Book Nerd Interview
Reading was like breathing to Rebecca when she was growing up. It still is. She loved the Little House books, and fought with her brother over books in the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series. Later, she discovered science fiction and fantasy, from The Lord of the Rings to Arthur C. Clarke to Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series, and many, many other books she and her best friend shared. They still do.
Rebecca first encountered The Book of Margery Kempe during graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and medieval literature written in Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and other fascinating languages.
A native of Vero Beach, Florida, she now lives in Ohio, where she teaches and writes about medieval topics and about children’s literature set in the Middle Ages.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, but it never occurred to me that it could be an actual occupation. I must have been in college before I ever saw a real-live writer or thought of them as real people.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Reading stories helps us make sense of our own lives. I think it also helps us have empathy for people who are unlike us. It allows us to imagine, to escape, and to re-emerge with new perspectives on the world.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Never, ever take rejection personally. (Fat lot of good that did me!)
In your new book; Peaceweaver, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Readers who know the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, will recognize many allusions to the poem, but they don’t need any familiarity with it to enjoy the story of a girl from a warrior culture who believes she knows ways to strengthen her uncle’s kingdom. When her attempts go badly awry, she is sent away to marry the king of an enemy tribe. During the journey, she faces tough choices, not to mention monsters (who might make readers think of Grendelkin). Lots of action and suspense intertwine with introspection in what I hope is a story readers will enjoy.
For those who are unfamiliar with Hild, how would you introduce her?
When readers first meet her, Hild is a bit spoiled, being the sister-daughter of the king. She’s also a bit naïve. As her story unfolds, her courage, her strength, and her sense of honor became apparent to both readers and to Hild herself.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
At the end of The Coming of the Dragon, the character Hild is introduced, but she doesn’t get much time in the novel. I knew a lot about her at that point, but I wanted to know a great deal more, so I couldn’t resist writing her story. Each of these books is a stand-alone title, so readers don’t need to read The Coming of the Dragon before trying Peaceweaver.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think Hild and Katsa, from Graceling, would have a lot to say to each other about family, fighting, and honor. They could definitely learn some things from each other, and they would understand what is best left unsaid.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on a stand-alone companion novel to Peaceweaver and The Coming of the Dragon, currently titled Ring-Giver. It skips forward a generation and tells the story of Hild’s son. Norse mythology takes a more prominent role than it did in the previous two novels.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
How are you? (Does “fine” ever answer such a complex question? Does anybody really want an honest answer when they ask it?)
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Don’t try to write to trends. Instead, tell the story that’s pushing to get out, the one about the characters you can spend a long time getting to know. Understanding those characters will help you hear their voices—which can help you develop your own voice.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My best friend, which is what best friends are for.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
Helping a woman clean cheap rental apartments. She made me do the bathrooms. It wasn’t pretty.
When was the last time you cried?
Books make me cry all the time, Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue most recently.
What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
It’s a toss-up between chocolate and coffee—which would have made me a very bad candidate to survive in medieval Europe, when neither was available!
Where can readers stalk you?
At my website, www.rebeccabarnhouse.com.
Sixteen-year-old Hild has always been a favorite of her uncle, king of the Shylfings. So when she protects her cousin the crown prince from a murderous traitor, she expects the king to be grateful. Instead, she is unjustly accused of treachery herself. As punishment, her uncle sends Hild far away to the heir of the enemy king, Beowulf, to try to weave peace between the two kingdoms. She must leave her home and everyone she loves. On the long and perilous journey, Hild soon discovers that fatigue and rough terrain are the least of her worries. Something is following her and her small band of guards--some kind of foul creature that tales say lurks in the fens. Will Hild have to face the monster? Or does it offer her the perfect chance to escape the destiny she never chose?
Rebecca Barnhouse's companion to The Coming of the Dragon is sure to appeal to younger fans of Tamora Pierce, Esther Friesner, and Shannon Hale.
Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse is a wonderful stand-alone companion book to The Coming of the Dragon. The main focus is on Hild, the teenage niece to the King of the Shylfings, whose life could not get any better. When she discovers she is a far-seer (someone who can look into the futue), she is able to save the King’s son from a deadly attack. Instead of being rewarded, she is sent to exile and her whole world is thrown into disarray.
The first pages of this book is rightfully gripping as Rebecca provides such beautiful descriptions of everything inside Shylfing city. The character development of Hild is simply wonderful. Although honor may not be living well within the city, Hild displayed a strong sense of honor. She demonstrates this quality throughout the book and is highly commendable for maintaining her integrity.
Rebecca has created a very magical read with a well-written historical fantasy. Readers will meet many interesting secondary characters who are uniformly pragmatic. The rich descriptive text is simply stunning and is lead by an incredible heroine who is fearless and strong-minded. Peaceweaver is an excellent fantasy that will appeal to all. Girls will love the lead female and boys will find the action entertaining.
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