ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Leicestershire, Joseph moved to Nantes in France at the age of six. Having always been fascinated by history, he was fortunate to have so many Breton and Angevin castles close by.
Though living in France for many years, he stayed deeply attached to England, spending days at school learning about the French Revolution before going home to tune into the BBC to discover more of England’s history. Joseph first fell in love with historical fiction when he read Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. Many years later, he finally decided to tackle a long-held ambition of writing his own historical novel. Having been intrigued over the years by the connections between France and England, William the Conqueror seemed a natural subject.
Becoming the Conqueror began as a project on a sunny May day in 2011. Joseph was strolling along the Rue de Rivoli in Paris at a crossroads in life. He walked into the W.H. Smith's there, a little patch of England in the French capital, and picked up a book of William the Conqueror by a certain Prof. David Bates. Immediately engrossed in the fascinating story of William's life, he was compelled to find out more.
Four years of research, two trips to Normandy and countless evenings in the British Library later, Becoming the Conqueror was born.
Bernard Cornwell’s expansive works have occupied ever more space on Joseph’s bookshelf. Elizabeth Chadwick’s books on William Marshall are also well worth a read.
More literary influences of note are F. Scott Fitzgerald, G.K. Chesterton, E.A. Poe, Dickens (naturally), Shakespeare (his history plays are a fine example of when artistic license and a desire to please the patron take the upper-hand over historical research),
Medieval works such as Chrétien de Troyes’ prose Perceval and the verse Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have also been a huge inspiration. Though they are much more romanticised, they nonetheless offer a glimpse into the medieval mind (if one can say such a thing), along with wonderful imagery – particularly regarding the impact of nature on people’s lives and the role of different groups in society.
There is a strong medieval tradition of ‘chansons de geste’ (literally ‘songs of deeds’), which recount the deeds of great men. Some of these were put to parchment, such as Wace’s Roman de Rou (an account of the deeds of the Norman dukes since the duchy’s foundation by Rollo).