After an extended blog break over Christmas (for various reasons), we’re kicking off 2017 with a blog tour. As a big fan of historical fiction, I’m thrilled to be hosting on the second day of the tour for Chasing Shadows by T. A. Williams. In the piece below, Trevor tells us a bit about the book, and his own love of history – I’m currently still reading the book, so a review will follow…
Those of you familiar with my books will know that every now and then a bit of history crops up. In When Alice Met Danny, the period in question is the First World War, with the appearance of a box of letters from a Tommy, in the run up to the Battle of the Somme. What Happens in Cornwall has the discovery of medieval artefacts on a Cornish island and What Happens at the Beach talks about the Cathars of southern France. So I’ve got a thing for history, that much is clear.
My new book takes my love of history to the next level. Chasing Shadows is a time slip book, where a modern couple find themselves following in the footsteps of a similar couple back in the Middle Ages. Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a history book, it’s a romance. Or rather, it’s two romances. It’s also a thriller and a mystery. It’s a road trip along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in north west Spain, the famous Camino or Pilgrims’ Way. The book explores the struggle of people trying to come to terms with appalling misfortune that has struck their lives, the sort of bitter blows we all dread. As I was writing it, I was constantly asking myself just how well I would have coped if I had found myself in the position of my characters.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Camino, let me tell you a little bit about it. This is a route from France, over the Pyrenees and across the hilly and often desolate north of Spain to Compostela, the city where, allegedly, the Apostle James was buried. Why there, you may ask? Well, the story goes that his body floated magically across to Spain from the Holy Land in a stone coffin and somehow got itself interred up in the north western corner of Spain. Now, to the modern eye, the fact that the saint’s body just happened to be discovered at the time when the other two major pilgrimage sites in Christendom, Rome and Jerusalem, were inaccessible due to hostilities may appear just a bit too much of a coincidence. Pilgrimages were (and still are) big business, and the medieval Catholic Church needed the money. Whatever the truth of it, the fact remains that millions upon millions of people believed it and undertook the lengthy journey, mostly on foot, to pray at the saint’s tomb. By so doing they hoped to achieve remission of their sins, or at least, a considerable reduction in the time they would have to spend in Purgatory.
People still undertake the arduous 800 kilometre (500 mile) trip on foot, bike or even horseback. Many still do it for religious reasons, but many do it just because it’s there. I’ve done the whole thing by bike and I’ve also walked a good few of the stages and I would recommend it most highly to anybody. I’m not a religious person – having spent years studying the atrocities committed by the medieval church, my cynicism has grown ever stronger. But you don’t need to be a Catholic, or even a Christian, to follow the Camino and it is, I can assure you, a fabulous experience. You get to meet amazing people from all over the world, see some stunning examples of medieval architecture, and enjoy Spain’s wonderful scenery. You will climb mountains, slog across dry, dusty plains, cross dried-up rivers and make your way through narrow, winding cobbled streets, worn smooth by the passage of millions upon millions of feet before you. It’s the sort of experience you will never forget.
Certainly, for the characters in Chasing Shadows, it is a life-changing experience. If you read the book and like it, then think about trying the Camino for yourself.
Chasing Shadows is published by Canelo and was released on 16th January. It’s available in ebook form and you can find out more about the book and T. A. Williams on Facebook, Twitter or on the author’s website.