Was it fun writing the dialogue, particularly the insults and exclamations? In our discussion we wondered aloud if some of them like "God's blood!" were historically accurate or if you just made them up or what? No offense intended with that question.
Lots of fun! And no, I did my best to find accurate and authentic swearing. Most of it is something you’d expect your gray-haired granny to say rather than unloading the more expected four-letter f-bomb. Calling someone a cur or questioning their parentage seems tame now but it was an oath that could get you a knife in the gut. Scatological humor was also the norm (remember the Miller’s Tale in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales?) To really swear was to blaspheme just a wee bit by invoking God’s various parts and pieces — God’s blood, eyes, ears, teeth, bones, etc. Or by a saint’s body parts as well. So that’s spot on. There’s no need to make it up when the truth is so much better.
I just finished reading The Demon's Parchment and Troubled Bones. How did you come up with the storylines for those two books?
With The Demon’s Parchment, I wanted to do two things: tell a serial killer tale and deal with medieval Jews. When I came upon the real life doings of a real medieval serial killer, I just had to incorporate it into a novel. And then I wanted to show how Crispin would deal with anti-Semitism; would he be prejudiced himself and how would he change his mind? He’s a real medieval man, and I wanted him to come to terms with it honestly and realistically.
As for Troubled Bones, ever since I conceived of the series I knew I was going to bring Geoffrey Chaucer in as a character, and what better way than to also bring in The Canterbury Tales. I’d grown up with Chaucer and that particular book of his, so it was a no-brainer for me. (It’s too bad you missed my presentation when I was at BookPeople in the fall of 2011. I did a whole presentation on Canterbury and my personal relationship with it). It had to be placed just so in the series for Jack to be of the right age, just as The Demon’s Parchment had to be. In fact, I wrote Troubled Bones before The Demon’s Parchment and realized I needed another book between Serpent in the Thorns and Troubled Bones. It worked out beautifully.