Hello, I’m Dor, I’ve been asked what my occupation is, my girl says I’m a scrubber, she’s a cheeky mare! Ok, I’m a cleaner and have four jobs that have me rolling my sleeves up! Not glamorous, but it pays the bills, just! One of my cleans is an office, you wouldn’t believe how office folk leave the place, and the little bleeders like their morning joke! I’ll be putting my coat as there’re strolling in. “Lucky you, we’re starting and you’re off to put your feet up.’ I won’t say what I’d like to reply, but with three other places to muck out, it ain't polite! They might all look down their beaks at me, but at the end of the day I was the one who wiped the smile from their faces because sometimes it happens!
The Birthday Card
Elizabeth Seton comes from a long line of herbalists and has a talent for the healing arts. Ever since she was a little girl in Weymouth, she planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps and continue to care for the sick who came to their door. Until civil war reared its ugly head and a community was left divided. With her family destroyed, Elizabeth uproots herself to live with her widowed aunt, a healer in her own community. Under the guidance of her aunt, Elizabeth once more explores her art by creating simple syrups, tinctures, salves, and purges. Snakeweed for the ague, willow bark for pain, king’s claver for consumption, and take care not to trod on moonwort lest your horse cast a shoe. The tools of her trade, mortar and pestle, scales and stills, transform herbs and roots into medicine, while her aunt’s receipt book captures generations of experience.
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Name: Adam de Guirande, protagonist of In The Shadow of the Storm. Occupation: Knight. Excels at the broadsword, is more than capable with a lance but will admit to being less of an expert with bow and arrow—he has archers to handle such. Recently wed to a lady who is not quite what she seems to be and is finding married life comes with numerous challenges, one of which is having a new person wiggle her way into his heart. Will do anything for his lord and master, Roger Mortimer, which does not necessarily endear him to King Edward II who considers Mortimer a rebel and his greatest enemy. But knights as loyal and honourable as Adam are hard to come by so hanging him may be a waste. Or maybe not—after all, WHO is he loyal to? That perfidious Mortimer or his king?
Find out more about Anna on her website, check out her Amazon page and connect on FB and Twitter.
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Sophia Laskaris is a couturier in Constantinople during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Born into a family of professional embroiderers, she is a woman who is not only creative, but has a head for business too. Her grandmother, Dimitra, one of the first embroiderers to gain the patronage of the Sultan’s family and who took her business to great heights throughout the empire, was the guiding light in her life. Sophia opened up her couture house, La Maison du L’Orient, in Pera, the fashionable European district in the city, at a time when European fashion was becoming popular, but she continued to create designs based on the oriental look and was admired by Parisian designers such as Paul Poiret. She was highly educated, speaking several languages, and politically astute. With the outbreak of the Balkan Wars in 1912 and WWI, she used her work to not only aid Turks in distress, but to gather information for the Greeks who were seeking independence. When the situation deteriorated, she was forced to flee Turkey and reinvent herself as a seamstress in Athens. After the Germans occupied Greece, she drew on her previous background to aid the Resistance.
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My narrator Sam Plank’s occupation – that of magistrates’ constable – is central to his life and to my books. Magistrates’ constables existed for only a short period of policing history: they were used in London during the two decades or so after the Bow Street Runners and before the Metropolitan Police, which was the 1810s and 1820s. At that time there was little concept of investigation of crime, and none at all of detection. If you were the victim of a crime and had some idea who had done it, you took your complaint to the local magistrate. If he thought your claim had merit, he would task one of his constables with executing a warrant to bring the accused in for questioning. Of course, “my” Sam is much more curious than that and makes a great deal more of his role, taking a particular interest in financial crimes…
I tweet as @ConstablePlank
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I was elected King of England in January 1066. It was an honour I did not want, but who else is there able to protect this noble land from those who want to steal our wealth and the Crown for their own?
King Edward died without a son, the only other of royal blood is but a boy with no experience of battle or government. To be King I must ally with the Northern Earls, so I must take their sister to be my Queen. She is a comely lass, but I have a handfasted wife, my beloved Edyth, mother of my children. So, I set her aside for the good of England, for stability and prosperity. Hah! Being King is a privilege you say? I swear it is not. But I will do my duty and all I can to protect you, my people from the threatening tyranny of Normandy. Or die trying.
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I thank Mistress Annie from Westminster’s kitchens who invited me here today. I met her when nobles gathered to crown the new king. I was wearing my fancy clothes—stolen, of course—pretending to be a page. Mistress Annie knows I’m a thief living on the streets, sleeping in the eaves of St. Paul’s or here at Westminster many a night, but she doesn’t fault me. She feeds me and my friend now and again, best chicken in garlic and onion sauce served alongside the best gossip. We hear the king, the one called Lionheart, is gathering an army for a pilgrimage to Outremer. Streets of London or camp follower—not much different. Being good with dice, I can win a coin or two. We might pick up some work. I can brush down a palfrey, and Little John is handy with needle and thread. And if we cannot work, there’ll be pockets-a-plenty to pick.
—meet young Allan and Little John in Men of the Cross
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Artist, healer: Miramonde de Oto was a woman of many skills. Raised in a convent in the medieval Pyrenees, she learned healing remedies from the “mountain folk” and worked during her adolescence in the convent’s infirmary. In her childhood, she used bits of charcoal to draw on the marble step of an old well. When she learned to write, she was tasked with copying and illuminating manuscripts in the convent’s library. Eventually she graduated to painting portraits, thanks to an exceptional art teacher. It wasn’t until catastrophe struck the convent that Miramonde would go on to use her talents in the wider world—and unlike most women artists of her time, she even got paid for it.
Get a free prequel novella to The Girl from Oto and find Amy’s Blog here. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook
Jobs for the girls? Aurelia Mitela has always known she would serve her country in some way; she’s a bone-and-blood Roma Novan, member of a leading family with military commanders, diplomats and councillors among her ancestors. She becomes all three eventually, through AURELIA, NEXUS, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO, but is locked in bitter opposition with her lifelong enemy. Passionate and complex, she will do anything to protect both her daughter and her lover, but despite her innate strength she is crippled by self-doubt.
Soldering requires hard physical and mental training which needs persistence and a love of the life of camaraderie, tough decisions and quick and cool judgement in trying circumstances. In a softer way, so does a diplomat’s life! But being a councillor to a weak ruler requires the toughness of mind and an ability to suppress frustration, something that Aurelia doesn’t always achieve...
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Elizabeth St John
aka Anne St.John Lee Wilmot
The Countess of Rochester
Spymistress to Charles II
Ambitious multi-talented outgoing individual with wide-ranging contacts across both Parliamentarian and Royalist departments. Highly skilled in project management, sales, marketing and procurement. Exceptionally discreet, trustworthy and decorous. Fluent in English and French, with proven communication skills, especially in translations and multi-media. Experienced in multiple coding languages. Good social skills, conversant with inter-departmental protocols and processes and an ability to integrate smoothly within existing teams. Successful problem-solver, works well under stress. A valuable addition to any organization.
Land, rents, livestock, jewelry, titles, perquisites, patronage, manors, arranged marriages, gold.
Charles II, Oliver Cromwell
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Sorley (Lord Somhairle of Gundarstorp, to give him his full name) is a scáeli, in the language of Linrathe.
I adapted scáeli from scéalaí, Irish for storyteller. Like the skalds of Scandinavia and the bards of Celtic Britain, Sorley is a historian, a genealogist, a musician and a teacher. He and other scáeli’en hold the collective knowledge of their people. He studied long and hard to reach this position, learning songs and stories since childhood, followed by five years of study under a senior scáeli, then years of wandering, collecting songs and stories to add to his collection. Finally, he sat a formal exam of set pieces plus his own compositions, and built his own ladhar (a lyre) as well. Scáeli’en may wander for years, be attached to a noble house, or be appointed to a Ti’ach, a college, as Sorley is at the end of the series.
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Æthelflæd - known to her family as Teasel - has quite an important job. She’s not only the daughter of Alfred the Great, she’s also destined to become ruler of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Not her father’s realm, but the neighbouring kingdom of Mercia. These two kingdoms are the only ones left in England still holding out against the Danish ‘Vikings’. Despite all expectations, Æthelflæd becomes a queen in all but name. And there’s the rub. Her job is that of queen, but she doesn’t have the official title. She has to learn to live with a husband for whom she doesn’t initially care, discover how to win over the people of Mercia, and, oh yes, protect Mercia not only from the ‘Vikings’, but, ultimately, her own brother. And all this without an official job contract.