Lovely review of By Sword and Storm

Thank you to Jessica at The Bookworm Chronicles

 

https://thebookwormchronicles.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/new-read-by-sword-and-storm/?unapproved=16891&moderation-hash=9cf695a45e7f8e3aa3982038e286f93d#comment-16891

For a lovely review of By Sword and Storm

Two sentences really stood out and encouraged me – ‘Each time the narrative switched, I found myself emotionally torn, as I was rooting for them both.’ and ‘All in all I thought By Sword and Storm was another wonderful, historical rollercoaster ride, that had me gripped from start to finish.’

The splitting of the story over two countries and timelines was a bit of a gamble in case folk wouldn’t engage with that (and technically challenging to mesh them together and still remain true to the historical dates when specific events happened) so I was very pleased that it worked for her. Here’s hoping it works for others!

It was also the first time that I’ve seen what the title page of By Sword and Storm looks like on a kindle… The publisher has sent me files, but for some reason I haven’t managed to access them properly and haven’t got round to asking for them to be re-sent.

That was interesting because I use the same font for the chapter headings in the Katharina books – the second of which, Fortitude, is due out at the end of July and I was totally unaware until very recently that kindle readers don’t get the benefit of that wee refinement because the kindle programme has limited fonts at its disposal. – That makes me a little sad. For those who mightn’t know the font I’m referring to it is called Morpheus and is a rather lovely ‘church-style font, which suits the subject matter of Katharina ideally.

It was found by my cover designer – well done him! Here it is:

 

Katharina: Fortitude is currently with my editor and two days ago I got a lovely preliminary sentence from him – ‘I’m loving what I’ve read so far. The writing is so rich, so distinctive and so evocative. I’m looking forward to this journey.’ It is always a scary time when waiting for an initial reaction from a professional, who really knows their job, so this is extremely encouraging. I’m looking forward to the end of July now…

When History came to Life – Scotland’s History Festival 2014

After many years as the ‘Cinderella’ subject, history has been making a comeback. Authors of historical fiction are beating all comers in the big prize stakes, our TV schedules are full of (less than accurate) dramatizations such as The TudorsScreenshot 2015-02-05 09.05.46 and Reign, and currently the excellent adaptation of Wolf HallScreenshot 2015-02-05 09.07.09 and accessible documentary-style histories abound – who wouldn’t immediately recognize Neil Oliver’s flowing locks? Interest in history is alive and well and perhaps never more so than in 2014 when we remembered the start of The Great War.

There are now at least six festivals devoted to history in the UK, and they bear little relation to the dull history lessons I remember from my school days. From History Live at Kelmarsh Hall – an all-round ‘experience’ including the sights, sounds and smells in the living history encampments and re-enactments; to Harrogate’s History Festival, focusing on writing and writers. North of the border November is History Month, with PreviouslyScreenshot 2015-02-08 11.22.11 – Scotland’s History Festival delivering 140 events over 18 days in six towns – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Dunfermline, Moffat and St Andrews. I was proud to be part of the programme.

As the introduction to the 2014 programme said: ‘History can shake the entire world – or just yours. It’s the story of nations, the clash of armies…and the scar on your knee where your brother pushed you on the rocks when you were seven. History hasn’t finished, and neither have we.’

That comprehensive view of history was reflected in the variety of events which were on offer, from workshops and walks, to tours and talks, from exhibitions and discussions, to music, art and theatre. It’s impossible to cover them all, but to give you a flavour…

Walking tours included Edinburgh’s atmospheric, underground Vaults;Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.27.48 the Secrets of the Royal Mile explored the closes, wynds and Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.31.07courtyards of Old Edinburgh; and the Dean Cemetery Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.29.08explored the host of fascinating characters interred there.

Historical novelists Andrew Williams, William Ryan and Edward Wilson discussed the shadow world of spies and secret policemen from WW1 to Vietnam; Shona Maclean, Marie Macpherson and Louise Turner talked about riot, murder and reformation; and Register House unveiled the story of the Kaiser’s Spy and the landlady who help the authorities to snare him.

Politics in Rhyme was much more entertaining than the real thing; and Stirling Castle hosted the FlytingScreenshot 2015-02-08 11.46.12
a verbal war between two of James IV’s makars, described as ‘a brilliant, beautiful and bawdy battle of verse and verb, originally written to please a king’.

There were four days of events celebrating the life, work and travels of Robert Louis Stevenson,Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.35.21 this quote is definitely one to live by, and a series focusing on significant women- in war: Weapons and Wounding; in education: Watt Wonderful Women – a talk on Heriot Watt University’s trailblazers; in trade: Women in 17th Century Fife Trade; and in drama: Miss Julie, Strindberg’s classic play.

As you might have expected in this centenary year, war was well represented; Leaving it all– Scottish soldiers’ wills and appeals against military service in WW1 a refreshingly different angle.

Food and drink weren’t forgotten: from The History of Gin and Distilling to Fireside Feast a three course banquet served in Riddle’s Court, in Edinburgh’s Old Town, similar to one that was served in 1598. (One I was sorry to miss.)

A host of events focused on family history: Getting Started with Family History Research, and the more unusual Hospital Records for Family Historians.

If your taste was for the creepy there was the Dark Truth Tour, Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.37.57or Ghosts and Ghouls.

Glasgow focused on the Irish connection; Dunfermline, on Andrew Carnegie; and St Andrews hosted a variety events in honour of St Andrew’s Day.

For children there was The Reluctant Time Traveller with Janis McKay (21st) and a varied schools programme; and two events for writers: Writing Your Story, Writing History with David Simons and Chris Dolan; and my workshop event: Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.40.17
History in Historical Fiction – Icing the Cake or Main Ingredient. I had the opportunity to present it twice – once in Edinburgh and once in St Andrews, the latter a particular pleasure for me returning to the old haunts where I’d spent my student days. And amazingly, one of the participants had gone to the same school as I had in Ulster, though not at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed both events – I hope the folk attending did too! The feedback was good, so I guess they did.

All in all an exciting 18 days – I’m already mulling over options for a workshop or talk that I could present this year…roll on November!