We’re thrilled to have here today Austin Ringwode from Donna Fletcher Crow’s new historical fiction, Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail. Austin is very old and for many years lived his life as a monk, OSB, until King Henry tore his world apart. Now he says, “I’m a searcher.” Austin lives in Glastonbury, England.
It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so much for this interview, Brother Austin. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
I am very grateful to this modern American woman who has taken the enormous effort to search out my humble gropings. I am amazed that anyone could understand me and my experiences so well 500 years after my own time. Perhaps it required such a distance to have the perspective to make sense of all that we endured. Our world, indeed, collapsed, but The world has continued. That gives meaning to all the centuries of striving for the right.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
My personality is not important— to be able to say that is a great achievement. Obedience is the hardest thing for a monk to learn. I was obedient to my abbot, to my king, to my God. Now all but God are gone. And sometimes He is silent. I pray for strength to carry on the task set before me. The task I must achieve alone.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
Faithfulness. I am faithful to my vows, faithful to my quest. The quest is everything. All must quest in life— for aren’t we all pilgrims? But to me was given the shining quest to find The Holy Grail when all else had been destroyed.
Is my constant questioning my worst trait— or my best? I cannot judge, but I must live with the constant desire to know more, to understand, to discover what it all meant. Joseph of Arimathea and his little band of pilgrims bringing The Holy Grail to our green and pleasant land, King Arthur and his knights seeking to establish a kingdom of Right, our own Abbott Whiting standing for the Truth until he was dragged to his execution atop Glastonbury Tor. . . And yet the Light endures. How is this so?
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
Derek Jacobi did such a wonderful job portraying my fellow Benedictine Brother Cadfael, also a seeker of Truth. I would be most honoured to have Jacobi present my humble life as well.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
I love the Truth. God help me to find it.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
For the first part of my search— through Celtic, Roman and Arthurian times— I was focused on the material object: “Where is the Holy Grail?” Then I began to wonder: “Why is the Grail of such importance? Why had so many sought it through so many ages?” Eventually I came to see that it wasn’t the object itself so much as its meaning. My quest then became one of understanding: “What is the meaning of The Holy Grail?”
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
One of the people whose lives I came deeply to understand and admire was St. George. And the more I learned of his life the more I admired him and the more I knew I could never have done what he did. I don’t refer to his martyrdom, because the end will come for us all and dying for one’s Lord is a glorious thing. But the active life George lived in the world as a Roman soldier, his travelling and fighting from one end of the Roman Empire to another and, I must admit, the love he felt for a woman. These are not experiences for a cloistered monk.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
Ah, the quest was worth it all. Oh, yes. No one would choose the disaster, the suffering, the struggle. But to be able to look back at the end and say, “It was good. It was worth it all.” That’s the great thing.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?
Remember that it’s always darkest just before the dawn and no matter how bad things seem at the moment, it has always been worse at some time in history. And the Light has always triumphed— as it always will.
Thank you for this interview, Brother Austin. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Ah, the future, just as the past, are in God’s hands. God bless you, my child.
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.
Donna is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.
Visit her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/DonnaFletcherCr.
Become her fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Donna-Fletcher-Crow-Novelist-of-British-History/355123098656.
Pick up your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Glastonbury-Novel-Holy-Grail-ebook/dp/B00846FWYG/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1339097353&sr=1-3
Purchase your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glastonbury-donna-fletcher-crow/1103281249?ean=9781581341621
When Joseph of Arimathea and his little band of pilgrims sought asylum from Roman persecution they fled to Glastonbury — and carried with them the most sacred relic in all of Christendom.
This tiny, sheltered corner of Britannia — this holy “Isle of Avalon” — was also a place of refuge when King Arthur and his knights fought off the invading barbarian hoard and it became the King’s final resting place.
Centuries later, the discovery of Arthur’s bones in Glastonbury sparked a great flowering of the faith and yet more magnificent building — after a devastating fire nearly obliterated the work and worship of centuries.
Then, after the last abbot of Glastonbury was dragged to his death atop Glastonbury Tor, the Abbey’s splendid arches were left to crumble. And yet they still stand today — as beacons of hope for the future.
Two millennia of history and legend intertwine around Glastonbury’s broken arches. And through it all — through ages ancient and modern — the faithful have sought to answer the same question that Arthur asked: Where is the Holy Grail?