What drew you to the story of Tristan and Iseult, and why did you decide to write your own version of the tale?
My interest was first spiked when I came across Tristan and Iseult in Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian trilogy, which told a very different yet authentic tale of the two lovers. Over the years I came across a number of variations, and eventually decided I just had to tell the tale. I think I liked the idea of a story which is a tragedy, and doesn’t have your standard happy ever after.
What was the most difficult part of tackling such a classic story?
Pull myself away from the version I had read. But once I did that the characters spoke to me. They were my characters and they spoke to me, rather than trying to force characters from legend to play out my own tale.
Since then, you’ve gone on to write the story of Zenobia, in three parts to date. Is this in some ways a continuation of your earlier interest in Arthurian legends? If not, what attracts you about Zenobia’s story?
I began Zenobia long before Tristan and Iseult. I loved most the idea that the achievements of a woman in Roman history could be so untold. Barely anyone had heard of Zenobia before the recent destruction of Palmyra by IS. Yet she led one of the most threatening rebellions the Roman Empire ever faced. I guess I felt I owed it to this woman I stumbled upon to tell her story.
Like Liza Perrat, whom we interviewed a few issues ago, you are a founding member of Triskele Books. You also design their gorgeous covers—and many beautiful covers for non-Triskele authors. You edit the ezine Words with JAM and the review site Bookmuse. Where do you find time to write?
I struggle, if truth be told. But I always come back to it, and make time, because I love it. I like taking time out to live with my characters.
What will you work on next?
There’s another three Zenobia books to write yet, the next of which is due out this year. What then? I haven’t decided yet. It will definitely be set in the past, that’s for sure.
About JD Smith
JD Smith is the author of several historical fiction novels, a member of the Triskele Books collective, and editor of the writers’ ezine Words with JAM and the readers' review site Bookmuse.
She is also an award-winning book cover designer, the result of a lifelong love of books. She grew up in the English Lake District, surrounded by untouched beauty. She grew up reading CS Lewis and Enid Blyton, historical fiction. She has a soft spot for Arthurian legend, Roman history, the Tudors, and just about anything set in the past. She has three children she hopes will grow up to share her passion in all things bookish.
Excerpt from Tristan and Iseult
“Mother beckons me onward with a curt look. The sea is heavy and grey, and clouds overhead obliterate the already weakening sun. The waters that were once a comfort to me as I watched the waves skitter back and forth day after day are a comfort no longer. The deep expanse will be my captor until I return home.”
Tristan and Iseult can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Thank you, JD!