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.