Robyn lives among vineyards in the countryside outside Canberra. She has published poetry, short stories, fiction and non-fiction. She writes to find out what she thinks, and to play with the music and heft of words. She writes historical fiction because she is fascinated by the way people make sense of their world.

Her new novel, The Fire and the Rose, will be released on May 3.

This exquisite, painfully tender story, set against the maltreatment and expulsion of the Jews from England, carries Kazantzakis’s exploration of flesh and spirit to a new sphere. Its brilliant narrative of the making of ‘the other’ with both its terrifying underbelly and its potential for hope resonates powerfully with our own time.

Lincoln 1276: Eleanor, a woman with an illegitimate skill in writing, and Asher, a Jewish spicer: two people marked, set apart, one by her port wine birthmark and ambition to work as a scribe, the other by his religion. The city itself is marked by its own prejudice, divided by money and religion. Jews are attacked for their beliefs, accused of crimes, and compelled to fill the king’s coffers. Amid this tension, Eleanor and Asher’s shared love of books and learning is embroidered into their commitment to one another. Their love is an exuberant and dangerous resistance to divisions created by church and state.