Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Well, it's that time of the year again, when all sense of respect, manners and decent human qualities appear to be thrown as caution to the wind. Well, it doesn't always have to be August the 22nd for there to be insults flying between the Tudorites and the Ricardians, but the anniversary of Bosworth seems to bring out the worse in everyone and if you're a little obsessed with either of these two men, or unhinged in some way,like the woman who recently showed herself up on someone's timeline, then all hell breaks out on that fabulous medium that we know and love - Facebook. It never ceases to amaze me how people in these FB groups go way over what I consider to be healthy in their quest to defend or promulgate their love for their idols to the extent that they will jump in on threads in groups that they don't normally post to make insulting, provocative and disrespectful remarks, even on people's own timelines which is very rude in my view. What is this about Henry and Richard that inspire such childish and awful behaviour in supposedly adult, intelligent people? Ok so we all have our own views of each man, but for goodness sake, they've been dead for more than 500 years! We only know them in the sense of what has been written about them and there has been a lot of differing opinions about them over the years.

For a long time, the Richard III Society and other organisations have done their best to reform his character, perhaps to the point of over compensating for Richard's previously maligning by Shakespeare and Moore et al. They have found rationales for his execution without trial of Will Hastings, his declaration his wife's mother being dead when she wasn't, and reasons why he couldn't have possibly killed his nephews, pointing the finger at either Buckingham or Margaret Beaufort. The Henrians on the other hand state that this airy fairytale Richard who could actually do no wrong was not quite the darling all the Ricardians were making him out to be and they too then came up with rationales. Little Margaret Beaufort couldn't have possibly have done it, after all she neither had the motive nor the means, did she. And of course, as far as they're concerned, Richard had all the motives and not only that, he wasn't a very nice chap for not giving Hastings a trial and where was the loyalty he was supposed to have shown his brother all his life when he stole the crown from his twelve year old nephew? And of course over the years there has been argument for and against these two chaps, counter-arguments follow and follow and we see the two factions going round in circles with their arguments with neither side capitulating to the other. None-the-less, I do believe there were a few little victories as some staunch Ricardians began to see the arguments that the Henrians were putting forth as actually holding some weight, including me. Having said that I've never considered myself a Ricardian in the sense that I'm a fully paid up Richard III Society member but from my twenties when I read the wonderful  The Sunne in Spleandour by the lovely Sharon Kay Penman and then went on to read other  non-fiction books about him to read the 'facts', I was fiercely pro-Richard. Nowadays, I'm not totally convinced that he didn't murder his nephews, either indirectly or directly. However nor can I be sure that it wasn't Margaret Beaufort. Anyway, I'm no longer under the impression that he was the Mills and Boon Richard who rescued his lady love from a Cinderella style scenario and had perfectly good reasons for all the bad things he did after his brother's death, though I am sure that he probably did in his eyes.

Now Henry, he was not a total good bean either, was he? He predated his reign from the day before
Bosworth so he could confiscate the lands of all those  who fought against him, thus disinheritng their children. Not really fair that, was it. He also had young Edward of Warwick executed, but at least he had a trial to which he pleaded guilty to plotting with Perkin Warbeck. It was also thought that he may have been a little simple and naive because he had been kept imprisoned for so long. His was a sad story.  Apparently he executed poor John of Gloucester, Richard's bastard son after giving him an annuity of £20 pounds a year. But as for his execution, the only source that sites it is a 17thc one, and even then the author doesn't directly name him, referring to him as a base-born son of Richard III. So we cannot be sure that Henry did indeed execute him. There are no records of John's death. But on the whole, Henry was an astute statesman, creating stability in the country and created prosperity and secured his crown through his enactments against livery and maintenance so that the barons would be unable to keep large numbers of retainers effectively forming private armies. Despite these qualities, he was said to have been rapacious in his financial dealings which enabled him to amass great wealth at the expense of others.

So here we have two very different men, one a warrior and one a statesman. Both were kings. The why's and the wherefores as to who deserved the crown more are as irrelevant today as a betamax recorder. It has happened; they happened. It's over. Why do people have to get at one another in such a ridiculously childish, irreverent manner. Ok so, you like Henry? I like Richard. Who cares? It's great to commemorate our idols lives but why does one party or the other feel the necessity to insult and goad and bitch at the other?

I was talking to a WOR re-enactor (he wanted to remain nameless) today and I asked him if there existed the same animosity in the society between the various factions and this is what he said: "There is *absolutely none*, that I've ever seen. You can't afford to hold grudges against people who are going to be swinging steel weaponry at you. Generally, you tend to be 'mates' within your own household/retinue but get on civilly (with the occasional bit of joshing or reminders of past embarrassments) with other groups."

As I am also a re-enactor and he asked me if the Saxons hated the Vikings and I said there is never any animosity between any of us, we share a love of history, despite which side we like to fight on, its never personal. Its history we portray, not long forgotten personal vendettas and enmities.

It seems that perhaps when people are on Facebook, sitting at the computer and looking at a screen, they lose all sense of propriety. I'll admit, I'm no saint, I'm not above the odd debate and I'm not above letting someone know if I think they've been downright malicious and nasty but a lot of these people I've noticed hide behind pictures of flowers or cartoons, it makes me wonder what they've got to hide. I've even seen people go onto Fan pages on FB and expect to have a serious historical debate! It's a fan page for goodness sake! This is so disrespectful to the author and the people who run it. It's the height of rudeness if you ask me. People should leave the historical debates to the serious historical debating groups and if you're brave enough to go into one of those then expect to be pounced on if your view is different from theirs. But some people thrive on this kind of debate and that's fine, I guess I'm a bit feint hearted when it comes to serious historical debate.

So,  what do I think of these two men? I have a lot to learn about Henry and have on my tbr list The Winter King which I am told is very good. I'm yet to find him vaguely interesting, inspiring or mildly amusing even. He appears to be very bland really but  one thing that I did hear about him was that he loved Elizabeth his wife and was desperately sad when she died. That touched me and maybe that's a good place to start.

 I still admire Richard and consider myself pro-him, but mostly I admire his skills and generalship as a soldier. It is this quality that interests me most and he was as I like to call him, a Bad Ass. In truth though, there were a lot of worse things done by other kings. Look at the brutal way Edward I behaved toward the Scottish and the Welsh, not to mention his own people. Anyway that's another blog, he he!

So just so you know, all this is my own work and if I have made any errors, they are mine and no one else's.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


Fabulous body artist and book illustrator Gayle worked with me on my first novel Sons of the Wolf and has been working really hard on the illustration for the cover of the sequel, The Wolf Banner. Thanks Gayle for allowing me to interview you on my blog. Gayle is a good friend of mine and we met through our mutual love of historical re-enactment. apart from being an amazingly talented artist, she's pretty deadly with a 9ft spear and has killed me many a time on the battle field.

So Gayle, how long have you been involved in re-enactment? On and off for around twenty years re-enacting different time periods. I much prefer the Dark Ages though.
Do you find that re-enacting helps you in your work as an artist? Everything helps being an artist.I really enjoy this time period so working with you on your cover has been great fun.
Apart from your career and re-enactment, you have lots of hobbies. Can you tell us about some of them? I enjoy so many things there is never enough time (or paper) for them. I spend time boxing and target rifle shooting, off roading and camping.There are also so many hobbies within re-enactment.
You're mum to a gorgeous little boy. With your busy schedule, how do you fit everything in? I'm not really sure, I think great support from my family and friends.He joins in with most of my hobbies, and enjoys them as much as i do.
Can you tell us about Steel Point and what makes it different from other Tattoo Parlours? At Steel Point we pride ourselves on
being friendly and professional and can cater for every style, we enjoy designing custom pieces. We excel in good work and customer care, it's a great environment for us and the customers and the atmosphere makes it a pleasure to come in every day.
Before and after cover-up
What is the funniest/interesting piece of artwork you've ever had to do? I once did a roast chicken on a girl's bum, full colour with steam and all.  
What's your favourite style? Can we see some images? All styles are fun to do, colour, black and grey. I love a challenge, I especially love cover-ups and repair work. also as a qualified paramedical tattoo artist I do a lot of cosmetic work as well. The picture right is of a cover up I've recently done.
You have a great team working for you at Steel Point, can you tell us about them? They are really the best, Mark, Nadz and York are amazing artists, Mark is our traditional and flash artist and also our piercer. Nadz is great for fantasy work and York totally owns script work and all writing styles. Anna and Trevor keep it all together, they are our awesome trainees and assistant piercers. They really couldn't be a better team!
What inspires you when you are working on the illustrations for my novel? Luckily I have all the benefit of the photos from all the Regia events and a love of the period. I think even you are in one of the pictures in kit, though you wouldn't know it unless I pointed it out to you?A lot of the drawings are inspired by actual people and places. I have even asked friends to model for inspiration. It's a lot of fun and I look forward to doing more.

It's been great having you work on them, I couldn't ask for a more talented illustrator! One more thing, what sort of books do you like to read? Sci-fi and fantasy, I really enjoyed your book.
The Steel Point team

Steelpoint are based in Croydon, South London. To learn more about Gayle and her teams’ work at Steel Point, visit  and check out the fabulous website there.