Title: The Knightmare
Author: Deborah Valentine
Synopsis: France, 1209: A Knight Templar riding through an eerie forest is suddenly attacked by an assassin as a man and woman watch from a distant hillside. When his death seems certain, the woman takes up a sword...
Present, Formula 1 race, Magny Cours: Observed by the very same couple, Conor Westfield, a career-obsessed Scottish driver, is in a horrible racing accident. Miraculously, he survives what seemed to be certain death.
As he is recovering from his injuries Conor’s childhood nightmare recurs, a strange jumble of terrifying images that feel more like memories than dreams. Can it be mere coincidence that the very next morning he is informed a mysterious woman with whom he had very brief affair has died and left him as her heir? But this was no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair. Dogged by a niggling feeling of déjà vu, Conor travels to Amsterdam to identify the body. At her home he finds an illuminated book that transports him back in time, to a woman he left behind and a life lived in the shadow of a tragedy that cries out across 800 years for resolution.
Weaving history with the present, fact with fantasy, The Knightmare is a story of angels and alchemy, betrayal and sacrifice, and truly extraordinary love.
Q&A with Deborah Valentine
Can you tell us a little about The Knightmare?
My first series of books were crime fiction. The Knightmare marks a change of direction to stories with both a historical and supernatural twist. It’s about a F1 driver who remembers a past life as a Knight Templar. Sounds weird, but there’s logic to it. In both lives he’s the action arm of a corporate body: in medieval times, the Church; in the present, big business sport. In remembering his past life he finds the origins of the personal issues he has in the present.
And, of course, there’s dodgy racing accidents, sword fights, the occasional massacre, betrayal and sacrifice... and, perhaps needless to say, a woman at the heart of it all, Mercedes. She’s quite an extraordinary woman. A lot of history and magic are thrown in for good measure.
What made you change from writing crime fiction to supernatural stories?
Oddly, it seemed a natural progression. At the heart of all stories is some kind of betrayal, whether technically criminal or not. Life itself is a rather fantastical adventure and the longer you live, the more fantastical it seems. It seemed more fun to take it that step further. As one of the characters in The Knightmare remarks: “Please note the word is ‘super’ natural, nature taken that step or so further than generally accepted natural events. Not ‘un’ natural”. I believe in exaggerration of a fact, you can illustrate a truth in a more impactful way. Perhaps, going back to the point I made earlier, it’s fun. Also, I love medieval history so that was another natural progression.
Who or what inspired the character of Conor?
I had a friend once who wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. I had always thought of him as a ‘hooray Henry’; good-looking and witty, but... a light-weight. Then I went to watch him race – I went camping with him in the snow (it still gives me shivers) – and was I surprised! In an instant, he changed to a man with total focus, genuine discipline, a real tactician. Out of that, grew the character of Conor.
Another big influence is the medieval true story of Abelard and Heloise. I read their collected letters as a teenager and what a story! The love between two famous scholars that ended in horrific tragedy, yet with a bittersweet epilogue. I was greatly influenced by her letters in particular – her attitude to love and marriage. A truly modern woman! It stuck with me.
So when I created the character of Conor, I also based him on what I imagined would be the psychology of their son. What would it do to a lad to know his father had been castrated as retribution for loving his mother? What would his attitude to love be? What choices would he make? And, more universally, how many children are embarrassed by their parents and absolutely determined not to make their mistakes. Of course, in reaction you can make some pretty spectacular disasters of your own...
At the heart of this adventure story is how your past impacts your attitudes as an adult and how a bit of hindsight and life experience can help show you how to take responsibility and come to terms with it.
About the author: Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent relationship amid murder and mayhem. They will soon be available as eBooks through Orion. With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge.
website: www.deborahvalentine.co.ukGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6859658.Deborah_Valentine