Richard Massey to Read as OPWC’s Featured Writer

By Robert Laurence

Richard Massey

Richard Massey

Gregory of Bordeaux, in service of the powerful Earl of Southampton. Princess Gwenllian of Wales, her father murdered by the King, in prison in the remote English village of Sempringham. The Church of Rome. Edward I. Bad guys galore. This is the stuff of Richard Massey’s historical novel, The Southampton Chronicle, set in late 13th-century England.

Richard Massey will read from his new novel at the November meeting of the Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. The public is invited. Refreshments and words are available for purchase, but listening is for free.

The Southampton Chronicle is in the final stages of production with Fayetteville-based Oghma Creative Media, and will publish in the near future.

The novel follows the travels of Gregory, a modest merchant and insightful chronicler in the service of the powerful earl. He sets out on his journey thinking he will be a simple observer, but as the parchments are compiled over three years of travel and imprisonment, Gregory finds that his own fate, indeed, is at the heart of the story.

Massey will read from the book’s Chapter 17 at Nightbird. Titled “Princess Gwenllian of Wales,” this chapter is found late in the book, when Gregory has already been branded an outlaw and his enemies are in pursuit, even as he pursues his assignment to chronicle the affairs of the land. To that end, he stops off at Sempringham for a glimpse and possible interview of the princess, shuttered away by the Church for the misdeeds of her father. (The Princess, the Earl, the King and the Church are all real, historical characters. Gregory is Massey’s invention.) Perhaps he should have kept on riding. But perhaps not. Gregory himself would have been the better for it, but Massey’s readers would not. Here is an excerpt:

“Gregory had never backed down from speaking his own name, but if word had spread he was a horse thief, then he could be strung up by anyone, at any time, from any tree, without fear of repercussion. The townspeople now hiding in their homes could just as easily pour out and surround him. The thought gave him pause, and for a moment he considered climbing back up on his horse and leaving Sempringham. But Gregory doubted word had made it down this bramble-strewn rabbit trail, at least not yet.”

A native Texan (for which he is forgiven), Massey has lived in New England, the Midwest and the Deep South. He settled in Northwest Arkansas in 2007. A career reporter with over a decade of experience, he has written everything from fluff features to hardcore crime stories. While he’s been to just about every juke house on the Mississippi Delta, he also appreciates the Rembrandt collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the Ohio State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi.

Please join the OPWC as we welcome Richard Massey to the lectern again for another night in the Middle Ages. Before and after his reading, the microphone will be open for four minutes apiece of prose or poetry, memoir or verse, sermon or rant, whatever or what-have-you from members of the community. The language can be frank and the topics adult. All are welcome. See you in Sempringham, circa 1395.

This is the last Collective meeting of 2015. It does not meet in December, by tradition. See you again on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.