Interview my Character: Geoffrey de Mortagne, spy and reluctant hero
Today, it’s my turn in the Historical Writers’ Forum “Interview my Character” blog hop. If you fancy meeting some fascinating historical fiction characters, make sure to check them out! Our favourite Viking warrior Aldaith, hero in my three sensual short stories “The Current“, “Bonds“, and “Battles“, was interviewed by Cathie Dunn on July 10 – and he showed some sides that are not so typical for a fierce Viking.
So today it’s my turn, and I’m very excited to meet Geoffrey de Mortagne, under-sheriff of Gloucestershire, spy for the Empress Matilda – and reluctant hero in Cathie Dunn’s medieval romantic fiction, Dark Deceit – which is currently FREE on Amazon!
When his servant Arnulf shows me in, Geoffrey rises from one of two chairs in front of the hearth in the living quarters of his small home in Gloucester. Wearing simple hose and tunic, he seems at ease, but his eyes still give away a certain sense of wariness.
“Good evening, Sarah. It’s lovely to meet you. Now, you wanted to hear about my life?”
“Hello, Geoffrey; and yes, I do.”
He grins and pours some red wine from a jug, then hands me a cup filled to the brim. I thank him and force my hands not to tremble as I balance it.
“You’d better make yourself comfortable in that chair there, then.”
To my delight, I find plump cushions lining the wooden frame. I snuggle into them, enjoying a rare treat of medieval comfort.
Geoffrey leans forward towards the cold hearth, cradling his cup in his hands. “I must ask you this. You’re not a spy from King Stephen’s camp, are you? Because if you were…”
I smile, moved by the seriousness in his face, before I reassure him. “No, I’ve never been called a spy. It’s far too dangerous a life for me. I’m simply a writer interested in your story.”
“A woman who writes? How unusual. I’m impressed, though.” His eyes show an appreciation for my skill, and I begin to feel at ease in his company.
“Thank you. It’s pretty normal in my times.”
He smirks. “Is that so? I’m certain the lady Alleyne would be very interested in your views.”
I nod. “I’m sure she would be.”It’s time to get started.
“Now, as you mention the lady, let’s begin. What is it that is so special about Alleyne?”
Geoffrey laughs. “Oh, she is certainly special; I give you that. But seriously, there aren’t many men around who admire a headstrong lady like her. After her father’s untimely death – God rest his soul – she sought help not from me, though I offered, but from a man she should never have trusted.” His tone turns serious. “Her obstinacy led her into great danger, but eventually, she sees reality for what it is, and she deals with everything life throws at her. And,” he adds, his eyes twinkling with humour, “I quite like her lack of predictability…”
Ah! The man seems a little smitten.
“So, can any attraction between you harm either of you? What would happen?”
“We live in dangerous times, where the loyalty of those who you thought to be your friends can change in a moment – and you’ll find they are now your enemies… In my work as under-sheriff, I come across many dangerous situations, though they are insignificant when you compare them to what happens if Stephen’s mercenaries catch men like me. Spies. See what happened to poor Lord Raymond, Alleyne’s father. Attacked on the road, for no obvious reason, though I have my suspicions. So, yes, Alleyne worries about me, as do I worry about her. A young lady on her own, with no king – or queen – to defend her rights. Stephen and Matilda are too busy fighting each other to take responsibilities for unwed ladies who find themselves alone. There are too many women in Alleyne’s situation, and not all end up safe. You regularly hear of abductions and forced marriages for gain of strategic castles and strongholds. The ladies in question have no say in the matter, and no one to defend them. Well, except Alleyne. She has me…”
Geoffrey gives a rueful smile and runs his hand through his dark hair. He’s clearly attracted to the resourceful lady, despite the consequences.
“So, moving on from talking about the lady Alleyne, how strongly do you identify with your profession – would you give everything up?”
He laughs out loud. “No, I’m afraid I wouldn’t… I couldn’t. I’ve been working in the services of the Empress for the last four years, ever since her half-brother, Earl Robert of Gloucester, joined her. He is a good man who would make a brilliant king, you know, but as he was born a bastard, he has no right to the throne. Those days are over.” He swallows hard. “So we find ourselves in the most unusual situation. And yes, before you ask,” he raises his hand in defence, “I have no issue with supporting a woman. She is the only surviving legitimate heir to Old King Henry, and therefore I’m her man. Working under orders from Sheriff Miles, I’m able to help her cause a little, wherever I can. So, as you can see, I can’t give it up. It’s impossible.”
“Thank you. That makes sense. Now, tell me, Geoffrey, how does your tense relationship with your brother and father come about? What happened in the past?”
“Oh, how much time do we have?” A brief sparkle in his eyes is quickly quashed. “Well, without giving too much away, my father was…how do you say in your time…a nasty piece of work. He was a hard man, and he nurtured an envy in Bertrand, my half-brother, that lasted throughout my childhood. Father never spoke to me about my mother, whom he did not wed and who died too young, so my guess is that it has something to do with her. All I was told is that she was a woman of low birth. His reasons for raising me were apparently charitable. I’m not so sure.” He shrugs.
I nod, realising we were getting into deep, personal territory. So…
“What is your biggest fear?”
“My biggest fear?” He ponders for several minutes, but before I get worried, he smiles at me. “Many people would say ‘death’. I know I could die any time. In battle, or on a journey. I cross the sea in stormy weather and travel through lands torn apart by civil war. But, strangely, I don’t fear death. The risk has been with me for all my adult life. What I do fear, though, is that this blasted war will go on for too many years, as neither side gives in. Thousands of people have died already, in battles and sieges across England and Normandy, or by starvation because of burnt crops. I’ve lost friends, and I’ve witnessed desperation in people who have nothing to do with the warfare. You would call them ‘collateral damage’. If this goes on, many thousands more will perish. But I don’t know a solution to this problem. The Empress is the rightful heir, and I could never imagine swearing allegiance to Stephen the impostor. A tricky situation, isn’t it?”
“It is,” I say, understanding.
His was a different world, a different time.
“So, I have one final question, Geoffrey… Who would you die for?”
He grins, his good humour restored. “Ah, that is a trick question! As you’ve seen, the life I lead means everything to me, so the Empress would be the one person. But, maybe, there is another one now, too, who has grown important to me. But would I die for Alleyne?” He cocks his head. “Well, that depends on her…”
I laugh, allowing Geoffrey to get away with a hint. “That’s all I needed to know. Thank you so much for your time, Geoffrey de Mortagne. It was a pleasure chatting to you.”
“The pleasure was all mine, Sarah. I just hope that your times are more peaceful than ours.”
About Dark Deceit:
“…captivating characters and vivid descriptions…” ~ Booked Up Reviews
“Brilliantly written book. The plot was intriguing, the characters fascinating.” ~ 5* reader review
Murder. Betrayal. Hope.
On his return from battle at Lincoln, Geoffrey de Mortagne, under-sheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, assists a dying knight caught in an ambush. Promising to look after the welfare of the knight’s only daughter, Geoffrey stays at her manor, investigating the murder. Keen to join the Empress on her progress through England, he is torn between his oath and his duty.
Left to defend her manor following her father’s death, Alleyne de Bellac reluctantly accepts Geoffrey’s support. As she doesn’t trust the taciturn stranger, she asks Will d’Arques, an old friend, for help. But loyalties change. Her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, Alleyne must decide which man to trust.
Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where vows are broken as allegiances waver.
The long-awaited (and long-overdue) sequel to Dark Deceit will be released late in 2019!
Dark Deceit is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats:
http://mybook.to/Dark_Deceit (international link)
About the Author:
of historical fiction and romance. History nut.
Scottish Highlands. Medieval England. Ancient France.
Courtly intrigues, rebellions, changing allegiances and a sprinkling of passion.
Tends to live in places with a castle on a hill: Heidelberg, Germany. Edinburgh, Scotland. Carcassonne, France.
Loves cats, dogs, castles & Languedoc wine.
Cathie Dunn writes… blog: https://cathiedunn.blogspot.com
Ruins & Reading blog: https://ruinsandreading.blogspot.com
Amazon author link: http://author.to/CathieDunn (international link)
Make sure to read the other character interviews on the Historical Writers Forum “Interview My Character” Blog Hop and find your fave author or character! ENJOY!
Happy reading & writing!