The Girl King: from fact to fiction Meg Clothier 24 March 2014
BGS is delighted to welcome author and journalist Meg Clothier to talk about her historical novel based on Queen Tamar of Georgia. Monday 24th March at 6.30pm.
Georgian Embassy, 4 Russell Gardens, London W14 8EZ (nearest station Olympia)
Before turning to novel writing Meg studied Classics at Cambridge, spent a year sailing a boat from England to Alaska, and finally got down to work as a journalist, culminating in two years with Reuters in Moscow. Since Random House published The Girl King in 2011, she has divided her time pretty evenly between having two children and writing a second novel, The Empress, which is set in Constantinople during the run-up to the Fourth Crusade.
“As I wrote The Girl King, my reimagining of Tamar of Georgia as the heroine of a swashbuckling adventure tale, the journalist and academic in me was constantly at war with the novelist. Every time I made a choice between history and storytelling, I pictured myself justifying my decisions to a room full of Georgians. You could say, therefore, that this talk will be my worst nightmare come true …
I first read about Tamar while researching a very dry essay on post-Soviet Georgian identity for a masters degree at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies. Little did I know, but those 3,000 words of shameless academic-ese were the first steps towards what eventually became The Girl King.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved stories about charismatic women, and as I traced the bare bones of Tamar’s life in a corner of the library, I was captivated. She struck me as uniquely daring and successful – Boudicca, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria rolled into one, a flawless national icon, an extraordinary human being. Go for it, a voice whispered. Sod the PhD. She’s worth a novel.
I pored over the Georgian annals, plundered Rustaveli and Visramiani for colour, scoured Byzantine sources for context, read travel-writing for scenery, and finally – when I had a first draft and an agent on board – my newlywed husband and I travelled overland from London to Georgia on a pilgrimage to some of the most important sites in Tamar’s story.
My talk will trace this evolution of Tamar from the sacred figure of history to my very own tom-boy heroine, the fiery centre of a book that blends my affection for most things Georgian (I fell for the country – doesn’t everyone? – on my first visit ten years ago), with my misspent youth devouring myth, fantasy and Dumas.”
After the talk there will be a glass of Georgian wine.