Susan Sarah here, offering a glimpse of my February 2008 release. For a long while, I’ve been hard at work in my little author-cave, tappity-typing away at a novel about the real Lady Macbeth, an 11th century Queen of Scots.
The intensive research is done, the hefty manuscript went in and was pared down (trust me, it had to happen), and wonder of wonders, friends and family are still speaking to me after way too much exposure to my little project. Now, the production process is still going on: galley pages, cover art, cover copy, map and glossaries, and all the various whatnots and wingdings of the production phase are flying back and forth for checking and rechecking, and at last the end product is in sight.
LADY MACBETH: A Novel by Susan Fraser King will be released by Crown Books in hardcover in February, 2008. The book will be their feature novel for that month, which is great recent news. Though my new website, www.susanfraserking.com, isn’t finished yet, a placeholder is up, and plans are moving ahead to reveal the final design soon.
Here’s a preview …
Susan Fraser King
I am granddaughter to a king and daughter to a prince, a wife twice over, a queen as well. I have fought with sword and bow, and struggled fierce to bear my babes into this world. I have loved deeply and hated deeply, too.
Lady Gruadh, called Rue, is the last female descendant of Scotland's most royal line. Married to a powerful northern lord, she is widowed while still carrying his child and forced to marry her husband's murderer: a rising warlord named Macbeth. Encountering danger from Vikings, Saxons, and treacherous Scottish lords, Rue begins to respect the man she once despised--and then realizes that Macbeth's complex ambitions extend beyond the borders of the vast northern region. Among powerful warlords and their steel-games, only Macbeth can unite Scotland--and his wife's royal blood is the key to his ultimate success.
Determined to protect her small son and a proud legacy of warrior kings and strong women, Rue invokes the ancient wisdom and secret practices of her female ancestors as she strives to hold her own in a warrior society. Finally, side by side as the last Celtic king and queen of Scotland, she and Macbeth must face the gathering storm brought on by their combined destiny.
From towering crags to misted moors and formidable fortresses, Lady Macbeth transports readers to the heart of eleventh-century Scotland, painting a bold, vivid portrait of a woman greatly misunderstood by history.
"The voice of the Scottish queen just burns off the page and will forever change the way you view Macbeth and his lady."
-- Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author
"Turns Shakespeare's play on its ear, setting history against fable as it brings a nuanced and fierce truth to the life of this much-maligned queen."
-- Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author
and here's an abridged excerpt …
Snowflakes dazzle against the evening sky and fall gentle around this stark tower. The false King of Scots expects us to trudge our ponies through that cold deep, so that I may tuck myself away in some Lowland monastery. Malcolm Canmore, he who murdered my husband and now calls himself king, would prefer I went even farther south into England, where they have priories just for women. There his allies would lock me away, as the Scots will not.
I sent a message to the usurper Malcolm: the dowager Queen Gruadh, lately wife to King Macbeth whom you have slain, chooses to remain in her fortress.
A dare of sorts, and we shall see what he will do....
In shadows and firelight, others sit with me listening to the harper’s music, while surly Finella moves in and out of the room like a wraith. Bethoc, seated nearest me, is my cousin and the healing woman in my household; the monk Drostan sits apart from us, his shoulders hunched as he reads the pages of a small book. Both of them ran with me as youngsters. Given my temperament, perhaps only Celtic loyalty has kept them with me since.
Bethoc is a true friend, though at times she judges me harshly, and I her. The monk is one of the Céli Dé, or Culdees, those who allow priests to marry and Sabbath to be celebrated on Saturdays, among other rebellions that delight me. In much else, Rome has nagged the Scottish Church to its knees.
Drostan has a fine hand with a pen, and hopes to write a chronicle about me. This would be an encomium, a book of praise, for his queen. I told him it was a silly notion.
Sparks fly and small flames leap. Truthfully, I am considering it.
I am granddaughter to a king and daughter to a prince, a wife twice over, a queen as well. I have fought with sword and bow, and struggled fierce to bear my babes into this world. I have loved deeply and hated deeply, too. I know embroidery and hawks and kingship, and more magic than I should admit. And I refuse to end my days in a convent.
Now that is enough chronicle to suit me. Better to record the life of Mac bethad mac Finlach instead, the king who died near Lammas but six months past.
From what my advisors say, Malcolm Canmore—ceann mor in Gaelic, or big head, two words that suit him—will order his clerics to record Macbeth’s life. Within those pages, they will seek to ruin his deeds and his name. My husband cannot fight for his reputation now.
But I am here, and I know what is true.
I hope you'll look for LADY MACBETH next February -- and meanwhile I'll be posting reminders on the blog, along with more info about the historical background, the research, and so on....