So... that leads to this follow-up: In this book, for example, which characters besides Chaucer ARE real? Some of the royalty and clergy are, correct?
Abbott Nicholas of Westminster Abbey, two Spaniards, both sheriffs, Brother John of Canterbery (note the different spelling), John Charneye the coroner, the earl of Suffolk, the earl of Oxford, Richard II and his wife, the Lady Anne, and an assortment of other nobility at court mentioned in passing.
How do you go about doing research for this series and, specifically, this book?
Mostly the old-fashioned way. In university libraries and archives. The internet is useful in that it can direct you to archives and more research, and I also seek the advice from scholars, professors, and historians from a medieval listserv.
As for the jousting, I looked at some of the fourteen and fifteenth century books written about swordplay and jousting and suited up into armor myself. Nothing like hands on research!
Do you read other authors who do sort of what you do with this great series, namely construct a fictional historic thriller using some real people, places and events? For example, have you read Gyles Brandreth's novels about Oscar Wilde?
I haven’t read that series but I do read the occasional historical mystery. I must be careful, however, not to pick up any plot points, so I don’t read medieval mysteries anymore.
How far or long would you envision the Crispin Guest series going? I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about a Facebook page you put up titled Save Crispin Guest. It sounds like you are concerned that due to the realities of the publishing world if sales of your books don't increase your books won't come out in paperbacks and the series may end. I realize that's an oversimplification but is that the basic point?
I’m following a specific timeline with his story and so I envision—after next year’s release of Shadow of the Alchemist--11 more books to fully explore Crispin’s tale. And yes, we’ve hit a snag with the current publisher. They live or die by their sales, too, and the unfortunate truth is that sales of the Crispin books have not met their expectation. But to be completely fair, publishers, particularly big New York publishers, are terrible at promoting their midlist books. What seems to happen is they scatter a lot of money publishing a LOT of midlist authors, sort of throwing them all on the wall and seeing if any of them stick.