Hi Mike, welcome to my blog and thanks for coming along to answer questions about yourself and your current work Three Kings one Crown. Congratulations on being published. This must have been an exciting project for you to work on and I expect it has taken you years of research and hard work to get it all on paper and then in print.
Yes It has Paula, but first let me say thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.
· How does it feel to finally hold your book in your hand and see it in lovely print?
A wonderful feeling. As regards the content, well others will judge, but as far as the cover is concerned, I think that it looks great!
· What made you go assisted publishing and what led you to chose SilverWood books?
Well, when I finished my first book, I started sending query letters to publishers. It was a time consuming business. I could handle the disappointments, I had no unrealistic expectations, I was after all a novice novelist. However, not being a patient person, I quickly got frustrated. I have to confess that I am not exactly in the first flush of adulthood; I was impatient to get on with my next writing project. I thought to myself, “If you are confident that your book is good enough to be published, then prove it, spend some of your own money getting it out there”.
At the HNS Conference I attended a seminar at which Helen Hart was present. I was impressed by what she had to say. At that stage I had not heard of SilverWood. Subsequently, I noted that several writers whom I respect, were using the services of a firm called SilverWood. I checked out the company, and lo, the owner was Helen. I thought that their prices were reasonable, so I decided to place my manuscript for “Three Kings – One Crown” with them. A decision which I have certainly not regretted.
· Also being a fan of this period in history I know why I am drawn to this time but I was wondering what it is about the 11thc that has inspired your story?
My primary fascination is with the Vikings. I suppose this is because I spent several years living in Scandinavia. As I hope my readers recognise, my writing style is very much concerned with interweaving the fiction with real events and recorded happenings. In preparing my manuscripts I concluded that it was impossible to research one aspect of the 11th century in isolation, so I had a thoroughly enjoyable time trying to make sense of the complications of this incredibly turbulent period. It is an absolutely absorbing time in history. The challenge for a novelist is to be selective about the amount of historical detail to include, while retaining a story which relates credibly to “real” history.
So how did your characters develop and have you based them on anyone in particular?
I have wondered the same thing! With both books, before I started writing, I knew how the book would start and I had a precise plan about how they would end. The long bit in between and the people in it were the product of imagination, sleepless hours and research. So who were the characters? My main fictional protagonists are male and often they reflect the qualities and vices of people I have known. What I do is to take the characters from their secure, normal existences and force them into situations which are outside their experience. The way in which they react is decided by the role which I have created in my mind. This role is often dictated by the real person I am relating them to. For example, Torkil in Three Kings – One Throne, is initially selfish and idle. Then he has an unexpected experience which gives him direction and ambition. Unfortunately, his new enthusiasm is so strong that he is prepared to ignore other responsibilities to fulfil this ambition. I am sure that I am not alone in having met people like this.
· Your book covers a wide area, Scandinavia, the Isle of Wight, much of England and Normandy and this is reflected in your descriptions of them in the book. Did you visit these places to get a feel for them as you wrote your book?
Yes, I think that this is very important to me in my writing. I visited all the places mentioned in the book together with my very patient wife, with the exception of Novgorod. I realise that I am privileged, as a retired person, to have the time and means to travel. Such places as Uppsala, Kiev, Istanbul and Roskilde really are inspirational. And I had many adventures on mountains, rough seas and in mosquito infested forests, but one of the most extraordinary experiences was to arrive on our boat at a harbour on a small island in Sweden and find that of all the hundreds of people there, we were the only ones not dressed as Vikings! It was the annual Viking Market.
· Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
I am very fond of Ivar, the Danish boy slave. Despite his initial lowly status, through steadfastness, guile and unquestioning loyalty to his master, he survives to become a wealthy freeman.
· Who would be your least favourite character and why?
Undoubtedly Tostig, Earl Harold’s brother. This man was prepared not only to betray his brother, but even to facilitate a foreign king taking the English crown.
· Tell us about Finn’s story, the novel that you wrote before Three Kings, One Crown.
Finn is the youngest of three brothers who lived in a small settlement in Lapland in the late tenth century. He was persuaded by the dominant older brother to abandon their parents and to travel south to seek a better life. They eventually reached the realm of King Erik, (a real character), and found themselves forced into slavery. Through the resourcefulness of the oldest brother they escaped and eventually reached Denmark where they embarked on a Viking expedition to Britain. All went well for them, though not for their victims, until through overconfidence they found themselves trapped by Anglo-Saxons.
· What are you working on now and what do you have planned for the future?
I should be working on the third book in the Finn’s Legacy Trilogy, (Once more I know the beginning and the end, but not the middle!). However, I came across a story which was too alluring to resist. I have taken an excursion seven hundred years further on to the American War of Independence and the tragic story of the decimation of an English regiment. The book begins in rural Hampshire and ends in Vermont. I have written the English based first half of the book and I am going to Canada and Vermont in the autumn to do field research for the second half. Then, next in line is to return to finish the trilogy….but I have a longing to write a Viking story for teenagers, which is seriously threatening the planned order!