iUniverse proudly welcomes author J. Boyce Gleason, whose novel, Anvil of God, has won considerable acclaim. In addition to a myriad of enthusiastic and positive reviews, the book has won the Gold Medal for Best Historical Fiction Novel 2014 from the Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY), along with numerous other accolades. In a two-part blog, Gleason tells us about Anvil of God, what inspired him to focus on this period of history, and his publishing experience.
After conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition – the throne. Only one thing stands in his way; he is dying. Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles’s death in 741 is chaos.
His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles’s daughter flees his court for an enemy’s love. Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family’s relentless quest for power and destiny.
In historical fiction, the Carolingian period and first millennium as a whole tend to be overlooked. What led you to choose this period for your book?
I was a history major at Dartmouth College and had the great privilege to take a course from Charles Wood, one of the world’s leading experts on the Dark Ages. In the course of our studies, I grew fascinated by rise of the Carolingian Kings. In the midst of several centuries noted only for their depredation and brutality, a family led by a nineteen-year-old bastard, seizes power, conquers Europe, repels the advancing armies of Islam, usurps the throne from the Merovingian Kings, establishes the rule of law, promotes literacy, art and music and establishes a brief reign that has inspired European rulers throughout modern history. It was a brief and shining moment – the same story as Camelot – only this story actually happened in history.
We read an epic poem called “The Song of Roland” and I was surprised that no one had ever written a novel about it. I decided then that if I ever wrote a novel, I would begin there.
Years later, when I began to do the research for the book, I couldn’t seem to find a starting point for the story. I wanted it to be a big story, worthy of the drama that unfolded during this family’s rise to power. I kept looking further and further back in history for place to begin.
I finally found it with the story of Charlemagne’s grandfather, Charles the Hammer. Charles’s daughter leaves his court in the dead of night to pursue a love with one of the rebel leaders half way across the continent. How could that have happened? How did she meet him? How did she get away? What obstacles must she have faced? Historians described the act as the biggest scandal of the eighth century. I was hooked. That’s where Anvil of God begins.
How long did it take you to write Anvil of God?
Several years. There’s an old saying, “don’t quit your day job.” I wrote Anvil early in the morning before work and on weekends for several years. It was an enormous undertaking.
iUniverse will return with Part Two of our interview with J. Boyce Gleason. In the meantime, follow the author at:
Facebook: J. Boyce Gleason
Author website: http://jboycegleason.com/