Guest Post: Conspiracy of Wolves author @CandaceMRobb and her Favourite Characters @severnhouse @LoveBooksGroup

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1374. When a member of one of York's most prominent families is found dead in the woods, his throat torn out, rumours spread like wildfire that wolves are running loose throughout the city. Persuaded to investigate by the victim's father, Owen Archer is convinced that a human killer is responsible. But before he can gather sufficient evidence to prove his case, a second body is discovered, stabbed to death. Is there a connection? What secrets are contained within the victim's household? And what does apprentice healer Alisoun know that she's not telling? Teaming up with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward, Owen's enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy. 

Guest Post: Candace Robb's Favourite Characters to Write

One of the best parts of writing a series is that characters move along with me from book to book, revealing more of themselves with each appearance. The longer I work with a character, peeling away their outward shell to delve more deeply, excavating layer upon layer, the more complex she or he becomes, the more nuanced. Most intriguing of all is the healer Magda Digby, the Riverwoman. Though I created her—supposedly—she mystifies me. There’s always a shimmer in the air when she arrives on the page. She insinuated herself into The Apothecary Rose, her role growing from a cameo appearance in early drafts of the book, the grieving mother weeping over her son’s grave, to the final version in which she is a minor but notable character. A chance comment from my agent at the time, a former editor, after reading an early draft—an interesting character. Will we see her again?—suggested that she might warrant another look. That must be what woke her. Gradually, as I revised, she inspired brief scenes; I saw a role for her, and a far richer identity. The elderly woman in mourning expanded into the enigmatic healer Owen encounters on his first day in York and comes to respect. This was my first taste of the magic of Magda.

Once I decided to expand on her part, I envisioned her as a gifted healer with deep knowledge of roots and herbs, and a healthy dose of skepticism about her fellow mortals, and the Church. In 14th century England the power of the Church was second only to that of the king—and in some things, exceeded that of the king. From the beginning Magda stands out as a non-Christian in this world, questioning all that Owen, Lucie, and their community accept as part of their faith.

But from the first, mystery swirled around Magda. Folk wondered how old she was. And where did she find the Viking wreck that served as the roof of her house on a rock in the river? They feared the dragon that hung upside down over her door, watching all who approached. She spoke in riddles, answering  questions with questions that pointed out a path yet revealed little. I’ve begun to ask myself whether her skills are limited to those available to all healers who study their craft, or whether there is more to her. Owen and I are exploring that together, and I must say we’re both inclined to believe there is far more to her than we imagined. 

About Candace Robb:

Candace Robb has read and researched medieval history for many years, having studied for a Ph.D. in Medieval & Anglo-Saxon Literature. She divides her time between Seattle and the UK, frequently visiting York to research the series. She is the author of ten previous Owen Archer mysteries and three Kate Clifford medieval mysteries. 




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