Though The Oblate’s Confession isn’t officially out yet, independent reviews are beginning to trickle in from people who received Advance Reading Copies. Many of these have been highly complimentary, but I have to admit that what perhaps pleased me even more was that several of the good reviews have come from readers in the UK … none of whom reported finding any howlers.
I was born and raised in Kentucky. It’s hard to get much more American, or much less European, than the Bluegrass State. Still, English is my native tongue. I am as much a product of the culture that produced the Bede, Chaucer, and Shakespeare as Graham Swift or Hilary Mantel, and I have as much right as they to draw inspiration for my stories from English history.
Still, any American wishing to write about 7th century Anglo-Saxon England faces certain disadvantages, including the simple fact that he’s not actually in England. He can’t look out his window at the trees and birds and find trees and birds he can use in his novel. Which means that, writing the book, I sometimes felt like the nineteenth century naïve painter Henri Rousseau, whose canvases featured lush impenetrable jungles packed with images of the potted plants he had growing in his rooms in Paris.
The fact then that British readers are finding the book not only enjoyable but lifelike makes this good ol’ Kentucky boy very happy. May your tribe increase.