A couple of people asked me beforehand what a Virtual Book Tour entails. It's very straightforward. HFVBT work with a great group of successful bloggers and reviewers. They match up a good fit between your novel and that group. Your tour consists of a number of dates where your book gets a review (always with the independent opinion of the reviewer) or you do an interview about your book. Giveaways and contests are linked to different stops. And that's it! As a writer, it's possible to reach lots of new readers, which is fundamentally what this writing game is all about. Explanation given, the reaction is usually the same: ''Oh that's great. You won't have to travel so much. It's such hard work.''
Well it is and it isn't. Modern travel is pretty darn easy. Much of it requires sitting on your rear end. (I refer you back to something forgiving on the waist.). I write medieval and that of course means researching how people traveled then- and that was definitely hard work.
There is a myth that medieval people clung close to home and only ever ventured a few miles. Did they heck. Like humanity has behaved since the dawn of time, they were forever on the move. Europe was volatile politically throughout the medieval period so armies were constantly being raised and traveling en-masse. Pilgrimages were enormously popular. Canterbury Cathedral, with its shrine to Saint Thomas Becket, is probably the most well known. An astonishing 100,000 people came in search of a miracle in the year after his death alone.
|Canterbury Pilgrims in the 1300s|
What (for me) is almost as remarkable was the fact that there were very, very few maps in existence. The Gough map of Britain was produced around 1350 and is the oldest surviving route map.
|The Gough Map: Britain having a lie down|
For those intrepid souls intent on reaching Jerusalem, you could use a Mappa Mundi, or the medieval version of a map of the world. The most famous of these is the Hereford Mappa Mundi, which dates from around 1300.
|The Hereford Mappa Mundi c1300|
The other great motivator for travel was of course trade. People will always risk their lives for wealth, for precious and exotic goods. It was this desire that was almost (literally) the death of medieval Europe. From 1347 to 1351, the Black Death, the Plague, the Great Mortality, moved across Europe, killing around 25 million people- one third of the entire population. It is widely accepted that the plague had its origins somewhere in inner Asia, then spread westward into Europe along international trade routes. An outbreak occoured in the city of Caffa, which is the modern day city of Feodosia (or Theodosia) in Ukraine. (And yes- Theodosia is my heorine in The Fifth Knight. No links, I promise). Caffa was ruled by the Genoese and it was their trade ships that brought a fleet of 'accursed galleys' back to Italy, filled with diseased and dying people and flea-carrying vermin.
|Victims of the Great Mortality|
But of course Europe survived, survived to thrive again and think about travelling further and faster. The rest, as they say, is history, which is not at all a cliche (clears throat) but a link back to where we started. Because we're now so good at traveling, I don't even have to leave. You can travel with me too- pyjamas optional. Please do!
You can hop on board the tour at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
The Fifth Knight is a medieval thriller and is a #1 Amazon.com bestseller in Action & Adventure and Historical. You can find it on here on Amazon.com and here on Amazon.co.uk