19 September 2012

Cynthia Haggard HNS Conference Guest of the Day



Born and raised in Surrey, England, CYNTHIA SALLY HAGGARD has lived in the United States for thirty years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of She and King Solomon's Mines. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.)


Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Maryland Book Publishers Association. She is currently at work on her next three novels.
You can visit Cynthia's website at: http://spunstories.com/



Cynthia's Banquet Guests


Dear Helen,
Her ladyship is delighted to answer your questions about dinner parties, and has cast her reply in the form of a speech, which she hopes you will reproduce on your blog. She wishes to say that she attended many banquets in her day, and was always fond of conversation. 

The nine dinner table companions she would choose are:

1. Boudicca. She put up such a fight she worried those Roman generals.


2. Cleopatra. What a way of making an entrance (in a tapestry, no less).


3. Livia. She kept her husband, the Emperor Augustus firmly wrapped around her finger.


4. Eleanor of Aquitaine. She divorced her first husband and married a second one, a gentleman who was several years her junior.


5. Yolande of Aragon. The real power behind the throne of France for twenty-three years, until her death in 1442.

The beautiful rose name after Yolande of Aragon
6. Hildegard of Bingen. A mystic who wrote glorious music, and acquired the power to found her own convent. (How I wish I'd been able to lead that kind of life)

7. St. Bridget. My favorite saint. I use her prayers every day.


8. Countess Joan de Beaufort. My mother. I miss her presence every day.


9. Lady Joan Plantagenet. My eldest child, dead far too young at the age of three. I pray for her soul every day.

The theme of the conversation would be on the care and management of husbands.


Lady Cecylee:
"I died over five hundred years ago. Yet I am come to life in a recently-released novel titled THWARTED QUEEN.
Who am I?
I am Lady Cecylee de Neville, Duchess of York, Queen by Right and Abbess. I died on the last day of May in 1495.
Why should I interest you? What can this ancient crone say that would be of interest? (Especially if you are not interested in history.)
Yet my life has relevance for the 21st century, because the way I set about solving problems can serve as a model for all of you.
What problems could I have had? I was an aristocrat, a lady of leisure. I never starved or went without.
But there were problems. Oh yes.
Ladies were not treated kindly in my day. When we married, or rather, were forced to marry, we gave up all our legal rights.
Can you imagine a life where you could not sue or plead your case on your own behalf, but had to consult your husband about everything?
But perhaps the most interesting thing about the ladies of 1400s England, was that although, legally speaking, they were treated as doormats, they never quite acted as one.
I should know.
And now I have a confession to make. When my husband went away one summer to campaign against the French, I did not behave myself. When he returned to find that I was bearing another’s child, he was not pleased. Nevertheless, he did not lock me up. Instead he kept me so firmly by his side that I gave him thirteen children in seventeen years. My lady-friends used to marvel at the way he doted on me. It wasn’t quite like that, of course. But that is the way it seemed. As if I had him wrapped around my little finger.
And so, what do the stories of these long-dead ladies show? 
They show that even though you have to consult your husband about everything, that you can get your hearts desire by masking determination with patience. By listening carefully, and choosing the right moment to brooch your subject. It also helps if you know your audience well. In my case, I knew that a well-roasted capon, three glasses of excellent claret, and the playing of Plus Bele Que Flor usually did the trick when I wanted something. Naturally I would also put on the violet gown he so admired, his favorite perfume, and make his favorite posset with my own hands.  Whatever. I found those tools to be effective methods of persuasion.
My scribe, Cynthia Sally Haggard, tells me that this speech has gone on long enough. Having piqued your interest, I hope I can now persuade you to read my memoirs. My scribe has made them available in various different forms. THWARTED QUEEN is the whole e-tome. But if you don’t have time to read a tome, you needn’t do it, for the narrative of my life falls into three parts, available in three paperback volumes. THE ROSE OF RABY is the story of my girlhood and how I misbehaved myself. THE GILDED CAGE is the story of my lord’s political career. And lastly, TWO MURDERS REAPED is the story of the last thirty-five years of my life, after my husband died.
I hope you enjoy reading them. And if you do, please let me know what you think. I am at various places in cyberspace. My Facebook page is called Lady Cecylee Neville and I have a reading group of Goodreads called Lady Cecylee’s Reading Circle. I hold an audience every day, and would enjoy meeting you all. And now I fear I must retire, as I feel a little weary. Thank you all for your kind attention."

 thank you  for giving me this opportunity! See you in London!
Cynthia Haggard 
Author of THWARTED QUEEN, 
now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Redroom and Smashwords.



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