The website of the historical fiction writer.

Archive for July, 2014

The Masque of the Red Pen

This post is the first I’ve written on my new tablet so hopefully there won’t be too many mistakes.

Well, the second draft of the Russian novel is (I think) complete. Now the time has come for editing. Since I started writing it in January 2012, this novel has been a challenge. For a start this is set in the last hundred years so there is much more historical evidence available than there is for the Viking novel that is set between 789 and 825. One the one hand this is good as it helps with the narrative and it makes the checking of facts much easier.

However, this also means that there cannot be too much liberty taking with the plot. With In the Shadow of the Gods I based the plot around three events (the visit to Portland, the raids on Lindisfarne and Iona and the petty kingdoms of Norway at the time). With this new novel there are more detailed records of speeches, diaries, addresses, reports, photographs and so on. Therefore I could not invent certain things such as what historical characters looked like, where they were at certain times, weapons used, etc.

So, there’s something to bear in mind when writing historical fiction. Both time periods have got their good points, both have challenges. Either way, they’ve been good fun!

Anyway, time to do some editing. I’ve got a stylus with this tablet so I can draw red lines and handwrite all over the manuscript without having to further dent the world’s rainforests printing out endless amounts of drafts!


Read Through History – June 2014

This month, with lots of train travel around the South East, let me plough through into the time of the Norman Conquest.

1) The Last Viking by Berwick Coates. A novel about the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

2) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. The classic tale of the Western Front from the German point of view. This led to two very good film adaptations in the thirties and seventies. Read it and watch them!

3) Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson. Set three years after the Norman Conquest and the establishment of Norman rule. This is a good book and interesting to read from the point of view of the Normans.

4) Blood of Ironside by Martin Lake. The third in the Lost King series about Edgar Atheling, the Saxon claimant to the English throne. Looking forward to the next installment.

5) Sharpe’s Siege by Bernard Cornwell. The British are pushing into France but Sharpe finds himself trapped in a fortress and needs to rely on an American Privateer for help.

All good books this month. The rest of it has been devoted to the very long and so far very interesting Hawk Quest, but more about that next month!