Sevens game (not rugby…)

‘Sevens’ game

seven lines from line seven / page seven of Turn of the Tide

‘…William flushed, half-rose, his right fist clenched. Glencairn was on his feet, thrusting back his chair, grasping William’s arm.”Save your spleen for the Montgomeries. We ride at dawn. I wish no thick heads riding with me.” There was a hasty scraping back of benches as most of those present followed Glencairn and William from the hall. Munro slumped back…’

Tigging Alaric Bond

Also to post their seven lines – on here and on their own pages.

Hopefully more to come…

Writing an historical character – what do you do?

I attended a book launch last week of one book about Catherine De Valois – The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson.

Today I read an article about the writing of another forthcoming book on Katherine De Valois, The Forbidden Queen, this time by Anne O’Brien.

A cursory glance at the two covers immediately indicates that these books are about the same person – the picture used in each case is instantly recognisable. But there is one obvious difference – the spelling of her name.

A minor illustration of a greater truth – that much of what is written in historical fiction involving historical characters is a matter of choice and that there is often room for many interpretations of one character’s story. Each author, if they strive to remain true to the known facts may, and likely will, present a very different story.

As readers we should value this variety.

As writers of fiction we must recognize that we write from a starting point of our own perspective and that in some sense our attitudes / belief systems/ even our prejudices will have permeated and helped to form the stories we present.

We should welcome and learn from other, often very different, insights into characters that we, through spending months, or maybe even years with, have come to know and love. It may be an enriching experience.

So – a big question – when writing about an historical character should writers consult other fiction dealing with that same character, or should they restrict themselves to non-fiction sources?

What do you think?

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

A few weeks ago I was invited by Darlene Williams to take part in this blog hop, which is like a literary game of ‘tig’ .
Darlene is both a writer and reviewer and her current writing project is based on the life of a North Carolina slave woman.

I’ve never done this before, but have enjoyed thinking about the questions she posed to me…and I’m delighted to be tigging authors whose writing I admire.

What is the working title of your next book?
River of Fire – though that will likely change, maybe dramatically…

Where did the idea come from for the book?
As it is a sequel to my first book, ‘Turn of the Tide’ which was published by Capercaillie Books in November 2012. (Details on my FB novel page and on Amazon ) it was a case of deciding at what point in my main characters’ lives to pick up their story (which was much more difficult than I’d expected.)

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m not a great movie buff, but Ioan Grufudd, if he could do the Scottish accent, would be my first choice, but perhaps Ewan Macgregor and Tilda Swinton (though Sean Connery would be fabulous as the main older character.)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Impossible to be specific without spoiling ‘Turn of the Tide’ for those who haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it continues the story of the Munro family and the Montgomerie / Cunninghame feud, with 16th century witch trials added into the mix.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Capercaillie has an option on it, so hopefully it will be published by them.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m 40,000 words into my first draft at present, and hope to complete a draft by May 2013.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?
I was delighted recently to be compared to Conn Iggulden, and others have suggested a comparison in tone and writing with the Bruno novels of SJ Parris and CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series, though they are Hisorical Crime novels while mine are straight Historicals.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The series of books of which this will be number 2 was triggered by reading a footnote in Montgomerie family papers, dating from the 1700s, which gave details of a massacre which took place in 1586.
For many years that ‘nugget’ lay in the back of my mind while I played around with writing short stories.
When I finally decided the time was right to start a novel, up popped the footnote, and I began to research around it.
Originally my main character was a lesser-known historical character, and I wrote 70,000 words of a first draft of my first book on that basis, before beginning again with a fictional family at the heart of the story.
That was liberating and set the scene for the whole series which will follow this family through the final years of the 16th century in Scotland and beyond and into the 17th century, interweaving their fictional story with historical events.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Tudor England is hugely popular with both fiction writers and readers, but most Scottish historical fiction focuses on the periods of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce or Mary Queen of Scots. Choosing to write about Scotland during the time of the Tudors means, on the plus side, that I am exploring almost virgin territory in fictional terms, but conversely, that I am often writing about real people of whom nobody has heard, or knows little about. That was part of the challenge in writing my first book and the thrill of its (so far) favourable reception. I hope I can continue to entice readers into that little known world in Book 2.

The authors I’d like to tig are:-

Simon Forward – a Cornwall-based author, who writes Dr Who books and novelisations for the Merlin series. Though he enjoys variety, his main focus is on Sci-fi and Fantasy. ** All the royalties from his Evil UnLtd series, to which his next book belongs, are currently going to Cancer Research UK.**
Visit his blog at

Oliver Eade – Based in The Scottish Borders, Oliver, a retired hospital consultant focuses mostly, though not exclusively, on books for children.

Simon Stirling – An award-winning dramatist, professionally-trained actor and environmental campaigner, he has written, directed, produced and performed for over twenty years. An ongoing sideline in historical research is now a full time occupation. I first saw Simon’s writing on Authonomy and am so pleased that his book The King Arthur Conspiracy has been published by The History Press. (Though I loved his original title – Commanding Youth)
Find his blog at

M. Howard Morgan I also ‘met’ on the Authonomy website. It was my interest in the Hornblower stories (or perhaps the handsome Ioan Gruffuddwho played him in the UK TV adaptations) that attracted me to Morgan’s tale of the First Fleet marines.

And for something a little bit different – Lucinda Byatt translates historical non-fiction from Italian into English and is writing an academic study of a Renaissance cardinal. She enjoys historical fiction and writes and reviews regularly for the Historical Novel Review, with plans for her own novel well underway.

I’m looking forward to seeing their answers posted c 8th January. In the meantime visit their sites to get a flavour of their work.

Do please leave me a comment or question on anything I’ve said here…