I’m happy to welcome author Everley Gregg. Today, Everley shares ten interesting facts about the origins of her medieval series–The Forgotten Flowers of Flanders–and her new release, The Warrior and the Wildflower, Book 1 in the series.
Thank you, Joanne Guidoccio, for inviting me as a guest on your blog today! I’m very excited because what has, truly, been a lifelong dream of mine is finally coming to fruition. I’d like to share with your readers ten interesting facts about how my new medieval romance series, The Forgotten Flowers of Flanders, came to be.
1. I was smitten when I was in the second grade—not with the cute boy across the aisle, but with history. And not just history in general, but with a particular place and time: 15th Century Flanders. How did this happen to an innocent 8-year-old? I was last in line to pick a book out of the interlibrary loan box. The one I ended up with was filled with colorful plates of paintings by artists in the Netherlands in the late Middle Ages.
2. Nightmares: long after the book was returned to the library, my nights were filled with terrifying nightmares starring the characters depicted in some of those paintings. My curiosity about the age, and the painters, piqued. I began researching artists such as Jan Van Eyck, Hieronymous Bosch, and Pieter Breugel. The essay for my senior English project (for which I earned an “A+”) discussed the symbolism behind these apparently religious, yet secretly secularly motivated works of art.
3. Obsessed with all things medieval, I signed up for Latin courses in college. The language, it seemed, came naturally to me. My professor could not believe how well I spoke it—as though I’d spoken it before. (I am not good with learning other languages—English is the only “other” one I ever learned!) I also signed up for a course in Medieval Manuscript Illumination, an education that will guide the plot for my third book in The Forgotten Flowers of Flanders Series. The heroine of Book Three is a manuscript illuminator.
4. The trip: Due to a totally serendipitous event, I found myself traveling to the place I’d always wanted to visit—Belgium. There I was the guest of a gracious couple who listened to me blabber endlessly about my obsession with the region, and who took me to the places I’d longed to see, both in Belgium and the Netherlands (which used to be . . . Flanders!) ‘Twas the most magical week of my life.
5. I began writing romance novels in 2012, along with a memoir and several nonfiction titles. But were they historical romances? Nay. I had it in my head that I was “not yet good enough” to do justice to the stories in my head.
6. After publishing six novels in the paranormal and contemporary romance genres, I finally decided to follow my true calling. Was I yet “good enough”? I didn’t know. I figured I’d take a leap of faith and ask my idol in the genre, Kathryn Le Veque, to act as my mentor. Did I expect a response? Nay. Did I get one? Aye! To my surprise, I did, along with some hard-to-swallow advice—followed by an offer of a contract with Dragonblade Publishing.
7. The first book in the series, The Warrior and the Wildflower, features a heroine who was born with a birth defect: a club foot. So was I! In the mid-20th century, the defect was fixable. In 15th C. Flanders, it was not. Eva, though she’s set her sights on the life of a lady, has a few obstacles in her way, among them being a “creple” and having more than her share of hubris, i.e., pride.
8. In addition to an obsession with the Middle Ages, I have also always been a horse fanatic. Of course, my first hero, Mathieu, had to be a horseman (ostler), as well as one who trained the hunting birds for the court. Falconry has also been a lifelong fascination of mine.
9. Once I dove into my pre-destined genre, the stories now come easily. I finished The Warrior and the Wildflower in just two months. The second book, The Knight and the Rose, I completed in less than three months, during a time of extreme stress and distraction: the holidays, Covid, and my husband undergoing major surgery.
10. Why, even after being advised that I’d set my novels in the wrong location—”they should be set in England or Scotland”—did I push forward with the series set in Flanders? First, because Ms. LeVeque said she was willing to “give the series a try.”
Second? I simply had no choice. A lifelong obsession should not be ignored, no matter what the outcome.
Fifteenth Century, Burgundy.
Eva of Utrecht is an unrecognized, illegitimate daughter of the Duke Philip III. She fears she will never rise above her roots as a simple tailor’s daughter. Her birth defect, a club foot, brands her even less desirable. When the missive arrives inviting her to attend the May Day Festival at Coudenburg Castle, hope rallies.
Under Lady Isabella’s wing, Eva blossoms into a confident young woman—one blinded by pride. She sets her sights on the life of a lady, determined to win the love of a gallant knight. Little does she expect her heart to be swept away by a simple horseman who’s shunned his chance at knighthood.
Mathieu of Liège was on a warrior’s path when he brutally witnessed how power can taint the title. He bears the scar on his face and the horrible memory as reminders. The ostler believes he does not need the sword and spurs to uphold the principles of chivalry. He leads a simple life, training the horses and hunting birds for Duke Philip’s court. Mathieu, though, is lonely, and dreams of finding a lady love to share his life, one who will appreciate his quiet strength and infallible dignity.
When Matthieu falls hard for Eva, he must find a way to convince her of his valor… even if he doesn’t wear the armor.
Can their love take flight?
***Releases on Amazon TODAY!***
Book Two, The Knight and the Rose, will be released later this spring. Please visit my website and sign up for my mailing list so you will know as soon as the title goes up for preorder!
More About the Author
Everley Gregg grew up in upstate New York. She married her happily-ever-after love at 19, and they will celebrate 43 years of marriage this year. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. Everley has three children and two gorgeous grandchildren. After retiring from her full-time career in laboratory science, she now writes full-time. She also writes supernatural suspense and contemporary romance under the pseudonym, Claire Gem.
Everley loves to connect with her readers! You can connect with her here:
One person will win a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback. Another will win a paperback. Find out more here.