Guest Posts and Giveaways - these are a few of our favorite things

A Reader's Respite loves a good guest post. Why? Because it takes the heat off of us and, let's face it, A Reader's Respite is essentially very lazy. But you already knew that.

Recently, you heard us wax all poetic about historical fiction author Elizabeth Chadwick's novel, The Time of Singing (go here if you missed it). We just love a well-researched historical fiction novel and Elizabeth Chadwick ranks right up there with the best of them. She has kindly agreed to let all of us in on one of the more interesting aspects of her research.

Trust us, you'll want to read on. Take it away, Elizabeth!

* * * * *

Many thanks to Michele at A Reader’s Respite for inviting me to guest blog.

I regard myself as an ordinary grounded individual with an open mind and a healthy degree of scepticism. I enjoy ghost stories or tales of the unexplained, but I don’t dwell on them, so it may seem a bit odd when I say I use psychic research when writing my historical fiction.

I came to it by accident; it wasn’t something I deliberately sought out. My research has always been inter-disciplinary. As well as reading reference material, I visit locations and use living history and re-enactment to get a feel for medieval life and times. The psychic is just another part of that mix.

It all started 20 years ago when I met my now best friend Alison at a social group for mothers taking career breaks to look after their children. We got on very well and began meeting once a week to gossip over coffee while the children played. At the time I was a hopeful but unpublished writer and Alison was teaching part-time. I knew she was psychic in that she could sense energies in people and objects and see auras, but she never made a big thing of it; it was just part of who she was.

While I was being accepted for publication and pursuing my writing career, Alison began to develop her ability to work with energies and took qualifications in Reiki and Neuro Linguistic Programming. She found during the course of her work that she could take people to past lives and access the energies of those who had once lived. She calls it reading the Akashic Records – it’s like a kind of vast etheric library that’s out there for those with ability to access it.

She didn’t mention this particular skill to me until one afternoon when I was about three quarters of the way through writing the first draft of The Greatest Knight. We were chatting over our usual coffee and she asked me how the novel was going. I said fine, but I couldn’t find anything about the mistress of William Marshal’s older brother. Nothing was known about her beyond her name and who she eventually married. Alison looked thoughtful and said ‘Do you want me to see if I can find her?’ I was a bit taken aback, but said ‘Okay.’ What was there to lose? I gave Alison Alais’ name and a likely date and location from the scant details I knew. Alison took a few deep breaths, and just sitting there on the sofa, ‘travelled’ to find Alais. What came through was so amazing that I knew immediately I had to use this resource as part of my research.

We talked about it afterwards and decided to do a proper session the next week (with this first one we hadn’t taken notes because it was just so spontaneous and off the cuff) and see if Alison could connect with William Marshal. Here is a short piece of the transcript from that first ever sitting. I’d asked Alison to go to William in Poitou in 1168

Alison: He has incredible courage. He’s like a bouncy castle; very buoyant. He’s riding with a lot of highborn people. He’s awed by them but not overawed. He feels as if he’s in the right place. He has a good sense of his own worth. He’s very flexible and alert, responds not just in a chit-chat way but deeply and appropriately. He knows how to say the right thing at the right time and it comes easily to him. He’s alert and all his senses are awakened. He has dark hair, long cheeks, a strong nose. His clothes are intricate. His eyes look dark but inside they feel light. I am seeing the youth and the older man mingled. It is difficult for others to gauge what he’s thinking. He has very dark eyes; might be brown, might be blue.

There is a woman laughing and William is making her laugh by telling her jokes about the English being loutish and stupid. It’s probably Poitiers they are going to. The woman is Eleanor of Aquitaine.

I compared this assessment with one by Professor David Crouch, leading authority on William Marshal, and there are remarkable similarities in his description and Alison’s with reference to William’s personality. Crouch also comments on French chroniclers making fun of the English whom they saw as foolish, boastful drunkards.

When Alison accesses people who have gone before, her experience is a bit like watching a movie, except she gets the internal thoughts, the feelings, the emotions, the sight, sound, smell, touch, taste – the lot. Needless to say, going to scenes of childbirth, illness and battle can be fraught, but there are moments full of love and laughter too. The scene in The Greatest Knight where Isabelle is preparing for her wedding draws heavily on Alison’s reportage of the event.

Since those first moments in 2004, when we were very much feeling our way, we have accumulated around 150 hours of digital recordings and probably about 300,000 words in notes, and the sheer body of evidence is compelling in itself.

Once a fortnight I arrive at Alison’s armed with my digital recorder, a notebook and my questions. Alison never knows what the questions are going to be, or who she will be accessing. There may be moments when Alison’s subconscious impinges on the material (although she does her utmost to avoid this) and sometimes her tuning my go awry if she is tired or unwell, so a margin for error has to be factored in. Once written up, I send the notes to someone with a doctorate in medieval cultural studies for comment. I am told that what is coming through is genuine medieval mindset and attitude. I don’t pretend to know how it works – that’s not in my field, but I do know that the results are astounding – for me they are a hot wire to the past. I have come to know some people of the medieval world so well that they are almost family, and with that knowledge, comes respect. It’s a reminder that I am dealing with people who once lived and who are owed integrity and honesty.

* * * * *

Okay, so how cool is that? If a post like that doesn't make you want to delve into one of her novels, then we just don't know what will.

A Reader's Respite is pleased to see a man's head half chopped off rather than a woman for a change.

Elizabeth's novel The Greatest Knight tackles one of history's most fascinating men, William Marshal, knight extraordinaire of the Middle Ages. And lucky you, you get a chance to win one of TWO copies up for grabs!

Leave a comment here and on September 10th we'll draw two random winners who will receive a copy of The Greatest Knight. Now normally you know that A Reader's Respite loves to send books international, but the publisher is requesting U.S. and Canadian entrants only this time.

You can read more about Elizabeth's critically acclaimed novels on her website, and for my fellow historical fiction fanatics, she even has a blog!


  1. I would absolutely love to win this wonderful book. Please enter my name. Thanks.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. That is definitely the most unique research technique I've ever heard of! Now I'm definitely going to have to check out her books!

  3. William Marshal is still up there as one of my top #1 hunks in history, as is EC one of my favorite authors of all things medieval.

    (PS, don't enter me, I already own this and every other book EC wrote).

  4. wowww! That was THE BEST guest post I have ever read... really !!!

    Awesome... I would love to see Allison at work!

    Thank you for the wonderful Guest post :) :)

    Dnt enter me! But I am adding her books to my wishlist

  5. This is the second post that I've seconded Veens, but she is right. She gives a great guest post. I read an interview with her somewhere else recently too, and she just leaps off the page. I would like to throw my name in the hat for this book for three reasons:

    Great sounding plot
    Cool author
    Very dudeish guy on the front

    rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com

  6. I've read this book several times and each time is likt the first. And yes William Marshall is a hunk no matter if he's been dead a couple hundered years :)

    Please don't enter my name in the contest, I own two copies already.

  7. Thanks for the interesting interview and the chance to win the book.
    ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. I read a great review of this book just yesterday, so please throw my name in the hat! milou2ster(at)

  9. This amazing article is really too cool! Tapping into that kind of energy as a resource to your writing is something out of this world (literally). Fantastic!

  10. I would really love to read this, please enter me
    reneetaylor at sympatico dot ca

  11. Please enter me in your giveaway! Thanks for the post.


  12. Wonderful guest post. Please enter me.


  13. I've read other comments from Ms. Chadwick about her research with Alison. Fascinating!
    Thanks for the guest post, and the giveaway.

  14. Wow. The channeling story is really something. I have known people who could read past lives...

    I'd love to be in this giveaway.

    BFish(dot)Reads (at)

  15. Psychic researtch- that's interesting. I would love to be entered in the giveaway. Thanks.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

  16. Enjoyed reading this guest post! I would like to be entered, thanks!


  17. I am still waiting for a Chadwick title to grace my shelves, count me in :)
    Thanks, marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

  18. thanks for the opportunity to read this book.

    karen k

  19. Awesome book! Thank you for this nice giveaway and please count me in.


  20. I haven't read any Chadwich novels yet but well researched historical fiction is right up my alley! Please enter me!


  21. count me in please
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  22. thanks sounds great count me in

    wadesherry@hotmail dot com

  23. Fabulous guest post. The artwork is amazing.

    Definitely a going to be a gr8 read.

  24. It's very, very cool! I've read many of her books and they're fantastic, made even more so by this extra element to her research :) I have no trouble believing in this - it explains a great deal about how some people react to things without knowing why. They're tapping in, but unlike Alison, they don't know they're doing it.

  25. Wow! Well, this is most definitely the first time I've heard of using a psychic to write a novel. Fascinating!

    Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  26. Great post! It's so fascinating to hear how and when authors began writing their novel. I particularly liked reading about her friend Alison and how Elizabeth conducted her research.

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

  27. No need to enter me, I already have all of Elizabeth Chadwick's novels :-)
    The Greatest Knight and The Love Knot are two of my fave reads. If you haven't picked one up yet, you're missing out!!

  28. Thank you for the entry.

    I would love to read this selection, as would many. It looks very intriguing.


  29. The use of a psychic is certainly an unusual approach to write a novel complete with the plot and characters. It certainly adds to the mystic of the book and creates more motivation for me to read it. Please enter me in the giveaway.

    bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

  30. I'd like to read this. Count me in.

  31. I got this one as a surprise from a fellow blogger, so now you can count me out :)
    Thanks for the opp though!

  32. No need to enter me, I've just finished my fav book of EC's - THe Greatest Knight.

    I cannot tell you how glad I am that she did the guest post on her dealings with the Akashik chick - I have been fascinated for a long time to hear about that! Man how I would love to be a fly on the wall at those sessions!

  33. Thanks for this great giveaway. This captivating novel appeals to me greatly. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  34. I'd love to read this. It looks great! Thanks for sharing.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  35. This book sounds really good. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


  36. Please add me to the list of people who'd like to have a copy of this book. Based on your interview, it sounds like just my speed.

  37. Haven't read a well-researched book about a knight recently, so: I'd love to read this. :D

    My email is herebebooks AT gmail DOT com. Thanks for hosting this!

  38. I have been looking forward to this book. Please include me in the giveaway. Thanks!

  39. Please enter me in this giveaway. This book sounds wonderful!!!!


  40. I think it's great to read about an author who is so passionate about her work that she uses every avenue available, including psychic phenomenon, to research her book. I'm very excited to read this book! Please enter me. Thanks!


  41. I'm a new reader and am really loving this blog. You're a riot! Enter me please!

  42. this book sound great..please count me in ...thanks


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