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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Interview with Dan Jones ...Author, Historian and TV Presenter

My latest interview is with Dan Jones of  London, England. He's an historian as well as an author of four books. His second book "The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England" was published in 2012 and it became a New York Times bestseller. He's also a TV presenter of "The Secrets of Great British Castles" as well as the writer for the show which is on Netflix. 

Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to become an historian or was there an event that you read about?

I had a great teacher at school, who got me hooked on Tudor history and then sent me off to Cambridge, where I specialized in medieval history. A brilliant set of teachers there - Helen Castor, David Starkey, Christine Carpenter, Jonathan Riley-Smith, Christopher Clark and others - kept the fires stoked, and I seem to be still studying history now, two decades later. 

I’m excited that there is going to be a second season of your show, what exciting castles will we get to see?

The full run will be Edinburgh, Cardiff, York, Lancaster, Leeds and Arundel – I think in that order. They’re all magnificent, and making the shows was a real pleasure.

Of the two who do prefer, Beatles or The Rolling Stones? 

Stones. Come on.

Tell me three fun facts about you….

I have a perfect 100% record in boxing matches: fought one, won one, and retired unbeaten. 

I have DJ-ed at the legendary London nightclub Ministry of Sound. (It was under-18s night, and the set was at about 9pm. But still.)

I have a tattoo of St Edmund, king of East Anglia, being martyred by the Vikings in 869AD. They tied him to a tree, shot him full of arrows and chopped his head off. A wolf found the head the woods, and miraculously led people to the site by crying in a human voice, ‘Hic! Hic! Hic!’ This was a talking wolf that could speak Latin. You know the type. The wolf and the head don’t feature in my tattoo, and even the Vikings are out of fame, as it were. But still, Edmund's there, prickled with arrows like a porcupine and looking bloody displeased about it.

Who is your favorite King of the Middle Ages and why?

Apart from St Edmund the Martyr, you mean? Henry V. The perfect medieval king, who managed to balance foreign aggression with judicious government at home, and died at the right moment before it all started going wrong, ensuring that he left an appropriately heroic legacy. 

Curious, what are your thoughts of the presidential election here in the U.S? I personally believe it’s going down in the history books, and to me it has become quite a circus.
Donald Trump is a fucking buffoon, who is not just incapable of being leader of America and by extension the free world, but is unfit for any public office and deserves to be horsewhipped at the public pillory.  He deserves to be punched in the mouth. He is an embarrassment and a national disgrace, and it is lamentable to consider that people feel so alienated and left behind by the American system and Washington politics that they are prepared to invest their hopes in this belching, halfwitted, knuckle-dragging clown. He is a wretched joke. A lingering fart. A professional idiot. The Republican party’s grandees should feel ashamed of their great party. Many do. Those who don’t should feel ashamed of themselves. 

As for Hillary Clinton, whatever you think about her – and there are legitimate questions still to be asked about her use of private email servers and her role in Bengazi, etc etc – she is at least an adult politician who has devoted her life to public office and who has aspired to and prepared for this moment throughout her career. I hope she wins this election, not because I feel especially warmly about her, or what she represents, but because she is the only serious option on the ballot. 

The US election of 2016 may well occupy a leading place in the history of this decade, because it seems to me to be an illustrative example of the malaise and unpleasantness that has spewed forth from a combination of the collapsing post-war settlement in the west, the communications revolution and the economic turmoil that began back in the 2000s. It will probably have more historical significance if Trump wins, for obvious reasons. God forbid. I prefer to read history, not to live through it.

I enjoy sharing motivational quotes with my readers do you have one that you would like to share?

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

(Mary Oliver, ‘In Blackwater Woods’)

Is there a particular individual in history that you would like to meet?

I’m writing about Saladin at the moment. He seems to have made quite an impression on the people around him, and he certainly made his mark on the middle east… so right now I’d take a meeting with him. 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you take with you?

‘Escaping Desert Islands For Dummies’ 

Are you currently writing any more books?

My new book, about the Templars, is coming out next autumn. That’s what I’m working on right now, and I’m loving every moment of it. It’s the most amazing story of medieval supermen: the Templars were like the Navy S.E.A.L.S with a sideline in international banking. And of course their downfall - tried for heresy on trumped-up charges at the instigation of a truly diabolical king of France - is pure drama. It’s a dream subject for me and for my narrative style. I’m looking forward to you all reading the book in 2017!

If you want to learn more about Dan Jones, please follow him on his social media.

About Maria Rochelle

Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
Find out more about Maria here →


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