It normally takes me about six months to write a novel, but Haunted Knights took me a lot longer.
In my third medieval romance novel, If Love Dares Enough, one of the heroes marries a widow who is the mother of a dwarf.
My readers know that my stories follow successive generations of one family and its offshoot branches. Denis de Sancerre appeared as a minor character in Passion in the Blood, but I knew the time would eventually come when he would want his own story told.
I put it off for a long time and tried to ignore him. How many romance novels have a dwarf as the hero?
In the meanwhile, Game of Thrones became a bestselling novel and TV series, rocketing Peter Dinklage to stardom.
I haven’t read Martin’s books nor seen an episode of the show. However, Peter Dinklage did give me the impetus to start the long postponed book and a basic idea for the plot.
At the 2013 Golden Globe Awards Dinklage spoke of Martin Henderson, a British dwarf facing life in a wheel chair after being “tossed” by a modern day medieval thinker.
His attacker may have been inspired by a “dwarf tossing” incident involving members of the English Rugby squad during a tour of New Zealand.
I wove this idea into my plot, using the prehistoric monoliths to be found in Carnac, a small town in Brittany. The evil lord of the manor there has carried on an archaic Halloween tradition of tossing a virgin off the top of the tallest monolith.
He thinks Paulina, the heroine of Haunted Knights, would be perfect because not only is she a virgin, she’s also a dwarf, and Denis de Sancerre’s betrothed.
In my story, Paulina suffers from Pituitary dwarfism, a condition of growth retardation characterized by people who are very short in stature but have normal body proportions. It is caused by a dysfunction of the pituitary gland, the pea-sized mass of tissue located at the base of the brain.
Denis is an achondroplastic dwarf.
Of course, none of these medical terms existed in medieval times.
Inspired by Dinklage, I embarked on Haunted Knights with the unhandsome, deformed Denis as the hero. He describes himself as looking like “an ancient gargoyle.”
However, lest you think I am very brave, I was too chicken to rely on Denis alone to carry the book. A girl has to make a living you know!
So I gave Denis a half-brother, Adam, as a co-hero. However, I didn’t want him to be perfect—that would simply make Denis look worse. I wanted Adam to have flaws. After all, Haunted Knights is part of a series called Wounded Warriors.
I have a grandson who is profoundly deaf, so I decided to afflict Adam with deafness. For good measure, I also made him impotent!
Now you’re thinking, “Is the woman mad? How can a man who is impotent be the hero of a love story?” Especially when readers know my tales are juicy and sensuous!
Sorry, this post is about Denis! You’ll have to read the book if you want to know the answer!
But, good news! Haunted Knights for kindle is on sale for .99c until Halloween. Plus it’s enrolled in Amazon’s Matchbook Program. If you purchase the paperback for $9.99, you get the digital edition free. (This program begins sometime in October according to Amazon)
If I may, I’d like to end with a review from a reader that made the exercise very worthwhile.
I wanted to give you a 5 star rating for going into uncharted territory. Most romance heroes are tortured by some trauma but are paragons of masculine beauty and perfection in physical form. How very refreshing to see Denis (with all his limitations) achieve his happiness with a woman who started out small but ended with a spit fire spirit.(Karen Wilkinson)