Knox Robinson Publishing makes first foray into filmmaking with documentaries to accompany new works of historical fiction and plans for future films

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Fast-growing publishing house invests in production of historical documentaries to explore the facts behind works of historical fiction.

Many turn to historical fiction for escapism. We want make exploration possible for those who have the desire to see these wondrous places so full of history, but may not have the means to do so.

Historical fiction and fact-based documentaries are a natural match according to Dana Celeste Robinson, Managing Director of Knox Robinson Publishing, and the authors and director with whom she worked to produce the publishing house’s first cinematic works.

“As a young girl, I loved watching the History Channel and its historical documentaries,” says Robinson. “Those television programs, coupled with fantastic teachers and the wealth of non-fiction and fiction books available at my local library, nurtured my love of history. It seemed logical for KRP to move into the production of documentaries to accompany our historical fiction novels and a fantastic way to promote and market our books and authors, many of whom are historians.”

The first documentary was created to accompany author Marie Macpherson’s novel "The First Blast of the Trumpet". Launched along with the book at the John Gray Centre in Haddington, Scotland on 11 September, the documentary explores the history of the early life of John Knox and the birth of the Scottish Reformation.

When asked why she chose a documentary on this novel, Robinson answers, “John Knox is an important figure who lurks on the fringes of history, not much is known about his early life or where he came from before he became a public figure. Moreover, Scotland and England during the sixteenth century, with the English court of the Tudors and the Scottish court of the Stewarts, was an interesting period that authors continue to revisit and which continues to enthrall readers.” Directed by Mike Gower, a professional with more than 25 years of experience including work with the BBC, the film was shot and edited over four days.

Macpherson is passionate about the subject of her first published work of fiction. “The novel is an attempt to shed light on the formative years of John Knox, founding father of the Scottish Reformation,” she says. “Though his later life reads like an adventure thriller, his early years are shrouded in mystery.”

Many scholars have speculated on Knox’s upbringing, education and life-changing decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church. Macpherson’s novel attempts to unveil the man behind the myth—with a good dose of artistic license to spice things up.

“While searching for clues that might explain his character and personality, I unearthed a surprising story involving some of the prominent figures of the time,” she says. “It was a story that was too tempting to ignore, one full of political intrigue, sexual jealousy and frequent betrayals.”

KRP’s second documentary explores the history behind Patrick Gooch’s third published novel, "The Wells". The film was launched, along with the book, to a large audience at the Tunbridge Wells Waterstones bookstore in England on 18 September. All copies of the novel quickly sold out. “The town is still perfectly preserved,” says Robinson. “That made it an easy choice, we were incredibly lucky that two of our September releases are steeped in history that has survived the ages.”

Robinson directed, filmed and edited the documentary for "The Wells" herself. With the guidance of Gwyn Williams, who has shot documentaries that have aired on National Geographic, Discovery, BBC and Channel 4 (UK), she and Gooch spent one day filming on location.

Gooch describes his novel as an historical tale about the evolution of a town—one spanning one hundred years of growth from a quiet valley to a thriving resort frequented by English nobility.

“In the early eighteenth century, Tunbridge Wells held a particular appeal for London society,” says Gooch. “However, beneath the surface of the township, a long-standing dispute was threatening to disrupt the undemanding lifestyle of the spa’s visitors.” Gooch’s main character is a doctor who uses his scientific background to solve a sinister mystery that involves fatal fires, death on a racecourse and plenty of dissension surrounding a dispute later resolved with The Rusthall Act of 1739.

Robinson hopes that readers of KRP’s historical fiction will enjoy the opportunity to explore the locations they discover within the novels vicariously. “Not everyone can travel to East Lothian in Scotland to explore the castles and churches that played a part in The Scottish Reformation or walk the same lands or take a stroll over the same bridge that John Knox used in his day,” she says. “Not everyone can journey to the lovely historic town of Tunbridge Wells to explore the same buildings that stood there in the seventeenth century. Producing these documentaries is the fulfillment of a wish I had as a child dreaming of distant lands, castles and cathedrals. Many turn to historical fiction for escapism. We want make exploration possible for those who have the desire to see these wondrous places so full of history, but may not have the means to do so.”

These and future KRP documentaries will be featured on the company’s website on the documentaries page and official YouTube channel where readers can also view other KRP media. The company intends to continue producing films to accompany novels.

“Yes, absolutely. There are more documentaries in the works,” says Robinson. “Early next year, we are planning to begin filming a documentary on the true story of the legendary John Henry ‘Doc’ Holliday of O.K. Corral fame to accompany the release of Victoria Wilcox’s 'Inheritance' in May 2013.”

About Knox Robinson Publishing

Established in London in 2010, Knox Robinson Publishing is an independent, specialist publisher of historical fiction, historical romance, young adult and general fantasy. Knox Robinson welcomes unagented manuscripts direct from authors via the KRP website. Knox Robinson's books are distributed around the world by Marston Book Services in the United Kingdom and Bookmasters in the United States of America.

Contact:
Dana Celeste Robinson
Managing Director
Knox Robinson Publishing
d(dot)rob(at)knoxrobinsonpublishing(dot)com
3rd Floor, 36 Langham Street, Westminster, London W1W 7AP
244 5th Avenue, Suite 1861, New York, New York 10001
London (+44) 020 8816 8630
New York (646) 652 - 6980
http://www.knoxrobinsonpublishing.com

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