A huge welcome to author Cryssa Bazos, who comes celebrating the publication of her third novel. Let’s dive into my questions for her about the book, writing and research, favorite characters, and more!
Your new book, Rebel’s Knot, takes place in Ireland in the 1650s. What inspired you to write about this time and place?
Thanks for inviting me on your blog, Char. I’ve always been fascinated by the War of the Three Kingdoms (also known as the English Civil War), and my first two books explored different aspects of the conflict. It wasn’t my intention for my third novel to be set in Ireland, and I had only planned to write a short story about an Irish soldier set on avenging his kin against the English marauders who destroyed his family. This is a heartbreaking period of Irish history. I finally realized that I needed to do the story justice and tell it in the longer format of a novel. It also made sense to explore the Irish resistance against the English invasion, since the War of the Three Kingdoms tore apart England, Scotland and Ireland.
Rebel’s Knot is your third novel, and part of the Quest for Three Kingdoms series. It is a standalone, isn’t it? How is it tied to your earlier books?
Quest for the Three Kingdoms is a standalone series, and all three books can be read on their own, although I hope readers will read the whole series. All three books are linked by cross-over characters and the overarching history. Rebel’s Knot occurs along a parallel time frame as the previous novel, Severed Knot. The main character, Niall O’Coneill, is the brother of the heroine from Severed Knot and he comes upon the devastation of his family being captured or killed. As a reader, I love these connections. I feel like they’re an Easter egg for loyal readers.
Historical fiction requires a lot of research! What parts of that research do you enjoy the most? the least?
I really can’t think of any aspect of research I don’t enjoy. The problem is the opposite—crawling out of the rabbit hole and getting back to the task of writing the story. I enjoy going through first-hand accounts the most. There are always little nuggets of information that I use to flavour my stories. Footnotes are a treasure trove of information.
When you were researching and writing Rebel’s Knot, did you stumble across any surprises? Did they get incorporated into the book?
In one of the footnotes, I found a reference to an Irish soldier acting as a spy for the English. In fact, he had been a cousin of Edmund O’Dwyer, the commander of the Irish forces in Tipperary and Waterford. Naturally I made like a magpie and used that shiny nugget in Rebel’s Knot. I dug a little deeper and discovered that the man spied for the English during the Irish Rebellion ten years earlier. Instead of entirely abandoning it, I decided to fictionalize it and make a fictional character the spy. To learn which one I gave that role to, you’ll just have to read the novel.
Do you have a favorite fictional character?
I have so many, she says as she scans her bookshelves lovingly. I love all of Dumas’s Musketeers, but have a soft spot for the brooding Athos. Mary Stewart’s Merlin is absolutely wonderful and everything I’ve wanted from a serious retelling of the legend. When I first read Lord of the Rings, I was in complete awe of the Lady Galadriel and the power she wielded through one of the elvish rings. Anyone else notice that her husband was little more than a footnote in that story? If I had to pick my favourite, I would have to choose a character who I’ve dearly loved since I was a child and that would be Anne of Green Gables. I grew up with Anne. When I visited Prince Edward Island, I dragged my husband through the Green Gables museum and the L.M Montgomery museum. I felt like I was returning home.
If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
I want to be a sorceress or the Lady of the Lake, but not evil and definitely not the kind to steal Merlin’s magic. Women in these types of stories can be so misunderstood! Alternatively, I would like to be Lúthien Tinúviel from J.R.R Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Not only could she dance lightly in a green glade under starlight, she was fearless in taking on the fell dark lord Morgoth (who was far darker than Sauron could ever hope to be) for the life of her lover.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading. Listening to writing craft podcasts. I putter about in my garden, although I have to admit that I’ve done far less of it than before I started writing.
About Rebel’s Knot
Ireland 1652: In the desperate, final days of the English invasion . . .
A fey young woman, Áine Callaghan, is the sole survivor of an attack by English marauders. When Irish soldier Niall O’Coneill discovers his own kin slaughtered in the same massacre, he vows to hunt down the men responsible. He takes Áine under his protection and together they reach the safety of an encampment held by the Irish forces in Tipperary.
Hardly a safe haven, the camp is rife with danger and intrigue. Áine is a stranger with the old stories stirring on her tongue and rumours follow her everywhere. The English cut off support to the brigade, and a traitor undermines the Irish cause, turning Niall from hunter to hunted.
When someone from Áine’s past arrives, her secrets boil to the surface—and she must slay her demons once and for all.
As the web of violence and treachery grows, Áine and Niall find solace in each other’s arms—but can their love survive long-buried secrets and the darkness of vengeance?
Cryssa Bazos is an award-winning historical fiction author and a seventeenth century enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award for Historical Fiction, a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards for Historical Romance. Her second novel, Severed Knot, is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree and a finalist for the 2019 Chaucer Award. Rebel’s Knot is the third instalment of the standalone series, Quest for the Three Kingdoms.