Alexa Aston is the author of The Knights of Honor, a medieval romance series that takes place in 14th century England during the reign of Edward III and centers on the de Montfort family. Each romance focuses on the code of chivalry that bound knights of this era. You can learn more about her and her books here.
What drew you to writing Historical Romance as opposed to a different genre?
I’ve always been drawn to history—so much that I became a history teacher! I enjoyed teaching my students about people who are not all that different from us, but who answered a call to action at the right time in the right place and made a significant impact in the lives of others.
Although I enjoy reading any sub-genre of romance, historical romance holds a special place in my heart. I love to be swept back to a different era, away from all of today’s technology, to a time when conversations and relationships held a place of great importance. There’s something ultra-sexy about a bold, handsome knight or a rugged, brave cowboy that just does it for me.
If you could live in any historical period which one would you choose? Why?
Medieval times, of course! I enjoy reading romances set during that era, as well as writing my own, so that is where I would like to land. I will add that I would much rather go back as one of the English nobility instead of living the harsh, short life of a peasant.
I think of the Michael Crichton book Timeline, where a group from modern times journeyed back to 14th century France. One of the time travelers, André Marek, chooses to remain behind when the others return to the future because he’s found his soul mate in Lady Claire. Those who make it back find the pair’s grave and from the inscription see they lived a long, happy life together, in love. I would hope if I traveled to medieval times, the same would be true for me.
Tell us something romantic from your own life.
On my wedding day, I was nervous and excited, as most brides are. While trying to eat breakfast, the doorbell rang. It was a delivery from our local florist—the most beautiful bouquet of white roses that I’d ever seen. I’d written a poem once about a man giving white roses to his lover and shared it with my husband. He’d remembered that. His note told me how much he loved me and happy we’d be in the years to come—and we have been.
Are the heroes and heroines in your books inspired by any real people?
Not at all. I agonize (sometimes days, if you can believe) on determining just the right names for my hero and heroine. Once I land upon them, I immediately begin seeing them in my mind and I start compiling a character sketch for both. I list their physical attributes and from that springs their characteristics. Once I complete these character sketches, I know exactly who they are and the story I want to write about them.
What kind of research do you do while writing a book to ensure historical accuracy?
I do quite a bit since many of the incidents in my medieval romances spring from actual historical events. I’ve read countless books about the reign of certain kings and battles that occurred. Some of the most helpful resources have been children’s books. The language is simple and the illustrations are terrific, especially of the interior and exteriors of castles and ships.
For my last three heroines, I’ve needed to research beyond books. In Love and Honor (Knights of Honor Book 7), Rosalyne was a painter, a very unusual occupation for a 14th century female. I found a terrific lecture on You Tube given by a British art history professor that really helped me understand how Rosalyne would have prepared a canvas and created her paints. In Gift of Honor (Book 8), Elinor was a falconer. I watched videos of modern day falconers and also some that a friend of mine shot while in Scotland last summer when they spent an hour with a falconer and his raptors. For Path to Honor (Book 9), I delved deeply into the sport of archery since Nan de Montfort was skilled with both a longbow and crossbow, even going to a Renaissance festival and watching archers in action.
I enjoy the research aspect of my writing and love weaving in historical tidbits for the readers so that not only do they have a wonderful romance to gobble up, but they can also learn about medieval times.
If you could have dinner with any person from the past, who would you choose and what would the two of you have to eat?
Hands down, it would be Theodore Roosevelt. He is my favorite president and such a larger than life character. He shaped the presidency into its modern form and influenced the lives of millions. He also traveled the world and wrote countless books. I think he would be an entertaining dinner companion. It wouldn’t matter what we ate because I would be fascinated by all of his many stories.
What is one book that impacted or changed your life that you think everybody should read? Why?
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that I read time and again. The descriptions are some of the best in any novel and the timeless theme of treating every human being with dignity and respect never grows old.