Friday, May 8, 2015

Paul James Nolan, Author of The Forsaken Queen

forsaken queen, paul james nolan, paul nolan, castle book, castle mystery, castle adventure
Paul James Nolan is the author of the historical fiction/adventure novel The Forsaken Queen.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m half part teacher and half part writer, living near Winchester, UK. For years, I have enjoyed reading books to my classes and own children, often changing the endings when I prefer my own. I have a real passion for history: the little free time I have I spend visiting historical buildings, reading historical books and watching historical dramas. You could say (and some do) that I spend more time in the past than in the present!

I have also written a couple of school plays (with historical links of course) that can be purchased at

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.

A security guard at Hampton Court is badly injured. No-one believes his account of being attacked by a ghost except three school-children, each of them avid historians. A school visit to the Tudor palace provides the children with the opportunity to investigate but what they find there is far greater than any of them could have imagined. Their discovery sets in motion a chain of events that takes them into the deepest recesses of some of England’s greatest castles. They find a Queen Forsaken; only their bravery and determination can redeem her.

Who do you think would most appreciate The Forsaken Queen?

The book will appeal to anyone who loves a good adventure or mystery and anyone who likes to be scared (a little).  If readers enjoy deepening their understanding of the past, then they will like it all the better. I wrote the book with the 11+ market in mind but adults have really taken to it too!

What inspired you to write a book about someone who searches the Great Castles of London and discovers the truth isn’t what he thought it would be?

I took a group of schoolchildren to Hampton Court. There, in the chapel, an attendant told us the amazing story that the heart of Jane Seymour (Henry VIII’s 3rd wife) is buried beneath the chapel. We weren’t sure whether to believe him but at that moment, a story was born.

Tell us a bit about the protagonist, Henry Taylor.
Things aren’t going so well for Henry. He’s being bullied at school by Maddisson Manners and her moronic mob; singled out for being a loner and a book worm. The fact that he lives with his father above their little historical bookshop doesn’t help either. He sees so little of his father who spends most of his time reenacting battles in full regalia. He has only one friend of note: Dominique, until that is, a new boy Simeon arrives at school. After his arrival, Henry changes forever. 

How did you do research on the castles that Henry visits?
By visiting them! I have been lucky enough to visit Hampton Court, Windsor Castle and The Tower of London many times. In fact, I have visited Hampton Court so many times, that when I have spoken to the schoolchildren, tourists have mistaken me for a guide and joined our group! Other than that, I have topped up my knowledge by reading a plethora of books and watching countless documentaries. My readers will feel like they are in the castle with the characters.

What are some of the interesting things you discovered while doing research on the castles?

Other than the story about Jane Seymour’s heart, I think the most amazing story has to involve our present Queen, and the vaults of St. George’s chapel at Windsor Castle. The remains of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour are locked away in a vault away from the public. However, when the Queen is hosting dignitaries at the castle, she often takes them for a private tour of the tombs! Isn’t that cool! Of course - this too I have woven into the story!

How long have you been writing?
About 3 years. For years before that I wrote with my classes, modelling stories but I have been writing my own stories for three years. It took nearly two years to write The Forsaken Queen.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?

To begin with, I wrote what I wanted to read but I soon learnt that I have to adapt my own style and control my own preferences to ensure that my writing appeals to as many people as possible. I have also learnt to tone done my descriptions – sometimes a door can be just a door!

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?

It can be quite lonely – a far cry from teaching a bunch of children! As I write historical fiction, sometimes I am very keen to end the research and just get writing. I usually research the time-period for about 3 months.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My new book, Demons of Dunkirk is due for released this month (May 2015) to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the heroic evacuation from Northern France in the summer of 1940.  

It’s about a Conscientious Objector from WWI who wants to redeem his tarnished reputation by rescuing stranded soldiers from the beaches. It’s aimed at the teen market and I think it’s a thrilling read.

The book is now available to purchase in many places – give it a Google!
I am currently writing a book set in the Bronze Age. It has a title but I can’t tell you yet!

I also have a sequel in mind for the Forsaken Queen – if there is a strong enough cry for it!

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Lots but I’ll keep it short. Life in Henry VIII’s court was precarious; the fortunes of those closest to him changed with the blowing of the wind. The Forsaken Queen explores the real possibility that more than two of his Queens met a deadly end... Have a read and see if you agree!

An excerpt from The Forsaken Queen:
The figure turned: black cloak billowing. The hood stared straight at them. Into them. Through them. Three mouths opened but no words escaped, cold air scraping over their dry throats. Pressed back by fear, the children felt the wood of the door behind them, trapping them. Slowly, the hooded figure slid nearer, bringing forth a lavender wave. Held out in front of her, in black-gloved hand, flickered a taper of light, flame flecks dancing of the marbled floor. Above lamented Tudor Rose pennants, blood drops’ crying upon the children’s socks. Gradually, the gloved-hand retracted, its grip released on the flickering candle. But the flame didn’t fall to the ground, instead it hovered ahead of the figure, its flame growing brighter. Now a second hand joined the first, either side of the hood and slowly they began to part and fall, gradually revealing the face beneath. Breath vacuumed from Henry’s rigid body, squeezed from his motionless mouth, for he instantly recognized the haunting, pale face, staring back at him, through hollowed, deathly eyes. 

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