I’m delighted to be hosting a spotlight today for the official blog tour for The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, a fun & adventurous new middle grade book. Today, Adam stops by with a guest post about his 5 most memorable moments while writing The Inquisitor’s Tale.
The memorable moments of writing The Inquisitor’s Tale primarily came from the research process, which took place over ten years. My wife is a professor of medieval history, and so we have been going, each year, to Europe for her research. But over the years, I began to realize that there was a book for me to write, as well. Here are five moments that convinced me to bring the Middle Ages (back) to life in The Inquisitor’s Tale.
- Walking in the bay of Mont Saint Michel as the sun was setting and when the tide was out— and learning how to sink in, and get out of, real quicksand. If you ever do this, you must go with an expert guide—someone who walks in the bay every day. Because the beds of quicksand move. And you do NOT want to stumble into one unawares.
- Exploring the New Forest, in England, which is among the oldest forests in Europe. William the Conqueror hunted there, it is said. I stumbled across a wild white horse, grazing in a grove. I was pretty sure it was on of the Ancient Folk, taken on another form, and I did not disturb it.
- Living across the street from the courtyard of the Cathedral of Rouen where Jeanne d’Arc was “examined” by the English and Burgundians before her execution. I won’t go into details of her examination, but their exploitation of a peasant girl drove home for me the gender and class dynamics of the period. I could see into the courtyard from our apartment, and the fury and indignity that I felt then motivated the creation of my own Jeanne in The Inquisitor’s Tale.
- Finding a small plaque, in the Jewish Museum of Paris (Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme) that explained how, in 1242, the beloved Louis IX of France, who would later become Saint Louis, collected every copy of the Talmud that existed in France, some 20,000 hand-written, hand-bound, hand-made and hand-treasured volumes, and burned them in the center of Paris. I had wanted to include Louis in my book. He was an incredible man—wise and often kind; devout in an utterly uncynical way. But now? Now, I had to include him. Because humans are the most complex creatures in creation, and Louis was a perfect window into that complexity.
- Reading in a thirteenth century collection of saints’ lives about Saint Martha killing a dragon whose diabolical power was deadly farts. Yes, you read that right. Deadly farts. Specifically: “And when he is pursued he casts out of his belly behind, his ordure, the space of an acre of land on them that follow him, and it is bright as glass, and what it toucheth it burneth as fire.” That’s right. And yeah, that’s in the book, too.
Gidwitz takes on medieval times in a new adventure about history, religion . . . and farting dragons.
1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.
As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.
Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
Adam Gidwitz is the bestselling author of A TALE DARK AND GRIMM, IN A GLASS GRIMMLY, and THE GRIMM CONCLUSION, as well as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEDI?, and the forthcoming THE INQUISITOR’S TALE.
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