Saturday, 5 December 2009

Helping Racing Greyhounds

If you are a UK resident or citizen please consider signing this petition to help racing greyhounds.

In principle there is nothing wrong with the sport of greyhound racing. Unfortunately, utterly selfish tossers seem to be disproportionately represented among greyhound owners and these people bring the sport and themselves into disrepute.

If you want an example of what is wrong check out this article on the Tia Greyhound Lurcher and Rescue Site.

By the way if you are looking for a good cause in which to invest your spare Christmas cash, you could do a lot worse than donate to Tia.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hostage to Fortune Time

I am making good progress with the Richard III novel; in fact I think the hard work is done and all I need to finish it is write the other half and edit the thing. This latter task, because of the fragmented method of working I'm experimenting with, may take some time.

Anyroad, as we say in Lancashire, I reckon the manuscript will be finished in 2010, and that is the target I'm setting myself. I'm keeping the exact target month to myself.

Next project up is likely to be my long-projected work on Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, which has the working title of This New Spring of Time. I have started research on this - you could say I started about 35 years ago - and my current bedside reading is The Westminster Chronicle. I did make a start of the writing a bit back, but that proved abortive.

Bookies are offering very short prices on guest appearances by Constance of York and her family, while Philippa Mohun will almost certainly return by public demand.

Monday, 9 November 2009

In case anyone is wondering

what I am doing these days, given the long gap between posts...

It's OK, I'm not ill or anything, there is no domestic crisis, and the house hasn't fallen down. I'm writing, albeit not as productively as I should be, and trying to avoid temptation to start even more stories. (I don't lack for ideas, just the persistence to turn them into MSS.)

I have just submitted an article about Constance of York which will be published in The Katherine Wheel, the journal of the Katherine Swynford Society. While I was at it I gave them a second one about the fate of Richard II.

I'm also awaiting more feed-back in relation to The Arrivall, the short story that appeared in the Ricardian Bulletin. I know from the letters published in the same issue that some members are horrified by the idea of historical fiction polluting the sacred pages of their journal, so it may not all be sweetness and light! You know, it's a funny thing. I'm a member of various societies and often find some of the contributions in the publications (or even whole publications) pretty uninteresting. However I've never been moved to complain, as I appreciate that the said societies are not just run for me, but for their membership as a whole. Ah well, I suppose it wouldn't do for us all to be the same!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Do go and have a look...

I urge you to visit Alianore's Edward II Blog as there is an exceptionally brilliant post on there about characters mistreated by fiction. An excellent read, as that particular blog always is.

Friday, 9 October 2009

All Quiet on The Blogging Front

You may have noticed it has gone very quiet around here. That is because whatever entity it is that drains my energy has been draining it again, leaving me with very little focus. The little spare energy I have has been committed to the writing, on which slow progress is being made. T'other day I found that I'd put one piece of action in the wrong season, so I need to change things around a bit! I'm also scrabbling round for the chronology of the Fitzhugh rebellion, in which young Francis Lovel was involved.

An interesting side effect of all this is that I have I have thought of even more ideas for new books. They spring into my head practically every day, and if there was a market for such ideas I'd be well off. Unfortunately there isn't, and really having the idea is the easy bit. It's the writing that's hard.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Medieval Princesses Are Wimps????

There was an interesting article in the Daily Mail t'other day in which Hilary Mantel explains the popularity of the Tudor era.

Speaking of earlier periods she says: 'It's because women -apart from a very few outstanding individuals - make no mark on it.' (History, that is.)
'They are passive princesses, to be married or given in marriage. We know little about their personalities and it's hard to imagine their feelings.
'Then with the age of Henry VIII everything changes. Women come to the fore as never before, and indeed as rarely since - no longer just love or lust objects, they become power players.'

Really? Well, I'll see your six wives of Henry the Butcher and raise you Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville, Cecily Neville, Margaret Beaufort, Margaret of York, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Yolande of Aragon, Isabelle the Fair (Edward II's wife), Empress Matilda, Queen Maud (King Stephen's wife) and Katherine Swynford. These women all (in their own ways) made a significant mark on history, and we know at least as much about their personalities and feelings as we do of those of (say) Katherine Howard, about whom we know virtually nothing.

Among the lower ranks? There were plenty of formidable matrons running businesses in 15th century London for a start. We've Margery Kempe the visionary. My personal nomination would be Margaret Paston. A woman who could defend her home from a small army with the same casual aplomb she applied to ordering herrings for Lent.

You may say these only add up to 'outstanding individuals' as charged. My answer is that this is true in any age, and by the way it covers men too. For every Field Marshal Montgomery there are an awful lot of Tommy Atkins focused on beer, fags, women and football and leaving very little mark at all, except in the hearts of their families.

I think we shall have to find another reason for the popularity of the Tudors. I must admit, it baffles me, but I'm rather pleased too as I'd hate to see what TV would do to the York family!

Hilary Mantel has published a new novel Wolf Hall set in Henry VIII's reign - natch. I've had a glance at it and it looks interesting if you're into that era. One thing I particularly noticed was that it follows the modern trend of placing direct speech in the present tense. So you get this sort of effect:

'It is a very strange way of writing,' says Alianore.
The Duke of Gloucester says, 'If it was our normal writer, I would think he was taking the piss to some tune.'
'Aye, my lord,' Alianore says, 'but this appears to be serious historical fiction.'
'No doubt it is a new fashion, like short doublets that reveal the top of one's hose,' says the duke.

I notice that Philippa Gregory has done the same thing in The White Queen. I think it's meant to give a feeling of immediacy or something, and it might be appropriate in a contemporary story, but immediacy is not really the thing for historical fiction. In my opinion, anyway, but obviously my opinion is not shared in some high editorial places.

I can only say that if I ever write HF in this style (other than in parody) you may call me 'Muller'.

Talking lamp posts

I had a strange experience in Llandudno the other day. A lamp post spoke to me!

I mean Joan of Arc had her saints, and Bernadette had the Virgin Mary, while Derek Acorah gets half of Southern Cemetery - I get a lamp post.

To be precise, it told me that this was a 'safe area' and that I was being monitored by CCTV. Why it picked me out for this revelation I have no idea. If I'd been swinging a chain about my head while wearing a swastika armband there might have been some justification. I was simply tootling along minding my own business, and although I'm rather large I don't think my aspect is particularly threatening these days.

The UK (that is the united Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is actually one of the most surveillance-intensive countries in the world. That includes all countries, including ones run by tin-pot tyrants of one stamp and another. Scary, isn't it? After all, it's not as though Llandudno High Street is a secret naval base or something. (Or if it is, the camouflage is superb.)

The Government probably thinks it makes us feel safe. It doesn't, it makes me feel spied-upon, and I don't like that one bit. What would make me feel safe would be some substantive action against the terrorists and other criminals that throng our country. But that, I suspect, would involve rather more effort, imagination and finance than arranging for a lamp post to shout at a balding scribbler on one of his days off.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A break through?

Yesterday, apart from being my wedding anniversary, was something of a break through for me. For the first time in a long time I worked hard enough to produce what a normal, sane, professional writer would consider a day's work. What's more, I enjoyed it!

It's quite a while since I've enjoyed writing. Occasionally my little comedy scribblings have given me a grin, but to be writing a serious novel and enjoying the process, rather than feeling like I'm writing another boring report for work, well, that's a step forward.

I have mentioned by new technique, haven't I? Having drawn up a plan for the book, I am writing the bits I feel like writing on a particular day, not banging away consecutively from the beginning to the end. This will take a lot of editing when it's finished, but novels take a lot of editing anyway.

If I can only keep up this progress all will be well.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Historical Accuracy

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I suppose one prompt is the latest series of The Tudors. I find it impossible to watch, not least because the actor playing Henry VIII looks nothing like Henry would have done at the age he had reached at the time depicted. It's just unreal, so totally divorced from my image of Henry that I can't relate to it.

Yet the series is popular, and I suppose it's interesting people in history, even if it's only the overdone era of Tudor history. (I can't image why this particular period seems so glorious to so many, but only World War Two and the nasty Nazis get more TV/movie coverage.) I don't really want to slag off The Tudors but talk about the issue of accuracy in general.

First, as I've said before, I think it's impossible to write a 100% accurate historical novel, and if by some miracle one could, the chances are that the result would be quite boring. Fiction is fiction. Even the best-researched novels are still novels, they tend to simplify events - let alone things like bureaucratic processes! - and in the last analysis they are written by people who are living in the present - post-Enlightenment thinkers. I can't really get inside the head of a medieval person. I can try, I can even explain the processes involved, talk about the social background, religious beliefs, upbringing, and so on. But at the end of the day, it's a best guess.

But granting all that, does it mean we shouldn't even try? For me, the first thing is not to knowingly change historical events. They are the scaffolding around which the story is told. I will not change the known outcomes of battles, jousts or parliaments, or make someone live significantly longer than they actually did. I'm extremely reluctant even to change a name, though it does get hard to differentiate between multiple blokes with the same moniker.

If you don't know, for a fact, where your character was on a particular day, then I think it's quite legitimate to move him or her someplace else. I've been trying quite hard to find where Richard of Gloucester went in 1469 after leaving Edward IV at Oundle, and before meeting up with him again in Yorkshire. I have some suspicions, but no proof. So I'm sending him to places that suit the story I am telling, one at least of which is inprobable, but not impossible. But it would be quite wrong to send him to Spain, for example, as he would not have time to get back. Equally, if he's known to be at Westminster on such and such a date, I don't really want to place him at Barnard Castle unless the story line makes it absolutely inescapable. Does it really matter in the context of a novel? Arguably it doesn't, but I prefer it that way.

Of course some historical events are disputed. Who kills the princes in the Tower, for example? One can gloss over this in a work of history. You can list three or four alternatives and come down on what you think is most probable. Or you can leave it entirely open. In a novel this is less straightforward. If you're writing from Elizabeth Woodville's point of view, for example, you may not have to give an outright answer. You can say what was reported to her and what she believed about it. It's highly unlikely that she knew what had happened. Richard III, on the other hand, almost certainly did know. A novel about him really does have to come up with an answer, one way or the other. (One about Elizabeth probably does as well, or the readers are going to be dreadfully disappointed. They will expect to 'know' possibly more than Elizabeth herself did!)

Background is also important. Medieval attitudes to marriage, for example, were quite different to ours. People of property did not expect to marry for love. Love was a bonus, a very desirable bonus admittedly, but definitely a bonus. Most people today would see Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth as romantic - assuming he was not already married of course, and even then our modern attitudes might still forgive the power of love. His mother and Warwick almost certainly regarded the marriage as self-indulgent and irresponsible, and their attitude, not ours, would have been the commonplace one at the time. We may find their viewpoint unsympathetic, but we at least have to try to understand why they held it.

Then there's the little matter of religion. Religion was absolutely central to the lives of medieval people. We may be cynical, and suppose some of them at least didn't actually believe in it, but that's irrelevant. It still shaped their lives, impacted on the way they though, restricted what they could eat. Yet in so many novels of the middle ages this little matter is scarcely touched upon.

Fiction is fiction - but historical fiction needs to take into account the historical context. It would be absurd to write a contemporary novel about hill walkers in which everyone climbed the fells wearing carpet slippers and made up as clowns. Yet some historical novels are rather like that...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

More excuses

I am sorry that I haven't posted much on here lately. I have been a bit ill - for the last couple of weeks I have felt more or less or exactly doped. It's very odd, but I seem to be coming out of it.

The other thing is that I've been busy writing. Primarily the Richard III thing - a monkey that I long to have off my back - but also one of my little side projects. Whether these sundry side projects will ever turn into full books remains to be seen, but at least they are giving me writing exercise. Which I need.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Today's News

Found an interesting blog, My Dog Ate My Manuscript. Great title, and the content covers most of the things that get in the way. Do have a read.

Right folks, it's already 10.25 here in England and I haven't written a word. Going away to get on with it as I have a scene in my head that wants writing before I lose it. So no more ramblings today.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Nostalgia 'aint what it used to be

One of my aspects of character is that I tend to be interested in the past. No surprise there, is there, as it's probably one of the things that made me an historical novelist! But one of the scary things about getting older is that I often think about some incident in my life and then realise '**** that was 30 years ago!' This happens more and more, sometimes - as with the end of steam engines in regular service - the figure is actually 40 or more.

This morning I was thinking about folk music. What started it was that yesterday, while cleaning a gutter out, a song came into my head that I haven't heard for a very long time. I'm not sure who used to sing it but possibly the Spinners - that's the Liverpool folk group not the guys from Detroit with the same name. (I like their music too but that's another story.) The song was a version of A Roving though I don't recall the Maid coming from Amsterdam or some of the coarse lyrics listed on the web. This was a folk song, not a rugby song, after all.

What out this song into my head I don't know, but it took me back, in my mind, to the old Manchester Sports Guild, whose folk nights I used to attend regularly with my then-girlfriend Catherine and even, on rare occasions, on my own. People like Mike Harding and Boys of the Lough used to appear, and on nights when no one of this class was booked members of the audience would get up and sing, often unaccompanied. These people varied in ability from excellent to brave, but we all had a good time, helped no doubt by the ever-open bar. Catherine and I would usually depart in time to stagger to the 23-30 train to Bury, but I think proceeding were generally winding down by that time anyway.

There was a great deal of Scottish and Irish influence in the music, but a lot of it also referred to English history. One wonderful female singer - whose name I wish I could recall - even had a song about Henry I and his brothers. There were also loads of references to the struggles of workers in the 19th century, and of course there was that wonderful Ewan MacCall song The Manchester Rambler. In my memory we all sang it every week - though I'm sure we didn't - and knew every word.

I could show you where the MSG once stood, though not a brick remains. (It fell victim to the continual redevelopment of Manchester that has robbed of us so many fascinating buildings, as well as a few, like the MSG, that were undeniably grotty but served a purpose.) The memory lives on

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A week of (some) achievement

This has been a good week for me. My mood has held up really well and I have achieved quite a bit, including the most writing I've done for some time, mostly concentrated on the R3 project. The test will be to sustain progress next week. I am not quite enjoying writing yet but at least I seem to have go to the point where I can endure it as a task of work.

Given that I spent most of my life longing to be a full-time writer, and now have the opportunity, it's ironic that the writing process has become a struggle to me. I can only think it's one of God's little jokes, but I've come to the view that the only answer is to persist. I'm pretty sure He doesn't want me to jack it in or He'd have sent more money and I'd be living at the seaside.

Amazingly I have actually written out a plan for the whole novel! There are even odd bits of conversation or plotting ready to be slotted in, like prefabricated parts. This may seem straightforward and obvious to many of you out there, especially those with logical minds and structured ways of working. However to me, who has never consciously planned anything of a literary nature, it is almost revolutionary. Whether the end product will be any better remains to be seen.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Author Page at Amazon.com, redux

Those of a nervous disposition will be pleased to know that I've replaced the 'mad professor' photo on the Amazon.com author page with one that looks a bit more civilised. The page does look like quite professional now, and even feeds in this blog. As it's all free publicity I have to say it seems like an excellent tool, one which I commend to my fellow authors. In the current climate anything that helps to sell a book or two has to go down as a Good Thing.

Another Short Story

I have it in mind to write a short story around Constance of York, the heroine of Within the Fetterlock. There's a practical reason for this, at least potentially, I'm not just doing it on a whim, or for fun. However, at the moment I haven't a scooby what to write about, although it could be about any aspect of her life not covered in the novel. (I don't want to rake over old ground).

Any suggestions gratefully received. No prize for the winner though, I'm afraid, though if it's a really inspiring idea I haven't thought about I will credit you when and if the thing is published.

Alianore Audley may also get her own short story in due course.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Progress?

Er, well, it is rather slow, and a lot of it is going on in my head instead of getting banged into the PC. But progress there is, and I'm onto some serious keyboard bashing right after lunch. (This morning I was down the doctors, got positive news, so am feeling rather eager and enthusiastic for once. It's good to be in such a mood!)

I did have a really radical thought the other day, about changing the whole thing to first person. I reckon I can write quicker in that 'voice' and you get automatic exclusion of head switching which is no bad thing. Still considering as I'm not sure I'm comfortable in the style. Rewriting from one to the other ain't that hard, in fact it's quite a fun exercise.

Writing exercise is something I have been doing! In fact there's quite a fun Robin Hood project going on in the background, or rather on the laptop when the TV's boring me too much of an evening. Probably won't come to much, but the fact that I'm writing for myself, for pure pleasure is a massive step forward.

Anyway I shall see what progress I do make this afternoon...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Author Page at Amazon.com


Thanks to a tip from Sharon K. Penman - thank you Sharon! - I have set myself up with an author page at Amazon.com. It really isn't that hard to do and any authors out there might like to have a go themselves if they haven't already.
The one odd bit was that when the thing invited me to 'claim' my books it showed several that pretty obviously weren't written by Brian Wainwright. (Unless, for example, Amazon think that Susan Higginbotham is a penname of mine! - Susan will gladly confirm that it definitely isn't.)
I apologise for the photo (mine on the Amazon site that is). It was the best I could rustle up at short notice, as my resident official photographer has a habit of taking what she calls 'candid' shots. That is shots of me when I am wearing some kind of ghastly expression. This one makes me look like a mad professor, which is a relatively positive image compared to some.
For some reason Amazon won't accept photos of one with a pet. Which is a pity, as I am more relaxed with a dog about, and a greyhound is beautiful enough to divert the eye from my time-worn features...So here to make up for it here is one of me with old George.

Poetry Corner

I'm a great fan of the Shropshire poet A.E.Housman and today I found what seems to be a complete collection of his poetry on the web. Well worth a look!

Favourite lines? These from A Shropshire Lad.

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Historical Accuracy

This topic is currently being discussed all over the place, and often more heat than light is generated in the process. Anyway, I thought I'd give my thoughts of the process and see what people think.

I have come to believe that it's impossible to create a 100% accurate historical novel, not least because we don't have all the necessary information. I've been studying the middle ages quite seriously since I was about 16 - in other words about 40 years - and what continues to astonish me is not how much I know, but how little. There are so many aspects to cover. To name a few - equine matters, archery, jousting technique, building systems, dress, social customs, sexual practices, politics, international relations and diplomacy, law, ships, armour...The list goes on and on, almost to infinity. Anyone - no matter how educated or talented - who kids themselves that they are an expert in all these fields is simply deluded.

OK, there are books and other sources for research. But research takes time - lots of it. And here's the breaking news. Even specialised experts, the ones who publish books on medieval pottery, or whatever, sometimes get it wrong. Historians have theories that other historians trash a few years later. What was historical orthodoxy in 1985 may well be 'outdated' now. Unless you keep up with every published book and article on your particular theme, you can expose yourself to error. If you've got the time and resources to do all that the chances are you won't have time to do any writing. You'll be a bit like a fellow I know who plans to build a super-accurate model of a local station. Last time I heard he'd built three coal wagons...

Then there's the little matter of language. Oh boy! How do you tackle that? People in the 14th and 15th Century spoke a different language to us, even when they called it English. Give your average reader a copy of Chaucer in its original form and see how much headway they make with it. Or even the Paston Letters (again in original form) which relatively speaking are easy peasy. Sorry, no one (except the odd eccentric) is going to buy a novel with the dialogue in that form.

So what do we do? Well I certainly don't think we should give up on accuracy. We should do our best, and not make stupid mistakes like having our medieval folk eating potatoes or drinking chocolate. Maybe we need to get together and check each other's manuscripts for particularly egregious errors. (My particular bĂȘte noire is when forms of address are incorrect - it really jerks me out of my suspended disbelief.) But let's not kid ourselves that we'll get everything absolutely right first time. The thing is, to at least try.

As for language, I think the best approach is the 'translation' one. In other words, it's a bit like translating Polish into English. You end up with modern English except for the odd Polish word put in for effect, or to cover a meaning that simply doesn't exist in English. The difference is you have to try to avoid modern idioms unless you're looking for comic effect. When wrote Alianore Audley I threw in all kinds of modernisms, slang and American usage becase I was deliberately trying to be funny. I was parodying the effect of language used in some medieval novels I've read over the years. It would have been equally comic to include a 'forsooth' or 'by my troth' every couple of lines. 'Tushery' I think they used to call it...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Constance of York

Fans of Within the Fetterlock may like to know that Constance now has her own entry on the online Find a Grave site. The entry is a pretty positive one - I could almost have written it myself, although I promise you I didn't. (But for Google Alerts I'd have known nothing about it.)

You can even leave a memorial message on there if you like, though really you're about 593 years too late.

Friday, 19 June 2009

New Blog - Joan Szechtman

Joan Szechtman, a new author I believe we are going to hear much more about, has started a blog Random Thoughts of an Accidental Author

Joan has told me that her early posts will include plenty about Richard III. Well worth a look...

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Foster a Greyhound?

Tia Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue are overwhelmed with unwanted greyhounds at the moment. If you live in the UK and can possibly foster one of these beautiful animals for a short term please do get in touch with them.

If you actually want to adopt one, I'm sure you'll be equally welcomed. Please help if you possibly can.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Short Story - Progress

The short story has been sent off to the Richard III Society. Apparently they're happy with it so it should appear in the Autumn 2009 Ricardian Bulletin.

Some Ricardians, familiar only with The Adventures of Alianore Audley, will get a shock as it's in a very different style. About the only thing it has in common with Alianore is that it's written first person, something that, for serious work, is usually outside my comfort zone. (Largely because it leads me to measure myself against Robert Graves, the master of first person historicals, and find myself wanting.) So I await the reaction with some unease, albeit with the assurance that all publicity is good publicity.

Now - on with the book!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Sharon Penman's Blog

Sharon Penman's Blog is always worth a read. The latest entry just happens to mention my books among others. Cough, cough...

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Spooky Coincidence

I have just got hold of a copy of John Ashdown-Hill's book on Eleanor Talbot, Eleanor, the Secret Queen: The Woman Who Put Richard On The Throne. A review will follow in due course either here or at The Yorkist Age probably the latter given that it's on-topic.

I have had a brief thumb through it and one thing has already made me say 'wow!' though it's nothing to do with the main subject matter.

Over the last few years I've written a fair bit of fiction about Elizabeth Talbot, Eleanor's sister. Most of it is doomed to die unseen, as it doesn't really fit into a novel about Richard III. In fact, Elizabeth as a character is a bit like Edmund Mortimer in reverse, envisaged as a major player, she is going to end as a bit part.

Anyway, I tend to focus on characters until I can see them in my mind's eye, and my image of Elizabeth was of her standing in a garden, among lots of borage plants. (I even remember checking when borage flowers so I could get the scene right.)

Guess what her personal flower was, as used on her seal, according to John A-H? Yes, you've got it - borage.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Poetry Corner - Norman and Saxon, Rudyard Kipling

My son," said the Norman Baron, "I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England, that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

"The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, 'This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the Saxon alone.

"You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don't try that game on the Saxon; you'll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They'll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

"But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don't trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they're saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear 'em out if it takes you all day.

They'll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It's the sport not the rabbits they're after (we've plenty of game in the park).
Don't hang them or cut off their fingers. That's wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.

"Appear with your wife and the children, at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say 'we,' 'us' and 'ours' when you're talking, instead of 'you fellows' and 'I.'
Don't ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell 'em a lie!"

Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

Nice one, Rudyard!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Short Story - Completed!

Yes, in an amazingly short time by my standards, I have finished it. I just need to sort of chew over it a bit and then send it off.

I'd better not say too much about it, except that I wrote it from the POV of someone Richard had taken out.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Short Story

I ahve been asked to write a short story for the Ricardian Bulletin. (Some of you may have seen Sandra Worth's story in the last Bulletin - the request is for something similar, about 2500 words around one of Graham Turner's paintings.)

I have one or two ideas in mind already. It isn't a big piece and once I've settled on an idea it should only really take a few days work, and so not delay the novel writing much. The hard thing is deciding which painting to use. They are all so beautiful.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Progress with that Richard III book

Progress? What's all this progress thing?

There is actually quite a bit of book written. About a third at a guess. However one of the things that has been holding me back is a decision as to the starting date. Well, I've now decided, and it's probably definite. That it will start at the time of Margaret of York's wedding in Burgundy.

This means I have to write one or possibly two new chapters, but given that the first chapter is maybe the most important of all, this is probably a good thing as I was not happy with my original first chapter. And if I'm not happy with it, why should anyone else be?

The lead characters? Richard of Gloucestre and Anne Neville, natch. However strong supporting roles will be played by Francis Lovel (although his story will be told from a totally different angle to any previous novel, and I believe I'm going to be closer to real history on this one) and Elizabeth Talbot, Duchess of Norfolk (who will not appear much, but will go to some places where the others can't, particularly into the Beaufort camp.) I wanted to tell it from as few viewpoints as possible, to minimise head-hopping, and those are my four picks. I may have to give a few scenes to other people (George and Isabelle Clarence perhaps) but I'm going to see if I can avoid it.

It's going to be a big book, and a complex book. Sorry folks, but the list of characters is going to dwarf Fetterlock's. However, at least it is happening. I am writing more freely than I have done for years - not that that's saying much - the enthusiam is returning, and although it won't be finished tomorrow, as long as God spares me it will be finished.

This Time by Joan Szechtman

While you are waiting for 'my' version of Richard III (see my next post for details of progress) you may care to read This Time by Joan Szechtman. Joan is a new author, but also a very good one and has found a completely new angle on the story. You'll find further details on her site, but in essence Richard doesn't die at Bosworth - instead he's snatched away and finds himself in 21st Century America!

This may sound bizarre, but somehow it works. It's fascinating to read how Joan's Richard deals with the transition, and with all the complications that are thrown up. Obviously it's not straight historical fiction, but if you fancy a change from that genre this is a neat piece of crossover which I think most Ricardians - and other people interested in Richard - will enjoy. It's the start of a series and I know Joan has at least a couple more books in the pipeline.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

A Vision of Light

A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel (Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy)

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of the select few books I read every so often to remind myself how good it is.

Being the picky sort, I can find some historical errors in it - but guess what? The writing is so good that it doesn't matter.
It's a magical book in more senses than one - the heroine, Margaret of Ashbury, has an unusual gift from God. It enables her to perform miracles, but it also gets her into all sorts of trouble.

I'm a great admirer of Judith Merkle Riley - her books are never dull, always full of lively invention and plot twists. If you haven't read this one, give it a try. Just don't expect the usual style of HF.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Within the Fetterlock - endorsement from Sharon K. Penman

Within the Fetterlock has just had this wonderful endorsement from Sharon K. Penman :

"I highly recommend this suspenseful, compelling novel about a fascinating woman, Constance of York, set in the turbulent reigns of Richard II and Henry IV. Readers of good historical fiction will be eagerly awaiting Brian Wainwright's next book; I know I am!"

Yes, that Sharon K. Penman! To say I am pleased is putting it mildly - pleased for Constance as well as for Tamara Mazzei at Trivium and myself. To say nothing of flattered.

The only thing is, I really need to get on with writing the next book...

Interviews

Some links to interviews with me, in case you enjoy reading what comes off the top of my head in reply to questions.

First, with Fiction Scribe.

This interview is with author Wendy J Dunn.

The third interview is at Conversations with Writers.

Finally an interview with Wendy Zollo on the Trivium Site.

Read all of these and you qualify as a fan! In fact, you'll probably be able to start a biography. Some interesting questions I think - thanks to all the interviewers!

Greyhounds and Fetterlocks

Welcome to my new Blog!

I have lately decided to abandon my website for the time being, as blogging is more straightforward, more fun, and above all, cheaper. As some of you know I have been blogging for a while over at The Yorkist Age (House of York history) and even more obscurely at 7mm Great Central (about railways). This will focus on my writing, and may from time to time include other literary issues and maybe even reviews of other people's books when they don't fit The Yorkist Age's time span.

And being the disorganised chap I am, there will be random posts about other issues, without a doubt.