reading an early draft—an interesting character. Will we see her again?—suggested to me that Magda might warrant another look. That must be what woke her. Gradually, as I revised, she inspired brief scenes; I saw a role for her, and a far richer identity. The elderly woman in mourning expanded into the enigmatic healer Owen encountered on his first day in York and came to respect for her wisdom, healing skill, and long memory about the people of York and Galtres.

Brother Michaelo also made his debut in The Apothecary Rose, as the toady of Archdeacon Anselm. In Rose he was a pathetic creature frequenting the infirmary at St. Mary’s with headaches. When he failed in his task for Anselm his role seemed finished. But much to my surprise, Archbishop Thoresby took him on as his private secretary in The Lady Chapel, as his “hair shirt.” In Thoresby’s service Michaelo came to see the error of his ways and sought redemption—though on his own terms. His all too human struggles endeared him to me, and Michaelo became a character I enjoyed following.

But with Thoresby’s death in A Vigil of Spies, and the failure of Richard Ravenser’s bid to take his uncle’s place as archbishop, Michaelo’s role in the series was over. Or so I thought. But something odd kept happening as I wrote Owen’s first scenes in A Conspiracy of Wolves—Brother Michaelo kept appearing, appalled by the crime scene, yet proving unexpectedly helpful. I would edit him out only to have him reappear. I thought he’d returned to Normandy between books 10 and 11, but I was wrong.

Alisoun Ffulford was a central character in The Riddle of St. Leonard’s, a child orphaned by the pestilence, unwittingly caught up in a series of crimes. Hostile toward Owen Archer and Magda Digby when they came to rescue her, she tried to strike out on her own in a countryside terrified by the plague. She intrigued me, and her character, a stubborn child who hunted with a bow and distrusted everyone, oddly lightened the plague-haunted story. I found I could not let her go once I’d finished the book. I wanted to explore whether she would convince Magda to take her on as an apprentice, and, if so, how that would play out. By book 10, A Vigil of Spies, Alisoun matured and gained not only Magda’s but also Owen’s respect. However, she stumbled in A Conspiracy of Wolves, and that is how she’s managing to keep my interest.


About the Author

I’m Candace Robb, a writer/historian engaged in creating fiction about the late middle ages with a large cast of characters with whom I enjoy spending my days. Two series, the Owen Archer mysteries and the Kate Clifford mysteries, are set in late medieval York. The Margaret Kerr trilogy is set in early 14th century Scotland, at the beginning of the Wars of Independence. Two standalone novels (published under pseudonym Emma Campion) expand on the lives of two women in the court of King Edward III who have fascinated me ever since I first encountered them in history and fiction.

I am a dreamer. Writing, gardening, walking, dancing, reading, being with friends—there’s always a dreaming element.

About A Conspiracy of Wolves (Owen Archer, Book 11):

When a prominent citizen is murdered, former Captain of the Guard Owen Archer is persuaded out of retirement to investigate in this gripping medieval mystery.

1374. When a member of one of York’s most prominent families is found dead in the woods, his throat torn out, rumours spread like wildfire that wolves are running loose throughout the city. Persuaded to investigate by the victim’s father, Owen Archer is convinced that a human killer is responsible. But before he can gather sufficient evidence to prove his case, a second body is discovered, stabbed to death. Is there a connection? What secrets are contained within the victim’s household? And what does apprentice healer Alisoun know that she’s not telling?

Teaming up with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward, Owen’s enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a hardcover copy of A Conspiracy of Wolves by Candace Robb! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Conspiracy of Wolves

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