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
NANOWRIMO 2019 I am once again taking advantage of November being National Novel Writing Month to motivate me to get on with writing the follow-up to this year’s novel, Arthur Dux Bellorum, published in March. The working title of part two of my Arthur story is Arthur Rex Britonnum…although I’m not settled on this title. The story will chart the second half of King Arthur’s life, leading up to his final battle at Camlann (around the year 537, as certain Welsh Chroniclers have dated it, although location remains in the realms of speculation). A possible alternative title could be, Arthur – The Road to Camlann. What do you think?
National Novel Writing Month is an annual Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Well-known authors write “pep-talks” to keep them motivated throughout the process. The website provides participants, called “Wrimos”, with tips for writer’s block, information on where local participants are meeting, and an online community of support. Focusing on the length of a work rather than the quality, writers are encouraged to finish their first draft quickly so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. The project started in July 1999 with 21 participants. By the 2010 event, over 200,000 people took part and wrote a total of over 2.8 billion words. If you’re having a go, then send me a writing buddy request – timwalker1666. Website: https://nanonwrimo.org
Tim Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages book series starts with…
I briefly emerged from my cave to take part in Slough Libraries’ Local Author Showcase at The Curve on Wednesday 25th September. Five authors took part (pictured) – Sudhana Singh; Isabel Rogers; Sovel Cunningham; Naima Rashid and myself. It was well attended with over 50 eager book enthusiasts and many questions were answered by the panel after each had introduced themselves and their latest book. More of these please!
Also, I was invited to take part in a Sky (UK)Television programme called Round Table to discuss the subject of ‘Legends’. I couldn’t make it to the studio so appeared via Skype… here’s the YouTube link… https://youtu.be/qF5CwnLLvVU
Are you up-to-date with my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages? Book four, Arthur Dux Bellorum, was published in March this year, and I am currently working on its follow-up, part two of my Arthur story, Arthur Rex Britonnum…
Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages book series starts with…
I’m a member of a FaceBook Group for independent authors around the World called Sparkly Badgers. From time to time the group produce a themed anthology of short stories and poems. As October is the month of Halloween, the group have produced the following collection, Haunted, now available as a FREE download from Amazon Kindle and other online stores… check it out and help them with a review… https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XXHRS21
The Sparkly Badgers’ are a writing group thriving on Facebook made up of an eclectic mixture of writers from all backgrounds, writing in different genres and with different styles. We all have a passion for writing and for sharing our work with others and so I am delighted to be able to bring you this spooky anthology of spine tingling, goosebumpling and hide behind the sofa stories and poems.
If you are a writer who needs more sparkle in their lives then please, come join us on Facebook at
AUTHOR NEWS… I have enjoyed my summer break (beneath a wide-brimmed hat) with family and am now poised over the keyboard to plot my next fiction books. During the holidays my daughter Cathy and I discussed the storyline for Charly in Space, and I will devote this month to writing up a first draft of what will be book three in our Adventures of Charly Holmes series.
I have also read two historical novels,
both different and excellent in their own way. The first, The Head in the
Ice, is a gripping Victorian crime thriller from debut author, Richard
James. I attended his book launch in the small bookshop in Cookham some months
ago, and am pleased to see from his reviews that the book has been well
The second was recommended to me as an example of expert historical fiction writing, and it has not disappointed. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick is sweeping epic set in 12th century when the Norman legacy is splintering through civil wars and family feuds, non more intriguing than in the court of King Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. It is the story of English knight, William Marshal, and his rise to royal favour as the guardian of the king-to-be, Henry. The author’s superb grasp of historical detail and expert storytelling, particularly her use of metaphor to conjure up detail in beautifully constructed scenes, is something I hope I can learn from.
My own autumn and winter project will be
to plot and write the follow-up to Arthur Dux Bellorum, and hope I can
do justice to the second half of my King Arthur story. Working title – Arthur
Rex Britonnum (if you have any better suggestions please let me know!)
Also… I’ve been invited by Slough Libraries to take part in their Local Author Showcase at The Curve on Wednesday 25th September from 7.30pm. Come along if you can!
I’m pleased to welcome fellow indie author, Colin Garrow, to my newsletter/blog this month. I have read a couple of Colin’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed his easy style and wry Northern humour. Over to you, Colin – tell us a bit about yourself…
I grew up in a former mining town in
Northumberland and have worked in a plethora of professions including taxi
driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor.
I’ve also occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. As well as several stage plays,
I’ve written eleven novels, all of which are available as eBooks and paperbacks
on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble etc.
My short stories have appeared in
several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grind,
A3 Review, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine. These days I live in a humble
cottage in North East Scotland where I write novels, stories. poems and the
I’ve been interested in
murder/mysteries since I was a kid, and grew up reading series like The Hardy
Boys, and The Three Investigators, before moving on to grown-up novels by Agatha
Christie and Stephen King. Initially, I wrote stage plays but started writing
novels for children back in 2013, beginning with my first book The Devil’s
Porridge Gang. Since then I’ve penned another five books for middle grade
readers and my books for adults include the Watson Letters (a spoof Sherlock
Holmes adventure series) and the Terry Bell Mysteries. I’ve just released the
second of these, A Long Cool Glass of Murder and the next one, Taxi for a Dead
Man should be out by Christmas.
A Long Cool
Glass of Murder (The Terry Bell Mysteries Book 2)
driver and amateur sleuth Terry takes on a new client, he doesn’t expect her to
turn up dead. With echoes of his recent past coming back to haunt him, can he
work out what’s going on before someone else gets killed?
elfin-like smile was, like the footsteps on the stairs, noticeably absent. She
looked at me, looked at the dead woman and let out the sort of sigh I knew from
experience meant it was going to be a long night.’
‘A Long Cool
Glass of Murder’ is book #2 in the Terry Bell Mystery series.
If you love
mysteries and amateur sleuthing, ski-mask-wearing villains and the occasional
bent copper, this’ll be right up your everyday seaside-town street.
You can find my
books on Amazon and Smashwords, and links and more info about my writing are on
Welcome to the monthly newsletter of author Tim Walker. This month he has no news, and so will handover to two excellent guests…
Welcome guest author, Michael Pearcy – Mike has been a fan of George Orwell for many years. He has just completed a play called Mrs Orwell which was long listed for in the Kenneth Branagh Playwriting awards. He is working on a one-man show which will explore significant moments in Orwell’s life.
have been performed in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Gibraltar and
Singapore. There have been many performances in the UK including The Union
Theatre in Southwark where The Gatekeeper’s True Religion was described by Time
Out magazine as ‘…a unique gem’.
stories have won awards in various festivals and competitions including the
Berkshire Arts Festival and the Woman’s Own short story competition.
As a journalist Mike has covered many and varied subjects ranging from Charles Dickens living in Slough with his young lover, to the story behind the making of the film The King’s Speech. In his non-fiction writing he is able to combine his experience as a professional photographer with his writing. Mike is a member of Slough Writers’ Group – check his WEBSITE for more information.
Eight-Four – The Novel That Killed George Orwell
By Michael Pearcy
year is the seventieth anniversary of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s
landmark dystopian novel which hit the bookshops on 8th June 1949 – only seven months
before he died from tuberculosis, a disease which had haunted him most of his
one can say for sure when he contracted TB but the research he undertook for
two of his early books put him in regular contact with the highly infectious disease
– tuberculosis killed one in seven people before a successful treatment using
streptomycin was developed shortly after Orwell died in 1950.
fact, Orwell’s close friend David Astor, a friend and editor of The Observer,
had the drug flown in from America especially for Orwell, but although he made
a temporary recovery, the side effects of this early version of the drug
prevented further use.
Orwell went to Eton on a scholarship, when he finished there he was not
considered bright enough to justify the cost of Oxford or Cambridge which would
have been the usual route for someone from his background.
he signed up as an officer with the Imperial Police and selected a posting to
Burma where he had lived for the first year of his life. This decision may have
been prompted by his father who had been in the Indian Civil Service in the
resigned after five years and settled in London where he intended to become a
writer. Influenced by the author Jack London he decided to investigate the
living conditions of the poor in East London which led to his first published
Essay The Spike (New Adelphi magazine 1931).
this theme, he lived for periods as a homeless man and claimed to have
perfected a working-class accent which, apparently, his new companions
accepted. In this way he was able to live with tramps (homeless people) in what
were known as Spikes (homeless shelters). He also spent time living
rough with a group of tramps on their journey to get paid work picking hops in
a further period living on the margins of society in Paris he had collected
enough material for his first published book: Down and Out In Paris and
London published in 1933 by Victor Gollancz.
success led to publication of Orwell’s Burmese Days (Harper &
Brothers 1934) which gave a frank and critical view of the Empire’s oppression
and exploitation of the peoples of Burma. He was beginning to carve out a niche
for himself as a young writer.
his very first night in a Spike, Orwell would have known the risks he was
taking in exposing himself to tuberculosis. But the only way he could write the
truth was to first live that truth. And perhaps this was also the beginning of
his personal journey as a socialist.
dedication to research continued when he lived with coal miners and their
families in North-East England in order to write The Road to Wigan Pier (Victor
Gollancz 1937)first published in 1937. The first half of the book
documents the bleak living conditions amongst the working class in Lancashire
and Yorkshire, and the terrible working conditions of the men who essentially
provided the fuel which powered the nation – coal.
the second half of the book Orwell discusses the failures of socialism to rescue
workers from the worst forms of exploitation. In this passage he declares
himself in favour of socialism. This leads him to question British attitudes
towards socialism and attack middle class socialists: ‘In addition to this
there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever
Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the
mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them
with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer,
sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in
1936 he volunteered to fight with the anti-fascist forces in the Spanish Civil
War. As a writer he could have observed the war from a safe hotel in Barcelona
with the rest of the press corps. But Orwell went to the front-line trenches
and took part in hand to hand combat as a member of the POUM anarchist militia.
He meant to join the International Brigade but joined the POUM almost by
accident was to earn him the experience of living for a period in what he saw
as a microcosm of a socialist society where there was no hierarchy, no
deference to class and everything was achieved through agreement.
to be in the thick of it earnt him a fascist bullet in the throat which came
within a few millimetres of ending his life. His experiences in Spain equipped
him to write Homage to Catalonia (Secker and Warburg) published in 1938.
Spain he also experienced the dark side of socialism as practised by the communist
groups in their suppression of any alternative socialist parties. This reflects
what became his major and possibly his over-riding opposition to all forms of
totalitarianism expressed through any aspect of political ideology – left,
right or centre.
the beginning of World War Two, at the age of thirty-six, Orwell had
established himself as a brave socio/political writer with the publication of
four ground-breaking non-fiction books. He had also tried his hand at fiction
with three novels – A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), Keep the
Aspidistra Flying (1936) and Coming Up for Air (1939) all published
by Victor Gollancz.
the end of his life Orwell instructed that the first two of these novels should
not be reprinted which is harsh self-criticism luckily ignored by his literary
executors. But a salient fact of life for Orwell was that his writing, despite
growing recognition in literary circles, was not earning a decent living for
him. His income came mainly from constant article writing for left-wing
magazines and newspapers.
married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on June 9th 1936 and they lived a
frugal life until the publication of Animal Farm (Secker and Warburg)in 1945. This was a thinly disguised critique of Russian communism made at
a time when the post-war world was ready for it, especially in America where
the novel was a storming success. Orwell had finally earned himself space and
time to write and he could afford to put a stop to all the time-consuming
political articles and essays.
turned his attention to what was to become his defining work – Nineteen
Eighty-Four (Secker and Warburg). This was to be the full expression of his
life-long opposition to any totalitarian regime. If Animal Farm can be
said to show the dangers in the Russian communist version of socialism, Nineteen
Eighty-Four explores the dangers of world divisions and an extreme
this period was to be the peak of Orwell the writer, it was also a sad time for
Orwell personally. In 1945 his wife Eileen died during an operation to remove
his constant companion, the old enemy tuberculosis was standing by to claim him
as another victim.
Farm had been a struggle to write and
a bigger struggle to publish partly because Russia was a wartime ally and the
government wanted Orwell silenced. Mainstream publishers were either scared of
such a radical project or simply failed to understand it. At one point, Orwell was
making plans to self-publish until Secker and Warburg finally took on the
Orwell was ready to tackle Nineteen Eighty-Four. But his health was failing
fast. The stress of publishing Animal Farm followed by the loss of
Eileen just a few months after they had adopted Richard, their only child, left
George weakened and vulnerable.
several months in a sanatorium he decided to give up his London life and move
to a cottage in Scotland – Barnhill on the remote island of Jura, twenty-five
miles from the nearest telephone. He felt this would give him fresh air, ward
off TB and the solitude he needed to complete Nineteen Eighty-Four.
original plan was to go to Jura with Eileen and she had done much of the
planning that made the move possible. In the event, Orwell was accompanied by his
son Richard, then four years old, his sister Avril Blair as housekeeper and Bill
Dunn who would run the smallholding that would produce some of their food.
Orwell was able to focus on his novel. Life on Jura was hard especially in the
post-war era of food shortages. And Orwell would not let the threat of TB stop
him from enjoying time with Richard – even to the point where they both nearly
drowned on one of their regular fishing outings.
was a race to finish the manuscript before Orwell was forced to give in to the
effects of his TB. He was struggling with the disease as he worked to type up
his final manuscript. In the isolation of Jura it was not possible to employ a
typist but even if it had been, Orwell was the only person who could interpret
his countless corrections, except of course for Eileen.
the time the MS was with the publisher, Secker and Warburg, George Orwell was
exhausted. He went first to a hospital near Glasgow but eventually moved to
Cranham Sanatorium in Gloucestershire.
received his first copy of his novel in June 1949. Shortly after this he was
moved to University College Hospital in London where he died at the end of
January 1950. Despite his valiant efforts he could do no more than make plans
for another book but no notes exist of what this could have been.
Orwell could not have guessed that his final work would come to be such a
world-wide success but maybe something in him knew that writing it was worth
risking his life. When he should have been in hospital fighting TB he stayed at
his keyboard dedicated to completing his novel.
had been a vital contributor to Orwell’s work. During the planning and writing
of Animal Farm she collaborated closely and even acquired the nickname Pig
presumably after Napoleon the pig who emerges as the leader at Animal Farm
after the rebellion; Eileen’s attributes that led to her being associated with
a character based on Joseph Stalin can only be guessed.
her youth, Eileen wrote a poem called 1984 and it has been suggested that her
dystopian view of the future resonated with George Orwell and that the book’s
title is in memory of Eileen. The original draft title was Last Man In
Europe and the general consensus is that the final title is a reversal of
1948 the year when the book was first completed.
so, but the idea that Eileen as loving wife and collaborator is commemorated in
the title of her husband’s greatest work is very appealing.
Orwell – A life by Bernard Crick (Secker and Warburg)
Girl From The Fiction Department – A Portrait of Sonia Orwell by Hilary
Spurling (Hamish Hamilton)
Lost Orwell by Peter Davison (Timewell Press)
Orwell English Rebel by Robert Colls (Oxford University Press)
Churchill and Orwell – The Fight For Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks (Duckworth Overlook).
Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Joseph Campling. – He moved from the New Town of Bracknell to the famous town of Slough to train as a nurse in the mid 1980’s. During that period, he had to mature from one of life’s innocents into the man he is now (whatever that is!!) Having worked initially within an operating theatre as a scrub nurse, he then re-qualified as a mental health nurse and has worked in various roles ranging from older people with dementia to younger people with serious mental health issues. Whilst undertaking his BSc, he was one of three co-authors of an article which was published in a professional journal in 2007.
As a child he was a voracious reader and started writing poems at the age of nine – one about scarecrows and another about a woman being swallowed by a crocodile while still having her handbag on her arm. He developed a love of English language and literature at school and continued to write poems as ideas came to him.
From 2010 he found himself scribbling his thoughts down on
bits of paper, envelopes, mobile phone which thanks to ‘new technology’ he was
able to keep safe. At the age of 50, he
discovered open mic, but due to having the singing voice of a frog being
strangled and the guitar skills to match, he resorted to reading out some of
this saved work.
In May 2017 he self- published “Mild Musings May Mitigate My
Mentality” which was his first collection of poems and having learned from the
process has published another volume of ‘words’ “Merring or is it Mrs Gren.” The title came from a conversation which the
author had with his daughter about a mnemonic to remember the seven signs of
Outside writing and performing, his interests include history,
watching live music, trying to play the guitar (still project in progress) and
quizzing. He also likes to watch TV; mostly factual documentaries, comedy and
quiz shows. He also ‘hangs out’ with members of the local drama club which is
his children and wife’s passion, although he has no plans to act .He also needs
to read more and swears that he will do so very soon as he has a pile of books
to read. He follows rugby and can sometimes be found cheering his team on
(London Irish) whether they win or lose.
He also has a passion for Liverpool Football Club.
AUTHOR NEWS…. Arthur Dux Bellorum e-book price promotion is running from 1st – 5th June – download your copy now!
A founder member of the Herschel Arms Writers, Anna Jones is a creative producer, writer and theatre maker – connecting words & images, places & people to create art, ideas & change.
Her place-based work explores heritage and how people respond and resonate with their local history today. She discovers, celebrates and shares stories from her home & work place of Slough & surrounds and her heart & roots place of Dartmoor & Devon.
Please see a selection of Anna’s poetry on The Innerverse YouTube channel. Please check out her website
Caroline charts the story of 18th century Slough based astronomer Caroline Herschel. The piece featured in an Arts Council commissioned play written by Anna and performed in her house in Upton Road where the Herschel family once lived. It was selected to be performed at the opening of The Curve theatre venue and to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Our Special Relationship was written in response to The New York Times call for poems in reaction to the 2017 election of Trump and was published on the New York Times website.
Join in at The Innerverse every last Wednesday of the month at The Herschel Arms in Slough. This poetry, spoken word & comedy night has just marked its first year Innerversary and these films were made as part of these celebrations. This regular open mic night is a welcoming community of poets/lyricists /MCees/wordsmiths/spokenword artists/comics
The Innerverse is especially encouraging of first-time performers as we know the nerves and courage it takes to perform.
Anna is currently directing and producing an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate and mark the 80th anniversary of Windsor Theatre Guild.
Celebrate 80 years of Windsor Theatre Guild this summer with our outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s most enduring and enchanting play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. BOOK TICKETS
Bring family and friends, food and fizz to the beautiful private settings of Foxleigh Grove where we will be conjuring up midsummer mystery and mayhem.
Join fairies, lovers and our passionate players so that, like Bottom the Weaver, you can be moved, maybe even transformed, by the magic of theatre.
Picnics from 6.30pm, show starts at 8pm July 4th, 5th, 6th & 11th, 12th, 13th.
I’m Mary with a story, which many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who condemn us all to hell.
My own tale is a cursed one, that’s told from days of yore
Five hundred long years I’ve travelled, across the wild Dartmoor
In a ghostly ghastly carriage made from the bones of six dead men
It carries me nightly and forever to Oakhampton and home again
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
I’ll begin at the beginning, with the bones of him who died first
John Fitz once lord of Fitzford House, our home now with me cursed
Daddy John inherited a vast fortune, but our fortune was brief
It drove him insane and set my path: an eternity of grief
The Fitzford wealth it earnt him, more enemies than silver groats
He killed friend and foe, his craz’d mind hooked on slitting rivals’ throats
Those who spill it they soon come to learn, blood can’t be washed with gold
I found him slashed by his own hand, I’m an orphan, nine years old.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who send us all to hell.
Alone, young, rich and female, I need protecting from false claims
How naïve to think my earthly saviour could ever be righteous King James
Pious bastard sold me like a chattel to the Earl of Northumberland
Was only a child when he tired of me and gave his brother my wedded hand
As abused and trapped and frightened as the poor creatures he hunted for glory
I beseeched mother earth and all of her beasts to remove him from my story
Nature is red in tooth and claw, soon horn and hoof his gizzards gore
Hunter is hunted and dead man two, I’m your prey no more.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who drive us all to hell.
I ran away with my sweetheart, married in secret to fair Thomas
My life it finally felt full of hope, future brimming with such promise
But you’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a tale where happiness will last
Just a few months of joy ‘til tragedy when my one true love he passed
The pain and grieving will never stop for my dead man who went third
Was still in black weeds and just sixteen when forced to wed John Howard
Hid from him my every penny: “Sir do you not love me poor?”
This stayed as unknown as the causes of death of this dead man number four.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who take us all to hell.
I rue the day I met my final husband Sir Richard Grenville
Used fire and fists to harm me, locked me up against my will
Star chamber found him vile and violent sent him straight to Lydford Gaol
On escaping he revelled in torment and terror on a far much larger scale
When brother turned against brother and England she was bleeding
‘Twas turncoat rich warred for both sides as general and was leading
Parliament ‘gainst royals and vice versa ’til no troops were left alive
This traitor, Skellum, Gren-villain is the bones of dead man five.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who doom us all to hell.
I’m way past the point of white weddings now, I’ll only take a lover
Although as a wife I’ve truly failed, I try and be a better mother
Head home to Tavistock with George my boy, but me and luck don’t mix
The fates they deal my last mortal blow and make him dead man six
My heart and earthly body breaks, soul taken, no longer my own
I’m cast as a black widow, with a black dog to match, in a carriage made from bone.
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
Legend is not kind to females, especially when bold, brave and beautiful
It warns all girls throughout all time to be decent, dull and dutiful
I’m a woman with a story, but aren’t all our sex damned as well?
Leave those men and your life behind you my dear, come and ride with me to hell…
April proved to be a good month for Arthur Dux Bellorum, book four in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It has been well-received with
positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and two book awards from notable
sources. Here are the awards citations:
The Coffee Pot Book
“Following in the footsteps of the great Arthurian authors,
Walker has penned a story that is as rich in historical detail as it is in all
its mythological traditions. Drawing on the works of Monmouth, Nennius and
Welsh folklore, he has presented a hero who has to desperately fight a
seemingly invincible foe to win his throne and take his place in British
Walker’s compelling narrative caught my attention from the
opening sentence. The author’s careful blend of mystery, treachery, deceit,
war, honour, and the knightly code made this book unputdownable. The skilfully
described battle scenes were so real in the telling that I could almost taste
the terror and the chaos as our intrepid hero fought for not only his life, but
for the throne and the kingdom which was rightfully his. All of which is set
against a very believable historical backdrop.
The forces of good and evil run through the heart of this
book. Morgana’s desire for power is as seemingly unstoppable as the tide. She
is determined to secure her son’s throne. However, one could surmise that it is
not in Mordred’s interest that Morgana is so despotic in her ambition to
vanquish her enemies, but in her own insatiable lust for power. Morgana is
often portrayed as the anti-hero in the story of Arthur, but I thought Walker
brought a refreshingly new take on the character. She is deplorable, but at the
same time she drives this story forward, and I found myself holding my breath
as she continued to plot and scheme to thwart her adversaries.
In comparison to Morgana, her half-siblings, and in particular Artorius (the young Arthur), came across as level headed and for the most part compassionate. Artorius does struggle with some of the things he has done, particularly in the heat of battle, which I think gave his character a tremendous depth, and made him very believable.
Likewise, Merlyn was a character I enjoyed reading about. His ingenuity and his use of the tools available to him made his story compulsively readable. I enjoyed following his progression throughout this wonderful book.
There are several secondary characters that fans of
Arthurian fiction will be familiar with — Gawain, Percival, Bors and Tristan —
all of whom Artorius looks up to for advice. I thought these characters were
well fleshed, and I look forward to reading more about them in the next edition
of this remarkable series.
Like a heroic poem from times of old, Tim Walker’s Arthurian
saga continues to mesmerise. A must read for those who love everything
Arthurian, but also for those who have a keen interest in the Dark Ages. I
Review by Mary Anne Yarde The Coffee Pot Book Club, April 2019
One Stop Fiction Book
“This is a very well written reinvention of the myth that
portrays Arthur not as a superhero but as a sometimes-conflicted young man. He
is not quite sure that he is meant to be king but is led by Merlyn to accept
his role. He questions his paternity, is often disgusted by the brutality he
witnesses, and yet becomes an inspirational leader of men.
Many of the familiar characters are present in Arthur Dux Bellorum: Merlyn, Gawain, Percival, Geraint, Gunamara (Guinevere), Morgana, and Mordred. Mainly these characters are fleshed-out to be well-defined and human.
It would be interesting to see what the author would do with the later Arthur and Gunamara story as well as with the legend of the Round Table.
The story moves at a fast pace with several battle scenes
that were marvellous to read. The narrative switches points of view between
Arthur and his mother and sisters who are living in the shadow of Morgana and
Mordred. This alternation serves well to highlight the attempts to unify the
British tribes under one rule.
One of the best aspects of the novel is the picture it
paints of Britain after the Romans had left. This is a divided and beset land,
subject to invasion by outsiders and by wars between rival tribes. It was very
interesting to learn that parts of the Roman legacy remained in surviving towns
and forts and in military tactics. The conflicts between the old and new
religions, between warring chieftains, between Britons and the foreign invaders
were all beautifully set out.
As an American reader, I often found myself wondering
exactly where in England the story was taking place. For authenticity, it is
important to use the names of towns as they were at the time. However, it was a
bit difficult, even with the author’s list of place names at the beginning of
the novel, to follow the movement of Arthur’s company. Because of that, I would
strongly recommend that anyone who reads this read it in a hard cover or
paperback edition and not on an e-reader. Readers who like to follow the plot
with maps of the area should avoid will find it impossible to read the maps
that appear on the e-reader edition.
This is a small complaint, but it is nearly impossible to
find anything to dislike about this book.
The author is to be applauded for making yet another
re-telling of the Arthurian legend fascinating and suspenseful. I would very
much like to see one more book in the series to bring the rest of the legend to
life. Arthur Dux Bellorum is a highly recommended book and winner of the One
Stop Fiction Book Awards.”
By Kathleen Lance, Book Reviewer, onestopfiction.com
Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Richard Tyner
One of the Herschel Arms Poets, Richard
was born in the boondocks outside of the town of Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland. He
has very fond memories of growing up in Ros Beg and indeed the first eighteen
years of life in rural tranquillity.
Richard does not see himself as a poet and if pushed describes his work as that of a rhymer. It has long been his ambition to write songs. As he said they were just rhymes, until my talented friends gave them tunes.
One of his collaborators has uploaded two of the songs to Soundcloud. Search for them under the names of Bogman and Ian Brown UK.
Thinking back his first writing was in
the years 1972 to 1976. First date is Marriage, second date birth of first
child. In true fashion he put aside foolish activities and concentrated on
career and family.
He is pleased to report that hardly any of his rhymes from back in those days have survived. The memory of living in Ireland is forever in his heart and in order to maintain his accent he visits there whenever he gets the chance.
In 1967 his Mother took her 8 children
to Peterborough England. Richard started work as a computer operator, then,
after ten years, moved to Shell Oils. Closure of the local office necessitated
a change of career, this time resulting in a management role in a publishing
house. He was head hunted by the TSB to work in Norfolk as an investment
advisor. Two years later he became self employed and continued as an IFA until
the onset of Parkinson’s brought about early retirement. He has since then been
busier and happier than any other period of his life.
Married forty-seven years he counts
himself lucky and is still trying to figure out why his wife is still with him.
Cheryl has been heard to say, “that he would trouble the patience of a saint”.
He loves music across all genres but admits his guilty pleasure is Country music citing the likes of Waylon and Willie. Townes van Zant, Hank Williams. He is a mean quizzer specialising in songs and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. He likes travel and wishes he had rhythm, balance and a bigger pension.
The launch went well and with the addition of pre-ordered e-books, sales on Amazon drove it into the top ten in the ‘Alternative History’ category. It hung around in the ‘Top New Releases in Alternative History’ rankings for a couple of weeks – thanks to those of you who bought it. Reviews on amazon.co.uk have been good and are into double figures at time of writing.
I’d like to thank the following for featuring Arthur Dux Bellorum’s launch package on their book review blogs:
This month I’m delighted to welcome fellow British indie author, Michelle Connor.
Michelle lives on the North East coast of England in a town called Grimsby. She’s been with her husband for twenty-one years. They have three children together. Their youngest is sixteen. She is the princess of the family and has two older brothers. As well as writing Michelle loves to paint, draw, and take lots of photographs. She has a great intrigue for history and spends many a summers day hunting for castles and ruins to visit. I think this comes through in her first novella series as it is set in the medieval era.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I had poetry published when I was fifteen, but I didn’t realize I wanted to write fiction books until I was in my thirties.
What genre books do you write? Fantasy with a heart.
What is the name of your book/books? The Bound: Hers to Save Series. Where Ravens Soar: Nine World Protection Agency Series.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? To not give up writing because life got in the way.
Does your family support your career as a writer? It depends on the day.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Not using clique dialogue every now and then.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Both. I can be crying at a sad scene while I write it and shouting at the screen if someone dies I wasn’t expecting too or laughing at something funny a character does or says. I’m a complete pantser and maybe a little crazy too.
What items do you surround yourself with when you write? Music and sometimes reference books.
What is your favourite genre of books to read? Epic Fantasy, but my guilty pleasure is romance books.
What is your favourite childhood book? Flowers in the attic.
Do you have a favourite author or one who inspires you to write? Joel Shepherd.
What words of wisdom would you give to someone who wants to be an author? Read lots, and when you start the first draft just write. Don’t worry about your spelling or if it’s any good. Get the words on the page and worry about all the rest during the many rounds of edits which are to come. And those will come, boy will they come.
“I was born in Slough 1950 (maybe 8pm) half Ukrainian half Irish, thus the name John Ivan O’Karliciuk.
I spent my early years in Wexford Eire living with my grandparents till my parents could decide if they wanted me and had saved up for my boat ticket to England. I went to St Joseph’s Roaming Catholic School in Slough and spent my childhood roaming about running away from home and even travelling back to Wexford twice on a platform ticket as of course the fare was more than 6 pence. At school I mainly played truant as I had no musical talent. I began to write at a very young age (mainly on lavatory doors).
I had many types of employment trainee supermarket manager, trainee male nurse, office jobs and countless manufacturing jobs. I never found my niche and work sadly prevented me following my dreams of being a playboy layabout. I tried to join the RAF in 1969 but they were shut that day. Also, my strange name smelled of Soviet Spy. I married early about 11am. The marriage didn’t work out but at least I hadn’t wasted the whole day! I met a wonderful Lady and travelled extensively to America, Australia, Egypt and Europe. I have many interests and have been in amateur dramatics and also a local writers’ group along with my cousin and good friend Mary Parris. I would describe my unique writing style as ‘progressive garbage’ My passion is searching for the meaning of life and when I find it, I’ll disclose it in a poem…”
In Taplow’s historic village, a stones’ throw from the
In a weathered crumbling churchyard stands one of England’s
Wildflowers in the hedgerows
Welcome ramblers on their way
To sacred ground and Taeppa’s Mound from an Anglo-Saxon day
Taplow was named from Taeppa Low the Saxon prince entombed below
Twelve centuries chief Taeppa slept this burial mound his
In the British museum his royal grave goods now are stored
A golden buckle-drinking horns
Rich textiles and his sword
I wondered back to the village Inn
The charming Oak and Saw
To take a drink-reflect and think
My mind still filled with awe
Long have I lived near Taplow
Yet of its wealth I never knew
Just a stone throw from the Thames a gem like Sutton Hoo.
I slap on the makeup my best to look
Then post my selfie on Facebook
I hide the way I am and feel
So, my Life looks so ideal
Of my reality you have no notion
You only get my self-promotion
It seems sometimes that life’s on hold
That so much data’s made us cold
No meat and veg, its sugars n’ jam
And Life is one great pile of spam.
Children once went out to play
But now its x-box night and day
Too much sitting-little walking
Too much texting little talking
To old eyes it seems a mess
Can this really be progress?
We’ve left our tribe and village bliss
Now lost inside Metropolis
What if the computers are human haters
Sent from our future terminators?
They promised Wonders to inspire us
But seeded in our brains a Virus.
I noticed it back in the time of Thatcher’s
The invasion of the Body Snatchers
So, are people changing?
Growing mechanistic selfish colder
Or am I just a Luddite with silicon
Chips upon my shoulder?
May I introduce Lady History?
But much of what you’ll hear of her
You shouldn’t take too serious.
She’s Hot! She’s very Spicy!
Can give intense heartburn
She does seem to repeat on us
We mortals never learn!
I’ve heard a bit about her-would love to learn some more.
Well, after nine months of research, plotting, writing and hand-wringing, the fourth book in my A Light in the Dark Ages series, Arthur Dux Bellorum, is finally good to go. I’ve formatted it for e-book (on a variety of platforms) and paperback. I love the cover, and feel the Fates (as the Romans would have it) smiled on me the day I saw Gordon Napier’s stunning picture, entitled ‘Arthur Dux Bellorum’ on deviantart.com.
My cover designer, Cathy Walker, added her magic and the end
result is a cover I can be proud of. We decided to let the whole picture cover
the page, and not block-out the bottom to conform with the previous covers in
Rather than bore you with self- praise (lol), I decided to
throw the gauntlet to my keen proof reader and critic partner, Linda Oliver, to
tell it from her perspective. She has been on board since book one, and quite
honestly, I would have given up, racked by self-doubt, a long time ago if it
wasn’t for her support and emailed kicks-up-the-backside. Writing can be a
I caught my writer on an online fiction forum. Tim had set
out his idea to write a series of novels about how life changed for fifth
century Britons after the Romans left. It would end with King Arthur’s death,
about a hundred years later. I did a
double take. I’m still sulking because I
lent my childhood copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table twenty
years ago, and never saw it again, so the topic appealed to me. Also, I was charmed
by the epic scale of the Boy’s Own Adventure project. But I thought a novice
fiction writer would get lost in it. Tim Walker’s a nice nom de plume, I
thought, wordplay on the literary time travel he’s embarked on. I was wrong
about that too.
Tim had posted an
extract from the first incarnation of ‘Abandoned’, with a request for feedback.
I read, admiring the pleasing balance between narrative and dialogue, the clear
point of view and the vivid settings, and then I forgot I was reading for a
purpose and my imagination took over. I enjoyed the idea of Marcus Aquilius, a
young character whose father had been a Roman soldier and whose mother was a
Briton, a sorceress in the eyes of some. I could see him torn. Should he view
the departure of a Roman legion as an opportunity to advance himself, or a
cause for dismay? When his mother gave him a tunic on which she’d stitched her
own design, he was touched, but took it off so that his men wouldn’t see him in
it, which reminded me of me, taking off my knitted bonnet with its chin strap
at my gate. Not in recent times, obviously.
When I finished reading,
I was smiling, but I realised I’d noted a few pointers and had a strong urge to
look up the number of people living in Britannia at this time. I’ve always had
a weakness for seeking demographic insight. So there I was, shimmying down into
the role of invited busybody. This writer deserved praise because the story set
out clearly, in a varied manner, what was happening in the wider Roman Empire,
in the town and in the family of Marcus Aquilius. Its complexity opened out
gradually. And then the characters sprang into action. So I told him all this.
But there were questions. Once I’d become a regular sounding
board for Tim, we discussed issues related to style. Would the screenplay style
in the early version of ‘Abandoned’ be suitable and sustainable for a series?
That’s a lot of externalising, heavy going for writer and reader. And how
should the dialogue sound? I accepted the characters are statesmen and scholars,
as well as soldiers, in this version of the past. They need to articulate
developed ideas, despite the likelihood of them swinging a sword through their
enemy before the end of the same chapter. And who is it for? Adult and young
As the series has
progressed, every novel has taken on a slightly different style, and the
military leaders focus on different regions of Britannia. The protagonists also
bring contrasting back stories and personal qualities. The second book in the
saga, Ambrosius, is about a character with a vision for his homeland, one who
chooses to pursue it, whereas the other leaders have responsibilities thrust upon
them. They are all the standout individuals of their generation. They’re not cosy,
spending their lives wearing a groove in
The Devil’s Highway and Ermine Street, driven to drag hesitant lads to confront
foreign raiders, or usurpers in their midst. They are the characters making
hard decisions when there is a plague to be contained, or taxes must be raised
to feed an army.
The novels reflect Tim’s knowledge and interest, and his
ability to bake the chewy plots that keep me reading. The latest instalment,’
Arthur, Dux Bellorum’, out now, is no exception. Readers of Uther’s Destiny
will find the story unexpected from the start, and Merlyn and Artorius
continually find the challenges ahead throw up unpredicted twists. The noise
and energy of armed conflicts drive the adventure, and one of the features of a
novel with such an array of characters is that we reader knows they won’t all
make it to the next instalment of the saga, no matter how familiar they may be.
So that keeps up the tension for me.
I can’t guarantee I
haven’t noticed that a gas poker has been introduced in a roundhouse, or a
woman married off to her uncle, but I think I’ve raised all the issues I felt a
need to raise. In fact, that’s why I’m in this newsletter. When our esteemed
author tapped out a fate worse than death for a character in one of those last
minute strokes I’ve learned to expect from him just before a book’s launch date,
I set out a reasoned argument why they should be spared, based on continuity, gender
power in the novel (I know), and demands of the plot. So, out of gratitude for
clemency being shown to an imaginary woman, I’m showing myself ‘front of house’.
Yes, I’ve loved
helping on this project, and the more time and thought I’ve committed to it,
the more I feel invested in the series. It’s an accessible interpretation of
history, a possible version of a mysterious era of great fluidity, and I found
it an informative as well as an entertaining read. My greatest wish was that
the eponymous hero should get out of the novel alive… now, that would be
Welcome to Poet’s Corner – Mary Parris
I grew up in Slough, Buckinghamshire, with a shillelagh in one hand and a pen or paint brush in the other. From an early age I started writing little ditties and creating odd paintings. I was lucky to have travelled extensively and lived for a while in California and various other places. However, family ties brought me back to Slough which had then moved to Berkshire!!
I enjoy trying new things (as long as they are legal!) be it Morris dancing, Salsa, Tai Chi. You name it, I’ll try it. I sang with a West Indian Steel band for a number of years, studied various art forms including Zentangle, Batik, acting, folk art, and poetry which I enjoy the most.
Whatever pops in my mind hits the paper. Silly, sad, romantic, strange, wherever my mood takes it. My paintings and writing have been described as ‘quirky’. I am happy with that. I like the idea that I can dance to the beat of my own drum….
DO NOT SEE ME…
walk as not to know me.
shush. do not see me.
do not glimpse
or make our eyes meet.
I am a whisper of life
dancing on tip toe,
leaving no footprints
to catch me.
I move stealthily, glide so i do not
tremble the waters,
stir the heavens, tempt the devil.
I feel I cannot breathe
trying to control
spirit that emanates from me.
trying to stay hidden.
I am a whisper of life.
dancing on tip toe.
leaving no footprints
to catch me.
if there is a god,
I do not want to wake it.
if there is a Satan
I do not want to tease it.
ignore me. leave me be.
I can carry no more.
I am forsaken from joy.
what sins are upon me
that I fear each new day
will strike a deeper blow
within my heart
that already bleeds its love.
if there is a god,
why is he not kind to me?
cradling my soul.
or is it that he has twinned with
the fallen angel
to torment me.
generous with his maladies,
touching those I love
with his demon fingers.
my thoughts cry,
my tears cry. my heart cries,
my pain, my soul, my life cries.
enough, enough, you bastards.
you have forsaken me.
I will forsake you.
you have burned me enough.
I will believe in no one
I will pray to no one
I will defy you.
we will defy you.
you do not see me.
I will not see you.
I am a whisper of life
dancing on tip toe,
leaving no footprints
to catch me.
Mary Parris – 26.9.17
Did I say I’m a model?
I love to preen and pout
and if the money’s generous
I’ll get my tutu out.
I don’t ‘ave o levels
not even an A you see
but I can boast a prefect’s badge
and an amazing double D.
I’ve modelled for the camera club,
was a pin up in 2008,
I did topless for the paper sun
but me photo did not rate.
I was queen of the night in Benidorm,
did some shoots in Wigan town,
then me tan got overloaded
and I went an orange brown.
Me face is quite unique
they say, and me hair’s like
and though I get a little bored
I just think of the money.
I look good in my pink tutu
with my curvy figure eight,
tho not in me fleshy tights
as I’m a little overweight.
and tho I am a model
I am brainy as well.
I do walk ons at dart shows
and pose in bikini’s in Bracknell.
I’ve got a big show Sunday
the best I’ve had so far.
I’ll be sitting on a mini
in Slough’s Herschal Bar.
me mum is excited
tho me dad thinks it’s funny
but I like being a model
cos I like the easy money.
Mary Parris – 30.1.2018
Next time I see you, I will come to your table and say
That’s if my shy, nervous heart will let me.
Or maybe I should just stay in the background, worship you
But next time you may not be alone and my chance shall be
I imagine you are one of those ‘new men’ all metric,
and mindfulness, whilst I am more of a pound, shilling and
kind of girl and next to modern models of makeup, botox and
I’m more your Betty Rubble than Betty Boop,
Your Bette Davis than Bette Milder.
Ah, but next time you may pass me by like you did yesterday,
deep in conversation with your phone.
I stepped aside for you, heart pounding with hope,
I think you nodded but you really did not see me.
You have never really seen me.
All my smiles and polite conversation lost in the wilderness
if there ever was any.
Maybe I’ll just stay in the shadows, me and my aching heart
and forget about this enchantment and yearning for you.
And so, what next?
Next time, hopefully the thrill of you will have eased,
softened, ebbed away. Maybe.
OK, I’ve changed my mind. I admit it. In March I published book three in my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages – Uther’s Destiny – with the announcement that me work was complete. The series was finished. I had intended to join the end of Roman Britannia to the coming of King Arthur. Uther’s Destiny ends with the boy Artorius drawing the sword from the stone in a cunning plan devised by Merlyn.
Well, seven months on, I’ve decided to continue the series and write a fourth book. I had initially baulked at the prospect of writing a King Arthur story (oh no, not another one!) but, having mulled it over and done some further reading around the subject, have found a way in – a glimmer of a storyline. So, I’m heading in – wish me luck! I’ve also decided to follow the same plotting and writing plan that led to Uther’s Destiny last year. This involved researching, writing a plot outline, character lists and a first half chapter plan in October, and then crashing out a first draft (or at least the first 50,000 words) in November, using the framework of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
My novel title is: Arthur Dux Bellorum and I’ve even found a picture I’d like to use for the cover. I found this on a site called DeviantArt and tracked down its owner. I have agreed a fee with him to use it for commercial purposes, and have sent it to my cover designer, Cathy Walker, to see what she can do with it. Here’s the picture…
NaNoWriMo – www.nanowrimo.org
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, about 400,000 participants from all over the World began working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. November is a bit of a nothing month – wedged between the end of summer and the start of the madness of Christmas – so perfect for putting aside the 2-3 hours a day that is required to maintaining an average of 1,666 words a day to hit the 50,000-word target (evenings and weekends take most of strain).
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. Mr. NaNo says: “Our experiences since 1999 show that 50,000 words is a challenging but achievable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children. This is about the length of The Great Gatsby. We don’t use the word “novella” because it doesn’t seem to impress people the way “novel” does. We define a novel as “a lengthy work of fiction.” Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you’re writing falls under the heading of “novel.” In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.”
Pep Talk From Neil Gaiman
From the NaNo Archives, I’ve found this inspirational Pep Talk from bestselling author, Neil Gaiman…
Dear NaNoWriMo Author,
By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.
Welcome to the club.
That’s how novels get written.
You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
A dry-stone wall is a lovely thing when you see it bordering a field in the middle of nowhere but becomes more impressive when you realise that it was built without mortar, that the builder needed to choose each interlocking stone and fit it in. Writing is like building a wall. It’s a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words. The wall-builder erects her wall one rock at a time until she reaches the far end of the field. If she doesn’t build it it won’t be there. So she looks down at her pile of rocks, picks the one that looks like it will best suit her purpose, and puts it in.
The search for the word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you.
The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”
I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”
I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.
So, I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.
One word after another.
That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.
So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.
Pretty soon you’ll be on the downward slide, and it’s not impossible that soon you’ll be at the end. Good luck…
This month my guest author is the fabulous and talented Mary Anne Yarde. She has a new book out in her Arthurian legend series, The Du Lac Chronicles. I have enjoyed reading this series and look forward to reading the fourth book, The Du Lac Prophecy.
More on that later. First, let me briefly bring you up to date with what’s happening in my creative writing world…
NEW BOOK OUT SOON – CHARLY & THE SUPERHEROES
Following on from The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2016), my daughter Cathy and I have written a new adventure, which we intend to launch on (or close to) 19th September.
The ideas came from Cathy, who’s new love is Superheroes movies. “Hey, Dad, why don’t we write a story where Charly goes on a studio tour in Hollywood and gets asked to take the place of a child actor who is sick in a new superheroes movie?!!”
So, we kicked the idea around during our summer holidays and came up with – Charly & The Superheroes.
We found an illustrator with cartoon experience through www.upwork.com and put up a proposal with a crude sketch showing the concept. The illustrator made the drawing and designed the cover, matching as closely as possible the fonts and style of the first book cover. We’re quite happy with the results… what do you think?
This month’s guest author is… Mary Anne Yarde the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling series — The Du Lac Chronicles.
Mary grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were a part of her childhood.
1. Hi Mary and thanks for guesting on my blog. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the Du Lac Chronicles?
For well over a thousand years we have been enchanted with the tales of King Arthur and his Knights. Arthur’s story has everything – loyalty, betrayal, love, hate, war and peace, and like all good stories, there isn’t a happy ending for our hero. Arthur is betrayed by his best friend, Lancelot, and then he is betrayed once again by his nephew, Mordred. Arthur’s reign comes to a dramatic and tragic end on the battlefield at Camlann.
When Arthur died, the Knights died with him. Without their leader they were nothing, and they disappeared from history. No more is said of them, and I always wondered why not. Just because Arthur is dead, that doesn’t mean that his Knights didn’t carry on living. Their story must continue — if only someone would tell it!
The Du Lac Chronicles is a sweeping saga that follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Lancelot du Lac’s sons as they try to forge a life for themselves in an ever-changing Saxon world. In each book, you will meet the same characters, whom hopefully readers have come to love. I made sure that each book stands alone, but as with all series, it is best to start at the beginning.
2. What inspired you to write The Du Lac Chronicles?
I grew up surrounded by the rolling Mendip Hills in Somerset — the famous town of Glastonbury was a mere 15 minutes from my childhood home. Glastonbury is a little bit unique in the sense that it screams Arthurian Legend. Even the road sign that welcomes you into Glastonbury says…
“Welcome to Glastonbury. The Ancient Isle of Avalon.”
How could I grow up in such a place and not be influenced by King Arthur?
I loved the stories of King Arthur and his Knights as a child, but I always felt let down by the ending. For those not familiar, there is a big battle at a place called Camlann. Arthur is fatally wounded. He is taken to Avalon. His famous sword is thrown back into the lake. Arthur dies. His Knights, if they are not already dead, become hermits. The end.
What an abrupt and unsatisfactory ending to such a wonderful story. I did not buy that ending. So my series came about not only because of my love for everything Arthurian, but also because I wanted to write an alternative ending. I wanted to explore what happened after Arthur’s death.
3. What were the challenges you faced in researching this period of history?
Researching the life and times of King Arthur is incredibly challenging. Trying to find the historical Arthur is like looking for a needle in a haystack. An impossible task. But one thing where Arthur is prevalent, and you are sure to find him, is in folklore.
Folklore isn’t an exact science. It evolves. It is constantly changing. It is added to. Digging up folklore, I found, is not the same as extracting relics! However, I think that is why I find it so appealing.
The Du Lac Chronicles is set in Dark Age, Britain, Brittany and France, so I really needed to understand as much as I could about the era that my books are set in. Researching such a time brings about its own set of challenges. There is a lack of reliable primary written sources. Of course, there are the works of Gildas, Nennius and Bede as well as The Annals of Wales, which we can turn to, but again, they are not what I would consider reliable sources. Even the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which was compiled in the late 9th Century, has to be treated with caution. So it is down to archaeologists to fill in the missing blanks, but they can only do so much. Which means in some instances, particularly with regards to the history of Brittany during this time, I have no choice but to take an educated guess as to what it was like.
4. There are many books about King Arthur. Can you tell us three things that set your novels apart?
You are quite right; there are many fabulous books about King Arthur and his Knights. So what sets my books apart:
1.) My books are set after the death of King Arthur.
2.) Not all the Knights are heroic, and some of them are not even Christians. Ahh!
3.) You will meet some “historical” characters from the past — not all of them are legendary!
5. Do you have a favourite Arthurian character from history?
I really should say Lancelot du Lac, as my books are based on his story. But in truth, one of my favourite characters is Sir Gawain. Gawain And The Green Knight is one of my all-time favourite Arthurian stories.
6. What next?
I am currently working on Book 5 of The Du Lac Chronicles.
The Du Lac Prophecy
(Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
By Mary Anne Yarde
Two Prophesies. Two Noble Households. One Throne.
Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.
If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.
“I feared you were a dream,” Amandine whispered, her voice filled with wonder as she raised her hand to touch the soft bristles and the raised scars on his face. “I was afraid to open my eyes. But you really are real,” she laughed softly in disbelief. She touched a lock of his flaming red hair and pushed it back behind his ear. “Last night…” she studied his face intently for several seconds as if looking for something. “I am sorry if I hurt you. I didn’t know who you were, and I didn’t know where I was. I was scared.”
“You certainly gave me a walloping,” he grinned gently down at her, his grey eyes alight with humour. “I think you have the makings of a great mercenary. I might have to recruit you to my cause.”
She smiled at his teasing, but then she began to trace the scars on his face with the tips of her fingers, and her smile disappeared. “Do they still hurt?”
“Yes,” Merton replied. “But the pain I felt when I thought you were dead was a hundred times worse. Philippe had broken my body, but that was nothing compared to the pain in my heart. Without you, I was lost.”
“That day… When they beat you. You were so brave,” Amandine replied.
Her fingers felt like butterflies on his skin, so soft and gentle. He closed his eyes to savour the sensation.
“I never knew anyone could be that brave,” Amandine continued. “You could have won your freedom and yet, you surrendered to their torture to save me. Why? I am but one person. Just one amongst so many.”
“Why do you think?” Merton asked shakily, opening his eyes to look at her again, hoping she could see the depth of his love in his scarred and deformed face.
“I gave you these scars,” Amandine stated with a painful realisation, her hand dropping away from his face. “You are like this because of me,” her voice was thick with unshed tears.
“No, not because of you,” Merton immediately contradicted. “My reputation, Philippe’s greed, Mordred’s hate, and Bastian’s fear, gave me these scars—”
“I should not have gone back to your chamber. If they had not found me there, then they would never have known about us. If they had not known, then you would have had no cause to surrender. Bastian would not have taken your sword arm.” Amandine touched what was left of his arm. “Philippe would not have lashed you.” She touched his face again and shook her head. “I am to blame.” She sat up and her eyes filled with tears, her hand fell away from his face. “I am to blame,” she said again as a tear slipped down her cheek. “How can you stand to be near me?”