Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Interview on The Reading and Writing Podcast

I have listened to The Reading and Writing Podcast for years, so it is extremely exciting and gratifying for me to be interviewed by Jeff Rutherford about A Time for Swords on his great podcast that has featured some of my favourite writers in the past.

Listen here:

Thursday, 2 September 2021

The powers at play in FOR LORD AND LAND

In the eighth novel of the Bernicia Chronicles series, I not only wanted to continue Beobrand’s story in the seventh century, but also look at some of the powers at play in the early medieval period in Britain. In particular, I wanted to investigate the roles of kinship and inheritance, and how the bonds of blood and marriage could impact on the affairs of both royal dynasties and those of a more lowly station.

Much of what we know about Anglo-Saxon Britain comes from land grants and wills. We find how land was parcelled up, and what boundaries were used as markers. Things like trees and streams were commonly named as bounding the area of a piece of land. And it might come as a surprise that in a period commonly known as the ‘Dark Ages’, in which men dominated positions of authority, women were able to inherit and own land.

Of course, land can provide lucrative income. Leaders will even start wars over it, sometimes with their own kin. This is the case with Oswiu of Bernicia and his second cousin, Oswine of Deira, who in 651 led their warhosts against each other in a conflict over the southern part of Northumbria.

Apart from this clash of kings, in FOR LORD AND LAND I also describe smaller land disputes and tell the story of how a family, and one strong woman, have to deal with a particularly nasty neighbour.

Though unable to stand in the shieldwall along with Beobrand and the other warriors, women of the time could exert huge influence on events. In FOR LORD AND LAND, that influence is felt by King Oswiu, whose queen, Eanfl├Žd, is instrumental in forcing her husband to establish a new monastery. She also becomes a patron of important Christian figures who will shape the future of the church in Britain.

By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that some things never change. Avarice can always create conflict, and no matter how closely people are related, and irrespective of gender, blood is sometime not enough to protect against greed.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

In conversation with Christian Cameron

On 26th May I spoke with acclaimed author, Christian Cameron about A Time for Swords, writing process, research, inspiration, and lots more. We were hosted by Book People, the largest independent bookshop in Texas.

Watch the talk on Book People's Facebook page on the following link:

Intros start at about 5 minutes in. Christian and I start talking at about 8 minutes in.

Friday, 30 April 2021

REVIEW: Protector by Conn Iggulden

Protector (Athenian #2)Protector by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grit, intrigue, venal villains, honourable heroes and cataclysmic battles to save Greece and the future of democracy. Having conquered Ancient Rome, Mongolian hordes and the Wars of the Roses, with PROTECTOR Conn Iggulden does what he does best and turns the battle of Plataea into a triumph of historical fiction.

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Thursday, 4 March 2021

Battling with history: how to write fight scenes and battles in historical fiction

How do you write a battle scene which engages your readers and drives the story on?

It’s a question many authors of historical fiction fight with. Read my tips and advice in this Historia article.

Publication day and a new event!

Publication day!

Today is the UK publication day for the hardback of A Time for Swords and the paperback of Fortress of Fury. They are out in the US on 1st May.


On 27th March at 9.30pm BST, I will be appearing on a Facebook Live event with fellow historical fiction author, Steven A. McKay. We will be talking about all manner of things, and will be taking questions too. And it won’t cost you a penny, so come along and join us. It should be fun!

I am also appearing at the online Wrexham Carnival of Words on Friday 23rd April at 6pm BST, as part of the Historical Fiction Night.

Tickets are £15 and include all of the online events for the whole festival. A bargain!

There will be an online launch event for the US publication of A Time for Swords. More details soon.

As part of the US launch, there will also be an opportunity to buy a limited signed bookplate edition of A Time for Swords from an independent bookstore.
For Lord and Land

Don’t forget that the eighth book in the Bernicia Chronicles, For Lord and Land, is now available for pre-order.

Stay safe and happy reading!

Monday, 15 February 2021

REVIEW: The Last Berserker by Angus Donald

The Last Berserker: An action-packed Viking adventure (Fire Born Book 1)The Last Berserker: An action-packed Viking adventure by Angus Donald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Last Berserker strikes with the thundering power of Thor's hammer. Angus Donald effortlessly transports us into the blood-soaked kingdoms of early medieval Europe, where the old beliefs battle for survival against the implacable wave of Christianity, and the armies of the greatest leader of the age, Karolus, King of Francia. The tale of young Bjarki Bloodhand, finding his calling as a fabled berserker, is rich with the earthy depth, historical detail, intrigue, violence and adventure that we expect from Donald. But it is the likeable duo at the heart of the novel, Bjarki and Tor, that makes The Last Berserker stand out. Characters are what readers remember, and Donald's masterful creations will live on in the imagination long after the final page.

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