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Popular author Kate Mosse to appear at next week's Wimpole History Festival in Cambridgeshire

Kate Mosse. Picture: Ruth Crafer
Kate Mosse. Picture: Ruth Crafer

Bringing 16th century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse's The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties

Kate Mosse. Picture: Ruth Crafer
Kate Mosse. Picture: Ruth Crafer

Beginning with 2005’s Labyrinth, the author’s Languedoc novels have sold millions of copies worldwide and been translated into more than 42 languages.

Her new book, which was published last month, is the first in a series to be set against a backdrop of three hundred years of history, stretching from 16th century France to 19th century southern Africa, and sees her leap forward in time for a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets.

She’ll be talking about her work at the Wimpole History Festival on Sunday, June 24.

“All my historical fiction is inspired by landscape and the relationship between history, storytelling and place. The Burning Chambers is, like my 2005 novel Labyrinth before it, a love letter to Carcassonne and Toulouse in the southwest of France,” Kate told the Cambridge Independent.

The Burning Chambers is the first in a sequence of four novels – a Romeo & Juliet story of a Catholic family and a Protestant family on the eve of the French Wars of Religion in 1562. I write stories of ordinary people in extraordinary

circumstances, of women and men whose lives are changed, destroyed even, by the decisions made at courts, papal chambers, military battlefields hundreds of miles away.

“So until the characters come to me there’s no one to tell my story for me,” she added. “I write it to be exciting but behind it, it’s set up by long-term detailed historial research.”

But why historial fiction? “I love learning about the history of landscape and place, and wanted to know how Carcassonne – for example – might have been in the 16th century compared to the city I love now.

“I also believe that the human heart doesn’t change so very much. So although the context is different, the emotions our ancestors felt – love, pity, jealousy, fear, hate – are the same we feel and experience today,” explained Kate.

Kate has also written three works of non-fiction, four plays and is curating a collection of short stories inspired by Wuthering Heights to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Emily Bronte’s birth in 2018.

Her documentary on the writer and classicist Helen Waddell will be broadcast by the BBC in 2018. A champion of women’s creativity, Kate is the founder director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction – the largest annual celebration of women’s writing in the world – and was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to literature and women.

“There’s never been an issue in this country about women being published, but it’s more about the honouring of women’s writing. When we were setting up the prize we’d discovered that although 60 per cent of novels are written by women, fewer than nine per cent of novels shortlisted for major literary awards were by women.

“The issue was women’s work wasn’t taken seriously and wasn’t respected – it wasn’t seen as literature with a capital L. For me it’s always about amplifying women’s voices.”

Kate Mosse will be at the Wimpole History Festival on Sunday, June 24 at 1.30pm.

Tickets cost £12 from cambridgelivetrust.co.uk or call 01223 357851.

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