This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry. Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: email@example.com
Author News My new book, Guardians at the Wall, is due out on 1st June. It’s a dual timeline historical novel, set at Hadrian’s Wall. The main protagonist is Noah Jessop, a student undergraduate on a dig, who digs up a carved stone goddess. His professor, Maggie Wilde, identifies it as Brigantia, the protector of the local tribe, the Brigantes. This is the first of a few objects that connect the contemporary story to the historical account of Centurion Gaius Atticianus, in second century Britannia, that runs parallel through the novel.
I’ll share some of Professor Maggie Wilde’s research into the goddess Brigantia with you. The name of the tribe, ‘Brigante’ means ‘the high ones’, suggesting they were a dominant tribe over lesser neighbours, and Brigantia fulfils the function of being the high goddess over all others, the great protector of her people. The Romans recognised this and were keen to co-opt her into their belief system, twinning her with various deities including Minerva, Fortuna and Caelestis, the latter a North African moon goddess who was also co-opted by the Romans, from whom we get the word ‘celestial’.
Whilst the archaeologists are looking for meaning in their finds, Gaius is gifted the goddess statuette and presents it to his wife, Aria. Her reaction surprises him, as she is from a southern tribe and regards the Brigantes and their deities as foreign. She reminds her husband that their household is watched over by the water goddess of her people, Sulis, twinned with Minerva, and she won’t countenance having a rival deity in the house. Incidentally, the Roman name for the city of Bath was Aquae Sulis – ‘the waters of Sulis’.
This was too much for Gaius, who stalked off for a warming bath after a hard day in the saddle splitting enemy skulls. Aria picked her moment, one night, to return the offending goddess to her people. She sneaked out to bury it outside the shrine to Brigantia in the native settlement outside Vindolanda fort. It was then excavated by Noah some 1,800 years later.
The picture shows a stone altar carving of the goddess Brigantia, here twinned with the Roman goddess, Caelestis, that can be found in the Museum of Scotland. (picture source: pinterest board)
This month’s guest author is Elizabeth Keysian. Elizabeth is an international bestselling author of heart-pounding Regency romances, set mostly in the West of England. She is working on a fresh series for Dragonblade Publishing called Trysts and Treachery, which is set in the Tudor era.
Though primarily a writer of romance, she loves to put a bit of mystery, adventure, and suspense into her stories, and refuses to let her characters take themselves too seriously.
Elizabeth likes to write from experience, not easy when her works range from the medieval to the Victorian eras. However, her passion for re-enactment has helped, as have the many years she spent working in museums and British archaeology. If you find some detail in her work you’ve never come across before, you can bet she either dug it up, quite literally, or found it on a museum shelf.
Workhouse Waif How can Bella Hart escape the hell of the Victorian workhouse? Fleeing the abuse that she suffered there, the lonely outcast hopes her new life in a factory town can provide the esteem and affection she craves. Torn between the worlds of masters and workers, Bella falls for the enigmatic Jack, but their relationship shatters when his true identity is revealed. In a desperate bid to revive her love, Jack unearths Bella’s past, with tragic consequences. After a devastating fire, a secret emerges that seals Bella’s fate, and that of everyone and everything she holds dear. Fans of Catherine Cookson and Victorian historical romances will love this book.
This month, it’s Geoffrey Chaucer! He wrote his great work, The Canterbury Tales in the 1390’s. It’s about the stories a group of pilgrims told each other as they made their way to the shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, and is regarded as one of the great founding works of English literature.
April Fools’ has been celebrated in the UK since the beginning of the 19th century but there are lots of different theories and explanations about where it originally came from.
The first of April some do say, Is set apart for All Fools’ Day; But why the people call it so Nor I, nor they themselves, do know… 18th century folk rhyme
In the English-speaking world, some have traced April Fools’ Day back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales, in which a cocky rooster named Chauntecleer and the arrogant fox named Reynard battle wits. The story begins with the melodramatic Chauntecleer waking from a nightmare where he is murdered by a fox. His wife tells him it’s probably just gas and to get over it. But later that day, Reynard the Fox shows up to flatter Chauntecleer on his beautiful singing. Never missing an opportunity to show off, the rooster crows and Reynard immediately snatches him up while all Chauntecleer’s barnyard friends give chase.
As the fox runs away with Chauntecleer’s neck in his mouth, the rooster asks Reynard to tell the farm animals to give up their futile chase. And as soon as the fox opens his mouth to taunt them, Chauntecleer flies up a tree out of Reynard’s reach. This silly little tale is told in a parody of a great epic that all takes place on the 1st of April. Steel yourself for some Middle English:
Whan that the month in which the world bigan, That highte March, whan God first maked man, Was complet, and passed were also, Sin March bigan, thritty dayes and two, Bifel that Chauntecleer, in al his pryde, His seven wyves walking by his syde, Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne, That in the signe of Taurus hadde y-ronne Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat more; And knew by kynde, and by noon other lore, That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.
This translated as: The month of March—the same month when God had made the world and first made mankind—had passed, and the day was April 1. Proud Chanticleer, with his seven wives at his side, looked up at the bright sun, which was more than 21˚ through the sign of Taurus. His natural instinct alone told him that it was nine o’clock in the morning, and he crowed happily at the top of his lungs. (Source: sparknotes.com)
The phrasing here is a little awkward, so “since March began, thirty days and two” might actually refer to either May 2nd or April 1st. April 1st is 32 days after March 1st, and May 2nd is 32 days after the last day of March. But either way, the first of April soon evolved into a popular day for pranks and tricks.