Episode 23 – Accurate History for Authors with Danièle Cybulskie

In this episode, Mark interviews Danièle Cybulskie about how she translated her passion for The Middle Ages into featured articles at that have reached more than half a million readers, has had her work as a subject matter specialist adopted for nine Ontario colleges, had created fun and informative books such as The Five-Minute Medievalist, Six Steps to Better Historical Fiction and many other great titles, not to mention fascinating speaking gigs, including a TedX talk, and as an author coach.

Before the interview, Mark welcomes new Patreon Supporter Jamie Davis, thanks Patrons for their support and introduces this episode’s tongue twister, sponsored by Findaway Voices, which is in honor of Book Expo America taking place in New York.

The tongue twister (in honor of Book Expo America, taking place in New York this week) is: “You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York.” Mark manages to slip in trivia related to how Frank Sinatra (one of his most popular songs is ‘New York, New York’ was offered the lead role (John McClane) in Die Hard due to contractual obligations related to the Roderick Thorp novels that Die Hard and a previous movie (The Detective) were derived from and that that Sinatra acted in.

The Terrible Tongue Twister segment (AKA “Twisting by the Fool”) is sponsored by Findaway Voices, who provide all the tools that an independent author or small publisher needs in order to get into the digital audiobook market.


Mark also shares a few personal updates which include:

  • Sharing a few high level results from a recently released BookNet Canada survey about 2017 Publishing Trends in Canada
    • The similarities and differences of what these numbers mean
    • Why it’s important for indie authors to understand the larger publishing landscape

  • An experiment he is doing related to a FREE book promotion he is running at Kobo for a “first book” in a series that he has started to publish “wide” (ie, outside of exclusivity to Amazon Kindle): Night Cries (Nocturnal Screams Volume 1)
    • He breaks down the cost and his goals for this promotion
    • He talks about some of the early results (so far, trend positive) and that he’ll share further details in next week’s episode so listeners can see whether or not it was successful after the first week, and, again, 6+ weeks later – see details of the promo/goals

In the feature interview, Mark and Danièle talk about:

  • How she has been writing for for a number of years and has more than 150 articles published there
  • Her passion for coaching authors in authenticity and accuracy for the smallest details about the Middle Ages
  • Her favorite century, (the 14th Century) because it contained the Black Death and The Hundred Years War
  • The most common elements that writers get wrong (it often involves food and clothing)
  • The risks of getting one’s historical elements only from fiction and movies

  • Whether or not Holy Hand Grenade (as seen in the Arthurian Legend spoof film Monty Python and the Holy Grail) might have actually existed. (There WAS gun powder in Europe in that era)
  • How the use of guns and canons changed the use of armour and the way castles were built
  • Because Mark couldn’t resist bringing up the coconuts in the aforementioned Monty Python movie, the historic scholar who has studied medieval coconuts
  • The inaccurate food that is served at a particular “Medieval” style family dinner theatre show that contains foods that never existed in Europe at the time, such as potatoes
  • Danièle books, which include The Five-Minute Medievalist and The Five-Minute Medievalist’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

  • Her forthcoming release (recently signed with UK Publisher Pen & Sword Books), Medieval Europe in Fact and Fiction
  • How sitting at home with her first baby was her introduction towards sharing what she had studied through writing
  • The challenge she has been enjoying writing the different survival guides each month, including the way that she used Twitter to help decide the latest title
  • What she likes reading for pleasure (dystopian futures) and what her favorite medieval movie is (A Knight’s Tale)
  • How learning about the differences and the similarities of people in different historical periods can give us a better and more well-rounded ability to understand and have compassion for different cultures and people in our world today

After the interview, Mark reflects on how he uses history for his own non-fiction writing, and some of the things that has taught him and how he might leverage that for other writing. He draws an example from a forthcoming book he is co-authoring with Shayna Krishnasamy, Macabre Montreal.

Links of Interest:


Danièle Cybulskie has been sharing her love of the Middle Ages with readers worldwide for over a decade. Her book, The Five-Minute Medievalist, debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Canadian charts, and her featured articles at,and several international magazines, have reached over half a million readers, and counting. A former college professor, Danièle worked as the subject matter expert on OntarioLearn’s The Middle Ages and the Modern World: Facts and Fiction, now being offered at nine Ontario colleges.

Her mission is to make history fun, entertaining, and engaging, and to draw attention to our shared human nature across the centuries. When she’s not reading or writing, Danièle can be found drinking tea, practicing archery, or sometimes building a backyard trebuchet.

The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

RSS options for this podcast: Mark Leslie at Libsyn or Feedburner

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