Monday 26 May 2014

Meet My Main Character - Say hello to Beobrand

Another month, another blog hop.

This time I have been tagged in a blog hop called Meet My Main Character, by the talented historical novelist, E.M.Powell. The idea is that each writer tagged answers the same set of questions about the protagonist of their latest work. To have a look at E.M.Powell's responses to the questions see here.

At the end of this post, I give details of the writers I have tagged, who will post their own answers the week after me. Check them out, as they are all great writers of historical fiction.

Here are my answers. Enjoy!

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historical figure/person?

The main character in my novel THE SERPENT SWORD is called Beobrand. He is a fictional character, but his life is intertwined with figures from history as he leaves his native Kent and travels to the Northumbrian kingdom of Bernicia.

Sketch of an Anglo-Saxon warrior I did way back at the conception of the story.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set in 633 AD. It mainly takes place in Bernicia, the northernmost kingdom of Northumbria. Northumbria in the seventh century is a melting pot of races and religions. The Angles vied for supremacy against the native Britons. Christianity was also beginning its inevitable conquest over the old religions of both the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons.

The shifts in power and the battles between the different kings of the period provide a perfect backdrop for Beobrand's story.

3) What should we know about him/her?

Beobrand is a young man, just seventeen. He travels north in search of his last remaining kin, his older brother. Arriving at the fortress of Bebbanburg, Beobrand discovers that his brother is dead. He is desolate and vows to find his killer and avenge his murder.

He is relentless in pursuit of his enemies and the challenges he faces change him irrevocably. Just as a great sword is forged by beating together rods of iron, so Beobrand’s adversities transform him from a farm boy to a man who stands strong in the clamour and gore of the shieldwall. 

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

At the start of the book, Beobrand is in a very dark place. His family are all dead and he finds himself thrown into a world of battle and conflict he had only dreamed about in the way boys dream of being soldiers.

On his journey, Beobrand fights in several battles, both small and large. He is also witness to atrocities that haunt him for the rest of his life. It is his desire to right the wrongs he has seen, and to mete out vengeance for his brother, that drives him forward.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

In the first instance Beobrand seeks vengeance. Later he also strives to bring justice to those he has seen commit terrible crimes.

But in the end, his most defining goal, even though he himself may not be aware of it, is to find a place to belong. Like most people, Beobrand seeks love and home. Unlike most people, he is a natural with a sword, and finds himself embroiled in more than his fair share of intrigues and battles.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The working title for the novel is THE SERPENT SWORD. 

I am now working on the sequel, which is tentatively titled, THE CROSS AND THE CURSE.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

THE SERPENT SWORD is currently out for consideration with several publishers, so if everything goes well, I may have a book deal in a month or two. I imagine that the novel would then see the light of day sometime in 2015.

Watch this space!

The next writers in this blog hop

Here are the next three talented writers I have tagged in this blog hop. They should be posting their own answers to the questions a week after me.

They all write historical fiction, a couple in the same area and period as me, so, if you are interested in the sound of my main character and my story, you should definitely check out their blogs and websites.

Edoardo Albert

Edoardo Albert is, on paper, an exotic creature: Italian, Sinhala and Tamil by birth, he grew up in London among the children of immigrants (it was only when he went to university that he got to know any English people). His proudest writing achievement was reducing a reader to helpless, hysterical laughter. Unfortunately, it was a lonely-hearts ad. Edwin: High King of Britain, his first novel, has just been published by Lion Fiction; at the moment, he’s writing volumes two and three of The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy, a biography of Alfred the Great with osteoarchaeologist Dr Katie Tucker and a spiritual history of London. He is quite busy. Edoardo is online at, and on Facebook and Twitter, @EdoardoAlbert, too.

Elaine Moxon

Elaine Moxon is a Birmingham-based Historical Fiction writer and former Holistic Therapist. Her grandfather’s tales of his youthful adventures in rural Italy gave her a love of storytelling, inspiring her to write from an early age. She has a passion for languages, travel, art and history, her favourite eras predominantly the Saxon and Viking ages. She has contributed articles, short stories and poetry to online magazines ‘Birmingham Favourites’ and ‘Crumpets & Tea’. Her Grime-Noir Thriller short film ‘Deception’, produced and directed by Lightweaver Productions, has been nominated for the 2014 American Online Film Awards in New York. She is also a frequent speaker at Letocetum Roman Museum in Wall, Staffordshire, giving historical talks and readings from her forthcoming debut novel ‘Wulfsuna – Blood, Betrayal & Brotherhood’.
Elaine's blog:

Derek Birks

Here is what Derek has to say about himself:
I live in Berkshire in England. Apart from writing, I enjoy travelling and I spend my spare time gardening, walking and reading. I've also discovered archaeology and I am currently taking part in a long term dig at a Roman villa site.
I taught history for many years and that experience has enabled me to gain some small insight into what people find interesting in historical material. I've read historical fiction for as long as I can remember but probably the greatest influence on my humble efforts would be Bernard Cornwell.
Derek's website:
Derek's blog:

Saturday 10 May 2014

A day in the life of a seventh century Anglo-Saxon

April. In England.

More accurately, in Gloucestershire. At the National Trust-owned magnificence that is Dyrham Park.

And of course, as it is April, it is raining.

My wife and daughters traipse along behind me across the beautifully sculpted park. We are making our way to the Old Lodge buildings. The level of excitement is pretty low from the female contingent of our little group. I, however, am buzzing.

Because we are off to see the living history re-enactors, Wulfheodenas, who specialise in reconstructing the warrior class of Anglo-Saxons from the 6th and 7th centuries. As my novel, THE SERPENT SWORD, is set in 633 - 634 AD, I am very excited to meet them and see what they have on display.

When we arrive at the cluster of buildings on the hill overlooking the manor house, we find a small group of what appear to be time travellers, stepped out of a saga as told in the smoke-filled halls of northern Europe well over a thousand years ago.

A lady and three men are huddled around a fire cooking their breakfast.

We seem to be the first visitors of the day, and a couple of the menfolk kindly get up and show us where their hoard of goodies is laid out on trestle tables. Because of the rain, they are inside the barn, which seems quite fitting, with the wooden beams giving the feel of a mead hall.

They are more than happy for us to handle the items on display. "If it looks sharp, it probably is. And the helmets are heavy and expensive, so don't drop them." There ends the health and safety warning.

Heavy and expensive. And awesome!
They are also pleased to answer questions. Lots of questions in my case.

I'm too seaxy for my kirtle...
We stay for about as long as my daughters can stand it. It is cold and miserable, with the wind gusting and rain blowing into the barn, but I am so pleased we have come. I have learnt some interesting things and met some people who are incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the period that my novels are set in.
I hope to be able to see Wulfheodenas again sometime, hopefully with better weather.

Some more photos

Here is a selection of some more of my photos from the visit.

A thegn can never have too many helms!

Get off of my land!

Look at the pattern-welding on that beauty, sir. A bargain at twice the price.

Lyre, lyre, your scop is on fire.

I want your seax, baby!

7th century utility belt?

The hospitality left a little to be mead or pottage!

Matt looking moody.

Fork 'andles? No. Axe handle!